January 17, 1998

I woke up in despair over yesterday's debacle, and started trying to make sense of the situation. No explanation really seems to jell. If the negative really is damaged, that means that I sat through multiple screenings of badly flawed films without noticing anything. I'm not feeling very confident of my own senses today, but I can't see how I could have missed something so blatant. The hoped-for explanation is that the Rank video transfer machine was causing the problems: in that case, I can hope that Nice Shoes will redo the master, and I won't have lost $1800. But I must admit that the problems looked a whole lot as if they were on the film and not in the system, as Lenny insisted at the time. A third possibility is that the prints were perfectly good when I saw them but have somehow decayed. But this seems absurd: the new print is only ten days old, and none of the reels were exposed to adverse conditions.

Robin, who has seen some of the older prints (not the recent ones that show the defects, but the previous generation) and found them free of imperfections, feels confident that the problem somehow lies with the video transfer process. She deals with Nice Shoes in her work, and says she'll call them on Tuesday and ask the senior colorist there if he has any ideas (Lenny, my colorist, is fairly new to the job, though he seems knowledgable). After thinking a lot about the situation and getting advice from Robin and my friend Fred, it seems clear that I have to find a place to project one of the reels, to check whether the problem is visible anywhere except on the Rank. If the projection looks good, I go back to Nice Shoes and ask them why the video screwed up; if I see the flares this time, I have to go back to Lab-Link and ask them to examine the negative, and also make a VHS or 3/4" dub of the D2 master so I can look at it and decide how bad the problems really are. A few friends and acquaintances might have 16mm projectors, and I can rent a projection room at Film and Video Arts pretty cheaply if I can't get another place to screen.

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