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Seeing things in reverse

Laura Sturza

For Negative People, Janice Papadaki’s staff smiles quite a lot.

It could be because she and her two employees have found a craft

that makes the most of their tendencies toward perfectionism --


cutting the completed negative for motion pictures and films.

“There’s only one negative,” Papadaki said. “That’s why cutting is

so precise.”

The Burbank business opened in 1999, and has worked on productions


such as HBO’s “Live From Baghdad” and Warner Bros. Academy Award

winning documentary “Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the


After editors do their cutting from video copies of the original

film, Negative People cut that original to the editor’s

specifications. Then copies of the negative are distributed to

theaters and networks.

Following the editor’s notes frame by frame is essential, because


a cut in the wrong spot could result in a noticeable jump in the

image on-screen, Papadaki said.

Post production supervisor Liz Corbett, a Burbank resident,

recently hired Negative People to work on HBO’s “Normal,” with

Jessica Lange.

“I love Janice Papadaki,” Corbett said. “She’s efficient [and] she

always has a great attitude.”

Corbett confirms the essential nature of the company’s work.


“They are cutting the original negative,” Corbett said. “It has to

match identically to the cut that the director has created.”

Though the staff is accustomed to seeing things in reverse -- blue

appears as orange and green is red -- they said it does not affect

the way they see things off the film.

However, Burbank resident Tim Heyen, a negative cutter, said that

since his work has him looking for detail on small pieces of film, he

also notes detail in his daily life. People who blink their eyes or

gesture when talking help to confirm where he needs to make a cut.

“Sidney Poitier never quits talking with his hands,” Heyen said.

“You can [easily] differentiate between [film] frames.”