Film laboratory

Film laboratory

A film laboratory is a commercial service enterprise and technical facility for the film industry where specialists develop, print, and conform film material for classical film production and distribution which is based on film material, such as negative and positive, black and white and color, on different film formats: 65-70mm, 35mm, 16mm, 9.5mm, 8 mm.

Although sometimes somewhat mysterious the individual technical services are most clearly defined. Exposed motion-picture film will be processed according to exact chemical prescriptions at measured temperature as well as over measured time. Today the interaction of the photographic baths with the chemicals in the films´ photographic layers is largely understood down to the atomic scale. It might appear amazing that the amplification factor of development is in the region of 100 million times.

After processing there is an original, the camera or picture original, in most cases a negative. From it a first sample is exposed on a motion-picture film printer. Again after processing there is a positive ready for inspection by the production representatives, usually by projection in the dark just like one sees a movie in a theatre.

The film "lab." thus needs various apparatus from developing equipment and machines, over measuring tools, cutting, editing devices, and printers to different sorts of viewing machinery including classic projectors. Besides there are sensitometers, densitometers, analysers, and array of chemical laboratory items that will help maintaining a level of repeatability of operations. Auxiliary material is also encountered within a film laboratory, for example "leader film", plain plastic, to keep a developing machine threaded up.

Every single action of the lab costs money. The film laboratory managers can offer by the footage or by time. This issue is rather complex, because at times one tends to feel misunderstood when, let us say, the screening of 200 feet of film causes the same amount in the bill like one of 1000 feet. Yet, for the lab people both footages demand equal labour (preparation of rooms, machines, and film).

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