MileFilms at aol.com
MileFilms at aol.com
Sun Jan 14 22:13:18 EST 2001
In a message dated 1/14/01 7:37:31 PM, gerow at ynu.ac.jp writes:
<< Well, I was just following some of Tamura's comments in the press notes
where he was noting how some of the effects were surprising and at least
variable. In some cases, they went overboard and had to trash some
printed scenes. But then again, Tamura is a cameraman, not a developer.
Imagica, by the way, did the printing, and it is one of Japan's oldest
and best respected labs. But just out of curiosity, Dennis, what is the
object of your occasional low opinion of Japanese labs?
Aaron Gerow >>
In the case of Eureka, sometimes publicity is just publicity -- I know I pass
along "tall" stories from the producers in our press kits since it's good
press, and I'm guessing that's the case.
As for the labs, I'll stand by my fairly general statement. We have gotten
many prints from Japan and there has always been shoddy lab work. First, you
must remember that we're an "archival" company where we work on restorations
ourselves so we insist that our new films have the same quality.
Unfortunately, most of the Japanese color films I get (Maborosi and Fireworks
are two specific examples) lean heavily to green due to poor timing at the
lab. Flesh tones are not accurate. For Maborosi, we settled since we didn't
have the money then to create an interpositive, negative and answer prints.
And to be perfectly honest, no one but me and our film-to-tape engineer
noticed. At the same time, Koreeda-san was delighted with the new video
transfer since we corrected this. For Fireworks (which actually leaned
towards magenta), we had a much larger commercial expectation so we created a
whole new interpositive off the camera negative and then spent two months
correcting the IP of chemical splashes, flaws and scratches before we went to
do a timed negative and then prints. It got such a good reputation, it ended
up that we supplied prints of the film for much of the world. Kitano brought
one print from us and if you ever have a chance to compare the two, you would
see the difference immediately. As for Black and White, I've never seen a
print that didn't have dust flaws leading me to think that they don't have
wet-gate in Japan. New prints of older films are often lacking the perfect
contrast. I should say that Antonio Gaudi and Woman in the Dunes were
reasonably good prints so maybe it just needs personal attention.
On the other hand this is distribution and I don't let myself get crazy over
these things (okay, I do, but that's just me). My biggest worry in Japan is
the state of preservation and the lack of archival standards. The original,
longer version of Life of Oharu doesn't exist according to Toho and there's
been no search for these extra 10 minutes. Many of the new Japanese films we
look at have the producers striking prints off of the original camera
negative. There are no interpositives or internegatives to protect the film.
When we offer to pay for them or share in the cost, we are always refused.
(For Fireworks, it took three attempts and thankfully, our assistant
befriended Kitano and convinced him.) I usually am terrified to order extra
prints from Japan knowing that I can ruin the only master material they have.
Are there good labs in the rest of the world? There are about six in the US
that I trust implicitly (Cinema Arts, Triage, YCM are three). Henderson in
London can do good work but only if they're pushed (Kevin Brownlow had them
produced 22 answer prints before he finally accepted a gorgeous print of
Winstanley--and they call ME nuts!). There's Cine Studio in Rome who's just
getting a name for itself and Hagefilm in Belgium. Gosfilmofond did a good
job on the one film I got from them but they can produce attrocious prints, I
hear. Beyond that, they're all iffy at times.
Milestone Film & Video
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