Andy compares digital to workprint

cutting on workprint

cutting on a
digitial system

preparing your edit



























































Preparing Your Edit


Leave a 2 frame gap (16mm) or a 1 frame gap (35mm) between cut backs, for splicing purposes.

The key number is latent in the negative and made visible in the processing. In 16mm the numbers run in ascending order every 20 frames from the head of the roll. In 35mm the numbers run in ascending order every 16 frames from the head of the roll.

If your negative was rewound before exposure (for example if you are using short ends), the key numbers will be on the opposite side of the negative and they will run in descending order. Under this circumstance, if you are cutting workprint, be sure to ask for the key light to be used on both sides when the workprint is made. If working with a video, the bar code reader on the telecine cannot read the bar code backwards, so you will get no key number information. You can solve this problem by rewinding the film again before exposure.

Always account for the overlap footage for dissolves in your trims. If it's not in the trims, it won't be in the negative.

A camera is usually running slow just as it starts and just as it stops. This can create flash frames. These could be used unintentionally in the workprint. It's safer to avoid using the first and last 2 or 3 frames of a shot.

If both black & white and color negative are being used, it is normal to create additional rolls to accommodate this situation. Almost all labs require that black & white and color negative be separated onto different rolls.

To eliminate confusion always communicate both verbally and in writing to both the lab and the negative cutter. Make note of anything out of the ordinary. For example, intentional use of flash frames, fogged frames, jump cuts, etc. Give a foot and frame reference where these occur.

The foot and frame counter should be zeroed out at the "Picture Start" frame on the Head Academy leader.

Have ten feet of blank mag or leader at the head of each mag roll. Be sure your mixed mag has a 1K cycle tone at the head end and a pop (beep) which corresponds exactly to the "2" in the leader of the cut workprint.

Be available for questions while your negative is being cut.


All contact printers have standard-length effects built into the machine operation: 16 frames (2/3 sec.), 24 frames (1 sec.), 32 frames (1 1/3 sec.), 48 frames (2 sec.), 64 frames (2 2/3 sec.), and 96 frames (4 sec.) Any variation on these numbers will require that the effect be done optically, an additional expense in money and time. Note: there are some labs now capable of contact printing 128 frame (5.33 sec.) effects.

When using one effect immediately after another effect, (i.e. a fade out and a fade in, or two dissolves), a pause must occur between the effects to allow the printing machine to recycle. You must allow between 4 and 8 frames between these effects, depending upon your lab. Call the timer at the lab of your choice to determine what their printing machine requires. There must be 24 frames between a straight cut and an effect, and vice-versa. For example, if you are fading to black, and then cutting to the next shot, you must have 24 frames of black before you can make the cut. Conversely, if you are beginning with a straight cut, that shot must run for 24 frames, before you can fade out, or dissolve into another shot. Contact printers require a certain number of frames between cues for light (timing) changes.

If there are a number of short shots in a row, it maybe be necessary for the negative cutter to create a "C" roll for some of the shots, or have some run on the same lights.

For proper color correction, a continuity sheet should be sent. This sheet should make note of particular needs (day for night, sunset, night sequences, etc.), and include footage information, to alert the timer.


It is standard to "zero out" the foot and frame counter on your synch block (0 feet + 0 frames) on the Academy leader frame labeled "PICTURE START". In 16mm this will set the first frame of picture of your film at 4 feet + 32 frames. In 35mm this will set the first frame of picture of your film at 12 feet + 0 frames. It's important to use standard SMPTE head and tail leaders, but if you don't have SMPTE leader, use white leader, setting your "2" Pop on the 48th frame before first frame of picture (counting the first frame of picture as 0 and working back). The accepted placement for the head and tail edit sync marks are 12 feet + 0 frames before and after your "PICTURE START" (head) and "FINISH" (tail) frames respectively.

Make sure each shot has a key number reference. If a shot in the workprint does not have a readable key number, give the negative cutter a written reference frame.

For the safety of your negative, try to keep your edited workprint rolls under 1200'. This will keep the "A" and "B" negative rolls under 1200', and therefore stable. If there are plans to blow up from 16mm to 35mm, the 16mm rolls should be no longer than 400'.

Make sure your marks are on one side of the workprint.

For dissolves, cut the workprint in the center of the effect.


Always transfer with the key numbers burned in, to allow for a visual check of each shot. It is very important to create flex files when doing your telecine transfer. Notify the lab that the film is to be hole-punched on the zero frame of the first key number of each camera roll for an "A" frame transfer. If using short ends, be sure to alert the telecine operator, so that they will reset the bar code reader for each short end.

If you use a digital editing system which produces a time code EDL (edit decision list), and no key number cut list, a key number cut list can be generated using our software program. If you use a video editing system which does not produce an EDL or key number cut list, it will be necessary to generate a hand written cut list. We use a key number cut list and a VHS output tape with the key numbers burned in to conform your negative. (In a 30 fps editing system there will be discrepancies between the video and the negative, but with our software program we are able to convert a 30 fps edit to a 24 fps edit.)

In order to achieve synch sound on the married release print, have the negative cut first, and then strike a silent answer print. This can help you in three ways: 1) You can use the print to transfer to video, then use the timecode on the video as your master to layback your sound 2) By screening the print you can make timing changes for your first composite release print 3) Once your sound is mixed, it can be tranferred to mag stock and screened in interlock with the silent print to verify synch. Although there are off-line digital editing systems claiming frame accuracy, it is always extremely advisable to strike a silent print and check synch in interlock, before producing the final optical sound transfer.

Cutting on a 24 fps System | Cutting on a 30 fps System
Materials Required | Forms to Download