From the very beginning of when we were UK Film Lab, among our many objectives was one that was very clear to us as photographers; we wanted to deliver scans tailored to individual photographers’ styles and tastes. Across the labs throughout the world there are a multitude of approaches to the process of delivering film scans: some leave it to the scanner and operate everything on auto; some will do the bare minimum; and some will tailor your scans to your style…at extra cost. For us, we have never wanted to provide a tailored service that would cost our clients extra…we see tailored scans as an imperative.
There is sometimes a sense of enigma surrounding the scan process and how certain looks are achieved….Is it the photographer? Is it the exposure? Is it because it’s a Frontier? Is it the scanner operator? Is it an additional edit? The truth is that it’s all of these things. At Canadian Film Lab we firmly believe in our process: we scan every frame to realise its full potential, and then we carry out an additional edit. While operating a Frontier SP3000 or Noritsu scanners is a skilled job and requires a strong grasp on colour acuity that is not to be underestimated, there are simply things that scanned film requires, which cannot be achieved in-scan. This is where our additional edit and tailoring really comes into its own.
So how do we tailor scans? It’s a threefold process:
1. If you’ve used us before you’ll know that as standard we offer feedback on each and every order. The adjustments we can make during the process of the scan and edit can be of significant magnitude and are such that they can hide problems caused by the exposure applied by the photographer. It’s really only us at the lab who know what your images look like before correction and this can mean that as a photographer, you miss out on a valuable learning opportunity. So we give as much feedback as possible – at no extra cost – to help you improve and move towards achieving the look you’re aiming for with your film. This is where the tailoring begins – we help you shoot in the way that’s going to help you achieve the look you want.
2. We encourage open dialogue with photographers. We give you feedback, and we want it too; prefer scans warmer? Less contrasty? Brighter mid-tones? Just let us know. Over time, we build up a picture of your style.
3. CFL-Pro. The ‘Pro‘ stands for Profile. For us it’s not really anything new because we have been tailoring scans from the beginning, but one question we get again and again from prospective clients is whether we can scan to preference. It’s because of this that we wanted to formalise the process, and to answer that we created CFL-Pro.
Here’s a FAQ about CFL-Pro. It will tell you what CFL-Pro is, how you can get your CFL-Pro, and how we deliver it.
Q. How much do you charge for a CFL-Pro?
A. It’s free of charge. Tailored scans are our standard: always have been and always will be.
Q. So I guess I tell you what I’m looking for and you will save it as a preset in the scanner and call it up whenever you scan my film?
A. Yes and no. Yes you’ll tell us what you’re looking for, but no, there are no presets. Scanning on Frontier and Noritsu scanners does not work that way. We do everything by eye, frame by frame. We will listen to what you’re looking for, examine images that we’ve agreed between us match what you’re looking for, and then we will manually scan and edit with all this in mind each and every time.
Q. How will you find out what I’m looking for?
A. You’ll start by filling out a CFL-Pro form, which you can download here. It will ask you a series of questions about your style and it will prompt you to put together a collection of reference images that we will keep on record along with your responses to the questions and further correspondence we have with you about your CFL-Pro. CFL-Pro will also work hand in hand with the feedback we provide with every order, and we’ll be able to advise on film stock choice and exposure technique to help you give us what we need in order to deliver the look you want.
Q. What if I’m not sure what style I’m looking for….can you help me develop my style?
A. Yes! Let’s have a conversation.
Q: You say you edit as part of the process, not just scan. Another lab I know of does everything in-scan on a Frontier without an additional edit. What’s the deal with doing an edit?
A: Scanning is a fairly limited process that (mostly) comes down to 2 things: colour and exposure. There are things that need to be done to most scans that can’t be done by the scanner. If another lab isn’t editing your scans, then you can be absolutely sure that you’ll have more post-processing to do on them yourself compared to the scans you’ll receive from us.
Q: I’m a new client…do I have to have a CFL-Pro before I can start using you?
A: Certainly not 🙂 In fact plenty of our clients are perfectly happy with what we deliver to them straight away. We have a good eye for colour, we don’t mind saying!
Q: I’m an existing client…do I have to have a CFL-Pro to continue using you?
A: No way! If you’re already a Canadian Film Lab client and you’re happy with the way things are working for you, there’s absolutely no requirement for you to fill out a CFL-Pro form – we’ll just carry on as we are, providing tailored, high quality scans that you love, giving you feedback and receiving it from you whenever needed to help create the look you want.