Tales from the Color Suite, Eric Whipp

Colorist Eric Whipp (CSI), A Tale From The Color Suite


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Thanks for sharing your horror story, I could feel my own gut drop as I read.

Question would be, what could you have done to prevent such a calamity? What advise would could be gleaned to avoid similar mistakes? I back up and verify, all camera originals 3 times, before the card goes back, I guess always thinking about the worst case scenario can be quite taxing, especially under high stress, quick turn around projects. Power failure during back up and editing is a big one... so always have a RELIABLE UPS. I have a had a few UPS's fail before, luckily not during critical read write moments. I had a client ask me to prepare for unforeseen catastrophes... There are some things you can do, but others would require too much time and money...

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Very scary. Many, many years ago (about 1980), I threaded up a 16mm neg on a Rank-Cintel MkIIIB telecine for a music video at Modern Videofilm here in Hollywood. I went back to the control room, sat with the director, and color-corrected the image as we laid it down to tape (which was the standard-def workflow back then). After the first reel was safely on tape, the director said, "hey, could we do that again with a different look?" I said, sure, and went to rewind the film at the machine. Much to my shock, I saw shards of emulsion and plastic on the base of the scanner.

In my haste and nervousness, I had wound the film around the 35mm guides... which were supposed to be bypassed for 16mm, due to its narrower width. The 35mm guides gouged into the film and put a half dozen deep scratches in the frame, all the way through! Just as I was staring at the film and wondering how I was going to explain it, the director walked in, saw what was happening and said, "oh, I guess there's some equipment problems?" I gulped and nodded and said, "totally my fault," and profusely apologized. He shrugged and said, "eh, what we've already recorded looks fine. Let's just move on to the next roll. But don't scratch the next one." The director was totally unphased, was happy with what we did, we continued with the session, and it all ended up well.

Needless to say, I was much, much, much more careful about loading 16mm on scanners after that.

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