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GeorgeSelinsky

Where have all the neg cutters gone?

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I was advised that color negative is super sensitive to scratches and even touching the emulsion is sufficient to scratch it. Also, once dust hits the film, it will not come out. Scary stuff.

 

Honestly, this sort of thing is an old wives' tale. If you get a FINGERPRINT on emulsion, it is very difficult to clean off. If you drop film onto the floor, and the emulsion is on the bottom, you probably will get visible scratching and dust that is practically impossible to remove optically.

 

I've learned both of these lessons the hard way :(

 

Anyway, as far as scratching goes I have a more up-beat story to tell you. I used to be paranoid about scratching. I'd encase film in layers and layers of plastic bags, wrap it tight, and handle it like one would handle a spent control rod in a nuclear reactor.

 

There is truth to the saying that every time you move film, it gets scratched. This is unavoidable. It's honestly like an LP record. Every time you take it out of the sleeve or play it, there is damage.

 

But, at the same time, it is possible to "damage" film, without getting any perceivable effects in a print or transfer. You can scratch negative film, print it straight (not wet gate) and the scratches still won't show up. So, just use common sense. Don't drag it along the floor, wear clean cotton gloves, in a clean room that has been vacuumed, swept, repeat, and make sure there is something on the floor other than concrete, because you WILL drop film on the floor or onto the table over time. It's a mathematical certainty, like Murphy's law.

 

Be very careful at the ends of rolls and be very careful about "synching" film. Wrapping it too tight or winding it too fast have the potential to cause scratches.

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The advice you've had from the ex-neg cutter at Bono is mostly good. Realistically, though, I'd make the following comments.

the dust from handling the film gets so bad that the film ends up having to be either re-washed or cleaned electronically
No. If it's just dust, it won't be stuck to the negative unless you leave it there wound up tight for months. It will be enough to have the neg cleaned ultrasonically (in fact, don't even think of habving your transfer done without ultrasonic cleaning first - it is so much smarter to remove dust from the negative at a few cents per foot than to spend $300/hour trying to paint it out digitally).

 

Here is the advice he kindly gave me:

Search ebay for splicers. Pedal splicers are the best but are hard to find and weigh 300 lbs.

Pedal splicers are fastest to use, but you need expertise. If you get too quick or your feet get out of sync, you will lose fingers! And an old, poorly adjusted pedal splicer is always going to be worse than a newer bench splicer.

 

Make sure you have 3 feet between each splice to avoid dust (48 frames, 2 seconds). That will bump my program time to a little over 4 hours, but its still quite a savings over having 16 1/2 hours of footage transferred.
If it's a pedal splicer you will also need two feet under the splicer :rolleyes: Seriously this is good advice. The 3 feet means that the frames you actually need won't be lying on the bench as you make the splice.

 

Keep humidity at 50% in the room to minimize dust.
And keep doors shut as you cut, to minimise air movement. You need a dust-free room as much as possible. Don't wear wooly sweaters etc.

 

Do not let the film touch the counter. Pad the counter with something soft that does not produce dust.

Use moviola rewinds with breaks to avoid having the film touch the counter.

Yes.

 

Handle the film with gloves.
Most people do this. Some insist that the lint from gloves is still a problem, as is the extra difficulty of handling the negative carefully. Whatever you do, never touch the surface of the neg, always hold it by the edges. Keep cool, sweaty hands or greasy fingers are a bad thing.

 

Make sure the synchronizer is clean.
Yes. Clean it regularly. All the scrapings of emulsion from the previous splice(s) must be prevented from jumping up onto the surface of the next bit of neg. Static electricity is your enemy.

 

And don't forget - fresh cement. Keep the bottle closed between splices. If it's left to evaporate, some solvents go faster than others and it won't do such a good job.

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I know absolutely nothing about cement splicing film, but I have built a few darkrooms for my own use in still photography, so I have some ideas on clean. Yes indeed, cement floor and/or walls are verboten, concrete sheds dust. No bare concrete. A presurized room is not difficult to make, all you need is an enclosed fan and appropriate filter media (HEPA comes to mind). I have used bathroom exhaust fans facing the wrong way and jimmied my own filter holder. If you can't mount it in the wall you can make a temporary flex tube through a wall or door. It really helps.

 

Bruce Taylor

www.indi35.com

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No neg cutters anymore???

 

That's ridiculous. One of the main reasons I shoot on negative is so that I can have a PROFESSIONAL cut the negative for me when I'm done cutting the work print. And a DI just isn't practical for someone like me who does 16mm shorts!

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I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who offered their advice, and Dominic - than you very much for the detailed answers! There's nothing like a lab guy to tell you how to do a negative cut, because if you do it wrong they're the ones that have to deal with it :ph34r:

 

George,

 

I'm sure you've researched these two negative cutters (located in the DuArt building) but in case you haven't...

 

http://www.duart.com/site_main.html

 

Yes I have Bill, these are actually one and the same negative cutter. I did speak to Stan, he and I worked out the numbers and he pretty much told me that it's probably not worth the savings in my specific case to have him do the cut.

 

I wanted to ask, does anyone have any splicer they can recommend? I've heard Hamman mentioned here, any others? Also, any advice on how to make sure the splicer is properly aligned? I imagine that I just have to do a test splice and see that the holes line up right.

 

Final question, there's a lot of talk about dust and dirt with negative matching, but how is it that for many years people have been doing negative matching for their contact and optical prints without any problems and now with telecine everyone's worried about dust and dirt? Are telecines more sensitive? I just don't seem to understand why this suddenly is a more pronounced issue.

 

Thanks again to everyone...

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I wanted to ask, does anyone have any splicer they can recommend? I've heard Hamman mentioned here, any others?
The advantage of the Hamman splicer is that it makes a mitred join rather than an overlapping one. Firstly, that means that the neg is a uniform thickness across the splice - so no risk of bumping as it goes through the printer gate on that account (this doesn't really matter if you are cutting flash-to-flash but it's useful on a fine cut. Secondly, it means that you don't lose a frame. In overlapping splices, if the last frame of a shot before the cut is (say) the 100th frame of the shot, you can't use frame 101, as you've used the leading frameline for the join. Also, as a result, if you've miscut, you can't uncut the neg.

 

Also, any advice on how to make sure the splicer is properly aligned? I imagine that I just have to do a test splice and see that the holes line up right.
Again, for flash-to-flash cutting, this isn't critical, but for fine cutting it certainly is. The splice needs to be aligned to within about two thousandths of an inch (0.05mm). If it is short, or long, or skew, you will probably get a bump in the image at the splice. The only sure way to get this right is to cut and splice a negative steady test (e.g. a focus chart or grid), then print it and see how it looks. Alternatively you can put the spliced negative under a microscope and measure it - but you can go mad doing that all the time (trust me).

 

Final question, there's a lot of talk about dust and dirt with negative matching, but how is it that for many years people have been doing negative matching for their contact and optical prints without any problems and now with telecine everyone's worried about dust and dirt? Are telecines more sensitive? I just don't seem to understand why this suddenly is a more pronounced issue.
Neg matchers have always been aware of dust and dirt, and the need to avoid it. The discussion is coming out here because not everyone here is so aware of it. Also, for some years now it has been standard practice to make the contact print and the IP from the original negative using a wet gate printer which eliminates scratches and cinches. Wet gates aren't normally fitted to telecines.

 

And finally, in the very old days, if you had a very few specks of dust visible on the print as white spots, that's what you had. If they were distracting, that would be another matter, but with good neg handling, there would only be an occasional mark and it was accepted (if, indeed it was noticed). Now, it is routine for a telecine transfer to be QC'd frame by frame, and every single speck noted. (Even the ones you won't normally notice at projection speed.) And, because digital dustbusting is possible, it's more or less mandatory - and it's not cheap. So it is far better to prevent the dirt spots from being there in the first place.

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