The Film-Out

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Above are a few frames from the first 35mm film-out test, straight from the lab. This five-minute selection of scenes serve the purpose of testing out our color density, grain and sound levels for accuracy before the final output. So far I’ve checked it through a loupe and have found it very helpful, but in a few days I’ll be seeing how it holds up on the big screen.

Here is the width of these five minutes of film:

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It’s easy to forget, with the way digital currently dominates our landscape, that any movie ever made or shown on film has a very real weight and substance to it. Holding it you are immediately struck by the feel, the texture, and even the faint scent from the chemistry that made it possible to do this.

If you wonder whether it’s excessive to do a film-out for Manos, consider for a moment the alternative. Currently, there is no guaranteed solution for long-term storage of digital assets, only various systems of copying and recopying precious data. On the other hand, polyester-based film stocks can keep an image stable for over a century. Though you’d be hard pressed to see film projected in the multiplex today, major studios still rely on it for the shelf-stable storage of their product.

The work that we’ve accomplished here- for what is by all accounts a very neglected film- is something to be proud of. Preserving not only the movie, but the work we’ve done on it, necessitates a film out. And if you’re a backer of this project, your name in the restoration credits will also be there for as long as Manos continues to survive.

Though a 2K DCP of Manos has already been made to enable easy projection in today’s digital cinemas, and there’s nothing at all wrong with enjoying it that way, there’s something truly special about watching it projected traditionally. Here’s hoping that as many people as possible get the chance.

5 thoughts on “The Film-Out

  1. Because Manos was shot on 16mm, shouldn’t the film-out also be on 16mm to preserve as much as possible the workprint quality in case that material becomes unusable in the future? And wouldn’t it be worth doing a workprint-to-film-out, with no digital restoration in order to have a pure film transfer? I may be wrong, but I’m just wondering.

    Still, I love that an overlooked film like this is getting this kind of attention AT ALL. Great work!

    • Thank you!

      Early on, I took a good hard look at making a new internegative chemically from the workprint. However, the serious damage to the workprint (which included slight shrinkage) was enough to necessitate digital restoration to fix it, and we would have burned through a substantial portion of our budget to make an IN without preserving all that work. The unavoidable loss of quality in printing a generation away from the source would have also contributed to an unsatisfactory preservation element. This is not to mention the preservation of the soundtrack, which was always going to require a digital capture from the theatrical print source.

      The highest quality film recorders available today are designed for the 35mm format and do not have 16mm capabilities, primarily due to lack of demand. While there are a few ways to transfer 2k to 16mm, the ones I have seen involve a rudimentary ‘kinescope’ style process, do not offer the same level of quality, and cost almost the same. The choice of 35mm also made more sense, as we would be able to preserve the full ‘silent’ aperture of the image instead of shrinking it down to fit on a typical 16mm print frame, which is smaller than the film’s native silent 16mm frame when paired with a soundtrack. 35mm also allows for easier exhibition and future re-scanning, should the need arise. All this with no quality lost in comparison to the source elements, and our restoration work kept intact.

      Two prints are scheduled to be made- one solely for archival purposes, and one meant for exhibition.

      • Durr, totally forgot to check back on this…

        That makes sense, and I suppose 16mm isn’t much higher than 2k, as much as those can be compared anyways, and ratio reduction is just heinous. The only thing I’m worried abut is that if the workprint becomes unusable for some reason, then all that will be left is the restoration and REALLY old, crappy release prints, but I guess a full-scale chemical restoration isn’t really feasible on these funds. Sorry to hear you’re so strapped for cash, and I mean it when I say I LOVE what you’re doing. EVERY film deserves this sort of treatment, no matter how bad it may be.

  2. Will it be possible to obtain the exhibition print for screening at some point in the future? How will it be distributed? I’d love to show it at my school.

  3. I think it’s wonderful that there will be a film print of “Manos The Hands of Fate.” My local theater (The Colonial in Phoenixville PA ) supports a cult classic film series, I spoke with the Film booker last week at the Carnival of Souls screening and he said if they can get a copy of “Manos” on 35 they be thrilled to exhibit it!

    Who is doing your film-out?, I know they can be quite pricey as I’m finishing up a 16mm film project and would love to archive it on 35 but I’d end up spending more on a print then i did for the whole film. eek!

    Keep up the good work can’t wait to see this in the theater!

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