When making copies of film, there is inevitably a loss of copying , a reduction in sharpness , contrast range and color fidelity, and an increase in noise caused by film grain . These losses increase with each copy generation. Furthermore, the number of picture disturbances caused by dust, scratches, tread marks or stains can increase. In order to minimize loss of quality, there should be as few generations as possible between cinema screening copies and camera negatives. Ideally, film copies should come directly from the camera negative, i.e. be created in the first generation. However, this best quality solution is almost always ruled out because of the risk of damaging the original .
Examples of the degree of origin of the film copy from the camera negative from the time before the advent of digital technology:
- Interpositive , also intermediate positives or duplicate negatives ( Color Reversal Intermediate , CRI), are usually first-generation copies, i.e. they come directly from the camera negative.
- Internegatives are usually second generation copies because they are not created directly from the camera negative , but from an interpositive.
- Theatrical screening copies are usually third generation copies, i.e. a copy of a copy of a copy of the camera negative. Scenes in which optical effects such as apertures are used are usually two generations further away from the camera negative.
- Some directors, such as Martin Scorsese , secure first-generation high-quality screening copies for their private archives, i.e. copies that are drawn directly from the cut camera negative ( cut negative ).
- Up until the advent of digital technology in film production, screening copies were occasionally taken directly from the cut negative for important events such as film premieres or press screenings.
Since the advent of digital technology in film production, the problem of the generation of copies has moved somewhat into the background. At the digital level, there are no or, in the case of lossy compression, only very low copying losses.