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35mm Film is sent to Fotokem!

Elvis has left the building! Yesterday, we moved the 250 camera rolls of 35mm negative to Fotokem to start the 4K scanning process.

It was a three-day process to inventory and properly log all the rolls and transport them to beautiful downtown Burbank.

The logging, cross referencing between the original camera reports, lab reports, and information on the boxes themselves, revealed a handful of errors in the transcribing of the handwritten lab reports and camera reports into DaVinci Resolve (the editing program).

For instance, a lab roll might have been entered as L7585693 in the editing software and it is actually L7585698. This is due to bad handwriting of the lab technicians 15 years ago or very difficult to read copies. So, the next step over the next few days is to correct those errors in the master database – which Fotokem will use to find the sections of film we want scanned.

Last week Fotokem assigned us an in-house producer who said to expect this scanning process to take six to eight weeks to complete, putting us at the end of January/early February, not December as we had hoped.

They are really one of the only companies left in the US who does this sort of film work and are running on a Covid staffing and the 35mm negative inspection step is the bottleneck. It’s old school and just takes time, and we are behind some other clients who are paying full price. Sheesh. LOL!

Regarding the film grain; Fotokem will first run a series of tests on several samples of the film comparing the fine grain of the beginning of the film with the heavy grain of the darkest parts of the story (i.e. when William whores Jessica out). This will give us a setting of grain suppression for the overall film which will allow us to maintain the expressionistic use of the film grain that was missing from the 9/Tenths transfer.

Originally, we had intended to have Fotokem scan everything in story order, but given the new time frame, we am going to prioritize the scans in a different way. First, we will have them scan the roll that has the final shot of the house. It is needed for the poster design. Then, they will do all the original 9/Tenths cut negative. Then, the lab rolls of new material in an order to be determined.

Finally, with regard to Fotokem, we completed the master database, which includes 15,000 individual entries that will serve as the matrix and double check for Fotokem to scan the film and to rebuild the film using the new scans. This took eight full days to make as it had to be manually built.

The irony of this was that the editing software normally can create this in about two minutes, but in Awaken’s case, there was no digital / electronic reference to the 35mm negative – so it had to be manually created – again old school style.

There are a series of formulas in the Excel sheet that mathematically check that what is entered is correct.

Phew, that’s enough on that!

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