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Ed Davor

Writings on the film leader?

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Hi,

 

Right now I'm working on a low budget ad (mostly done in animation, and bit of real footage) project that requires a realistic film leader effect at the beginning. I will be doing it manually using frame by frame hand painting, carefully trying to copy every artefact typical of film reel starts, like increased damage, stains, fingerprints etc. The intro cuts into some HD footage lighted and processed to look (as much as possible) like old 16mm film.

 

I know there are many ways a reel can start, like for example a countdown leader, but what I really want to simulate is this kind of leader with letters on it.

 

http://stock-clip.com/video/1376677-writing-on-scratched-old-black-and-white-film-leader

 

Since I have no experience with actual motion picture film at all, can someone explain to me what the letters are? I don't just want to copy the letters from an existing reel. I want to understand what they mean so I can make my own. So in which cases would one write letters down on the beginning of a reel, and is this done on rushes or what? And what do the letters usually say? I see numbers and letters.

 

Thanks

 

 

 

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If you want it to look real why not get some 16mm leader, write on it and scan it? Typical stuff written on a leader is the production name, reel numbers who the filmmaker is, etc.

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In reply to Robert: I'll consider that option too, I'm just worried that there won't be a consistency between film damage on the leader and the HD footage later, but I might also consider using an "empty" film footage and superimpose it over the footage to get the scratches right.

 

@Satsuki: That's that's just what I needed. One question though. How come I don't see the printed words "title", "roll" etc. in the example clip I posted above?I assume it's because not every leader has these lines where you can write on, and sometimes you just write on an empty piece of film?

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Here's another question? What about leaders with counters and sound blip test? In which cases are/were they used? For example, when a lab gives you a daily (unless it's a video daily) does it always have this leader on it, or was it only used in the past? Also, what about prints for cinema distribution (in the past or "coming to a theater far far away from you..."), do they have counter leaders at the beginning?

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Countdowns are usually only on finished prints with a soundtrack, the sync beep is on the 2

 

Dailies in print are usually simpler, the example that Satsuki showed above is just a standard "blank" that a lab created and then the person who is making the print filled in the info on the negative leader and it got printed with the negative. Different labs do this in different ways and there are all kinds of possible ways to write info on a dailies leader, from "high tech" with barcode and printed logo and info to barely legible scribble written with a sharpie.

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Ah I see, so this kind of leader is likely from a lab rush. So in cases when the technician used hand writing, I assume it can be done before or after printing? If the letters are white like this, then its on a blank film with black paint and then printed on print stock. And the cases where you see black letters, they did it on the print stock itself. Right?

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The above sample is written on the negative leader with a black sharpie which got printed so the above is a continuous print with the writing at the head. That is typical for printing it is rare that any leader would be added to a print.

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What time frame is this Satsuki? They still use hand written leaders at Fotokem?

 

Here's another question related to this. In which instances would the China girl image be used (on what kind of print, release or dailies/workprints)?

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I don't know of any lab that uses completely computerized typed leaders we ALL write on film with sharpies I have four sharpies with me all the time

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Oh and the china girl? Where does she fit in? Is she used for release prints or on dailies, or maybe on intermediate stock?

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Hi - my first visit to this site for some time!

 

The chinagirl? Used as print and process control both when making intermediates (IP and DN) and making prints. Cut into the leader, and printed at a standardised printer light, the mid-grey patch on the chinagirl is read on a densitometer after printing and processing and the readings compared with aim values. In the case of intermediates this is the most accurate check that the reel has been exposed correctly. In the case of prints, it provide a more objective control than a subjective judgment that the colour "seems right".

 

After the dupe negative has been made and checked, the duped-through chinagirl would normally be replaced with original negative again to make for more accurate assessment of the subsequent prints.

 

I can't speak for all labs, but in my experience it was rare to cut chinagirl into camera rolls for rushes printing (when there was rushes printing!), as it would have consumed a huge amount of chinagirl negative (which took considerable effort to produce to an accurate standard).

 

There is a curious collection of chinagirls (dollies, ladywedge, etc) here:

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Hi everyone. Just wanted to show everyone what this thread was all about anyway. Here is my final result with the simulation of the film leader. You can see it at the start of this little film.

What I did in the end was take a piece of transparency, write on it, scan it, then animate that in After Effects. You can take a look at some of the other artifacts I tried to simulate which include:

-a splice jump

-"film look"

- less than perfect photochemical titles (at the end of the clip)

- film jitter

 

 

This is part of the advertising work we did for this Kickstarter campaign (for an app), so feel free to back it too if you wish (sorry if this is against some rules).

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/walpie/walpie-your-feline-walking-companion

 

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