October 31, 1997

After a few delays, I was finally booked into a screening room at Magno today to see the film on a real screen with a good sound system. Some of the sound problems I heard during the last screening at Lab-Link were gone, but one of them remained: the last four or five minutes of the second reel have a continuous crackle, like a dirty phonograph record. I also had the feeling that my instructions to delay the sound by one frame may have been forgotten on this print; it's hard to know for sure, but there may have been a slight problem with the sync at the end of the third reel. On the visual side, the timing mistake in reel one that I noticed at the last screening is increasingly painful for me to look at. Three problems to report to the lab.

Actually, the worst defect in the print has nothing to do with Lab-Link: on a good sound system, it is painfully clear that I should have spent more time in the sound mix to iron out little ambience shifts and patches of camera noise. The sound experts said that this level of noise would be inaudible after the sound was transferred to an optical track, but I do not have to strain to hear it. I'm not going to go back and spend more months and thousands of dollars redoing the mix, so I hope that audiences don't mind the glitches as much as I do in my present state of mind.

Even with all the disappointments, it was fun seeing the film in a real screening room. I slouched in the front row like a good film buff; at times, I could pretend I was seeing someone else's movie.

When I got back to the office, I called Tony at Lab-Link. He feels certain that the sound was in fact delayed by one frame as I'd requested, and I couldn't be sure of the opposite, so I dropped that complaint--any sync problems are almost imperceptible anyway. He seems dubious about my other complaints, but says he will investigate both of them. I really hope he takes responsibility for the problems and agrees to make me another print for free; otherwise, I may live with this print and spare myself the expense (about $1000) of a third go-round.

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