Who doesn’t know Prasad Studios, the production house that has made over 150 movies in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi. Its wing Prasad Film Labs are motion picture post production studios in Hyderabad, India that was founded by the Prasad Group in 1956.
This group is the largest chain of post production facilities in India with a total of 12 delivery units located in all the major film production centers of India such as Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, Bhuvaneswar, Kolkata and has an overseas presence in Singapore, Dubai and United States. It has also won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Processing Lab for as many as nine times over the last three decades.
The Mumbai Unit of Prasad Labs is helmed by Executive – Director J. Naidu.
In a tete-a-tete, we sit across Mr Naidu and ask him some queries that he happily answers.
Tell us about Prasad Labs
The Lab here was launched in 2001 and the opening function was graced by industry stalwarts like Yash Chopra, Feroz Khan, Ashutosh Gowariker to name a few. Prasad Labs deals with film processing and printing that is a part of the post-production process. The quality matches international standards. In a way we do the entire pre and post-production of films. In short, you can surmise our activities as ‘From cameras to theatres and multiplexes’. We also have full-fledged labs in Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram and Bhubhaneshwar. Prasad Labs, Chennai is a Kodak certified Imagecare Lab.
What is the speciality of your lab in Mumbai?
Hmm, the Lab in Mumbai is the first such lab in the country that processes negatives by kit chemistry, in which we use ultra pure readily mixed chemical kits that are directly imported from Rochester, Kodak USA. It comes in concentrated form and is diluted in our labs with ionized filtered water. This chemical is three times costlier than the bulk chemicals used in other Labs. There is absolutely no room for error as in manual mixing, as is done in other labs. We might be the only ones using mostly Eco friendly chemicals including the Dizzolvine imported from Holland. Using a combination of new equipment and technology, skilled technicians, stringent quality control and years of experience, Prasad Film Labs (Mumbai) Pvt. Ltd are now able to process films with quality on par with other International Film Laboratories. Commitment to quality has led to high processing standards with ‘No scratches and Dust’. The results speak for themselves – Cleaner images, better black detail, no colour bias and more natural skin tones.
It is understood, that in this industry time is of immense importance. How do you tackle it?
As a part of our efforts to deliver quality products even faster, Prasad extends a great option to all the esteemed clients wherein the exposed negatives are processed the same day, do a one light Telecine of the processed negatives and the tapes delivered immediately to carry on with the work as quickly as possible. All this comes, at very competitive rates and no extra costs, but with the Prasad assurance of service and quality.
Tell us about the process?
The exposed negatives of 400 feet are processed in negative processors. These processors have a speed of 100 feet per minute which is the fastest such Negative processor available in the country. The entire processing hall is centrally air conditioned equipped with HEPA filters for a dust-proof atmosphere. The lab is equipped with two high-speed Positive processing machines each operating at 27,000 feet per hour. Third, operating at 9000 feet per hour. The lab has a capacity to process approximately 100 release prints per day.
What after processing?
The processed negatives are checked in our specially designed clean room negative handling section and later subjected to ultrasonic cleaning, where the negatives are ultra cleaned before telecine and printing operations. Here the processed negatives of 400 feet are joined to make them into lab rolls of 800 feet. The processing area is also fitted with electro-static filters installed in AHU (air handing units) for an ultra clean dust-proof environment. We have two ultrasonic cleaning machines in order to carry out the operations before printing as well as before telecine, simultaneously.
Please tell us about the next step.
The next step is the telecine transfer for which we have an in-house telecine facility. In this operation we digitally transfer visuals of the original negatives into video tapes in different formats and ratios as per the requirements. These tapes are used for the final editing job wherein the editors get their final cut-lists and pull-lists based on which the final negative cutting can be carried out.
How long does the colour correction process take?
Colour correction is a tedious procedure. Where there is no DI done in a film, the final edited film negative is subjected to shot-by-shot correction on the Color Analyzer, which is used for colour balancing, every shot of the film. The data of the colour balancing which is recorded on a floppy is fed to the printing machines.
What is the next procedure?
The final edited picture negatives are then matched with the final mixed sound negative (the mixed track). The first copy is taken out for the approval of the DOP. If no further color corrections are necessary the first married copy goes to the censors. The final release prints of the film are then made on the printing machines. The bulk copies are then delivered to the distributors of different territories, who release the film.
Could you name the films processed in your Lab?
We have done more than 150 films in the last two years which includes big banners like Krissh, Rang De Basanti, Lakshya, Don, Life In A… Metro, Gandhi My Father, Guru, Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic, Drona, Rock On!! and Dark Knight (prints only).
Besides films from India do you also process foreign films?
Very much. A lot of foreign films from Far East, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia are processed at Prasad Labs, Mumbai facility. We are proud to state that the world-famous Éclair Labs, France happened to process the negatives of one of their clients at our Lab. After seeing the results of our processing, Guy Manas, Technical Director, commendably wrote to us as follows: – “At Prasad Labs, Mumbai they do a clean job, have good sensitometry and we get very good attention from people there.”