Eureka's look

MileFilms at MileFilms at
Sun Jan 14 22:13:18 EST 2001

In a message dated 1/14/01 7:37:31 PM, gerow at 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 >>

Dear Aaron,
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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