Jump to content


Photo

can x-rays be dangerous for tapes ?


  • Please log in to reply
14 replies to this topic

#1 Thomas Cousin

Thomas Cousin
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 74 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Paris, France

Posted 05 August 2006 - 02:53 PM

hello,
is there any problems with x-ray machine and your tapes (HDcam, dvcpro, whatever...) in airports when travelling ?
thanks

thomas
  • 0

#2 Matthew Buick

Matthew Buick
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2345 posts
  • Student
  • Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Posted 05 August 2006 - 03:10 PM

I'm not sure, but they can damage unexposed film (16mm).
  • 0

#3 Richard Boddington

Richard Boddington
  • Sustaining Members
  • 5482 posts
  • Director

Posted 05 August 2006 - 03:19 PM

X-Rays have no effect on video tapes. Tape erasers use magnetic fields which are quite different from x-rays.

And Matthew I have personally travelled through more than 30 airports all over the globe carrying exposed and un-exposed film, the film has never been damaged, not even once. The key is to have the film go through the x-ray machine they use to inspect your carry on luggage. Do not pack the film in your suitcase that gets checked into the baggage hold.

Imagine if the x-ray machines that inspect carry on baggage damaged film, people would be having their vacation pictures ruined all the time and there would be quite a lot of angry travellers.

Now of course I've opened myself up to attack from all the people who claim that the x-ray machine for inspecting carry on baggage damaged their film stock. I don't know what to say to that, only I've never seen any evidence of that in the dozens of times I've done it.

R,
  • 0

#4 Matthew Buick

Matthew Buick
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2345 posts
  • Student
  • Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Posted 05 August 2006 - 04:11 PM

I beg to fiffer for two reasons :

1. I heard an expert guy say: ''X-rays have been known to damage unexposed film''.

2. I bought a roll of vintage Super 8 film and it came in a package with '' Unexposed film DO NOT X-RAY''
written on it.
  • 0

#5 Bernhard Zitz

Bernhard Zitz
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 342 posts
  • Other
  • Z├╝rich, Switzerland

Posted 05 August 2006 - 04:44 PM

I had several times some S8 tri-x going true the machine for the carry-on hand-luggage: no fogging!!! all-tough I wouldn't do this with important footage.

A friend had his foto-negs in the suitcase he checked in: heavy fogging!!! everything was ruined


They put laptop-computers true these machines, if it doesn't harm the hard-drive it shouldn't harm your DV-tapes, just imagine all the businessmen losing their files...
  • 0

#6 Richard Boddington

Richard Boddington
  • Sustaining Members
  • 5482 posts
  • Director

Posted 05 August 2006 - 04:59 PM

Sorry Matthew but you are a teenager with zero professional credentials. This is one of the faults of the forum, you have have "Advanced" written under your name which is based on your number of posts. A new person to the forum may look at that and think "Advanced" means you're an advanced cinematographer and take some thing you say as being technically accurate.

I get film shipped to me all the time via fedex with a label on it that says, "Do Not x-ray." The reason is that there are different types and strengths of x-rays.

I am talking specifically about the x-ray machine used to scan carry on luggage. It has never damaged any of my film, nor do they damage the film used for still cameras. For the last freaking time, if they did there would be an uproar from the travelling public!

Imagine getting home and having all of your vacation pictures fogged and ruined.

R,
  • 0

#7 Matthew Buick

Matthew Buick
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2345 posts
  • Student
  • Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Posted 05 August 2006 - 05:07 PM

Look, I know I'm stupid, you don't have to remind me that I have to get a book.

Edited by Matthew Buick, 05 August 2006 - 05:11 PM.

  • 0

#8 Jonathan Benny

Jonathan Benny
  • Sustaining Members
  • 166 posts
  • Other
  • Vancouver, Canada / Paris, France

Posted 05 August 2006 - 06:18 PM

1. I heard an expert guy say: ''X-rays have been known to damage unexposed film''.

2. I bought a roll of vintage Super 8 film and it came in a package with '' Unexposed film DO NOT X-RAY''
written on it.


Matthew,

Certain carry-on x-ray machines will affect unprocessed (exposed or unexposed) film depending on the speed of the film and the strength of the x-ray machine.

Most of the time, when I have travelled internationally with still film, for example, the x-ray security person tells me that anything under 800asa is fine, then someone else will say 1600asa etc.

The problem is that these x-ray machines can often be variable in their intensity. I personally would not take any important exposed unprocessed motion picture film through a carry-on x-ray machine (particularly faster stocks) unless I absolutely had to do it and there was no other option. Even a very slight fogging will show up in motion. And you never really know on a given day what intensity the carry-on x-ray might be at. The majority of the tourist public will not notice the minute amount of fogging (if any) that is done to their film and the technology used in the 1-hour processing labs can easily correct for any minor problems. Slight fogging on motion picture film is not as easily handled because it is often not uniform throughout the roll or throughout the frame.

AJB
  • 0

#9 Theo Lipfert

Theo Lipfert
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 39 posts
  • Other

Posted 06 August 2006 - 10:22 AM

I just faced these X-ray issues while shooting Super 16 in Seoul, Korea. Here is what I learned: Buy your film from a Kodak rep in the foreign country -- Kodak's Korea office was very helpful in ordering A-minima film for me and having it waiting when I arrived in Seoul. I just had my bank wire transfer payment to their account. Obviously Kodak knows how to ship their film without ruining it. They also provided a list of labs in Seoul -- and this would be rule number 2: have your film processed before you fly home.

I had a bunch of unexposed film to bring back -- so I checked with FedEx and DHL and both claimed that there was no way NOT to X-ray it. This is not true for shipping film within the US. I do this all the time, and FedEx for instance, has told me that they do not X-ray domestic shipments.

To travel with unexposed film do not put it in your checked baggage, as the previous poster correctly indicated, since checked baggage is thoroughly nuked with very strong X-rays. I packed the unexposed film, with a changing bag, into a carry-on. I had the guy at the lab write out, in Korean, a note explaining that I had raw stock that could not be X-rayed. At Korean security they hand inspected (but did not open) each can of film. They did that test where they wipe something and do a test.

At US customs/security they also did a hand-check. This was a very thorough "wipe" test of each can. The TSA people were very courteous and suggested if there was any doubt from the wipe test, that they would use the changing bag to hand-inspect the film. They also indicated if they were at all unsure then they would have to send it through the machine. They also told me the "safe up to 800 asa" line, but were not sure if that applied to 16mm motion picture film or just still film. (I can't imagine there is a difference.) They also told me the carry-on machine is varaible strength, so it would be possible that one airport's machine could be cranked up, another, not.

I also brought back miniDV tapes. There are no known issues with X-ray, but to be safe from wierd magnetic fields that might exist in the cargo hold of a commercial jet, I would always carry these on as well.

Hope this helps.

Theo
Bozeman, MT
  • 0

#10 Stephen Williams

Stephen Williams
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4708 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Europe

Posted 06 August 2006 - 01:00 PM

. They also told me the "safe up to 800 asa" line, but were not sure if that applied to 16mm motion picture film or just still film. (I can't imagine there is a difference.)


Hi,

The difference with motion picture film is you are looking at a series of images, mild fogging can add flicker, as the film may not be evenly xrayed. I have not had any problems but I would try to avoid the risk where possible.

Stephen
  • 0

#11 Theo Lipfert

Theo Lipfert
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 39 posts
  • Other

Posted 06 August 2006 - 01:16 PM

Hi,

The difference with motion picture film is you are looking at a series of images, mild fogging can add flicker, as the film may not be evenly xrayed. I have not had any problems but I would try to avoid the risk where possible.

Stephen



Good point. I remember seeing some examples of X-ray'ed film on Kodak's site, and there was variation depending, I'm guessing, on which point of the roll was closest to the source of radiation. It should be pointed out that since 9/11 the "rules" for airport security have been constantly changing -- so don't believe what you read if it was written pre-2001.

Theo
  • 0

#12 John Pytlak RIP

John Pytlak RIP

    (deceased)

  • Sustaining Members
  • 3499 posts
  • Industry Rep
  • Rochester, NY 14650-1922

Posted 07 August 2006 - 12:44 PM

I just faced these X-ray issues while shooting Super 16 in Seoul, Korea. Here is what I learned: Buy your film from a Kodak rep in the foreign country -- Kodak's Korea office was very helpful in ordering A-minima film for me and having it waiting when I arrived in Seoul. I just had my bank wire transfer payment to their account. Obviously Kodak knows how to ship their film without ruining it. They also provided a list of labs in Seoul -- and this would be rule number 2: have your film processed before you fly home.

I had a bunch of unexposed film to bring back -- so I checked with FedEx and DHL and both claimed that there was no way NOT to X-ray it. This is not true for shipping film within the US. I do this all the time, and FedEx for instance, has told me that they do not X-ray domestic shipments.

To travel with unexposed film do not put it in your checked baggage, as the previous poster correctly indicated, since checked baggage is thoroughly nuked with very strong X-rays. I packed the unexposed film, with a changing bag, into a carry-on. I had the guy at the lab write out, in Korean, a note explaining that I had raw stock that could not be X-rayed. At Korean security they hand inspected (but did not open) each can of film. They did that test where they wipe something and do a test.

At US customs/security they also did a hand-check. This was a very thorough "wipe" test of each can. The TSA people were very courteous and suggested if there was any doubt from the wipe test, that they would use the changing bag to hand-inspect the film. They also indicated if they were at all unsure then they would have to send it through the machine. They also told me the "safe up to 800 asa" line, but were not sure if that applied to 16mm motion picture film or just still film. (I can't imagine there is a difference.) They also told me the carry-on machine is varaible strength, so it would be possible that one airport's machine could be cranked up, another, not.

I also brought back miniDV tapes. There are no known issues with X-ray, but to be safe from wierd magnetic fields that might exist in the cargo hold of a commercial jet, I would always carry these on as well.

Hope this helps.

Theo
Bozeman, MT


You are correct that Kodak will work closely with you in getting film to one of the many Kodak worldwide sales offices near your location. The local Kodak personnel can also help find good local labs:

http://www.kodak.com...w...1.4.5&lc=en

Yes, NEVER put unprocessed film in CHECKED baggage, as it almost certainly will be exposed to high intensity X-Rays from a scanning type device.

The low dose machines used for CARRY-ON inspection normally will not fog lower speed films in one pass, but power levels do vary, and multiple pass inspections are likely. So the TSA specifically allows requesting a hand inspection for ANY motion picture film within the USA. Here are the current guidelines:

http://www.tsa.gov/t...orial_1035.shtm

Be sure to have a changing bag, a "practice" roll for the inspector, and allow plenty of time for inspection. Magnetometers (metal detectors) and explosive "sniffing" (chemical wipes or dogs) will not harm unprocessed film, and can be used for additional security assurance.

Magnetic media are normally NOT affected by inspection x-rays, but low coercivity media could be affected by the transformers and conveyer motor windings in the inspection equipment.

The Kodak website has additional information for shipping film:

http://www.kodak.com.../...15.10&lc=en

Air transport of unprocessed film and sensitive electronic devices (e.g., CCD and CMOS digital camera sensors) can be an issue during intense solar storms, especially during daylight hours, polar latitudes, and high altitude:

http://www.sec.noaa.gov/NOAAscales/
  • 0

#13 Fran Kuhn

Fran Kuhn
  • Sustaining Members
  • 352 posts
  • Other

Posted 09 August 2006 - 12:09 AM

Be sure to have a changing bag, a "practice" roll for the inspector, and allow plenty of time for inspection. Magnetometers (metal detectors) and explosive "sniffing" (chemical wipes or dogs) will not harm unprocessed film, and can be used for additional security assurance.


FYI: You may not be allowed to carry film cans even if you comply with all stated regulations.

In June I carried four factory-sealed 200-foot cans of 16mm through the TSA checkpoint at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. As always, I asked a hand inspection of the film. The woman who did the inspection was very courteous. She carefully swabbed each can and when she finished asked me to wait while she got final approval from her supervisor. This supervisor took one look at the cans and told me I would have to open them right there for inspection or they would have to go through x-ray. I identified myself as a professional photographer and handed him my business card and a copy of the TSA regulations printed right from their website that morning. When I explained that opening the cans there would ruin the film, he looked slightly confused as if it was the first time he’d heard such a thing. I asked if we could open them in a darkened room or if he could inspect them in a changing bag. He was mulling this over when another TSA inspector stepped forward and explained to the supervisor that I was correct, and that opening the cans in the light would, in fact, ruin the film.

The supervisor then told me that the only way he would allow the film cans on the aircraft without going through the carry-on x-ray would be to take them back to the Southwest Airlines counter and have them placed in my checked baggage. I tried to explain that the scanning equipment for checked baggage would certainly ruin the film, but he said there would be no discussion. Unfortunately, I had no choice but to put the film through the carry-on x-ray.

I then asked the supervisor who I could speak to about this problem and he had me call some office drone at something called AFFC. I got the Sgt. Joe Friday treatment from this character, just his pre-recorded speech about boogiemen and bad guys and how they ultimately decide what gets x-rayed, regardless of posted FCC and/or TSA regulations.

This whole episode really caught me off guard because I have been through this airport probably 30 times in the last five years and this is the first time I’ve had a problem. My advice: use FedEx if you can. Otherwise you may be unlucky and encounter a TSA employee with little common sense and no capacity for rational thought.
  • 0

#14 John Pytlak RIP

John Pytlak RIP

    (deceased)

  • Sustaining Members
  • 3499 posts
  • Industry Rep
  • Rochester, NY 14650-1922

Posted 09 August 2006 - 11:08 AM

Dear Fran:

Sorry to hear of your experience. As you note, most of the time the TSA folks are very courteous and understanding, but a few may be hard-nosed, especially when rushed or during times of heightened security. Fortunately, one pass through the low-dose carry-on machines usually will have negligible effect on slower films, but I've seen many cases where the inspector puts the bag through several times so the doses can add up quickly.

From their point of view, although the "sniffer" test showed no explosive residue, the sealed can could contain a knife, razor blades, boxcutter, or other weapon.

I assume your film that had to go through the low dose machine had no visible fogging or increase in graininess?
  • 0

#15 Fran Kuhn

Fran Kuhn
  • Sustaining Members
  • 352 posts
  • Other

Posted 09 August 2006 - 12:16 PM

Dear Fran:

Sorry to hear of your experience. As you note, most of the time the TSA folks are very courteous and understanding, but a few may be hard-nosed, especially when rushed or during times of heightened security. Fortunately, one pass through the low-dose carry-on machines usually will have negligible effect on slower films, but I've seen many cases where the inspector puts the bag through several times so the doses can add up quickly.

From their point of view, although the "sniffer" test showed no explosive residue, the sealed can could contain a knife, razor blades, boxcutter, or other weapon.

I assume your film that had to go through the low dose machine had no visible fogging or increase in graininess?

Hi John,

The two rolls of 500T went right into the scrap heap to be used for scratch testing. The 50D and 250D I had to shoot--the next day was my daughter’s fourth birthday party at her Grandma’s house in Springfield, Nebraska, population 820. Not exactly easy to find replacement film in that town. That film has been processed but not yet transferred, so I have no idea if it's been fogged.

My wife, daughter and myself had arrived at the TSA screening area nearly two hours before departure so there would be plenty of time to have the film inspected. The inspection area was not exceptionally busy that morning—in fact, three idle TSA agents had gathered around to watch this little drama unfold.

Since then I’ve had some contact with a TSA Customer Service rep in Burbank named Jim Dennison in an attempt to have them clarify the guidelines on their website. Mr. Dennison has been very courteous and seems sympathetic, but none of the requested changes/clarifications have yet been posted. Clearly, this is not a priority. I’m not saying film inspection should be a priority, only that the TSA posts accurate inspection guidelines, including a clear explanation of the fact that they can simply change the rules at any time and may force you to have all items, including film and cameras, x-rayed.

Personally, the thing I find most alarming is the concept of a TSA supervisor at Burbank who thinks it’s okay to open a can of unexposed photographic film in broad daylight. This fellow, for all concerned, is our last line of defense against the real bad guys.
  • 0


Opal

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

CineLab

Wooden Camera

Paralinx LLC

Metropolis Post

rebotnix Technologies

Tai Audio

Aerial Filmworks

Abel Cine

Rig Wheels Passport

Willys Widgets

Glidecam

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Visual Products

CineTape

Ritter Battery

The Slider

FJS International, LLC

Technodolly

Visual Products

The Slider

Rig Wheels Passport

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Opal

Aerial Filmworks

Willys Widgets

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Tai Audio

Paralinx LLC

CineLab

Abel Cine

Technodolly

Broadcast Solutions Inc

FJS International, LLC

Glidecam

Ritter Battery

CineTape

rebotnix Technologies

Wooden Camera

Metropolis Post