Hello everyone.

This is the first time that I'm cutting sound on a feature film in a major way, so this the first time I'm really dealing with reel breaks.

Generally when I'm cutting DIA, I leave a one frame fade on either side of a scene transition. But at the head and tail of a reel, that's not possible because no audio can play before the FFOA and after the LFOA.

What do you do for reel breaks? Do you cut really short fade from the beginning of the FFOA frame?


For reel breaks (assuming picture dept didn't do an improper break mid-scene and/or during a line), I do an Equal Gain 2-frame fade, one frame on either side of the LFOA, same as when I do hard cuts from scene to scene - 2 frame fades. I do the same at the top of the reel.

I don't know all the details of this, but sometimes after the mix, the stage creates a few frames of "pull up" on the end of each reel (essentially, stealing the first few frames of the start of the next reel) so that when all reels are hung together, the transition is, quite literally, seamless and phase coherent. I've only heard of this practice, never witnessed it even on printmasters and stems I've worked with from stages, so I'm not sure how widely it's adopted nor how common it is.

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    You are correct, printmasters are literally stitched together and consolidated into a single file. This is becoming more and more common in these days of Digital Cinema Package, or DCP deliveries. – Justin P Nov 5 '11 at 21:57

Pullups are used when actually working with a FILM print (i.e actually going to 35mm or 70mm for projection). A "pullup" (in film terms as opposed to timecode terms) is the first 26 frames of the NEXT reel that are spliced onto this reel to avoid glitches in the sound during reel changeover. Even in these days of automated projection, they are still necessary, as the film still ships in AB reels that are assembled at the cinema into the master projection reel (I've spent way too much time in projection booths lately). Even in the case of DCP, assuming the project still has a 35mm component, the DCP Master will be assembled from those original FILM reels. The fades past LFOA sound great in theory, but in practice they will probably be removed at the lab/printmaster when the pullups are done. Always make sure your reel breaks work as a hard cut, and you won't have any nasty surprises at projection.

In practice I've never actually HAD a problem, even with projects where the director/producer didn't listen to practical advice and cut according to reel breaks, but you're always playing with fire when you do that.

If of course you're dealing with a 100% DCP/Digital workflow-say RED/Alexa straight to DCP playout, then these rules don't apply. But given the number of non-DCP cinemas still in existence, it'll be a while before these thing disappear for theatrical releases.

If you think THIS is fun, you should try dealing with Optical Counts! :)

  • The film is going back to 35mm with a Dolby encode, so I want to make sure there aren't any pops or other issues for the changeovers/splices at end of reels. Thanks for the insight. I'll discuss the issue with the re-recording mixer and see what his workflow is for this kind of thing. – Paul Fonarev Nov 6 '11 at 19:41

way back in the 90's (back in my film days) I was told that the Pullup was needed because the frame of picture being projected was not at the same spot on the print as the bit of sound being played because the lamp and the play head are not next to each other on the projector. They are 26 frames apart in a 35mm print (as my memory tells me). I dont remember which is earlier, the pic frame or the sound frame. By tacking on a bit of the sound from the following reel you make a seamless cross-fade easier.

That's how i remember it.

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    Was that playhead for the optical track or the encoded Dolby Digital David? I guess in either case it's good to add the sound to the next reel because the LtRt optical is the safety fallback in case the Dolby reader fails. – Paul Fonarev Nov 7 '11 at 6:15
  • Optical head for sure, but not sure about the digital reader. My guess is both becuase the lamp is friggin HOT and i doubt a play head of any type would be too happy right there. – David Rovin Nov 7 '11 at 18:15

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