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keeping film cool in a cooler- some questions


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#1 Benjamin Cameron

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 10:39 AM

I'm shooting a documentary where 12 rolls of super 16mm color negative will be away from a fridge for about a month. I've never had to keep film cool for an extended period of time in the field, but I know there are simple ways to do so. My plan is in a small cooler with nothing else, just film. Would ziplock bagging the film help with moisture? We'll be driving around Northern California for a month, so the car with everything in it is going to be hot. I'll be mailing exposed film back to the lab as we shoot it, so we won't be storing all the exposed film for weeks.

I also have a question about loaded magazines- how long is "too long" to keep them loaded and periodically shoot with them? We'll be in less than ideal loading situations, and I'd prefer not to have to load a mag every time I want to shoot a couple of minutes.

Dumb questions maybe, but...
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 11:05 AM

Use a desiccan agent in there to help keep out moisture.
keep film and cooler out of direct sunlight for long periods of time, and you should be good.
I don't like to keep mags loaded for more than 12 hours, but that's just me.
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#3 Benjamin Cameron

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 01:10 PM

Use a desiccan agent in there to help keep out moisture.
keep film and cooler out of direct sunlight for long periods of time, and you should be good.
I don't like to keep mags loaded for more than 12 hours, but that's just me.

Thanks, can you recommend places that I can find silica gel at?
I assume you mean no ice in the cooler, then? If it stays out of the sun, that is.
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 01:24 PM

I'd not recommend ice. Once the stock aclimates it aclimates, ya know? So no real need for the mess/hassle of ice/cold packs and the like, The stock should hold up pretty well to the conditions for a certain duration; just process it as soon as you can and keep it cool. Fridge/freeze is for long-term storage when you're not planning on using the stock for months/yrs. Fresh stock should be ok for a couple of months just stored lovingly.
As for the silica gel, not sure where to get a hold of it off hand; but i'm sure if you google it it'll pop up.
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#5 Charles MacDonald

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 05:19 PM

As for the silica gel, not sure where to get a hold of it off hand; but i'm sure if you google it it'll pop up.

I recall it being in a recent catalog from "Lee Valley Tools"
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#6 Freya Black

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 05:35 AM

You might be able to get hold of one of those minature 12v fridges!
Check that it can take full 400ft rolls if that is what you will be using tho.
I can't imagine it would take as many as 12 so you may have to keep the ones you will use first in a more normal cooler and the ones for the end of the shoot in the fridge. :)

You might want one of these anyway to keep your drinks cool out there. ;)

love

Freya
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#7 Glen Alexander

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 08:32 AM

i went with portable 12V fridge, keeps moisture low and cool, but i was in Mojave 45C+
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#8 Ira Ratner

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 09:29 AM

What's great about the silica is that by removing moisture, it raises the cooling efficiency of the ice, in that you'll need less ice to cool to the same temp. So that's an additional bonus.

In a lot of commercial coolers/refrigerators, they use silica panels to remove that moisture so the compressor doesn't have to work as hard to cool. And removing the moisture lengthens the life of stored fruits and vegetables.

I guess that's a tidbit for the Food web site and not here, but maybe that correlates to film as well.
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#9 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 10:10 AM

Personally, I love that little tidbit. I think I'll have to try it out next time I go hiking!
It's amazing how much film and non film you can learn here. Thanks Ira.
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#10 Ira Ratner

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 07:08 PM

Personally, I love that little tidbit. I think I'll have to try it out next time I go hiking!
It's amazing how much film and non film you can learn here. Thanks Ira.


Adrian, I built one of these old-style teardrop travel trailers a few years ago--a little itty bitty thing that sleeps just two, but has a full galley/kitchen that opens outside in the rear. The entire thing is built on a cheap bolt-together 4' by 8' Harbor Freight utility "trailer."

And cooling and refrigeration is like the BIGGEST area of discussion on the forums I go to, especially where I live in south Florida. In case you didn't know (hah hah), it's HOT down here.

I have air conditioning in mine (a small window unit mounted in the front wall), but some who don't use silica to remove the moisture from the sleeping cabin, which lowers the temp.
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#11 Dan Goulder

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 07:56 PM

I'll be mailing exposed film back to the lab as we shoot it, so we won't be storing all the exposed film for weeks.

Mail goes both ways. You can arrange to have raw stock sent out as needed to whatever facility you are using to send out exposed film. Overnight service is available virtually anywhere (at least in the area you'll be shooting). You can arrange to pick some up whenever you drop some off.
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#12 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 02:50 AM

This is something I've been meaning to look into myself. We live in the middle of the desert. It can get to be 115 deg. in the summer though most of the time it's anywhere from 100 to 105. There's not a Hell of a lot of humidity (although with all the rain we had the last 2 weeks, we might as well have been in Houston) however, when I take a cold drink (or cold anything else for that matter) out of the fridge, it starts to "sweat" almost immediately. Now in the vehicles when we're out on location, the trucks can get to be 120 to 130 deg easy inside, so just keeping the film cans in a cooler with out cold packs isn't going to do a damn thing, it'll be hotter INSIDE the coolers that is I just set them in the shade which isn't saying much, either way they're gonna get REAL warm. The problem is that even if you can keep the moisture out of the cooler or refrigerator, you're going to get condensation from the ambient surrounding air with these temperature extremes. I would also imagine the interior of the film can will have some condensation as well which CAN'T be good for the film.

I suppose you could try and gradually raise the film's temperature by having some kind of intermediate step. How do the big boys handle this situation? Do multi-million dollar film companies have camera trucks with on-board refrigerators for the film-stock as I suspect they do? My plan was to actually salvage and install a RV (electric /propane) refrigerator/freezer near a small, collapsible dark room in the camera truck (The propane bottle would also run a heater on-board the camera truck for these cold desert nights as well and I wanted to get the roof air to install on the truck as well) OR store filmstock in the motorhome as it's been my experience, the fridge in those things rarely gets used on a shoot then to use coolers with blue ice next to the changing bag to store film as needed. How did they handle this back in the day before we had all this modern stuff like 12vt refrigerators and blue ice? :huh:

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 21 July 2008 - 02:55 AM.

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