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HOLDMYBEER

INTERVIEWS OF FRANK ISHIHARA

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HOLDMYBEER

POST 3

 

THE TAKEAWAYS FROM FRANK’S INTERVIEWS AND EMAILS:

 

1- FRANK SAID the PGF is Kodachrome II. 

 

Frank’s knowledge of both Dynachrome-Kodachrome systems made him an authority on how each process would have affected the PGF imagery. His work history alone made clear he had the training and working knowledge to supervise both the installation and operation of labs processing Dynachrome (generic Kodachrome K-11), Kodachrome K-11 and Kodachrome II K-12. His abilities were sufficient to merit recruitment by a well-known corporation, a process that entailed moving his entire family to different cities for substantial periods of time. Based on his training and experience, Frank said the images on Bill Munns’ web site appear to be Kodachrome II as he didn’t think Dynachrome or early Kodachrome could match the stills taken from the film. Consequently, Frank said the film had to have been processed by a K-12 lab. (This particular facet of our discussion is rendered moot with the now-verified fact…thank you, Bill Munns…the PGF was filmed on 16mm Kodachrome II film stock.  Any speculation the PGF might have been processed at other than a K12 lab has been effectively eliminated.)

 

2- FRANK SAID TECHNICOLOR NW DID NOT PROCESS THE FILM

 

Frank had several reasons for believing Technicolor did not process the film in Seattle:

 

A-THE AFTER-HOURS PROCEDURES WERE NOT USED

 

As recounted by Frank, Technicolor had the ability to do special processing outside of normal business hours. Special orders could be done at a premium cost and in a highly secured manner without any need for keeping the processing a secret. He said they had done work on Saturday by special order at least once and would have done so again had someone been willing to pay for it. Certainly, anyone needing special processing could make arrangements by contacting any of the Tall’s Camera Supply stores in the Seattle area. Why would Technicolor hide their own work? And the matter begs the question “Why would anyone risk a priceless film to a marginally competent lab”?

 

B-THE OWNER WOULDN’T RISK THE INVESTMENT

 

Frank explained how the license purchased from Kodak bound Technicolor to a multi-faceted agreement. The agreement was actually for the protection of both the licensee and Kodak. It allowed Kodak to perform on-site inspection and certification of the laboratory, the logging of all films processed by the laboratory and making the logs available for periodic review, and monitoring of the lab by Kodak to assure chemicals and equipment and trained personnel were used by the lab in keeping with predefined operational standards. Kodak was also required to make certain chemicals and precursor materials available to the licensee. He explained that violating the agreement could potentially jeopardize the license and of course any investment associated with the license. Frank believed Leonard Tall, the owner, would never jeopardize his considerable investment and Technicolor’s license by allowing the use of the lab outside the confines of the license protocol and agreement. Certainly, any employee caught violating the protocols would be terminated.

 

Frank said the only person other than himself at Technicolor capable of processing Kodachrome film without assistance was his boss Leonard Tall. Frank said he knew Tall well and that Tall would never consider processing a film outside the requirements of the protocol. 

 

C-TECHNICOLOR NW USED CUSTOM PACKAGING 

 

There have been various claims by persons in attendance at the initial screenings of the PGF describing the film in a standard yellow Kodak film box. Frank pointed out Technicolor labs did not use Kodak materials in their packaging of processed films. Instead, Technicolor NW used custom white packaging materials for transport of processed films as an element of developing their own brand.

 

3- FRANK DIDN’T BELIEVE THE FILM WAS PROCESSED IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST:

 

In his 2006 email messages, Frank discussed the chance the original PGF was shot with Kodachrome I (K-11) stock or perhaps even Dynachrome (K-11) stock and potentially processed with a Dynachrome system. Frank at that time speculated the film could have been processed in an unidentified, low profile laboratory.  We now know the original film is Kodachrome II (K-12) and therefore his early speculation is moot. Only a K-12 lab can process Kodachrome II.  Frank went on to write there were only six K-12 labs on the west coast in 1967 (three in Los Angeles, one in Palo Alto, one in San Francisco and his in Seattle). Frank held the concept of ‘hand processing’ Kodachrome movie film to be “a virtual impossibility, that Kodachrome is a technically difficult process, relatively unstable without processing film on an almost daily basis with analytical chemical support”.

 

Frank believed a 16mm Kodachrome II original could not have been processed at a ‘garage lab’ in the Pacific Northwest for several reasons:

 

A-FINANCIAL SENSE

 

In the case of Kodachrome, a competent lab had to have a  ‘business footprint’ to cover costs. As Frank stated above, the lab required a daily operation to keep the necessary chemicals properly supported. The sheer costs of installation and maintenance required a competent lab make economic sense to exist. A K-12 processing facility operating in an underground fashion just doesn’t make operational or financial sense.

 

B-BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE OF THE SEATTLE PHOTO SCENE 

 

In the mid-1960s Technicolor NW not only had control of the Tall’s Camera Supply shops in Seattle, but they also had Leonard Tall as a partner with strong connections to the commercial photography community of Seattle. The combination of these factors represented a substantial knowledge base as to the difficulty of getting Kodachrome processed. Had there been a back-channel pathway to local K12 processing, Technicolor (specifically Frank Ishihara) likely would have had some knowledge of its existence. Frank was resolute on this point. point; he believed the investment likely caused Leonard Tall and Technicolor to have a good idea of what services were already available before introducing their own processing brand. Frank believed the costs tied to Kodachrome processing would require anyone who made such investments to have a clear plan for recapturing their investment costs, to include identification of any competition. Frank was very clear in his belief when he stated, “I had the only Kodachrome processing operation in the state of Washington. The nearest other Kodachrome processing lab was in San Francisco”.

 

4-HAD TECHNICOLOR PROCESSED THE FILM, LATENT MARKINGS WOULD BE FOUND ON THE ORIGINAL FILM.

 

Frank’s earlier conversations with Peter Byrne left him with the notion he would be able to examine the original film. Frank said from the examination he could prove Technicolor did not process the film. Frank said his installation of the Pako machinery was such that it left latent markings on any processed film, markings that were not detectable in the image area of the processed film. Frank claimed the markings were permanent to a processed film and occurred at the edges of the film. Frank said the markings were other than the codes and data placed on the film by Kodak.  Despite Frank’s insistence that no K12 16mm film could be processed at the Technicolor lab outside of hours without his knowledge, he kept expressing a desire to examine the original film to determine if it was processed at Technicolor NW. I detected the hint that it was possible. He acknowledged that a single, knowledgeable person could operate the machine. He also indicated that his Pako installation was such that processing made very innocuous marks on the original that could be detected after close examination and that he (Frank) wanted to examine the original film to determine if his equipment had somehow been used to process the PGF.

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Catmandoo

 You have been away for awhile.

Thanks for the excellent posts.  I have been wondering about the Kodachrome processing of the PGF since it was so complicated. Very few labs could do it as you have pointed out.  I am a Kodachrome guy. I have slides in dark storage that are older than most forum members.  It was the best.

You also brought to light, Leonard Tall, an icon of PNW photography. Mr Tall, the 'Tall' of Tall's Camera, is the one who invented the 'one-hour processing' machines. He owned the M/V Princess Marguerite and the Victoria Clipper catamarans.

Edited by Catmandoo
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OldMort

Thanks HMB, brilliant work!

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PBeaton

HOLDMYBEER,

 

Nice. 

"..he (Frank) wanted to examine the original film to determine if his equipment had somehow been used to process the PGF."

 

Interestin'.

 

Pat...

 

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Twist

Great Posts HMB.  Thanks for sharing.  

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Bill

HMB:

 

Do you have any example of exactly what that special edgecode marking his lab equipment made?

 

Because me scans are the full film width, including the edge sprocket areas, if I know what to look for, I'll check it out.

 

Thanks

 

Bill

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HOLDMYBEER

Two things:   

 

The business about Frank wanting to examine the original film is a subjective observation on my part. Frank always thought he would be able to examine the original film and that it would provide a simple answer to where the film was NOT processed. I have run his willingness to examine the film past others who see it as an effort on Frank's part to vindicate his lab and put suspicions to rest about Technicolor. On the other hand, it can be construed as there might have been a small doubt in his mind about their lab security. I only bring it up as he made a statement that seemed frustrated by not being able to examine the original film and I would be remiss for not mentioning it.

 

As to the latent markings on the film, exactly what the markings look like is an obvious question that I should have explored but I am sorry to say I was focused on other matters. If Frank had not gotten sick I am sure we would have covered that issue. I had the impression the markings were to the emulsion side of the film and that they were repetitive. I also had the idea that you almost had to know what you were looking for to see them. Frank specifically said the marks would not show on copies of the film.

 

Concerning Technicolor NW,  I have located former employees who actually worked near the Kodachrome facility during the time in question. Frankly, their memories are so faded it hasn't gone anywhere. 

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Bill

No luck so far finding Frank's patent to see if it has any clues.

 

I'll do some comparisons of the PGF to many Kodachrome home movies I've gathered, to see if there's anything distinctive about the side margin areas.

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Catmandoo
6 hours ago, HOLDMYBEER said:

As to the latent markings on the film, exactly what the markings look like is an obvious question

 

I would guess something from the film transport  roller drive/tensioners. Should I assume that 8mm Kodachrome would have similar markings if developed by Technicolor NW?

Edited by Catmandoo
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HOLDMYBEER

At least one of the patents was jointly held with Leonard Tall. Frank told a story about going to a convention in Pennsylvania and seeing someone using his technology in what threatened to be a patent infringement.

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OldMort

 

50 minutes ago, Catmandoo said:

I would guess something from the film transport  roller drive/tensioners. Should I assume that 8mm Kodachrome would have similar markings if developed by Technicolor NW?

Edited 29 minutes ago by Catmandoo 

 

I would think that the markings would be on the 8mm also.

 

Do you have a roll that was processed there? I can't quite recall if they did 8mm at Technicolor NW.  16 and 35mm, yes.

 

I would agree that the marks might come from the film transport system, possibly from a film tracking or guidance system that Frank may have customized.

 

Another possibility is that a latent image may have been imbedded onto the film edge during the re-exposure phase of the K-12 process.

 

This would serve as an easy way to identify where it was processed.

 

I would suspect that this was probably done for security and legal reasons as well as to protect their patents.

 

 

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Bill

found it:

 

US4029250-1.png
Grant - ‎Filed Sep 23, 1975 - ‎Issued Jun 14, 1977 - ‎Leonard H. Tall - ‎Cx Corporation

Stepwise feed apparatus for longitudinal advancement of photographic print or film strips to an operating device, such as a cutter. 

 

 

 

CORRECTION:

 

 This patent seems to be only concerned with cutting film segments, not actual processing.

 

So not the one we are hoping to find.

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Catmandoo

Bill, I brieflyy scanned the patent info.  the date is 1975.  Looks like a device for cutting slides prior to mounting.

 

Old Mort, I have a box of 8mm Kodachrome home movies.  I will look for Kodak film splitter dot codes and anything that is similar, but different enough to be a PAKO signature.

Flashback time. I might have 8mm of the Slush Cup at Blueberry rope tow,  Mt. Baker. WooHoo.

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HOLDMYBEER

Rather than post 8 scanned pages I will simply post their summary. The listings reference Kodacolor, Etkachrome, Anscochrome and Ferrania processing but no Kodachrome.  HMB

 

 

Vancouver Public Library 1967 posted.pdf

Edited by HOLDMYBEER
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