DVD mastering from a negative or positive print?

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sethb
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DVD mastering from a negative or positive print?

Unread post by sethb » Wed Jun 11, 2014 1:14 pm

I have always wondered why DVD's are mastered from the original negatives where possible.

I can see why you would want to strike positive film prints from a negative, and I also understand that by working from the negative, you are using the first generation image. But I would think that in making a DVD master, you would want to work with a positive print. If a negative is used, doesn't the image need to be reversed in some fashion in order to obtain a positive image for the DVD? SETH
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Danny Burk
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Re: DVD mastering from a negative or positive print?

Unread post by Danny Burk » Wed Jun 11, 2014 2:05 pm

Yes, but it's a simple button-push to reverse image tonality. By working from the neg, you avoid copying grain present in a positive print as well as in the original neg...in other words, you only copy one "set" of grain instead of two.

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Christopher Jacobs
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Re: DVD mastering from a negative or positive print?

Unread post by Christopher Jacobs » Thu Jun 12, 2014 12:27 am

Danny Burk wrote:Yes, but it's a simple button-push to reverse image tonality. By working from the neg, you avoid copying grain present in a positive print as well as in the original neg...in other words, you only copy one "set" of grain instead of two.
That is it exactly. You're one generation closer, in fact as close as you can get if it's the camera negative rather than a dupe negative made from a finegrain positive.

That said, if you're watching a DVD, you probably can barely tell any difference at all between the two although good DVDs these days can look very impressive on a big screen. If you're watching a properly mastered Blu-ray, depending on the original source material the quality difference can be slightly to extremely obvious. A good HD transfer from a 35mm camera negative seen on Blu-ray should look essentially like what viewers saw in theatres 50-100 years ago. As I recently noted in another thread, the Blu-ray of SAMSON AND DELILAH was mastered mostly from the Technicolor 3-strip negatives, but some sections had to be added from an original nitrate print. Those sections are noticeably softer-looking on the Blu-ray, but might look almost identical to the rest on a DVD.

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kaleidoscopeworld
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Re: DVD mastering from a negative or positive print?

Unread post by kaleidoscopeworld » Thu Sep 18, 2014 3:28 pm

Danny Burk wrote:Yes, but it's a simple button-push to reverse image tonality.
Well, usually the gamma will need adjustment too. But an overall correction and shot-by-shot grading is not that difficult to do digitally.

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milefilms
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Re: DVD mastering from a negative or positive print?

Unread post by milefilms » Thu Sep 18, 2014 8:30 pm

None of it is that simple. The camera negative can be damaged. The interpositive could have been improperly processed. The dupe negative might have excessive grain or missing a scene cut later for television. One print could be the one version of that film in existence that's unique. (BABY FACE was such an instance). A good archivist will/should go through the corporate/filmmaker records and find out everything about the film's history. That can includes hundreds of pages of correspondence, lab records, legal documents, etc. to learn everything they can about the film and its making. Then they should look at every copy of the material that might have some value. There's a lot of checking prints/negatives/interpositives against each other. But if all things are equal, it's camera negative, interpositive/fine grain, dupe negative and then print in the order of quality.

In the early days of telecine (through at least the early 1990s), you would create a low-contrast 35mm print for transferring to video because the machines couldn't handle normal contrast. But that's a long time ago.
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