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Frank Wylie

Colormaster 2000 35mm Prismatic Analyser

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Thought a few of you might be interested in my new toy at work; A 35mm Colormaster Prismatic Analyser. Just spent the last 3 hectic days assisting Media Migration Technology (formerly RTI) install our new system. It replaces one of our HFC 300D Hazeltine analyzers that was inoperative and allows me to return to electronic grading of negatives instead of grading them by eye over a light table.





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That's fascinating. I'm only vaguely aware of what work you're doing there; can you take us through a typical job you might do with it?


My only thought (and I'm sorry if this seems a bit uncharitable) is that that's a CRT display and it definitely can't reproduce all the colour and contrast of at least some types of photochemical film. But, as I say, I don't really know what you're aiming to achieve here.

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You are right; I don't know of any analyzer ever built that would reproduce exactly the color and contrast of a final film print, but it's probably one of the most flexible systems ever built in simulating a good approximation of what the end result could be of a film print.


That has always been what a good timer does; they extrapolate how the image WILL look from what they see on the screen. You can only develop this skill through experience with the grading machine and with the historical characteristics of the output of your film processing workflows and stocks.


Our work is to preserve and protect the collections of the U.S. Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcast and Recorded Sound Division. The vast majority of these collections are Nitrate 35mm Motion Picture elements deposited at the Library through a staggeringly complex series of agreements with such depositors as The American Film Institute, Major U.S. Motion Picture Studios, Corporate Institutions, Private Donors and the U.S. Copyright Division. Our collections are much more diverse than listed above, but you get the general idea...


Our photo chemical lab is strictly monochrome (B&W), but we do have 4K digital workflows for color work (which I won't address now).


A typical job would entail preserving a B&W 35mm feature from the 1920's.


Assuming we have the original negative in our vaults, it would be sent to the lab for inspection and hand repairs of the element; inspecting for damage, shrinkage and other potential problems in duplication.


Once repaired and prepped for timing, I would time the element and then note any problematic aspects of the element and chose the proper motion picture printing machine upon which to generate an archival interpositive and, if in good enough shape, a reference print directly from the nitrate negative. If it is in poor condition, the interpositive would then be used to generate a dupe negative, which would then be timed and printed to make a reference print for projection.


That's a grossly simplified workflow, but encompasses the basics. If the element has sound, is a projection positive with color tints or tones, non-standard perforations or any other myriad variations on what we can have on hand, the process becomes quite complex very quickly.


The Colormaster will mainly be used to time new positive prints from our newly generated duplicate negatives.


I will still have to time interpositive elements to make dupe negatives by eye, but this helps considerably in reducing eye strain by off loading the timing/grading process of positives from archival dupe negatives!

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I'm staggered that you can still buy such machines new. I remember Hazeltines from college and I thought they'd gone the way of the dinosaurs 30 years ago (well, yours did, I guess).

....and where do you think they bought that speed selector? Looks familiar. Except for the red lever.

Edited by Mark Dunn

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It is a refurbished unit, but it was probably originally built about 2000 or so and appears to have been hardly used by the pattern of wear on the machine.


The HFC 300D, which was essentially a Hazeltine with some updated circuitry, was built up until about 2005, but Hollywood Film Company reorganized just about that time and is essentially a film storage company now.


We bought the last two units ever made from HFC in 2007 (new old stock) and had them serviced up till last year by their former repair tech, but he was unable to get the required spare parts to continue to repair the 300D, so we had to retire one of the machines. The Hazeline was based on flying spot technology with circuits using up to 50K volts and no one makes high voltage components anymore; at least the ones we needed.


The Colormaster is based on a PAL CCD camera with LUTs for film stock emulation.


Media Migration Technology (MMT) is the successor to RTI which went insolvent and was liquidated,




RTI had absorbed and consolidated companies like Lipsner Smith, BHP (Bell and Howell Panel Printers), FilmLab (of the UK and Aus.), Triese Engineering and Caulder (film processors). A few of the former management and workers of RTI formed MMT and are trying to carry on the best they can with the ever shrinking market; mainly archival work.


Yes, it is a Steenbeck controller! It's weird running it with my left hand, but better than other controllers they might have pressed into service.

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The design of that machine's control panel looks like something out of a 1970s sci-fi film. Which just seems appropriate, somehow.


I was just going to say that it looks like it's from Logan's Run...ha.

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