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
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
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
it in 1.66 (although 1.85 is becoming the norm there too.)
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
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
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.
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
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
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.