T his is going back a few years. Back to telecine days. I was working with a company that just got the Sony Vialta telecine. We were kind of a test facility for it in Australia. The Vialta was a sprocket driven telecine, meaning it worked similar to a film camera. It literally moved the film via the sprocket holes frame by frame and took a single frame capture. Theoretically, it was a superior picture as there was less film weave and a cleaner scan. Anyway, things were going okay and we were getting nice pictures out of it, but only in 35mm. They hadn\u2019t developed a 16mm gate yet. Then one day a 16mm gate arrived from Sony in Japan, so we put it to use the following day on a 16mm job.\n \n\n\n\tBack in those days, we would lace up the roll of 16mm (about 30 minutes of original neg) and we would grade every shot. Once we were done and happy, we would rewind the roll of film and press play and lay it out to tape. So that\u2019s what we did this one day. We were working on a PSA for anti-drugs. The commerical was a great idea. Nice clean interview footage of some old people saying things like \u201cThose teenagers are always high\u201d, but cut to action footage of teenagers riding their BMX bikes and jumping in the air. You get the general idea. So we decided to grade the action footage first which just happened to be on the first reel of 16mm. Remember this only our 2nd day using the 16mm gate. I graded the whole reel, hit rewind and waited. When the Vialta rewound, the picture on the screen would be all vertically blurry as the film whizzed by, so I couldn\u2019t really see anything. The film rewound and I went to line up the countdown leader at the beginning when I noticed some white vertical scratch marks that I didn\u2019t remember seeing there before.\n \n\n\n\tI suddenly went white with fear. I went over to the telecine and saw scratch marks along the neg, and dust all over the machine. I then noticed that all the sprockets had ripped and now the machine could not play the film. I had just aggressively scratched 30 minutes of original negative. Not good.\n \n\n\n\tWe quickly got Sony on the phone to help solve the problem, and it turns out there was a tolerance problem with the gate when the film ran over a splice. When I got to the end of the reel, the film had run into the tail leader. It had slipped out of the sprockets slightly and then of course, I had hit rewind. The machine had quickly rewound the film while scratching huge white marks in the neg and ripping the sprockets as it went.\n \n\n\n\tNow I feel I aged about 10 years that day, but here\u2019s where I got lucky. In my whole career it had never happened to me. The directors were not phased. They had actually brought scalpels and pens with them to scratch the neg for a look. They wanted to lay off a clean version for safety, then lay off another one after we had scratched up the neg to make it look frantic. We just never did a clean pass. I threw up the film on another telecine and re-graded the footage. Luckily we hadn\u2019t got to the interview footage yet.\n \n\n\n\tThe commercial ended up winning awards.\n \n\n\n\tEric Whipp\n \n\n\n\t\u00a0\n \n
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