By Carl Marziali
The independent lab for independent filmmakers has a new home on—logically—the Universal Studios lot.
CFI also got more than $7 million in refurbished facilities and equipment, all paid for by studio mainstay Technicolor. The giant lab company bought CFI in 2001.
Aside from proving that “independent” means very little anymore, how does the Technicolor-CFI marriage affect the industry? The larger questions will be answered only with time. It is too early to tell whether developing and printing charges will rise with consolidation. Ditto for whether Technicolor’s move will inspire the other studio service lab company—Deluxe—to woo CFI competitor Fotokem.
On the day-to-day level, customers of CFI and Technicolor should benefit through improved efficiency, quality, and service. At least that is the plan, says Michel Papadaki, vice president of sales and marketing at CFI.
The renovation of CFI’s new home included new developing machines, new printing machines, and four new projection rooms. Customers should notice the difference immediately in cleanliness of film and speed of delivery, Papadaki says.
The biggest changes will involve some internal swapping of business between Technicolor and CFI. The smaller lab will continue to develop and print independent films, large-format films and a huge number of trailers for both studio and independent films. Technicolor may handle some of CFI’s release printing jobs at its new facility in Mirabel, Quebec, or overseas in Rome.
Papadaki says he also expects Technicolor to take advantage of what he calls the “very fast turnaround” that CFI provides customers. And he praises the expertise of CFI’s film timers, specialists who work with the director and DP at the final color-correcting stage to achieve a picture’s overall look.
“We have some extraordinarily good film timers,” he says.
CFI will gain something it never had: a worldwide lab presence. With more independent work shooting overseas, the company will be able to place its customers in Technicolor labs in Europe. Previously, CFI customers who were not shooting locally faced having to overnight the film to Los Angeles, and then having the print or telecine overnighted back to location.
“It (the Technicolor purchase) expands the horizon of CFI, gives us ability to work with the independents we already had as customers and introduce them to the Technicolor services worldwide, including the laboratories,” Papadaki says. “We can take our customers now and place them in different laboratories worldwide for their projects.
“It’s a real easy match now.”
Ideally the same will be true of the match between customers and the combined Technicolor-CFI.