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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Film Handlers' Forum   » "Iron Giant" on 6000' Reels

Author Topic: "Iron Giant" on 6000' Reels
Kenn Fong
Film Handler

Posts: 47
From: Oakland, CA 94610 USA
Registered: Aug 1999

 - posted 08-18-1999 10:13 PM      Profile for Kenn Fong   Author's Homepage   Email Kenn Fong   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In talking with one of the union projectionists the other day -- the Grand Lake in Oakland where I work as an usher is a 100% union projectionist house -- I said I noticed "The Iron Giant" came in on bigger reels. He said it was shipped on 6000' reels, which required only one splice to build up on a Friday morning.

This begs an interesting question: why aren't more movies shipped on the 6000s? If a movie comes that way it would lessen the possibility of a missing reel and it makes the build-up on Friday mornings a lot faster. For the GL it's not a major crisis since we have only four screens, but I would imagine in some bigger operations, Friday morning must be a nightmare.

Does anyone have a sense of how many first-run houses are still running 2000' reels and making hot switches? That's always been the explanation: that even though the vast majority of houses are running platter systems, there are enough which aren't to necessitate the 2000s. I understand that some rep houses still do reel changes, because it doesn't make sense to build up a movie that morning and break it down after the last show that night.

By the way, if you haven't seen this picture, please do before it disappears. It's a lovely story, wonderfully executed. Kids love this movie, but the grown-ups like it even better. And don't miss the images and voices of two of Walt Disney's "Nine Old Men," animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston in the train scene. That's Ollie, a model railroad hobbyist, as the engineer.

Kenn Fong
Screenwriter's Home Page

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Brad Miller

Posts: 17688
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99

 - posted 08-18-1999 10:43 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Shipping on "ELRs" (Extended Length Reels) is an excellent idea. However, there are a few problems.

Whoever designed the reels should've made the inside solid, instead of leaving the grating exposed (necessary for stability in plastic). This grating picks up an incredible amount of dirt sitting around in the depot and isn't easily wiped clean.

Also, because they are not true 35mm reels (more like 55mm), they won't fit directly on any projector's reel arms as well as most platter makeup tables! Christie does have an ELR shaft designed specifically for these, and it works nicely. I don't know of any others who have done this.

Personally I've had one of these suckers split apart during the windoff. It's not a pretty sight! Just as with Technicolor reels, anything plastic designed for reuse is bound to fall apart sooner or later. I now use my Goldberg 6000' split reel for all ELR prints, just like I use my Goldberg 2000' reel for anything coming out of Technicolor. Of course, the benefit of Technicolor reels is they are already conveniently separated when I open the cans!

And then there's the whole thing of one large roll of film, whereas only the first 10 minutes of it is lab damaged. No more changing out reel it's changing out reels 1, 2, 3.

Anyone else have any thoughts on ELRs?

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Aaron Sisemore
Flaming Ribs beat Reeses Peanut Butter Cups any day!

Posts: 3061
From: Rockwall TX USA
Registered: Sep 1999

 - posted 08-19-1999 01:30 AM      Profile for Aaron Sisemore   Email Aaron Sisemore   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The Warner/NewLine ELR was a good idea, just poorly executed. I like the shipping cases, they seem pretty sturdy for plastic, and the DTS discs and a couple of trailers fit neatly into the little niches designed for these uses ( no more yellow 15" DTS carriers that end up in huge piles in many a booth usually without a set of discs in them)

As for the reels themselves, I agree, they are really cheaply made, and not the most film-friendly things on the planet. The large hole in the center doesn't fit on many make up tables (except for some Christies as Brad mentioned) so you build up or break down to a really wobbly reel most of the time...

An better ELR design I would like to see would have the follwing:

-A 1/2" center spindle hole and a set of adapters to use 5/16 rewinds with these reels

-thin smooth flanges like regular reels, maybe cast from a fiber composite plastic for more strength rather than the sharp flashed 'ribs' on the inner surface of the flange that exists today.

-A more positive locking mechanism to hold the core and flanges together, maybe metal screws or pins, rather than the cheap locking tab thing that I have seen break way too many times

-Or just make a bunch of 6000' aluminum or steel stamped reels and ship prints on them


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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6426
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 08-19-1999 03:22 PM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Last time I built up a movie on ELR, I noticed that the tail of the first half of the movie was actually marked "Tail -- Reel 3"

That leads me to believe that all they are is regular reels spliced together from the lab. So... Does that mean that when you get ELRs you get twice as many lab splices to check (and fix if they're crummy) ????

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Erika Hellgren
Expert Film Handler

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

 - posted 08-21-1999 12:17 AM      Profile for Erika Hellgren   Email Erika Hellgren   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm one of those rare projectionists who actually enjoys building up prints for platter use, (unlike my head projectionist who "hates working with film"), so I'm rather disappointed when ELR's come in. I also feel a little bitter about the whole idea behind designing these things in the first place: let's make it so that even a monkey could build up a print. It's kind of frustrating when you work in a position that nobody seems to want to exist. But I digress ...

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Ed Johnson
Film Handler

Posts: 24
From: Lancaster, MA/Appleton, WI
Registered: Jul 99

 - posted 08-21-1999 12:39 AM      Profile for Ed Johnson   Email Ed Johnson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Our theater recieved Mickey Blue Eyes last thursday on 6000' reels. Since both reels were broken, we would probably have saved time if it were on regular 2000's rather than having to spend time making sure the ELR's didn't fall apart. I think the ideas great-- to bad it's poorly executed.

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Stephen Jones 1
Film Handler

Posts: 62
From: Tulsa, OK, USA
Registered: Aug 1999

 - posted 08-21-1999 02:35 AM      Profile for Stephen Jones 1   Author's Homepage   Email Stephen Jones 1   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If Warner Bros. and New Line are going to send their films on 6000 ft reels then they need to do it on something besides plastic and need to have it where they FIT on a majority of the booth's make-up tables. When I recieved Blast from the Past, right when I pulled it out, the core in the middle fell out and the reel fell apart of the floor, with myself still holding the two sides of the reels. I was not happy. When I recieved Analyze This, I started to build up with these and the wobbled so much that I had to re-align the belt on the motor of my make-up table; not to mention I couldn't go over half speed. I believe both instances alot of cursing was said towards Warner Bros. and New Line. I tell my projectionist that they need to be very careful and go ahead and put these 'reels' onto our metal 6000 ft reels. I tried calling Warner Bros. about getting our booth a core that would fit our make-up table. Of course, no call back. When they send these, they need to put a big sign that says "Film Trouble waiting to happen inside." My friend, who used to work at AMC but quit because of the lack of professionalism, remembers when he went to pull out a 6000 ft reel and the core was crushed and the inside had wound in causing the reel to be extremely loose wound. He said he had lots of fun trying to remove that from it's case without it falling apart on him. To the new projectionist it always seems like a fast, great idea. Yeah, that's what it is, an idea. These 'reels' are POS. I just dread seeing a print come in a big blue case like that.

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Thomas Ferreira
Film Handler

Posts: 23
From: Claremont, NH
Registered: Jul 99

 - posted 08-21-1999 07:52 AM      Profile for Thomas Ferreira   Author's Homepage   Email Thomas Ferreira   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I also had problems with the 6000' reels at first. Imagine my delight the first time I got one and discovered that the hole in the reel was larger than the shaft on the make up table. What I did was call CPI and order an adaptor for the make up table so that it's a nice tight fit. The only thing is, the adaptor wedges in the reel, and it has to be pushed out after every use, but it's better than making up or breaking down on a wobbly reel.
I guess I've been lucky so far-I also got Mickey Blue Eyes on 6000' reels, and they weren't broken. The only thing that pisses me off is that the cases can be difficult to open, and once you do open them, the second you turn away from them, they fall over.

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Scott Norwood
Film God

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

 - posted 08-21-1999 09:12 AM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Is ETS still charging an extra $5 per shipment for theatres that get the films on 6000' shipping reels? If I were a theatre owner, I would have a fit about this and would insist that I never get one of those big blue shipping cases ever need to pay extra for (in)convenience.

Although I've never actually had to deal with the 6000' shipping reels, I've seen them occasionally in other theatres--they look very flimsy and cheap. Obviously, the implementation of this concept could use some serious improvement.

As for the concept itself, I'm pretty much indifferent. Print inspection doesn't really take substantially more time with 2000' reels vs. 6000' shipping reels, and the replacement-reel issue is significant (particularly to the labs who have to pay for them). Obviously, this would require that the exchanges have double-inventory on prints (some on large reels, some on small ones), which might actually be a good thing, since the prints on 2000' reels would go to the theatres that would run them that way, and the heads and tails would not need to be cut off and re-attached at every theatre (saving the unnecessary wear and tear found in "real world" environments).

The place where I work now can't accommodate the large reels, but could with a new rewind bench and reel arms. Some carbon-arc houses can't, though, since they use jumbo-size carbons that only burn for 20 minutes or so. I've also seen some platter makeup tables that can only accommodate 2000' reels.

What, exactly, is a 6000' reel, anyway? I've seen ones that range in diameter from 24-26" and in hub size from 4" to 7", all of which could hold at least three full shipping reels' worth of film. I preferred the 26" diameter/7" hub reels, which could hold four not-quite-full shipping reels' worth of film.

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