Film-Tech Cinema Systems
Film-Tech Forum

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile | my password | register | search | faq & rules | forum home
  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Film Handlers' Forum   » Who decides where to make reel breaks? (Page 1)

This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2 
Author Topic: Who decides where to make reel breaks?
Frank Angel
Film God

Posts: 5198
From: Brooklyn NY USA
Registered: Dec 1999

 - posted 04-15-2002 11:43 PM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Just ran a sneak of the new Ethan Hawke (directorial debut) film CHELSEA WALLS (lions Gate Film). Aside from the fact that it was the darkest, muddiest looking pictures I have ever run, with some scenes so dark I had to constantly check the arc to make sure I was still in trim.....light look bright and beautiful in the spy box window, only no light came out the lens. I actually missed a change-over cue it was so damn dark. So you can imagine what a foul mood THAT put me in. But here's the thing -- this picture was cut on 8 reels, when clearly it should have been on 7 as reel 6 was only about 400ft and reel 7 was maybe 1100. Both reels fit just fine on a single house reel (which holds even less than a plastic shipping reel). I don't like splicing a mint print, but this was ridiculous. It goes back in the can on 7 reels, not 8, with the heads and tales wound on the extra plastic reel -- the bent one.

And I won't say much about the content except two words -- pretentious and boring....I lied, make it three -- gobble -- it's THAT much of a turkey.

So, anyone have any idea why they would break these reels like that? I understand in musicals they used to try to make reel breaks where there was no musical number (although this was not always an attainable goal). But at these two reel break locations, you could have racked down to 3 and you wouldn't have missed anything. Better still, you could have skipped reels and no one would have noticed. We started off with about 250 and when the house light came up, there were about 50 left in the theatre -- Uma Thurman's fans, no doubt.

Mr.Hawke needs to take a course in cinema 101 before attempting his first film....and while he is at it, drag his his cinematographer and lighting designer might as well, making them take their first course in their respective fields.


PS...that goes double for the film cutter.

 |  IP: Logged

Darryl Spicer
Film God

Posts: 3250
From: Lexington, KY, USA
Registered: Dec 2000

 - posted 04-15-2002 11:52 PM      Profile for Darryl Spicer     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Definetly an editors decision on the reels. Sounds to me like this may have been Hawk's film school assignment. If so, I think he just got an F.

Why is it that some actors think they can Direct a movie.

 |  IP: Logged

Frank Angel
Film God

Posts: 5198
From: Brooklyn NY USA
Registered: Dec 1999

 - posted 04-16-2002 12:06 AM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
And not very good actors in the first place.

 |  IP: Logged

Mike Olpin
Chop Chop!

Posts: 1852
From: Dallas, TX
Registered: Jan 2002

 - posted 04-16-2002 01:00 AM      Profile for Mike Olpin   Email Mike Olpin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Im not an Ethan Hawk fan, but i really liked GATTACA.

 |  IP: Logged

Howard Johnson
Film Handler

Posts: 87
From: Felpham , West Sussex, UK
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 04-16-2002 05:15 AM      Profile for Howard Johnson   Email Howard Johnson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I agree with Frank, it's really irritating when films arrive in more reels than necessary. When I worked as a studio projectionist many years ago the rough cut of the film would be assembled onto full 1000 foot reels. We would show this on 2 projectors with change-overs every 10 mins! I think that short reels result from cutting of the film after this stage, sometimes a considerable amount of material is removed. In both of the films where I was an extra - "Wish You Were Here" and "Madness Of King George" my wonderful "performance" was cut out. I do think that the lab could be asked to asked to recut the neg to give even lengths of reels but I suppose the production co. will not spend the money

 |  IP: Logged

John Anastasio
Master Film Handler

Posts: 325
From: Trenton, NJ, USA
Registered: Sep 2000

 - posted 04-16-2002 06:37 AM      Profile for John Anastasio   Author's Homepage   Email John Anastasio   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
You got 1000 foot reels from the editor because that's the size of the platters on an editing table.

 |  IP: Logged

John Hazelton
Film Handler

Posts: 42
From: Oakland, CA, USA
Registered: Jun 2001

 - posted 04-17-2002 07:59 PM      Profile for John Hazelton   Author's Homepage   Email John Hazelton   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
John Anastasio writes:

You got 1000 foot reels from the editor because that's the size of the platters on an editing table.

Ah, but that just pushes the cause back a step. Why does the flat bed have 1000 foot plates?

 |  IP: Logged

Joe Beres
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 606
From: Minneapolis, MN, USA
Registered: Nov 2000

 - posted 04-17-2002 08:25 PM      Profile for Joe Beres   Email Joe Beres   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I can deal with the short reels, but if there are going to be short reels, the changeovers better be well thought out. Mid-scene or mid-shot (grrrr) changeovers are infuriating and unacceptable in those situations. If an editor is cutting the reels for some odd length, I would assume that it is (normally) being done for the sake of scene changes and continuity in a changeover situation.

This of course does not come into play when a film ships on 1000' reels. It seems that many labs/distributors/archives in Europe and Asia still use this method of shipping and storing features, but I am not exactly sure why that might be. Perhaps Mr. Enticknap can offer some input as an archivist.

 |  IP: Logged

Jonathan M. Crist
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 524
From: Hershey, PA, USA
Registered: Apr 2000

 - posted 04-17-2002 08:39 PM      Profile for Jonathan M. Crist   Email Jonathan M. Crist   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Who decides where to put the reel breaks?

The last operator to handle a print before I get it.

More and more as second run operator I see the prior operator just filling a reel and cutting it off anywhere. Despite the larger number of wide releases the quality of most prints I get continues to steadily decline. What else can you expect with multiplex mania and its accompanying fiscal irresponsibility where most chains employ floor staff for the booth?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Where you stand on issue depends upon where you sit!

 |  IP: Logged

Manny Knowles
"What are these things and WHY are they BLUE???"

Posts: 4247
From: Bloomington, IN, USA
Registered: Feb 2002

 - posted 04-17-2002 09:59 PM      Profile for Manny Knowles   Email Manny Knowles   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
As a former editorial apprentice I can tell you that it would be inconvenient to be shuttling back-and-forth between 2000' reels.

1000' reels made rapid access to specific shots/scenes possible.

We referred to them as 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B so that we could keep it clear as to which was the head of a reel and which was the tail, and we used a template so that we always knew just where the cue dots would go. Dark shots and fade outs were a major no-no.

We even kept a footage count so that the cans would be balanced!

The film editor was Mr. Andrew Mondshein. Maybe we should create an award (!?)

And, hey! Let's be careful out there.


 |  IP: Logged

Steve Kraus
Film God

Posts: 4067
From: Chicago, IL, USA
Registered: May 2000

 - posted 04-17-2002 10:00 PM      Profile for Steve Kraus     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Because 1000' was always the normal editorial reel length and one time was the standard projection length as well. You *can* put 2000' plates on a KEM (I have them for my 8-plate Universal) but not in all positions simultaneously as the winding spindles are too closely spaced for that. You basically use it as a 4-plate (1 picture, 1 track) when using it that way. To create space to make it fully 2000' capable throughout you'd be putting too many things beyond the easy reach of the editor.

Now with most films being editing on workstations I presume that workprints are probably being conformed to the EDL directly as 2000' rolls rather than 1000' lengths and then doubled up for test screenings. (And when a test screening is at a theatre those will get built up on platter & MUT anyway.)

The 1000' length may also have been inspired by the limits on reel size on double system projectors although my own run 2000' with no problem.

 |  IP: Logged

Brad Miller

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

 - posted 04-17-2002 10:04 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Manny, having never edited a 35mm film I must ask the obvious. Assuming the film is not being completed 48 hours before the movie opens in several thousand theaters and everyone is "on time", why can't the entire reels be added together footage-wise and one hour of effort put into deciding "hey this 9 reeler will fit on 6 reels and it won't interfere with scene changes if we cut it here and here and here and here and here." I understand frequently that some of the reels are already at the lab being printed before the rest of the movie is finished and in those circumstances I can understand, but not every movie is completed at the last second. Any reason why that can not be done?

 |  IP: Logged

John Pytlak
Film God

Posts: 9987
From: Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Registered: Jan 2000

 - posted 04-17-2002 10:06 PM      Profile for John Pytlak   Author's Homepage   Email John Pytlak   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Manny Knowles said: "The film editor was Mr. Andrew Mondshein. Maybe we should create an award (!?)"

Hey, some pretty good films there! Which did you work on?,+Andrew

John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Worldwide Technical Services, Entertainment Imaging
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7525A
Rochester, New York, 14650-1922 USA
Tel: +1 585 477 5325 Cell: +1 585 781 4036 Fax: +1 585 722 7243
Web site:

 |  IP: Logged

Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 7036
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000

 - posted 04-18-2002 02:15 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 

You asked why reels aren't conformed to 2,000 foot lengths as a routine part of the post-production process. When I posed exactly the same question in the 'annoyingly short reels' thread several months ago, here was Bill Carter's reply:

Usually, the physical number of reels is "carved in stone" once the negative cutter begins conforming the camera negative. Changes may still be made within a reel, but footages per reel generally don't get rebalanced. Once the cutter has made certain shots "head" and "tail" shots for the various reels, that can be difficult to change. Major handling of camera negative like that is avoided as much as possible, because of the potential for wear and damage.

I only wish editors had always taken that line! I've recently been preparing a 3-reel 35mm documentary made in 1947 for preservation duping, and found the camera negative to be full of bad (and in some cases, not straight) joins, edge damage, V-cut perforations, rusting Lawley clips (steel clips which were an early device used to signal changes in printer light, which were supposed to be removed after printing has been completed) and even fingerprints on both surfaces.

 |  IP: Logged

Brad Miller

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

 - posted 04-18-2002 05:01 AM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks Leo. That may have been the post I was vaguely remembering from long ago.

With more and more movies being edited on non-linear video machines, I would think this sort of thing could be easily corrected. Let's hope.

 |  IP: Logged

All times are Central (GMT -6:00)
This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2 
Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic    Move Topic    Delete Topic    next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:

Powered by Infopop Corporation

The Film-Tech Forums are designed for various members related to the cinema industry to express their opinions, viewpoints and testimonials on various products, services and events based upon speculation, personal knowledge and factual information through use, therefore all views represented here allow no liability upon the publishers of this web site and the owners of said views assume no liability for any ill will resulting from these postings. The posts made here are for educational as well as entertainment purposes and as such anyone viewing this portion of the website must accept these views as statements of the author of that opinion and agrees to release the authors from any and all liability.

© 1999-2018 Film-Tech Cinema Systems, LLC. All rights reserved.