Show menu
Shooting People
By continuing to browse this website you are agreeing to allow us to use cookies

Pinewood & Kodak

I wondered whether this would be of any use to someone on here:

  • This is what was called Idailes which was bought by Kodak about a year ago and is now called Kodak Lab London. Though it is unclear whether the Lab is moving to Pinewood or if this will be an extention of the lab, with it operating from both sites. Haven't seen anyone since the anouncement so don't know.

    The other main lab in the UK is Cinelab which is in Slough. Last year they installed 65mm processing at their site which has just been used on the Kenneth Brannagh "Murder on the Orient Express.

    Film production is on the up in the UK, not just for big features, but TV drama, commercials, music videos and short films as well.

    There is an arrangement between Cinelab and Kodak so the two labs do not compete angainst each other so no harm comes to the resurgence. At the BSC Show, Kodak, Kodak Lab London, Cinelab and Frame 24 actually shared a stand demonstrating the collaboration between them all.

    They are all very nice people and always willing to help the low budget filmmaker.

    1 year ago
  • This is so interesting, film has been hanging on by its fingernails for ages, so to see a minor reversal in fortunes is a shift. I wonder why it is? My guess is that as WBS and Pinewood attract a lot of Hollywood production money, which includes a lot of old boys who grew up with film, to cater to them?

    On a technical level for small and indie films, the decision analogue Vs digital is long made and with good reason. Once, 35mm could give you a higher maximum resolution (although the print process reduced it) than a digital sensor, but that's no longer true. You'll get different colour responses from film stock, but you can emulate those looks (and inadequacies) in post with remarkable accuracy. The dynamic range is still one area where film stock may have some advantage, but if it does, it won't be for long.

    Unless you want to go back to Steenbeck editing and negative cutting and optical soundtracks to deliver to the few cinemas that still have 35mm projects and projectionists who can use them, you'll go into a digital workflow immediately after shooting. In which case you just shift the digital problems (as you perceive them) down the road to the TK.

    On set, film is slow, expensive, has gate issues, is less reliable, and has a lot of reasons not to use it, especially for anyone entering the industry in the past decade or so.

    Really interesting area

    1 year ago
    • Responding to myself because it's a follow-on thought...

      I think that for all but the big boys, it's a disservice to your audience and crew to shoot film. There, I've said it. For the cost of 50,000' of stock, you can hire a full Alexa kit for a month. For the cost of processing you can hire a makeup artist for a month. For the freight cost and running dailies cost, you can go from pizza catering to a decent sit down a couple of times a week.

      What I'm saying is that the extra money could be spent on or off screen with more value, for a small film. Once all those things are already in hand is the time to look at the film option - when the extra few tens of thousands are small change, not half the budget ;-)

      1 year ago
    • @Paddy Robinson-Griffin Hope you don't mind if I disagree, Paddy. We've had this discussion many times before. The cost of shooting on film is going down, as the infrastructure to support it increases. As long as you keep to sensible shooting ratios and not the insane ones we have now. I think those who shoot film are in love with film and that is why they shoot it. I, for one, love film, but will (and do) shoot digital most of the time.

      I think both film and digital have their place. A Short was recently shot on Vistavision (film not digital), who could have imagined that 5 years ago!

      The 65mm processing facility at Cinelab is an amazing advancement (albeit for the big boys). I was given a tour of it just before it started doing "Murder on the Orient Express" and was most impressed. When Dunkirk was shot, Production actually hired a Lear Jet to fly the rushes to Fotocem in LA as they didn't want them going anywhere near a commercial carrier. If it was shot now, it would go to Slough; a major cost cutter.

      Also, I grew up with film and I don't consider myself an 'old boy!' lol

      1 year ago
    • @Mark Wiggins I'll never object to disagreement! I've been happy to shift position in the face of a good argument before, otherwise what's the point? ;-)

      Totally hear you that it's a big boon to take 65mm rushes to Slough, and I'm really glad that it's generating employment and UK spend for film companies. Anything that brings cash in is a good thing for us all.

      I'm all for the cost of using film going down, too. I just will be surprised if it even gets close to the price of a digital workflow. So many shorts have hugely imbalanced budgets that are subsidised by everyone involved. A film is as good as its worst element - add crappy sound to a beautiful image, or teenage actors playing East End gangster bosses, or 2017-cut costume in a period drama, and it jars.

      For my money, a short/feature needn't spend hugely, but it should spend intelligently. If you're begging favours for people to work on your project (not paying the going rate), then it's an insult to your colleagues if you choose to unbalance your spend and get the megasuperduper 2017 lens instead of the absolutelybrilliantstill 2012 lens at twice the price, for instance. I can only think this'll be a thing again for 'shooting on film', which we thought had gone! (At least I thought it was gone!).

      I've no bugbear with the medium itself, although I'd question the wisdom of choosing 35mm over an Alexa for 95% of the projects for 95% of the time. I just hope it doesn't become another thing that people want to pay full price for increasing downwards pressure on favour giver's rates and the other aspects of the film which will anyway be a fully digital workflow after the moment it has great value - acquisition ;-)

      I do agree that shooting ratios won't be hurt by this, and if it gets some directors to think harder and shoot tighter at 6:1 it's no bad thing - but then again you could do that digitally and benefit from the time saved and instant playback to *know* you got the shot and reduce pickups/edit room problems.

      As for old boys...Mark, I have a hunch that you and I both won't see 40 again ;-)

      1 year ago
  • I'd agree with everything you say. However, the great thing about so much big stuff being shot on film in the UK is that the infrastructure exsists for lower budget people to shoot film if they want to and Kodak, the labs, Rental Houses etc are really keen to help people do this.

    I think if people want to shoot on film they should be able to do so. Its also important as, if the shooting of film is just confined to a few blockbusters a year, the skill base that the likes of me represent, will disappear. Its no good being able to shoot on film if you can't find anyone who knows how. So encouraging and helping low-budget filmmakers who want to shoot film to do so also benefits the Film Industry as a whole as a whole new generation of film techs are being trained up and gaining experience of working with film on these projects.

    To give you an example of how the skill shortage needs to be addressed. A friend of mine was a Focus Puller on Dunkirk. When he got the call to do the job he had actually moved on from Focus Pulling and hadn't worked as a Focus Puller for about 10 years or so (he is actually a MoCo Operator). He got the call because there are not many people left who have experience Focus Pulling with an IMAX camera. He had to buy a lot of gear to do the job as he had either lost or given away all his Focus Pulling kit years ago.

    I was chatting to another Operator at an ACO event last year. He was saying he had never loaded a film magazine or worked with film in his life. Yet, not only was he an operator, he was an operator in the ACO.

    Luckily, this resurgence in 'Film' production, will go some way to reverse the dying out of the skill base I represent.

    Film is rather like Mark Twain. Reports of its death have been greatly exagerated.

    1 year ago
  • As a bit of a reluctant pessimist for the future of film in the longer term, it does seem that 65mm has upped the anti somewhat. The raw pictures must be absolutely gorgeous. I imagine though that it's an expensive process when all of the procedural and post requirements are costed; so it's one for the big budget people.

    But how do they get past the digital funnel? Unless post is largely analogue through to a 65mm master, which could be screened theatrically from a 65mm projector. That would be something to see, but will there be a general revival in the cinemas?

    With 16K already demonstrated in the R and D labs of the likes of Sony and the others, the direction of travel still seems inevitable, and only held back by the cost of introducing 16K TV's at an affordable price in Curry's whilst also recovering profit from 4K.

    On a more fundamental level of physical engineering the intriguing prospect of hybrid digital/analogue technologies are being researched, strangely including with water. So homeopathy does have basis in science after all!!??

    1 year ago
  • I doubt there will ever be 16K TVs. The human eye, I am told by those involved in developing sensor technology, can only see up to about 6K in terms of resolution; so a 16k TV would be meaningless.

    I met the inventors of the Panavision Millenium DXL at a Panavision event early in the year. They said that, even though it has an 8K sensor, they envisage it being used to produce images that will be projected at 4K. 8K projected at 4K looks better than 4K projected at 4K. In the same way that 4K projected at 2K looks better than 2K projected at 2K. Its the same with film. The 65mm negative for "Murder on the Orient Express" was scanned at 4K. The idea being, again, that 65mm scanned at 4K looks better than 35mm scanned at 4K. By the way, I was talking to one of the Operators on it and he was saying that the rushes look stunning; particularly the snow.

    I think there is a lot of cross polination between film and digital. The resurgence in 65mm was started by Nolan and Tarantino shooting films on 65mm film, this lead to digital cameras such as Red Helium VistaVision, Arri Alexa 65 and Panavision Millenium DXL being developed (Rogue One was the first ever film to be shot totally in digital 65mm). This in turn, has lead new lenses being developed for 65mm such as the Leica Thalia and Cooke S7s. The same happend with the 35mm resurgence. This lead to Anamorphic becoming popular again with whole new anamorphic lenses being developed and a new generation of digital cameras designed for anamorphic aquisition. We now have TV shows being shot in anamorphic and cropped for 16x9.

    People have been pessimistic about films future for years but in continues to confound the naysayers and is still here.

    1 year ago
    • "People have been pessimistic about films future for years but in continues to confound the naysayers and is still here."

      Touché! And people are still buying vinyl in Tesco despite it being in most ways an inferior format. It's a funny world :)

      BTW eyes don't correspond directly to a pixel count, as you can imagine it's somewhat more involved, and it's to do with angular resolution rather than a bayerised raster. But people like big numbers, they love big numbers like pixel count, so I'm pretty sure they'll push ahead with 16k regardless. After all, how many people did we see cheering that a mobile phone could shoot 4k, despite it being a highly compressed, shitty 4k? ;-)

      1 year ago
    • @Paddy Robinson-Griffin Obviously, I meant equivalent of 6K. Eyes don't have pixels. I'm only repeating what the guys at Red and Arri tell me.

      1 year ago
    • @Paddy Robinson-Griffin Also, unlike Vynal. Film is not inferior to digital. Colourists tell me that if you push stuff from an Alexa sooner or later it will start to break down and look videoy (is that a word?). You can push film to the same place and it still holds up and you can keep pushing it.

      And with regard to 16k, one of the reasons that the neg from "Orient Express" was scanned at 4K and not 8K (which you could do) is that Fox wouldn't pay for an 8K scan. In terms of what you need in hard drives alone, 8k is massivily more expensive than 4k. This is also the main reason why the designers of the Panavision DXL imagine everything shot on it ending up as 4k. They just don't think that anyone would pay for a project shot on 8k. These are not my opinions but from personal conversations with the people involved.

      1 year ago
    • @Mark Wiggins Good stuff, let's see where the space evolves, I know there's a consumer TV push lined up for 8K UHD TV's at some point, but it's always a few years off...;-)

      I've no argument that any digital image will collapse when pushed and pulled hard enough - especially if shot at low bit depth or chroma compression. If someone shoots 8 bits/channel that's only 256 levels per channel. If 10 bit it's 4 x better at 1024, and 12-bit is 4096 levels per channel (crudely 16m, 1Bn, 4Bn colours, although that's not a fair model). You'll always get more levels of variation in any analogue recording than digital as there's no effective sample rate to measure it by :)

      Totally get that you weren't saying the eye *is* a 6k sensor BTW, I was just throwing the angular resolution stuff up in case it interested anyone enough to follow up :)

      1 year ago
    • @Paddy Robinson-Griffin Just been measuring film frames (I have loads of 16mm and 35mm lying around). A 35mm frame is roughly twice and wide and twice as high as a 16mm one which means it has 4 times the resolution (2 x2 = 4). A 65mm frame is roughly twice as wide and twice as high as a 35mm one, so making it 4 times the resolution of a 35mm frame. This means that 65mm has 16 times the resolution of 16mm (4 x4 =16). Since Super 16 is normally scanned at 2k this means that you could theoretically scan a 65mm frame at 32K (2k x 16 times more resolution). In terms of 16k TVs, this makes stuff shot on 65mm film well future proofed!

      Of course with digital it is different as the Red Vistavision sensor (also in the Panavision DXL) has the same numer of pixels as the Helium Sensor (which is Super 35). They are just more densly packed in the Helium. This is also, the Panavision team tell me, why you get a softer,more film like, image from the Vistavision sensor.

      1 year ago
  • About a dozen years or more ago we bought our first digital edit suite. Scussi 50gig hard drives cost a fortune, as did the computers and software. Today multi terabyte arrays are as cheap as chips and getting twice as powerful and half the price every year or so. It won't be long before the average home computer will be capable of processing and storing all the data required for producing films at 16K and even higher resolutions.

    I'm sure that the folks at Panavision and Red know what they're talking about but as with government websites and companies advertising their wares I'm cautious about accepting their views as gospel. In the words of Mandy Rice Davis, "They would say that wouldn't they". The thing about digital technologies is that despite suggestions of there being practical limitations as to its useful development we're still far from that event horizon. We surely must be getting near to the point where even the most diehard notions of quality over cost won't survive the reality of low cost massive digital resolution with filmic latitude in colour and contrast. It's not just picture quality at issue. The whole process of time and cost effecient production and artificial reality construction is inevitably going to be digital; or hybrid, maybe even quantum. Another aspect to this is AI (artificial intelligence). Some of us old hands might concider AI craft skills to be a sacreligous contradiction in terms but the next generation of film makers won't have such qualms; they just want to see their creative ideas manifest as effectively and cheaply as possible. It's a democratic thing.

    1 year ago
    • Its not just what the Panavision team tell me. I've seen the DXL projected at 4K. I've also seen the Helium projected at 4K. More impressed with the DXL I have to say.

      The cost of 8K and 16K will indeed come down. I'm sure of it but at the moment, the Studios will only pay for 4K. However, it doesn't matter as films such as Dunkirk, Hateful 8 and the new Murder on the Orient Express are all going to be archieved on film anyway, so in years to come, their big 65mm neg can be rescanned at 8K or even 16K.

      1 year ago
    • @Mark Wiggins You mention archive, and that's actually a hugely compelling case for film. Digital prints, especially DRM limited ones (that go to cinemas), are perilously balanced on the edge of vanishing forever. Cultures come and go, great cities razed and grow. We only understand what we understand of ancient Egypt thanks to visual storytelling and analogue documentation. The break in fluent hieroglyph readers caused problems, but the encoding of meaning could be worked out and context established from the pictures with pretty high confidence.

      With digital systems, anything from a jpg to a movie to a Word document to a copy of a programme all look alike. They all look just about identical, a stream of 1's and 0's, and that's if you can even realise a hard drive contains data and how to extract it, and all of that depends on the archival medium lasting (which almost all won't for any meaningful time). We improve technology consistently, and each time we make a leap, we cut off the continuity of being able to even open what came before. A future archeologist has no chance. DVD's rot, adhesives fail, magnetic platters interact with atomic radiation, entropy wins.

      With film, if it's processed well on good stock, you just keep it cool and dry and you've got a movie in 50, 100, possibly even 500 years as there's effective no degradation once sealed. I found some old cans at my local cinema and took them to the BFI -we discovered it was an episode from a documentary about my city that nobody knew existed, despite having very well known star talent. There wasn't even a catalogue reference for the series. All the film was out of sequence in the cans, we worked out what had happened was that in the 1960's it had been shown but had got caught up during projection, and had to be cut out of the projector. The projectionist at the time just hid the cans instead of sending them back to the distributor, and I dug them out to sort out 50 years later. Point is we could sort them out, as could someone in 100 years. If we had found (later) quad videotape (2" tape) there's barely anywhere in the world could play it back still, even if the tape was good, but possibly someone making guesses if they saw the tape had magnetic patterns could rescue some kind of analogue signal and by trial and error produce an image. With digital there's no chance, as to be even 1 bit off and out of sequence can render a bitstream meaningless.

      I first realised all this when the Scorsese-financed restoration (from the best of the very beaten up prints still available) of The Red Shoes was doing the rounds, Thelma spoke about how they'd hunted for ways to archive the newly, digitally restored print... And concluded that they'd archive it for future generations on film.

      Find a can of film in 2000 years, with a string of images that show a progression, and you can probably work out that it's a story. You can probably reverse engineer that watching each frame in order looks like movent and build a device to do so. And then you see the optical soundtrack and there's only very few ways sound can be encoded optically, so fairly basic electronics would get you to the sound, and the sync is baked right in.

      So I think archive is an absolutely a fantastic use of film! Funnily enough it's the exact opposite end of the production chain than acquisition, but this is where the value of being able to do this still will be really high.

      1 year ago
  • Yes, archieve is a really big part of Kodak's business. A former Vice-President of a major studio told me a story about how, when a certain major franchise was being sort of 'rebooted' the creator of that franchise was going to do a European tour for publicity. The creator went to the studio and asked for copies of the foreign language versions of the previous movies so they could be projected on the tour. It was then found out that the foreign language versions (which were all archeived digitally) were lost as all the files were corrupted. Imagine that conversation! And we are talking a major franchise here. Just goes to show.

    1 year ago
    • Ha! Oh I fully believe it. Fully. This industry is marked by islands of brilliance in a sea of borderline incompetence. I've seen fresh graduates given the role of post supervisor on multiple simultaneous​ 7-digit films despite having edited one short being their whole experience.

      1 year ago
  • We have several reels of 16mm and s16 stashed in our store, mostly from the 60's but a couple of older colour reels that must have been special at the time. Its a project on our to do list. The older they get the more interesting and valuable they get. We've also got analogue video tapes from the 80's, even the 70's on spool, that seem to be in viable condition but maintaining the equipment to play them is getting increasingly challenging. Thanks to Paddy's gift of 'heritage' equipment we've reinforced the survivability of the archive retrieval department, which we'll try to keep in good order for posterity.

    Referring back to hybrid technologies though the potential to embed digital code into near indestructible material such as stone, steel and carbon is very much on the cards. I understand we've sent such into deep space already, just in case an alien civilisation comes across it. Film and embedded digital code could be the belt and braces of preservation.

    1 year ago
    • It's a really interesting point - how do we provide a dictionary to be universally understandable from a stream of 1/0's? An MP3 file itself isn't inherently an MP3 encoded song, it may also be an identical bitstream to a series of random coin tosses (unlikely, but unlikely things do happen, especially if you do them enough). Without an MP3 player that knows how to decrypt the bitstream, it's nothing, so now we shift the problem to encoding the player software/binaries, and that shifts the problem to processor architecture, which shifts the problem to, finally, boolean logic and gate array design.

      I'm by no means saying it cannot be done and there are plenty of very smart people who I'm sure have great ideas, just a fascinating area when you think about the implementation!

      1 year ago
    • @Paddy Robinson-Griffin At least a series of pictures on a strip of film is a series of pictures. No decoding needed!

      1 year ago
    • @Mark Wiggins Exactly! :)

      1 year ago
    • @Paddy Robinson-Griffin
      Don't forget the breaking of the enigma code in the 40's. They had to invent digital code and artificial intelligence first. I'm pretty confident that the sort of super computers of the future will be able to decode anything. Probably in seconds!

      1 year ago
    • @John Lubran Yes but you need that supercomputer to do the decoding. No supercomputer, no decoding. With a sequence of images on a strip of film you just have to hold it up to the light. :)

      1 year ago
    • That's true Mark but how physically big are those reels of 65mm going to be? How many copies ought there be for security? How demanding will retrieval, redistribution and examination be and what will be the cost?

      The day when those super computers won't be commonly available will also be the day human civilisation ends. Archival recovery, storage and multiplatform redistribution together with speed, multiple copies at many locations, convenience and low cost are bound to figure large. It'd still be best to have the belt and braces of those well stashed 65mm reels too.

      1 year ago
    • @John Lubran I suppose it comes down to how important is our heritage to people. How much are people prepared to pay to preserve our heritage?

      The BBC recently made a big thing about digitising their entire archieve; News reports about preserving it for posterity. Of course, this is rubbish. As we have discussed, a digital archieve is not a secure archieve (just ask the studio involved in the story I mentioned above). If you ask me, the whole point of what the BBC did was to make space by getting rid of the analogue archieve. You would think they would have learnt. They've thrown out priceless film, tapes etc of programmes which are now lost because of their actions. There are entire teams at the BBC dedicated to finding lost episodes of Dr Who, Dad's Army etc. So, you would think they've learnt. But no; they do it again! It is beyond belief.

      The fact is that an analogue archive will always be better than a digital one. The question is: how far is society willing to pay for it.

      1 year ago
    • @John Lubran Hi John, I totally get what you're saying. Cryptography is a minor hobby of mine so I'm familiar with your references :)

      And I agree to an extent - there's a couple of differences as you'll imagine, and whilst 100% of the world's computing power finally could partially solve the positions of five reels, they knew what they were looking for and where - and that's the key to what makes a stream of binary bits (which appear stochastically generated, there is no discernible pattern, a feature of how good we are at compression these days) just so hard to untangle. If you provide a look up table for how to identify and interpret various file headers and bitstreams then it's a big job, but no bigger that recovering photos deleted from an SD card. Without those, the task is a lot tougher of course, and when you add DRM/encryption the task is at least 10 binary orders of magnitude harder.

      I like to believe that when an archive is needed/relevant, if we have any kind of cultural crash like the ancient Egyptians, that someone will be able to build a supercomputer to see what we got upto, but I fear we may have spent enough of the easy resources of the planet that starting from scratch would lead to a very different outcome. Guess we have to hope for continuity :-$

      I'm not really sure what I'm trying to say - but for sure I'm grateful that people like you John are keeping access to archive materials and the tools to access them. I guess for film in cans and other stuff on robust digital format, a dark and dry in a mountain bunker will be the place to create a library of Alexandria, with our own Rosetta stones describing how to decrypt the encoded.

      1 year ago
  • John Lubran - 65 mm 'the raw pictures must be absolutely gorgeous' - maybe to film buffs like you John but most people don't really give a toss. They're too busy surviving with 'real' problems, and they're the boss.

    1 year ago
    • It's true that most people don't really give a toss. However, cinematography works on a subliminal level and helps affect the emotional response of the audiance thus helping the director tell his/her story. That's the whole point of what we (cinematographers) do.

      1 year ago