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why gelatin?


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#1 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 02 July 2008 - 11:59 PM

Okay, so I'm a vegan and have been since last summer. As time goes by, I'm starting to solidify my beliefs more and more. I'm not gonna try to convert anybody or anything, so don't worry. But I am curious- I don't really know that much about how film is made. So, why does film have gelatin in it? Why not some other material? What is the purpose of the gelatin and what do you think would be some possible alternatives? I'm sure I could just look it up, but I'd be curious to hear speculations or even straight answers here. I mean heck, they managed to make vegan jello. Is it really out of the question to think that Kodak would figure out a way to work around this? Ah, the things I think about at 1 in the morning...
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 July 2008 - 01:12 AM

Looking at the info I gathered online, the answer seems to be that there is little incentive to create a synthetic gelatin when the real stuff is so cheap and is a byproduct of a culture that eats meat anyway, so waste not, want not, so to speak...

But it also seems that gelatin has unique properties that are hard to synthesize. But the cost factor is probably the real culprit for the lack of a vegan alternative.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gelatin
Gelatin typically constitutes the shells of pharmaceutical capsules in order to make them easier to swallow. Hypromellose is a vegan-acceptable alternative to gelatin, but is more expensive to produce.
Animal glues such as hide glue are essentially unrefined gelatin.
It is used to hold silver halide crystals in an emulsion in virtually all photographic films and photographic papers. Despite some efforts, no suitable substitutes with the stability and low cost of gelatin have been found.
Used as a carrier, coating or separating agent for other substances, it, for example, makes beta-carotene water-soluble, thus imparting a yellow colour to any soft drinks containing beta-carotene.
Gelatin is closely related to bone glue and is used as a binder in match heads and sandpaper.
Cosmetics may contain a non-gelling variant of gelatin under the name hydrolyzed collagen.
As a surface sizing, it smooths glossy printing papers or playing cards and maintains the wrinkles in crêpe paper.

http://www.seapavaa....tin/Gelatin.htm
Gelatin in the emulsion is the principle component of the binder layer. At various times attempts have been made to substitute other substances for gelatin but none have been able to match gelatin's overall performance.
Manufacture
Gelatin does not occur in nature. It is a commercial product derived from the principle protein of the skin, bones and sinews of animals.
The production of photographic gelatin requires that the inorganic components are removed first. This is done by soaking in dilute hydrochloric acid. The demineralised product, called ossein, is washed and treated with dilute alkali to neutralise it. The next stage is a long soak in strong alkali (lime processing). During this stage the helical structure is broken up to produce long coiled chains of gelatin. The gelatin produced by this alkali ossein process exhibits its minimum solubility in the acid range somewhere around pH 4.8.

Physical Handling Properties
Photographic gelatin has many physical properties that make it very suitable for use in motion picture film.

As a gel it is a dimensionally stable medium to suspended discrete particles (image forming materials).
At average %RH it is flexible, yet comparatively tough. It is mostly unaffected by solvents other than water.
It is substantially transparent to visible light, and remains so over many years.

http://www.eastmange...t.aspx?cat_id=1
Is there a substitute for gelatin?
There is no product available which contains all of the unique properties of gelatin. Unlike other proteins such as soy, egg or milk, gelatin has a very low potential for allergic reaction. Furthermore, gelatin is also a relatively low cost product.

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#3 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 03 July 2008 - 03:17 PM

Wow that's really interesting stuff...thanks for looking it up, David. I had a hunch it was a cost issue (what isn't? haha) but it was good to read about what gelatin actually does for the film.
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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 03 July 2008 - 04:12 PM

Wouldn't want film to become vegan.

It would make life difficult after the wrap when you were driving round looking for somewhere to eat, and had to stop and wait in the no-parking zone while it scowlingly perused the menu at thirty-six different places before finally agreeing to eat at the only one which did lettuce leaf on a bed of lettuce, which it would then appear to enjoy while you sat and gnawed gamely on a wedge of tasteless brown crunchy stuff called Something en Croute.

Er, sorry, that was completely uncalled for, I've just had... some... sob... bad experiences.

P
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#5 Paul Bruening

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Posted 03 July 2008 - 10:22 PM

LOL
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#6 Chris Keth

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 01:17 AM

What other easily obtained, cheap, easily refined and workable protein can you think of?

I have heard stories from people at kodak suggesting that they got cattle bones and hooves by the trainload for nothing since they were disposing of the waste of the meat industry. That's cheap for you!
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#7 Vincent Sweeney

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Posted 05 July 2008 - 12:56 AM

Before taking this particular "ism" too seriously, I feel it's important for those who could suffer further from it understand that it's actually a (usually mild) form of OCD and thus, can affect one's long-term mental health in a negative way if not taken control of early.

http://en.wikipedia....ulsive_disorder
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#8 Freya Black

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Posted 05 July 2008 - 05:24 AM

Okay, so I'm a vegan and have been since last summer. As time goes by, I'm starting to solidify my beliefs more and more. I'm not gonna try to convert anybody or anything, so don't worry. But I am curious- I don't really know that much about how film is made. So, why does film have gelatin in it? Why not some other material? What is the purpose of the gelatin and what do you think would be some possible alternatives? I'm sure I could just look it up, but I'd be curious to hear speculations or even straight answers here. I mean heck, they managed to make vegan jello. Is it really out of the question to think that Kodak would figure out a way to work around this? Ah, the things I think about at 1 in the morning...



I'm not sure it's good for your health to eat film anyway, the human body wasn't made for it. ;)

Seriously tho it's complicated because there are animal products in literally EVERYTHING! It's scary. Right now I'm looking at matches in a whole new light, and I know there are meat products in things I use everyday. The bus contains meat products, probably the computer I'm typing on (although this one was from a skip), just everything, so it's best not to get too far into thinking about it. Was it Jainists who they completely freaked out when they first showed them microorganisms??!!

If you use short ends left over from shoots then I guess you could consider them freegan but I wouldn't want to do all my filming that way unless I discovered some really good film skips. ;)

I think the trick is to be fairly laid back about things and to understand that you can't control everything. You are not responsible for the actions of the whole world and being ethical with your interactions is good until it starts to become severely impractical.

OTOH I was just asking after a radical anarchist friend who I hadn't seen for a while and they told me he had taken to eating loads of meat and playing on his WII all day and was now quite ill whenever he saw daylight. I thought they were winding me up at first and seeing how gulliable Freya was, but it turned out that he dumpstered loads of freegan meat apparently, which I really can't relate to but I've been vegetarian for a long time and the idea of eating meat is a bit yuk for me. I actually like the idea of freeganism because I hate the fact that animals are slaughtered and then just dumped in a skip and don't even get eaten! It adds a whole other dimension to the idea of waste! All the same it does seem like my friend is on a slippery slope.

Here is where I depart severely from Vegan principles because I beieve that once you have murdered some animal you really should make damn sure that you exploit everything you can from it, in order that that death contributes as much as it can. So from that point of view putting horses toenail clippings in film seems a good idea (although I don't want them in my polo mints thankyou very much!).

By not eating meat and not having meat products in your food and clothes you are making a clear choice to not involve yourself in the meat trade in a really direct way. When you buy a burger or a chicken etc, you are directly paying to have that animal killed. The recycling of by products from the meat industry seems like a very different situation. Whether you use it or not makes no difference whatsoever and theres less of a straightforward ethical imperative. I'm not saying theres no issues there, just saying they are a lot more marginal and that perhaps it's better to remain foccused on the places where your choices make a direct impact on reality and you can make some kind of a difrerence.

love

Freya
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#9 Damien Bhatti

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Posted 05 July 2008 - 05:41 AM

Wouldn't want film to become vegan.

It would make life difficult after the wrap when you were driving round looking for somewhere to eat, and had to stop and wait in the no-parking zone while it scowlingly perused the menu at thirty-six different places before finally agreeing to eat at the only one which did lettuce leaf on a bed of lettuce, which it would then appear to enjoy while you sat and gnawed gamely on a wedge of tasteless brown crunchy stuff called Something en Croute.

Er, sorry, that was completely uncalled for, I've just had... some... sob... bad experiences.

P

You could try that all you can eat Vegan buffet just off Soho square. When I ate the Tofu, I was asking are you sure this isnt meat?/ it tasted that flesh like. But in a good way.(I still miss the taste of meat sometimes - I admit it.)
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#10 Freya Black

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Posted 05 July 2008 - 05:44 AM

Wouldn't want film to become vegan.

It would make life difficult after the wrap when you were driving round looking for somewhere to eat, and had to stop and wait in the no-parking zone while it scowlingly perused the menu at thirty-six different places before finally agreeing to eat at the only one which did lettuce leaf on a bed of lettuce, which it would then appear to enjoy while you sat and gnawed gamely on a wedge of tasteless brown crunchy stuff called Something en Croute.

Er, sorry, that was completely uncalled for, I've just had... some... sob... bad experiences.

P


At least it was genuinely funny! :)

For myself I usually wait till everyone has decided where we are going and then I go to the counter and ask what they have that is vegetarian. I think this is much better than trying to track down the nearest "root and leaf" or whatever the local vegan resturant is called. Okay you may end up in one of those places where they are like "you don't eat meat???" and look at you like you have just landed from venus and then have a discussion about whether she can eat fish or not but this is actually a positive outcome as these people are now realising there are people out there who don't eat meat and they are having to think about that, perhaps for the first time in their life.

The worst outcome is that you just end up eating the desert. Usually the desert doesn't contain meat. If it does then you are probably in Mc Donalds or eating the wrong make of ice cream but I've not come across chocolate cake with sausage in it yet.

Anyway the point is, it's bad to hide in the ghetto. It may turn out to be far less safe there than you thought.

It's all a lot harder if you are vegan of course but all the same...

love

Freya
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#11 Freya Black

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Posted 05 July 2008 - 05:58 AM

You could try that all you can eat Vegan buffet just off Soho square. When I ate the Tofu, I was asking are you sure this isnt meat?/ it tasted that flesh like. But in a good way.(I still miss the taste of meat sometimes - I admit it.)


Sounds great! "All you can eat" eh! I can eat a lot! ;)

I think I want to go there sometime, what landmarks is it near, how do I find it?

I sometimes find it a bit horrible when things are too much like meat (I have some slight problems with those linda mc cartney pies for example, they are a bit freaky) although I went to this amazing veggie chinese resturant which sold all the normal dishes you would get from a chinese but made with tofu instead. It was really incredible! Normally when I go in a chinese resturant I know that I'm eating spring rolls! ;)

love

Freya
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#12 Freya Black

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Posted 05 July 2008 - 06:03 AM

jai mange le plage!

It's the only french phrase I know.

I meant dessert of couse, not desert:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dessert

although it sort of made sense in the context I wasn't suggesting you eat sand.

love

Freya
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#13 Damien Bhatti

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Posted 05 July 2008 - 06:14 AM

Sounds great! "All you can eat" eh! I can eat a lot! ;)

I think I want to go there sometime, what landmarks is it near, how do I find it?

I sometimes find it a bit horrible when things are too much like meat.


Do you know soho square?/ you go down the left of the 2 roads that go into soho (Greek St) just a couple of minutes down - i think theres a street art gallery along that road. but its a real nice little restaurant for 5 pounds for a full on meal. and a veggies/vegans dream!
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#14 Richardson Leao

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 03:47 AM

Do you know soho square?/ you go down the left of the 2 roads that go into soho (Greek St) just a couple of minutes down - i think theres a street art gallery along that road. but its a real nice little restaurant for 5 pounds for a full on meal. and a veggies/vegans dream!


in the beginning of photography, people have used egg white (albumin) and arabic gum to emulsify the halide. Preservation and durability was not great. And as David said, gelatine is a byproduct of the meat industry, if it does not go to the film, it will be mashed and served as cattle food, triggering more prion diseases (madcow).

In the 'Photography Chemistry' book they say that pig gelatin is more suitable to photo, not sure what is used by industry, but if it's pig gelatin the stuff in film emulsions, at least there is not a huge carbon production related to the gelatin industry.
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#15 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 12:00 PM

One of our part time employees at Cinelab is a vegan and she said that Fuji film's gelatin comes from seaweed, I have heard this rumor before anyone care to confirm?

-Rob-
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#16 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 05:03 PM

One of our part time employees at Cinelab is a vegan and she said that Fuji film's gelatin comes from seaweed.


That's a good one ;)
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#17 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 06:54 PM

That's a good one ;)



She really likes 7217/12 for her puppet animations, maybe that un vegan's her a bit....????


-Rob-
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#18 Dominic Case

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 08:59 PM

Back to the question . . .why use gelatin.

Like many other basics of photography, the medium they first struck on for making the emulsion turns out to have an almost incredible collection of properties that makes it ideal for the purpose.

Chemically, gelatin is actually a protein, and therefore consists of very complex molecules, each one with tens of thousands of atoms in it, formed in a long chain of amino acids. Microscopically it is a cross between a sponge and a lattice, with the cross-links between the amino acid groups holding the silver halide crystals in place, and probably promoting the growth of silver grains.

As well, animal gelatin contains naturally occuring traces of sulphur and sulphur compounds. These traces actually act to sensitise the emulsion - that is, they make the silver halide grains more sensitive to light. Although it was known as far back as 1870 that emulsions made from animal gelatin were faster to light than other emulsions, and it was discovered later that adding sulphur to an emulsion also made it faster, it wasn't until the 1930s that the natural sulphur compound (allyl thiourea) was actually detected in gelatin - the amounts are so small yet so effective. It is still the case that natural (ie animal) gelatin makes for the best emulsion.
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#19 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 11:12 PM

Amazing, like a funny ghost, maybe that's why films like Metropolis keep coming back from the dead. ;) I suppose that puts to rest Xander's fuji vegan theory though.

Rob "no partial bypasses this month Dominic" Houllahan
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#20 Keith Walters

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 08:02 AM

One of our part time employees at Cinelab is a vegan and she said that Fuji film's gelatin comes from seaweed, I have heard this rumor before anyone care to confirm?

-Rob-

Agar Agar is a gelatin substitute made from seaweed, and is widely used in Asian and vegetarian cooking for making jelly desserts. Whether it is also suitable as a film emulsion base is not clear. I have never heard of such a thing, but commercially this would be fraught with difficulty. We know that gelatin-based emulsions can survive for over 100 years, (and ones that old were far more crudely made than they are today, with no thought ever given to archival qualities) but we have no similar examples made with agar gel. Who would trust their precious negatives to an untested chemistry, without a damned good reason, which has thus far not been demonstrated.
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