As one newbie to another, let me tell you that I'd be going if I had the opportunity. If you do, please report on what you saw and heard.
But be sure and read my article first ...
I enjoyed reading your notes on Vertigo, and can offer the following:
Printer functions for motion pictures are very specific. Fades and dissolves, come in varying lengths and occasionally speeds and formats.
I work in a very specific way, that may be slightly different than some others, but generally with the same intent.
Original lab cards, along with scribe marks along the edge of the original negative, tell you precisely how long any function is, and precisely where it is to begin and end.
No guessing here.
In the analogue days, I would cut a work picture, and every function would be annotated in tape and marker.
To the frame.
It is after than that occasionally things can change a bit.
In order not to lose an additional generation, all 70mm prints of Vertigo were struck by deluxe from our original A & B rolls. This meant that every fade and dissolve was original to the print. Is it possible that a piece of hardware could hiccup and make a subtle change?
Certainly. As no one is measuring every print.
Once into the digital world, the same research and annotations apply, but now, especially in creating a set of data files toward a DCP and HD master, control is absolute. Below is a page from one of my working continuities, and you can see the precision involved, as allowed by digital conformation:
678-7 708-1 29-11 45 LS Ext. Day - Photographer BTC arranges family
for photo - pan R with Pacino to inc. Keaton -
pan back to inc. family - Dissolve
A-ROLL ENDS 678-6
4 Foot Dissolve Start Dissolve: 706-2
End Dissolve: 710-1
B-ROLL ENDS 710-5
NOTCHES ON BOTH A-ROLL & B-ROLL
GLUE RESIDUE ON A-ROLL
708-2 740-11 32-10 46 MLDS Ext. Day - Brando and Shire
walk L through crowd to dance floor
740-12 763-12 23-1 47 LDS Brando and Shire dance - people BG -
Fade Out (DX TO B-ROLL)
A-ROLL ENDS 763-12
3 Foot Fade Out Start Fade Out: 760-13
End Fade Out: 763-12
For Vertigo, our work in 1996 was fully analogue. Here are some specifics.
The main titles were all of a single unit, ie. they were not original, and all fades and dissolves were built-in, and have been since 1958. Ours were unchanged.
The fade out at the end of the MT was built in. However, the fade in to the Men up ladder should be precisely 3 feet. The fade begins at 279-11 (feet-frames) and ends at 282-10. Similarly, the fades from the alley to Ms Bel Geddes studio is also 3 feet.
The fade in in reel 4B, in which you discuss Ms Bel Geddes moving away from her painting is also 3 feet. It begins on the first frame of the unit, and ends precisely at 0002-15. This is the precise way in which dye transfer matrices were exposed in 1958.
Another interesting one, and visually a problem in the analogue world, the shot of Ms Bel Geddes walking down the hospital corridor, which begins 432-8 into reel 5B. It ends at 471-10, and the 6 foot fade out is built into this dupe. While someone creating a video master can play with it, there is no reason to. It is precisely as it was designed to be -- a built-in 6 footer beginning at 465-11 and ending at 471-10. That dupe shot then dissolves into original, the long shot pan of San Francisco. Another 6 foot fade in, which then dissolves into the pan down the street, which is a 3 foot dissolve.
The iconic final shot of the film runs from 737-9 to 780-7, ending in what should be a 6 foot fade out.
Here's where things can get interesting. One might ask, "what is a 6 foot fade?"
The answer is that it can be several different things, dependent upon how it is encoded, and this is also one place in which things can get set out of sync.
An example. At the very end of Lawrence of Arabia, the final shot is of Lawrence, his face obscured by the dusty windscreen. That shot begins at 1443-0 of reel 13B, and ends at 1455-15. It was designed to end with a relatively fast 4 foot fade out. Our final 70mm print from the reconstructed negative was encoded properly, but somewhere between that approved print, and the interpositive, from which future prints would be struck, what was designed to be a gradual 4 foot dissolve, somehow turned into a 2 foot dissolve with 2 feet of black. Wrong, but it happens.
If whomever, and it is people not machines encoding these functions, isn't aware of the proper placement of functions, or encodes them incorrectly, you get differences, which can be more than those routinely found when dealing with printers, which are machines. In that case, one must give a bit of leeway, but in the digital work, everything can, and should be precise.
People make mistakes.
If you happened to see a 25th Anniversary print of The Godfather, you would have seen a dissolve that was never meant to be in the film. It was there because someone apparently noticed scribe marks (in this case old scribe marks, that had been partially obscured) and added an errant dissolve. When we prepare a film for restoration, we begin with as many of the original lab cards as we can find, and check those against an original print. From those sources we create our continuity, which is inclusive of printer functions.
As has been noted in the garment trade. "Measure twice. Cut once."