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style="margin-bottom: 0">Hard vs Soft Matte For Answer Print

Published : 27th November 2003


Hi,

I have a 35mm film shot for 1.85. I will be making around 5 answer prints that will go to theatres around the US.

I have two questions -

1/. How many answer prints is it ok to strike off the original negative before one must consider making an IP as a backup? Zero is a valid answer, but I'm looking for some empirical wisdom...

2/. Also, many of these theatres have shown these "framed for 1.85 but shot full aperture" films incorrectly framed, i.e. way too much headroom, boom mike showing etc. So I'm considering doing a hard matte during the answer-printing process. Is this possible? I will ask the lab as well, but I wanted to get some thoughts from list members about the usefulness/advisability/drawbacks of this approach. My original negative is 3 reels single strand, and 2 reels AB roll.

3/. Finally, these same prints may go to UK as well, which would be 1.66.

Given that, would it change the answer for 2? Should I just matte it for 1.66 instead?

Any thoughts ideas corrections appreciated!

Thanks,

Nikhil Kamkollar
www.IndianCowboy.com



You should make a protection IP as soon as you're done answer-printing, but then you should be able to make five prints off of the original negative without too much worry (I've heard ten as being a safe number.) But you can't add a hard matte to the print in straight contact-printing off of the o-neg.

I believe it's usually added, if requested, between the IP and IN steps so that it is built into the IN. I don't know if an optical printer is required to add the hard matte (Dominic?)

You should just hard matte to 1.66. / 1.85 is such an extreme amount of hard matting that odds are high that some of the matte will be visible on the screen even just SLIGHTLY mis-framed by the projectionist, plus some of these same prints may be shipped over to Europe where some theatre might project
it in 1.66 (although 1.85 is becoming the norm there too.)

David Mullen
Cinematographer / L.A.



>But you can't add a hard matte to the print in straight contact-printing off >of the o-neg. I believe it's usually added, if requested, between the IP >and IN steps so that it is built into the IN. I don't know if an optical printer >is required to add the hard matte...

You can. I did with my 16 mm. graduation film. It is just another printer pass which overexposes the neg around the matted image area.

Say, if you have A, B and sound rolls, a matte roll adds to the count as a C roll. It has to cover the length of a whole standard roll. But the lab, at least normally, does not supply it; you have to provide it. In my case, I borrowed the hard matte from the National Film & Television School.

Arturo Briones-Carcaré
Filmmaker
Madrid (Imperial Spain)



>You can. I did with my 16 mm. graduation film. It is just another printer >pass which overexposes the neg around the matted image area. Say, if >you have A, B and sound rolls, a matte roll adds to the count as a C roll.

I guess that makes sense if the C-roll is clear where the matte goes and black where the A & B-roll image goes. Of course, that adds to the cost of every print you make off of the o-neg, which is why I guess it's usually done in the intermediate steps.

David Mullen
Cinematographer / L.A.



Make the IP at the earliest possible opportunity. It's your insurance. No point in taking out the policy after the event! You can still print off the original neg of course. If you order 5 or ten prints in one hit that would be better than ordering 2, then 3 next week, then more later as there is less handling, cleaning etc involved. (Probably better priced as well).

You can indeed burn in a matte as an additional run on the printer, for each print. (It can also be done on the IP (although this is not often recommended, as the IP is often used for video mastering where a 1.33:1image is required, and the extra top and bottom headroom is useful.))

It's not really true that European widescreen in 1.66:1 as you imply. I don't think there has ever been such a standard. In fact theatres around the world have their widescreen mask cut to a variety of heights between 1.85:1and 1.66:1. So if you want a burnt-in mask, the best advice is to have one made that is marginally higher than 1.66:1 (a frame height of about .525" is good).

That way a projectionist will have no trouble correctly filling a 1.66:1 aperture (which is 0.497").

Remember though, that most feature films are shot with a full height aperture and don't have a mask burnt in. The projectionists who can't frame correctly are probably the projectionists who would leave your film running with your black mask showing at the top and bottom anyway. The circles around the numbers on a SMPTE 'clock' leader indicate the correct framing for widescreen.

Dominic Case
Atlab Australia



Thank you all for your valuable advise!

As a follow up - what kind of information do I provide with the print, to alert a well-trained projectionist that would enable him/her to do the right thing? Is there anything that needs to happen in terms of info on the leader on the print, whether written on, or in terms of something else like the countdown etc., that is necessary to alert the projectionist to how they need the setup the soft matte?

Any input on this from the UK perspective?

Since budget is a problem, it might be prudent for me not to do the matting, specially since not many others seem to do it, and it doesn't seem to solve the problem with any guarantee.

Thanks again!

Nikhil Kamkolkar