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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Film Handlers' Forum   » Lab splices

Author Topic: Lab splices
Brad Miller

Posts: 17687
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99

 - posted 07-02-1999 02:16 AM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Here's something positive. (I hope I'm not jinksing it here.) During the 80s, finding a lab splice was incredibly rare. Around the early 90s I started seeing every print with a couple of lab splices. As recent as last year I noticed a 6 reel feature would commonly have 4-5 splices.

It got to where the only way you could get a splice free print was a "show" print or one on Fuji stock.

It's been about 3-4 months since I've found a lab splice! Anyone have any idea who "woke up" at the labs? Are they now discarding the ends of the rolls instead of splicing them together? What about everyone else's prints? Are they splice free?

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Joe Redifer
You need a beating today

Posts: 12859
From: Denver, Colorado
Registered: May 99

 - posted 07-02-1999 03:50 AM      Profile for Joe Redifer   Author's Homepage   Email Joe Redifer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think that the labs are taking all of the lab splices that would be in your prints and are subsequently putting them all in mine. I will send them all to you as I am sure you miss them.

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Ian Price
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1714
From: Denver, CO
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 07-02-1999 09:33 AM      Profile for Ian Price   Email Ian Price   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I watched WWW last night at UA Meadows 12. There was one, large, ugly lab splice. The digital held together and I didn't hear it go through the projector. If I had, I'm sure it would have been loud. Other than that, the presentation was good.

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Ken Layton
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1452
From: Olympia, Wash. USA
Registered: Sep 1999

 - posted 07-02-1999 11:33 AM      Profile for Ken Layton   Email Ken Layton   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I just got thru with a two week run of Generals Daughter (first run) at the Skyline Drivein and reel 5 had 6 lab splices in it. Every reel had at least one lab splice in it.

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John Wilson
Film God

Posts: 5436
From: Sydney, Australia.
Registered: Dec 1999

 - posted 07-02-1999 05:23 PM      Profile for John Wilson   Email John Wilson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Maybe they know who you are and make sure you don't get the crap reels...


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Christopher Seo
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 530
From: Los Angeles, CA
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 07-02-1999 05:25 PM      Profile for Christopher Seo   Email Christopher Seo   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I also noticed a lab splice in "Wild Wild West", and probably a couple other movies. These are the ones that escaped detection during buildups; the others were removed.

Speaking of which, is removing lab splices a common practice? Lab splices look bad, but then again tape splices with visible edges in the frame are annoying as well. Tape splices in Kodak prints sometimes have dust stuck on to every edge of the tape, including around the sprocket holes, and should probably be replaced before each new run.

Are lab splices ultrasonic splices? If so, are they stronger or more permanent than tape splices?

At any rate, it escapes me why the labs can't create a simple sprocket hole counting device to make sure splices are at frame lines.... although they would still show up in Scope pictures. Oh well.

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Erika Hellgren
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 168
From: Denver, Colorado
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 07-02-1999 06:29 PM      Profile for Erika Hellgren   Email Erika Hellgren   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I have found clear tape splices to be less noticable on screen than cement splices. I've actually watched prints that I've built up, and respliced many lab splices in, and a lot of times I'll get up when it's over and realize that I never saw my clear tape splices go by. On the other hand, if I inadvertantly miss a lab splice, I ALWAYS notice it when I verify the print.
Another problem I have with lab splices is that they seem to be weaker than tape splices. I was tearing down a print one time from the platter and a lab splice that had not been removed, snapped and caused me to utter some very nasty words!
Of course, the worst thing about lab splices is all that terrible lab goop (usually blue, or yellow) that is spread all over the picture and digital code for about 50 frames of the film. Unfortunately, simply removing the lab splice doesn't do anything to rectify that. Poop.

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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 7991
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 07-02-1999 08:06 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Agreed to all the comments on removing lab splices. I've only seen one film ("Midsummer Night's Dream") that had a reel with more than one lab splice in it, thankfully. Generally, I'll automatically remove any lab splices in scope prints and any that are not on the frameline. For flat/1.85 films, lab splices that are on the frameline can usually be left in, if they are relatively strong and if the soundtrack is properly blooped with a Sharpie. My objections to lab splices actually relate more to the nasty "pop" that they make rather than the (often) mid-frame horizontal line...

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Brad Miller

Posts: 17687
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99

 - posted 07-02-1999 09:06 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Ok, I apparently played the odds with Murphy when I started this thread and lost. I just went through a print of American Pie and found 8 lab splices! The film is only 5 reels long.

But on another note, there was 5 brand new "white" Technicolor reels that held together!

Fortunately, I bought an ultrasonic splicer a few months back! Now I can remove those things and it is 100% transparent on the screen.

To answer Christopher's question, I'm not sure exactly what the labs are using. What I can tell you is the ultrasonic splicer I bought is fantastic! It is from Metric Splicer and I have a link to them on the "Movie related links" page. The splices on this unit are so perfect that breaking down is virtually impossible! (And the theater across the street will probably get this print on one 8000 foot reel... ). I've made test splices and let ushers try a tug-of-war with it and the film stretched all to crap, but the ultrasonic splice stayed!

Personally, I always prefered to leave the lab splices intact. That way there is no jump (a slight jump almost always accompanies a tape splice). Also, anyone projection oriented would know the difference of the "lab's fault" vs. the theater having a break or some reason they had to cut the film.

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12445
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 07-05-1999 01:50 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I had occasion to see Star Wars I, Tarzan, and Austin Powers at 3 different Carmike theatres over the weekend (sure, I go on vacation and what do I do? GO TO MOVIES!) and amongst all the scratches, misframed pictures, etc. I noticed 2 lab splices in Austin, and one each in the other two.

Tarzan started with the aperture plate not fully pushed in -- about a foot of the picture cut off on one side -- and didn't get fixed until a member of our group complained to the kiddies at the concession!

Long live Carmike....they make my presentation look GREAT!

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