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Forums Cinematography Film lab, anyone?

  • Film lab, anyone?

     mark thompson updated 1 year, 1 month ago 4 Members · 5 Posts
  • Todd Terry

    February 22, 2020 at 5:25 am

    Been a while since there’s been a post about real film in here… but I have one.

    This is a long-shot question, but does anyone here (still) have a film lab or post/transfer house that they really love and can recommend?

    Here’s the thing… I have a few TV commercials from the past that I’d love to put on our demo reels, but they were from slightly before we started posting in HD, so the spots are in standard definition.

    I would love to go back to the original camera raw footage and re-cut these spots in at least HD (hey, maybe even in 4K). But of course the original footage was scanned at standard-def. I’d need to go back to the original 35mm camera negatives (which I still have safely stored) and get new telecine transfers (probably at 8K).

    The lab that we loved and used for years (and did great work) is still around for post work, but they no longer scan film (and got rid of their actual darkroom and stopped processing even longer ago).

    I thought it would be easy enough to just give it a Google, but out of the zillions of places that say they transfer film, the vast vast majority of them seem to be of the “send us your home movies” variety. I’m looking for a “real” cine transfer house, who can do a real high-end telecine (Rank, Spirit, or whatever is current state of the art), at 4K or 8K with DaVinci grading.

    Anyone have recommendations?



    Todd Terry
    Creative Director
    Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

  • Chris Wright

    February 22, 2020 at 6:19 am

    If you have deep pockets, you can visit They have big clients(think Lucas, Quentin etc.). I’ve used them before. They are worth it if you can afford them.

  • Rick Wise

    February 22, 2020 at 6:34 pm

    Fotokem is one of the very few remaining labs on the West coast, or anywhere….. So far, they are hanging in. Their prices were pretty much in line with the other labs, when there were other labs…..

    The Academy of Art U uses them for our student films. Cine students must shoot 16mm neg for lighting 1 and 2. Some will shoot 35mm for some advanced film classes, though given the costs, most opt for digital, especially for thesis films…..

    Rick Wise
    MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
    San Francisco Bay Area

  • Todd Terry

    February 22, 2020 at 7:06 pm

    Thanks guys… I will definitely give Fotokem a look.

    As long as their rates are in line with the industry (such that still exists) it should be ok. Since this is a personal in-house thing, I don’t have to deal with a client complaining about nickles and dimes on this one.

    Sadly, there is still a huge (and I mean gigantic) Technicolor facility about five minutes from our studio, but they only do Blu-ray and video game fulfillment there.

    And Rick, so glad to know your students are still shooting film. I think every cinematographer should. If you can shoot a film neg and shoot it well, you can shoot digital with one eyeball tied behind your back. The other way around, not so much.

    I sadly haven’t shot film in years… I sold what little bit of 16mm gear I had probably 10 years ago, and sold all the 35mm gear not too long after that (kept my lenses though!… my babies). There’s still about a half dozen (maybe 10) cans of 35mm in the fridge (I think probably mostly 5203, though probably some 5219 which I always hated)… I’d gladly give it away but no one wants it these days. It’s waaaaaaaaaay out of date anyway (although I once shot with film that was 10+ years expired, and it looked great).

    I sometimes still get the itch… there’s a very nice Moviecam Compact on eBay right now… and there’s always bunches of SuperAmericas going dirt cheap. Arri’s, too. I’ll resist, though.

    Thanks guys!


    Todd Terry
    Creative Director
    Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

  • mark thompson

    February 24, 2020 at 1:54 pm

    In the ‘about anywhere’ category there is Cinelab, near London, England.

    They gave a really good presentation at Procam’s Media Technology Day. They also seemed to be keen on the lower end of the market, e.g. commercials and some competitions. I forget the name but there’s a competition where you must use one reel for your whole film (no edits allowed).
    I believe they have a range of scanners.

    Probably too far away for you but if you really need to get it done…..

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