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Shooting very old film.


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#1 Nathan D. Lee

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Posted 25 February 2007 - 11:36 AM

I recently received a ton of old 16mm stock. A large portion of it still factory sealed! The oldest roll is from around 1993 and there are various rolls between then and 2000.
All of it has been in a freezer for that amount of time.
I know there are going to be some crazy characteristic changes in all of it (which I am actually exited about) but I was wondering if there were some tips for shooting older-than-dirt film like this to help it along.

My guess would be to give it a healthy over exposure, up to a full stop perhaps, and then play with it in post. Would that be a sound call?

Really I am just going to having a field day while making some experimental films. It is no financial loss if it doesn't turn out at all but I just want to minimize my margin of error.

Also I did open one roll that was a re-can. I snipped of a foot ot so and brought it into the light. Though re-canned, the film felt happy, was dry, and ice free.

Thanks for the tips.

Nathan
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#2 John Holland

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Posted 25 February 2007 - 11:49 AM

What sort of stock ? colour neg ? reversal ? b+w ?
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#3 Nathan D. Lee

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Posted 25 February 2007 - 11:57 AM

It is all color negative.
I've got some 7248, 96, 98, 45, and some 93.
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#4 John Holland

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Posted 25 February 2007 - 12:01 PM

you are just going to have to do a test , get the oldest stock rate it at least 1 to 2 stops lower than its normal rating and see what is like ,have fun and good luck.
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#5 Jon Kukla

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Posted 26 February 2007 - 05:05 PM

I shot a film recently with a lot of old 93 which was kept in horrible conditions. We discovered it in a very hot, non-AC'd projection booth, and it had been there at least four years and maybe a lot longer. But when you discover six 1000' cans, you try to find a usage for it.

I did some exposure tests first to try to determine a usable working rating for the stock. The lab claimed that it was fogged, but when I saw that there was clearly a negative, I had them go back and print it - this was after I told them that I was testing for a distorted and ugly look with this old stock! It came back looking surprisingly well, considering its age and storage conditions. The obvious things to check for are base fog, grain, color shift, latitude, and flicker.

In our case, the tests came out very well - it looked optimal around 1 to 1 1/2 stops overexposed, yet still had a "staleness" which would clearly separate it from the rest of the film which was shot on fresh stock. There was a tiny bit of flicker on one scene, which I blame on it being at the head of the roll, and thus more likely to have gone off.

Make certain to test each of your rolls, too, as different rolls may have decayed at different rates, even if stored together.

We also tested some old 98 which came out too well - it was barely distinguishable from fresh stock! I guess that's because it's a slower stock. Oh, and we had dug up some 95 - a stock so old that the can label doesn't even state the speed! Being both the oldest and the fastest stock we discovered, it was no shock that it was in the worst condition - with lots and lots of grain and a green haze covering portions of the image. I will find a good usage for that one day, I swear...

Edited by Jon Kukla, 26 February 2007 - 05:06 PM.

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#6 Joe Smith

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Posted 03 March 2007 - 09:41 AM

you wanna sell some? :)
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