Denham film laboratory (once Rank Laboratory ) shut down last Friday, yet another indicator of the never ending march of digital cinema.
We were privileged to be given a guided tour to see the enormous operation that is now silent. In its heyday it was processing 2.4 million feet of film every week.
A 3 storey building was necessary for the developing process. The 'dip and dunk' tanks, where huge rolls of 35mm and 70mm cine film were placed into chemical baths, were on the middle floor, with large sets of chemical storage tanks below on the bottom floor, and huge mechanical lifting gear on the top floor. Each complete unit cost £1,000,000 to purchase and another £1,000,000 to install, and they had about 6 of these!
Mark, who was our guide, had been working at Deluxe in its various guises for 41 years. He told us that it was the success of James Cameron's Avatar, in 2009, that eventually sealed the fate of mass film production. 80 employees were made redundant last week from what was once a workforce of over 1,000. A very small team are now de-commisioning which might take a whole year!