January 16, 1998

My second evening of film-to-video transfer at Nice Shoes turned into a nightmare. A little way into the second reel, it became apparent that something was wrong with the image: flares of light, emanating from the right side of the frame, obscured parts of the picture from time to time. It reminded me of the look of a roll of film that has been exposed briefly to light, but the frequency of the flares was less regular than when you flash a film roll. They seemed to show up only in the night scenes, but that may have been because the brightness of the day scenes obscured the effect. Lenny the colorist checked several times and pronounced that the problem was on the film, not in the video transfer equipment. I was baffled, not having seen any of these problems when I screened the reel ten days ago--could I possibly have daydreamed through such a conspicuous defect? Near the end of the reel, as the problem got worse, I took a break in the session, with the permission of Nice Shoes, and taxied back to my office, where I picked up the old print of the second reel, the one that I had asked Lab-Link to replace. Most of the problems in this reject reel were sound problems, which wouldn't show up in these transfer sessions, because I am using the original DAT masters for sound; the old reel does have one brief visual problem, but that's a small price to pay compared to the continuous flaring. When I rushed back to Nice Shoes with the backup print, I was dismayed to discover that the exact same flashes of light appeared, in exactly the same places. I was completely stupefied: how could I have overlooked this flaring in two successive screenings? And yet the defects seem to be on the film: they occur in the same places every time. If this really is a problem with the prints, then the problem has to be on the negative--an unthinkable idea.

Bewildered, and having already spent $1000 on the video transfer process, I decided to continue the session instead of aborting it, and sat there in misery while we laid down the second and third reels. The flaring cropped up on the third reel as well, which meant that I would have had to miss the problem in three different screenings. We finished up at 1 a.m., I paid Nice Shoes over $1800, and walked out with a D2 master that may well be unusable. I'm completely confused and miserable, and don't really know what the next move is, but I have the weekend to think about it.

Click here to read the next diary entry, here to read the previous entry, and here to go back to the main menu.