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airport thread follow-up


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#1 Kevin Olmsted

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 09:50 AM

I remember a month or so ago someone posted a thread about taking film through airport x-ray machines. I read the post thoroughly, taking to heart all the advice various posters wrote.

I flew from Louisville to Los Angeles on a business trip (my first time in LA) and decided to take my Super 8 camera for a little documentation of my trip. I took a total of 4 rolls of Super 8 and a few rolls of 120 for my Holga.

I got to the x-ray bag check area and mentioned to the bag inspector that I had a bag of film (I already had it out, seperated from my main bag, ready to be inspected) and kindly asked if it could be hand expected and not put through the x-ray machine. The bag inspector's attitude immediately changed; he was almost rude. He asked if any of the film was higher than 800 speed. I said no and he unceremoniously chucked my film bag onto the conveyor belt and through it went. Not even a chance to say never mind and take the film back to my wife, waiting nearby, if I wanted. Mind you earlier, when asked, the woman who checked my luggage was very sweet and said yes, they would be happy to hand inspect the film at the x-ray machine.

Not to mention that the prescence of the two Super 8 cameras in one of my carry-ons caused a huge stir. The x-ray inpector had to go through the bag, take out both cameras and run them each seperately through the machine. Nevermind the fact that my OTHER carry-on was a Canon backpack full of a few thousand dollars worth of digital camera gear! And it didn't get a second glance throught the machine!

My trip back from LA was the same experience, save for the camera inspection. I nicely asked and instantly I felt as though I was the 152nd person asking a favor of the inspector that day. The film passed through the x-ray without even a second thought.

Well, that's it. Don't mean to be a downer but after hearing all the great stories I was looking forward to a good airport experience. I hope my film is fine. I'm sure the inspectors know what they are doing but they were both quite rude and I was nothing but nice. I ended up shooting 3 of the 4 rolls but I shot everything with a hesitancy. I'm going to send it off for processing next week. Wish me luck.

Kev
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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 10:43 AM

Hi,

I've had exactly the same experience, also with super-8. The problem here - the real core of the issue - is twofold:

- The people running the machines have been misinformed that anything under 800 is safe, regardless of special concerns for motion picture film, and
- The people running the machines are so myopically stupid that their drooling ineptitude would offend even a reduser.net forums regular.

I see precious little chance of any of this changing. The security staff at airports have long have one, single priority: get people through as quickly as possible, regardless of how much offence, inconvenience or financial loss is incurred. Remember, getting you there with your luggage on the same day they promised to is now effectively optional; I really don't think we can expect special treatment for film.

The upside is that your film almost certainly -is- fine, but I'm very concerned that we're required to put our faith in people who clearly don't deserve it to achieve these things.

Phil
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#3 Justin Aguirre

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 11:10 AM

I'm sorry to hear that, I agree airport security isn't the most intelligent bunch of people.

...Maybe we should all carry a single roll of 800 speed film, to force them to hand inspect the bag.
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#4 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 11:15 AM

I think that the core truth is that TSA's job isn't to provide higher security at airports or in planes. Their job is to provide the ILLUSION of higher security at airports and in planes. That makes everyone feel better even if we are not truly safer.

Given that, they'll let anything go that they've personally seen before. But the average age of a TSA screener is somewhere in the low to mid-20s. The last time they would've seen a Super 8 anything was on a hotel sign.

Beyond just being annoying and potentially harmful to the film, the underlying message in that episode is what truly irks me about airport "security." The sheer inconsistency of screening that goes on is what makes the entire exercise a farce. If one screener lets something go without a second glance and the next in a new airport (when having to recheck in when switching flights) wants to tear the bag apart, what exactly is that saying about TSA? It's a f'ing joke.

I once had to fly with gear (about six cases worth) from Burbank to Sacramento to shoo... er, photograph with a video camera :) the Governor ("I'll be back") All the gear had the TSA tape on the latches and was just coming off the conveyor belt when the Producer told me to put it back on the plane because the shoot had been canceled. So off the belt, onto a couple of carts to walk the 15 steps to the TSA screeners who had just watched me do all of that. They proceeded to pull the TSA tape off the cases and go through everything again! WTF?! Seriously, these guys need a course in common sense.
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#5 Kevin Olmsted

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 11:32 AM

To be fair, the lovely woman charged with running the cameras back through was VERY careful with them. I don't think she'd ever seen a Super 8 camera and treated it like it was fine china. It gave me a small laugh.

I agree about the security being an illusion. Of the 15 employees at the x-ray area (3 per line, 4 lines, one manager-type and two security gaurds) only one had a weapon. I respect authority and want no trouble but I'm sure a determined individual wouldn't be stopped by that.

Yeah, the inconsistency is bad as well. Louisville, Kentucky I get everything short of a strip search and in LA I fly through. And a reminder I had two Super 8 cameras that were thoroughly inspected and a large bag of dense digital electronics goes through no question at either airport. Your right about letting through what they recognize.

I has seriously considered shipping my film to a friend in LA and doing the same coming back. Maybe next time I will.
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#6 Mike Rizos

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 09:09 PM

Here's my semi-horror story which happened in August:

I flew from Cleveland to Denver and back with 20 carts. I also had the film seperate and ready for inspection. On the way there I politely asked for hand inspection, and after being told it would be ok unless ASA 800 or higher, I insisted even more politely, and they had someone hand inspect the film. All the film was sealed, in the Kodak boxes, and the inspection took 1-2 minutes.

On the return trip, I tried to follow the same procedure, I had the film seperate again and asked for hand inspection. After hearing that it would be ok unless 800 ASA or higher, I insisted politely. The guy wouldn't budge at first but I kept insisting as politely as I could, and the security man finally gave in, and called someone to hand inspect. The airport was very busy and there must have been a 2-3 hundred people waiting to go through.
Well, this hand inspector, took every cartridge out of it's package and box, even my 8 unopened cartridges. I was standing there 4 feet away in total disbelief watching this clumsy person, change cloves, take a napking that she would wipe the cartridge with to some machine, and repeat the process 20 times. It took over 45 minutes! In the end, she handed me an asortment of film, foil packages, and yellow boxes, in one of those gray tubs. It took a few minutes for me to put everything back together.
Off course, I never made my flight. The airline was understanding and gave me a seat, same flight, next day. I got an extra day of vacation, but still had to go through the process again, and was dreading it. Walking around the airport the next day, I came across a USPS office and mailed the film to myself.
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#7 Charles Doran

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 09:36 PM

good lord, sounds horrible. Sorry you had to go thru this mess. Well at least your film turned out ok, right?

I'm going to SE Asia in December for 4 weeks....anyone have any experience with Hong Kong, Bangkok, Vietnam and Cambodia airports?

Here's my semi-horror story which happened in August:

I flew from Cleveland to Denver and back with 20 carts. I also had the film seperate and ready for inspection. On the way there I politely asked for hand inspection, and after being told it would be ok unless ASA 800 or higher, I insisted even more politely, and they had someone hand inspect the film. All the film was sealed, in the Kodak boxes, and the inspection took 1-2 minutes.

On the return trip, I tried to follow the same procedure, I had the film seperate again and asked for hand inspection. After hearing that it would be ok unless 800 ASA or higher, I insisted politely. The guy wouldn't budge at first but I kept insisting as politely as I could, and the security man finally gave in, and called someone to hand inspect. The airport was very busy and there must have been a 2-3 hundred people waiting to go through.
Well, this hand inspector, took every cartridge out of it's package and box, even my 8 unopened cartridges. I was standing there 4 feet away in total disbelief watching this clumsy person, change cloves, take a napking that she would wipe the cartridge with to some machine, and repeat the process 20 times. It took over 45 minutes! In the end, she handed me an asortment of film, foil packages, and yellow boxes, in one of those gray tubs. It took a few minutes for me to put everything back together.
Off course, I never made my flight. The airline was understanding and gave me a seat, same flight, next day. I got an extra day of vacation, but still had to go through the process again, and was dreading it. Walking around the airport the next day, I came across a USPS office and mailed the film to myself.


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Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Ritter Battery

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Wooden Camera

Aerial Filmworks

FJS International, LLC

Paralinx LLC

Visual Products

Abel Cine

Opal

Glidecam

Metropolis Post

Technodolly

CineTape

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Willys Widgets

Rig Wheels Passport

Tai Audio

Broadcast Solutions Inc