[Tig] Emulating Print Transfer Functions

S. T. Nottingham III nottinghams
Sat Mar 1 00:52:05 GMT 2003

 -----Original Message-----
From: 	tig-admin at tig.alegria.com [mailto:tig-admin at tig.alegria.com]  On
Behalf Of Erik Anderson
Sent:	Friday, February 28, 2003 9:06 AM
To:	tig at tig.alegria.com
Subject:	[Tig] Emulating Print Transfer Functions

There is a fairly good reason that a transfer from prints
to television works better for highlight information than
an IN or IP. That reason is the fact that print is
designed to do that

I couldn't disagree more completely than I do with the current thread.
Prints are intended for projection - not telecine. Even a low con has way
too much contrast range for excellent telecine. Now I admit, if that
harsh/hard look is what the director wants, then you could go that route.
However, in more than twenty years of transferring feature material for
video release, every time the issue of print transfer reared it's ugly head,
we were able to prove decisively that an IP yielded much more satisfactory

I can recall two days of testing with Director Michael Mann in the video
transfer of Last Of The Mohicans. He was determined to use a print to
transfer this title. My client requested that I do everything I could do to
convince him otherwise. We went back and forth between Show Prints, Lo Con
Prints, and Inter Positives. In every case we were able to get a much
richer, fuller look from the IP. The clincher was a sequence shot as our
heroes were trekking along next to a river. Climbing up some rocks next to a
waterfall yielded every detail of water from the IP that was almost totally
missing in the print. His only comment at the time was that the lab must
have printed from an IN instead of OCN. It checking with the lab however,
they assured us OCN was used as the printing source. Any interested parties
may view the sequence in question approximately 30 minutes from the start of
the film on the DVD Special Edition.

Use of the IP in telecine allowed us to maintain good detail in the actors
faces while in a very difficult lighting situations. This feature was shot
with a terrific range from battle scenes at night to full daylight. I can
remember chase sequences starting in full forest coming out into direct
sunlight. The IP was the only format that had the range to deliver. Believe
me, anyone that has worked with Michael Mann knows how tough he can be in
telecine. He knows exactly what he wants, and will settle for nothing less.
The results of this effort can be seen on the DVD release. Although
additional scenes were added later for the DVD version, the basic transfer
is still the THX approved master. He must have been satisfied because he
allowed me to retransfer the title for Morgan Creek in Hi Def unsupervised.

I have always believed that the "magic" of the IP comes from the Highlight
Mask (The thing that gives the film its overall orange color). This, I
believe, helps to "fold down" the highlights - at least in the Red and Green
records. This helps keep detail in the clouds while allowing good light
levels to remain in the actors' faces. I will admit that sometimes a power
window is needed to keep the sky under control, but this is nothing more
than a DP will do in front of a camera by "gelling" the sky. I will be the
first to admit that transferring from an IP requires a whole different mind
set. It is certainly a matter of technique, and a improperly done IP
transfer is cine reproduction from Hell. I can state with some degree of
authority, that more than 95% of feature work here on the west coast is
still done from IP.

I can usually spot a print transfer at a moment's glance, and it is not
because the quality has impressed me. It is because the image is very
contrasty; with no detail in the blacks, and the sky blown away. Now if you
want to talk about the lab retiming a print for telecine, with the dark
scenes lightened, and the bright scenes darkened, then we might have a bases
for discussion. But most labs will only lighten a print 2 or 3 points for a
low con intended for telecine. Besides, I prefer to make those types of
decisions in telecine with the DP than be stuck with what the lab gives me.
A good IP makes these decisions possible. Sometimes you don't have a choice,
but when you do, it is much easer to deal with an extended range pattern,
rather than not enough.

The trend these days towards Digital Intermediates has caused much work in
the scanning step to be done from OCN. I have done many jobs scanning from
both types of elements. Although both formats yield excellent results, I was
always more pleased when an IP was used. It just looked more like film. Of
course it depends on what is to be done with scanned material, but for
digital archiving of film elements, it can be argued a timed IP (that can be
wet gated) is a better element.

My first Ecinema title was An Ideal Husband for Miramax. It was transferred
from IP, and projected using the JVC/Hughes system. It was shown in two
adjacent theatres: one from Digital Projection and next door from print at
the same time. I must say, the difference between the two examples was
striking. Despite my obvious bias, the quality issues were impossible to

Oh by the way, the last print transfer that I can remember was Attack Of The
Killer Tomatoes III. I rest my case.

Sorry for being so long winded.

Tom Nottingham

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