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Re: filmscanners: repro wars (was drum scanning services)

On Wed, 23 May 2001 04:38:25 EDT   (TREVITHO@aol.com) wrote:

>  A scan at 12,000 would only be employed 
> by a repro house for a 40 x 60 inch high quality repro from a 35mm 
> trannie but only in the most extreme quality circumstances. For 
> magazine repro they'll use much less. 

Bob, I know what you say makes perfect sense - the 150-180LPI screen needs 
no more than ~300dpi at repro size. But the run-ins I have had with these 
guys suggest that they regard 12,000ppi as necessary, because that's what 
they get out of their drums and send to the imagesetter. They frighten 
production eds silly with this sort of nonsense, and I have come across it 
enough to think it isn't just lack of communication or different 
conceptual frameworks of different industries. They just want to hang on 
to magazine scanning as it's their bread and butter.

In recent years, magazine repro houses have begun factoring in scanning to 
their overall package  - the price includes all the scanning the mag will 
need, and they get no discount for not having scans done. This causes me 
problems, as art eds really don't want to pay twice, yet I am doing 
scanning for a quite different reason, as part of the production of a 
useable image from colour neg. 

A couple of months ago I did a job for a magazine on commission, indoor 
informal portraits of a big shot during interview. I shot available light 
on Fuji400 colour neg, and told the client I would want to scan to CD. 
They agreed, if that was going to get best results.

After I shot the job, I got a call from the mag, asking for C41 prints 
instead, as their repro house had warned them off photographer-produced 
scans. Well, WTF - I come up against this often enough to know the 
futility of arguing, so I did the C41's and also some sample scans to show 
the overwhelming superiority of the results, and sent both to the client. 
Sure enough I get a call from him, and he is blown away at how much better 
the scans are. He orders 15 scans, and says the repro house will just have 
to do as they are told.

I do the scans and send them, client very happy. I send the bill. 

2 weeks later I get a call from the client : the bill is too high. 
15@15/scan too high, as it turns out. 'If I'd realised how much they were 
going to cost I would never have ordered them, we'd have got them done by 
the repro house' - although my prior-to-the-job email quote stated exactly 
what the price would be and why I should do them. (It's interpretive and 
part of the photography, in the same way that darkroom printing is not 
reprography, right).

For some bizarre reason the client thinks my price for scanning should 
compete with the repro house charges which are, er well, nil, bundled into 
the overall contract.

Mexican standoff. They won't pay the bill unless reduced, I need cashflow 
desperately.  I cancelled the scanning charges and told them to return the 
CD, and will never work for Mayo Sayers Publishing ever again (less 
polite version). They have paid the reduced bill, after 80 days, but have 
not returned the CD. I suspect they used the scans, but it's a controlled 
circulation magazine.

This sort of thing happens all too frequently. I should pursue each one 
with a lawyer and a baseball bat, but there already aren't enough hours in 
the day. A lot of clients are fine, the ones I work with repeatedly, and 
their repro houses seem able to cope just fine. But there is a low-level 
war of attrition going on here, and conspiracy theory is an entirely 
appropriate way of understanding most of the b*ll*cks spouted.


Tony Sleep
http://www.halftone.co.uk - Online portfolio & exhibit; + film scanner 
info & comparisons


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