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can someone explain to me why did trailers (in classic film projection) always look inferior to the actual movie in terms of image quality? I'm not sure if this was so in the last generation of film prints before the switch to digital projection, but I sure remember it in the 90's and 2000's. The trailer would usually feature more contrast, grain and less resolution than the actual feature presentation.


My best guess would be that trailers were compiled out of dupes so they were a 6th generation copy (instead of 4th like the feature presentation). Is that true?


And if so, why is that? What was the standard process of assembling a trailer?



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Trailers are made from all sorts of sources, even today -- I'd swear some of the trailers I'm seeing now look like they were made from HD Rec.709 dailies.


Back in the pre-D.I. days, if the movie had been completed, the marketing department probably got their own dupe negative made from the final color-timed interpositive that was struck from the o-neg. Then they would cut a trailer from a work print struck from the dupe negative, then cut the dupe negative, and then have to make an IP and then multiple dupe negatives from that IP because of all the trailers that would have to be struck.


Even if the movie was still in post, a trailer department wouldn't be allowed to touch the original negative other than to order an interpositive made of selected camera rolls (remember, the o-neg hasn't been cut yet) or a CRI (color reversal intermediate, thus a negative made from a negative) back in the 1970's. And considering the hundreds, if not thousands, of copies that had to be made for the theaters, they'd have to print those from dupes of the original dupes.


I remember back when I did "Akeelah and the Bee", I found out that the marketing department had ordered their own IP struck from the negative as soon as negative cutting was done, a one-light that they later timed themselves while I was doing the answer printing of the movie independently of them.


But not being a trailer maker myself, I am only guessing as to the exact workflow.

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That makes a lot of sense. I suspected that it was a 6th generation copy. I think that pretty much answers my question. Thanks.

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By the way, is there some good literature out there that covers most of the procedures from lab work, negative cutting, printing etc.? I know the basics, but I'd like to read more about the details of how things were done.

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