` Colorlab | FAQ

   
 
 
 

 

Double perf 16mm color negative raw stock. Base is black, emulsion is brown.
(On 100' rolls, film is always base out.)

 

Single perf 16mm color negative raw stock. Base is balck (carbon backing), emulsion is brown.
(If you only shoot single perf, you can't load the camera wrong.)

 

Left: Processed 16mm single perf color negative exposed as regular 16mm.
Right: Processed 16mm single perf color negative exposed as super-16mm.
Processed 16mm double perf color negative exposed as 16mm.

First Time Filmmaker FAQs


Q: What types of film does Colorlab process?
A: We process 16mm, Super-16mm, and 35mm negative film. We do NOT process reversal film as a positive. Reversal film can be cross processed (turned it into a negative). This method increases contrast and grain and should be tested prior to committing your whole project to this kind of processing.

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Q. Does Colorlab develop black & white film?
A: Yes, we develop BOTH color and black&white negative film.

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Q: What film formats can you transfer to video?
A: We transfer all formats of film (8mm, S-8mm, 16mm, S-16mm, 9.5mm, and 35mm), both negative and reversal.

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Q: What should I expect to do at the lab when I drop off my film?
Be ready to fill out the “FILM DROP-OFF SHEET” in its entirety. If you are transferring to video, you will fill out a “Telecine Tech Sheet”. Make sure we have all of your information so we can contact you if need be. Please provide a CREDIT CARD NUMBER that you will use to pay for the job. WE WILL BILL THIS CARD NUMBER WHEN THE JOB IS COMPLETED.

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Q: If I am shipping my film to the lab how should I package, label, and ship it?
A: Your film should be delivered to the lab in taped light-safe cans. (Tape around the rim of the can both seals the can, and is an industry-standard "flag" that the can contains exposed, undeveloped film.)

Each can should be clearly labeled with the following items (some of this information will already be printed on the film's factory label-- just make sure you don't cover or mark over it!)
* Type of film (Color/B&W, Negative/Reversal, etc.)
* Emulsion number (four-digit product number, e.g. "7222")
* Approximate length of roll
* Your name
* Title of your project
* Any special instructions (push/pull # of stops, bleach skip or cross processing, etc.)
* Camera Roll number!

In our experience, far too many student filmmakers neglect to number their camera rolls. Assigning each roll a unique number will save you (and us, and your negative cutter) a lot of confusion. If you don't do it, we WILL do it for you... but probably not in the order you would want. So it is better to do it yourself.

You should also provide us with copies of your camera reports, or otherwise let us know if you expect any problems with your negative due to known camera malfunctions, severe exposure or focus problems, etc.

And of course, you will need to let us know your name, address, telephone number (two numbers are better), payment information, (AMEX / VISA/Mastercard w/ exp. date). If you are mailing your negative to us (or sending it by courier, or having a friend drop it off), you will need to include a clearly printed letter with your name, address, and telephone and credit card numbers, a description of exactly what materials and quantities you are sending us, and what you want done with them.

Let us know if there is a preferred method of return shipping. If there are no return instructions, all elements will be returned the way it came and billed accordingly.

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Q. Is a deposit required?
A. If the job is estimated to be more than $1000, a $500 deposit MUST be paid when film is brought to the lab. A credit card number MUST be received at the time that the project is dropped off. Your card will NOT be billed until after the work has been completed.

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Q: What do I do for a Film Dailies order?
A: If you are ordering film dailies, fill out the FILM DROP OFF SHEET only. Make sure you include a detail of all the MATERIAL YOU ARE DROPPING OFF (Number of rolls of each emulsion type and camera roll numbers, any sound material, and any tape stock you are providing). DATE the cans with the drop off date. Provide a working TITLE for the film. Most importantly – let us know what it is you want us to do for you in the SERVICES REQUESTED space. You should include how you want the film processed and whether it should be a double or single perforation print.

*IF YOU ARE A NEW SCHOOL STUDENT WHO IS ORDERING FILM DAILIES, YOUR PRINTS SHOULD ALL BE DOUBLE PERF.

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Q: What if I want Video Dailies?
A: If you are ordering video dailies, make sure you have filled out the “TELECINE SPEC SHEET.” Colorlab offers One-Light, Best-Light, or Scene-to-Scene (Unsupervised) transfers.

The ONE-LIGHT transfer is what it says, One Light. The colorist sets up a timing light at the head of every flat and runs the transfer at that light. He does not stop the session to color correct or compensate for bad exposure, but does ride the colors, correcting on the fly. You may notice some color shifting at the beginning of takes over your clap slate. This is an effort on Colorlab’s part to provide you with the best-looking One Light transfer at the lowest cost. However, One Lights are not re-done due to differences of opinion. If you want a strict One Light, you must specify at the time you drop off your film. A One Light transfer is billed at $0.18/ft with a half-hour minimum of $194.00. A half-hour of 16mm film is approximately 1,100’ so we usually recommend that people submit at least 1,100’ of film with each work order. We recommend One-Lights to people who know they are finishing on film.

In a BEST-LIGHT transfer, the colorist stops the transfer to color correct every scene set up. Because of the more attention given to these transfers, they are a little more expensive. Best-Lights are billed at $0.29/ft with a half-hour minimum of $313.00. If you are ordering a Best-Light transfer, we strongly recommend that you submit camera reports indicating everything you did in the field (incl’d filters or gels used as well as exposure adjustments you made for an intentional effect). Also, submit a letter to the colorist detailing these adjustments and indicating how it is you want your film to look. The colorist will do their best to match this desired look. However, be aware that our accuracy depends on how well the negative was exposed in the camera.

We recommend Best-Lights to people who know they are finishing on tape. This transfer usually gets the colors to a place where you can do minor tweaking in their non-linear edit or video on-line and have a great looking finished product.

The third option we offer is SCENE-TO-SCENE. It states on our Telecine Spec Sheet that these are Unsupervised. Unsupervised Sc-To-Sc transfers are exactly that. The client is not observing the session. The Colorist stops to color correct every scene. This transfer is billed hourly at $324.00.

Note: 1-hour of footage DOES NOT mean that the transfer will take only one hour. The ratio for Sc-To-Sc Unsupervised transfers is approximately 4:1. (One hour of footage takes about 4 hours to transfer). This means that 1 hour of footage would cost roughly $1,296.00 to transfer as Sc-To-Sc.

If there is information about your transfer outstanding, your turn around time will be extended. It is best to provide us with every detail and piece of your job when submitting your film for processing.

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Processed 16mm single perf color negative showing latent edge numbers (keycode) and corresponding barcode of same number which is read by the Aaton keycode system

Q: What is Keycode?
A: Keycode refers to the latent edge numbers put onto the negative film at the manufacturers. When the film is processed these numbers become visible. They aid the negative cutter in his/her ability to match your film back to A&B rolls from a cut film workprint or video daily. At Colorlab we can record those numbers onto a data track (aka, the Address Track) on Digibeta and BCSP only. Other tape formats, because of inherent technical limitations, cannot record as well onto the Address Track. If you are planning on finishing your film on film (as opposed to finishing on video) we recommend you transfer your film to a Digibeta or BCSP master and have this information recorded onto a disk we refer to as a “FLEX FILE.” You can opt to have keycode information “burned in” on your video master tape or hidden on the Address Track. If you want to be able to see keycode, but don’t want it to interfere with your picture safe area, you can request to have keycode (and timecode for that matter) burned in “OUTSIDE TV SAFE.” This will enable your negative cutter to see these numbers on a studio monitor, but they will NOT show on a regular TV set.

Also, Flex Files w/ Keycode reading are billed at $50 per running time hour. If you want to avoid this charge, check with your negative cutter to see if they can cut your job without Laboratory’s keycode reading. If yes, you don’t need to order this service.

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Q: What are my framing options?
A: The aspect ratio for 16mm film is 4:3. Super 16mm film is the same 16mm piece of film as regular 16mm, however, it is single perf and it has been shot through a Super 16mm camera, which exposes more of the 16mm film. The picture area extends out to the edge of the film in a Super 16mm camera. Super 16mm film is traditionally framed as 1:1.66. You can ask for it to be framed as 1:1.78 or 1:1.85. These framings crop more of the top and bottom of your picture area. It is only advisable to request this if you shot with a similarly framed ground glass in your camera. If you are finishing on film (as opposed to video) it is best to see as much of the image possible. This means transferring the image “WITH FRAMELINES IN UNDERSCAN.” If you request this transfer, you will be able to see the top and bottom framelines of you image on and UNDERSCAN monitor. This kind of transfer does not meet FCC broadcast standards, but is a good way to assess what takes are usable for a film print. This transfer will enable you to see if there were hairs in the gate or off-stage objects creeping into your frame. If you want to have a “FRAMELINES IN UNDERSCAN” transfer done, note this in the margin to the right of the letterbox transfer preferences on the “Telecine Spec Sheet.”

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Q: What is an underscan monitor?
A: This is a studio monitor that enables you to see the picture slightly pulled out. You are essentially seeing more of the OUTSIDE TV SAFE picture area.

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Q. Can you do a letterbox matte in transfer?
A. We can place black at the top and bottom of the frame approximating a 1:85 matte, but it is just recorded over that portion of the picture. If you did not frame your scene with this process in mind, you may lose part of the image that you need to see.

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Q. Can I supply my own videotape stock for the film transfer?
A. Yes, but we do NOT guarantee against tape defects. We discourage the use of previously used stock.

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Q. Can you transfer 8mm to video?
A. Yes, we can transfer all film stocks.

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Q. Can you transfer to DVD?
A. Yes, however, we first transfer to a digital tape then clone to DVD. You have the option of purchasing the digital tape intermediate.

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Q. Can you transfer Video to Film?
A. Yes, we can transfer video to film.

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Q: Which film should I use?
A: Before selecting a specific film or films, you will have to answer a number of basic technical and aesthetic questions about the entire production. The answers you provide will help greatly in the selection of the films that will best translate your concepts into moving pictures on a screen that convey your intended message accurately, completely, and effectively.

You should consider the following factors because they directly affect your choice:

(1) Anticipated release format. Will you finish on film or video? Are you going to enter any festivals? Will the finished prints be 35 mm or 16 mm?

(2) Thematic/Aesthetic Considerations. Should the finished film be in color or in black-and-white? The aesthetic impact of black-and-white film is distinctly different from that of color. What feeling should the film convey? The sharp distinctions in hue and density provided by a color film image can convey more information than the same image composed of shades of gray. Answers to these questions depend on the purpose and audience for the film.

(3) Lighting Conditions and Exposure Levels. Will the subject be filmed indoors or out? Can you control the light? Some films are especially designed for low levels of light or for sensitivity at particular bands of the spectrum. All films are balanced for particular kinds of lighting. Will your film give you an accurate record of the colors in the scene if you make the motion picture only in the light available to you?

(4) Type of Filtration Needed. If you have to use several filters to compensate for uncontrolled elements in the scene or in the lighting, will the film be fast (sensitive) enough to record a high-quality image?

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Q. Can you push or pull process film and what does that mean?
A. Push processing film is done to compensate for film that has been underexposed and results in a denser negative. Pull processing film is done to compensate for film that has been overexposed and results in a less dense negative. We can push or pull 16mm or 35mm film for an additional cost.

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Q. Do you process color or B&W reversal film?
A. We do not process reversal film, however we can cross-process reversal film as negative. Or we can sub-contract the film to another lab. We can transfer reversal film to video.

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Q. Do you process Super 8mm film?
A. We do not process Super 8mm film, however we can contract the film to another lab or recommend a lab that does. We can transfer Super 8mm film to video.

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Q. What is involved in the answer print process? What is a release print?
A. From the edited original the first corrected answer print is created. It is usually printed from A/B rolls and can contain effects such as fades and/or dissolves. If needed a second answer print can be made (at a lower rate) in response to any further corrections that need to be made. Finally a release print is made, after the approved answer print, which incorporates all the corrections made in the answer print stages.

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Q: Can you recommend a negative cutter?
A: Yes, here is a list of a few negative cutters:

Frame Accurate--Aaron Denenberg
212-757-4580 Ext 543

J.G. Films--Danny O'Grady
P:212-265-0862 F:212-265-0865

Match Cut Film Service, World Cinevision Service, Inc.
Stan Sztaba
P:203-461-9026 email ssztaba@gmail.com

N&D Films--Nick DiBeneditto
P:212-757-9729 F:212-765-6706

Noelle Penraat
P:212-957-1441 F:212-957-4744

Northeast Negative Matchers--Mike Girard (based in Florida)
407-382-6951

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Q. What does a wet-gate print mean?
A. A wet-gate print (also called liquid-gate) is a printing procedure used to minimize or hide scratches and loose dirt from matching, on the original negative.

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Q. What is an optical sound track? What sound elements do I need to make a print?
A. An optical soundtrack is the soundtrack negative that has been printed onto the side of the sound release print. It is required for a 35mm sound print and is usually made from the mixed magnetic sound or a mixed DAT tape.

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Q. What is the difference between A-wind and B-wind?
A. Wind refers to the relationship between image direction and emulsion position. Images on the film that are "B-Wind" read correctly through the base. Images on the film that are "A-Wind" read correctly through the emulsion. All camera negative original is "B-wind". When you contact print your original onto an answer print, the AP becomes "A-Wind"

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Q. Do you do fades and dissolves?
A. Fades and dissolves are available for $10 each. They are charged one time only at the 1st AP stage.

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Q. How do I convert feet to running time?
A. With 16mm, divide your footage by 36 to get the running time in minutes. With 35mm, divide the footage by 90 to get the running time in minutes.

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Q. Can I do a video transfer from my A/B rolls?
A. No, we need to have a single strand to transfer to video, either a print or a interpositive.

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Q. Can I do a video transfer with Mag sound?
A. Yes, we have a Mag reader that can be interlocked with the telecine. Make sure to have sync marks in the proper places.

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Q. Can you do blow-ups?
A. Yes, we can do blow-ups from 16mm and Super 16mm to 35mm, as well as reduction prints also know as blow-downs.

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Q: What is the turnaround time?
A: It depends on what services you request. Process Normal Color Film Dailies tend to take about two business days e.g., if you drop off on Monday, you should expect to get your film back Wednesday. Process Normal B&W Film Dailies tend to take a day or two longer. The turn around in between 2 and 5 business days. Any kind of special processing adds time. Bleach skip and Cross-Processing, for example, can take anywhere between 3 and 7 business days to get processed.

Video dailies turn around is dictated by the amount of film, weather or not we are syncing sound, and type of transfer (One-Light, Best-Light, or Sc-To-Sc). I usually estimate MOS, One Light video daily jobs to be about 3-5 business days and sync or Best Light jobs tend to take 5-7 business days.

*All turn-around times are estimates only. We do our best to meet those times, but sometimes acts of God slow us up.

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Q: How can I pay my bill?
A: We take all major credit cards and certified checks only. If you are paying by credit card, we bill the card for the amount when the job is completed. When you pick up the job you should receive a credit card receipt stapled to a bill marked “Paid.” We do not accept cash or personal checks. If you plan on paying by certified check, we will call you with the amount when you job is completed. Please make the certified check payable to Colorlab Corporation.

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Q: What about a Student Discount?
A: We offer a 10% student discount to people with student IDs valid for the current semester. You must present your ID when you drop your film off at the lab. View & print Student Pricelist
.

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Q: Do you take NYU Vouchers?
A: We do accept NYU Vouchers. You must drop the voucher off when you drop the film off. If you don’t have the voucher up-front your job might be delayed.

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Q: How will I know when my job is ready?
A: Someone from our office will contact you when the job is ready to be picked up.

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Q: Can I screen my film at Colorlab?
A: We offer video dailies screening and Answer Print screening by appointment. We do not screen film dailies.

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Q. What shipping options are there?
A. We ship FedEx, UPS and the US Postal Service. We can ship overnight or ground upon request.

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Q. How do I contact you?
A. You may call us direct at (212) 633-8172 for the New York office or (301)770-2128 for the Maryland lab. You may also contact us via email at info@colorlab.com.

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