Jump to content


Photo

Static Electricity and Black & White Film


  • Please log in to reply
7 replies to this topic

#1 Tim Carroll

Tim Carroll
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2165 posts
  • Other
  • Chicago, Illinois

Posted 11 March 2009 - 05:56 PM

In my continuing research of black & white cinematography, I was reading in the January 1994 issue of AC about how they shot Schindler's List.

Janusz Kaminski talks about one of the problems with shooting 5222 and 5231 is the static electricity created by the film moving through the camera and how the sparks from the static electricity fog frames of the film.

This is the first I have heard of this. I shot a black & white short with 7231 in 2003 and didn't run into this in the five 400 feet loads we shot. I am wondering if this is a big problem and if anyone else has dealt with it?

Am planning on a Black & White shoot later this year and want to know if this is something I should be concerned about?

Thanks for any and all info.

Best,
-Tim
  • 0

#2 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 11 March 2009 - 06:00 PM

From what I recall about reading about this in this forum in the past, it had to do with too little moisture in the air and a damp sponge in the camera was enough to solve the problem.

Another problem with B&W film is that it doesn't have rem-jet, but has an anti-halo die instead, which isn't always enough. Something to do with shiny gates reflecting enough light back through to cause halation anyway.

I've shot a bit of 8- and 16mm film, with no problems of either of these types.
  • 0

#3 John Sprung

John Sprung
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4635 posts
  • Other

Posted 11 March 2009 - 06:43 PM

It's an issue if you have extremely low humidity, or at temperatures so low that all the humidity is frozen out of the air. Static can affect any film, not just B&W. I'd rather humidify the whole set than put anything wet inside a camera. Mix a little anti-static fabric softener with the water in the humidifier or sprayer.





-- J.S.
  • 0

#4 Dominic Case

Dominic Case
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1357 posts
  • Other
  • Sydney Australia

Posted 11 March 2009 - 08:03 PM

The remjet backing on colour neg stocks is made of carbon, so it is electrically conductive and static charge can't build up. B/W neg doesn't have remjet, so it is more susceptible to atatic build-up. It has been a problem for darkroom techs in the lab who are only used to handling colour stocks. If you rewind b/w neg too quickly, you'll get static fogging.

Techs who started out when it was mostly b/w knew how to handle b/w neg - but they've all retired long since.

As Karl & John point out, low humidity is what makes this a problem. Moist air conducts any static charge away before it builds up too much. A humidifier on set is good - but keeping the stock in a humid environment (in the short term) might also help - as would a humidifier in the loading room. On location, maybe a slightly damp sponge in the camera might be the best solution after all (no idea where you'd put it safely though.)
  • 0

#5 Chris Millar

Chris Millar
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1642 posts
  • Other

Posted 12 March 2009 - 01:22 AM

I've seen it when loading 16mm onto daylight spools from a 400' cores the faster I would the more 'stirkes' I'd get - it was old Ilford fp4, never seen it no matter how fast I wind on modern Plus-X...

Its not very bright at all, but with the proximity to the film you'll fog two areas, seperated in time by the circumference of the core when the static occurs. Sometimes it'll happen with the tape that holds the paper backing onto 120 (medium format) film even with a good flash this has never noticably fogged my stills as the actual exposed film is too far away by then...

If you're interested take some gaffer tape into a dark room (Nashua brand is good for it) and peel it off fast - you can see a similar effect.
  • 0

#6 Cameron Preyde

Cameron Preyde

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts
  • Other

Posted 13 March 2009 - 05:45 PM

The light that you see in a dark room from Scotch tape being pulled off a reel is actually a form of X-Ray.

http://www.nytimes.c...nce/28xray.html

Pretty interesting stuff...



I've seen it when loading 16mm onto daylight spools from a 400' cores the faster I would the more 'stirkes' I'd get - it was old Ilford fp4, never seen it no matter how fast I wind on modern Plus-X...

Its not very bright at all, but with the proximity to the film you'll fog two areas, seperated in time by the circumference of the core when the static occurs. Sometimes it'll happen with the tape that holds the paper backing onto 120 (medium format) film even with a good flash this has never noticably fogged my stills as the actual exposed film is too far away by then...

If you're interested take some gaffer tape into a dark room (Nashua brand is good for it) and peel it off fast - you can see a similar effect.


  • 0

#7 Chris Keth

Chris Keth
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4427 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Los Angeles

Posted 13 March 2009 - 09:37 PM

On location, maybe a slightly damp sponge in the camera might be the best solution after all (no idea where you'd put it safely though.)


As slightly nutty as it may sound, I did almost that very thing on a B&W short I shot out in the desert. I taped a little square of clean leather chamois to the inside of the door for the body of our gold II. It was maybe 1x1 inch or slightly larger. Every mag change it would get a few drops of condensation off of my water bottle. Not enough to be dripping wet, just damp. I can't really certify that it did anything, but I can say that in about 8000 feet of film we shot in 105F-125F temps and probably <10% humidity, there were no weird flash issues.
  • 0

#8 Chris Millar

Chris Millar
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1642 posts
  • Other

Posted 14 March 2009 - 03:11 AM

The light that you see in a dark room from Scotch tape being pulled off a reel is actually a form of X-Ray.

http://www.nytimes.c...nce/28xray.html

Pretty interesting stuff...


Interesting stuff!

But not what I am talking about:

From the article:

The phenomenon has been observed only when tape is unpeeled in a vacuum.


The phenomenon I mention is visible light and in normal atmosphere ;)
  • 0


The Slider

Wooden Camera

Technodolly

Visual Products

Aerial Filmworks

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Tai Audio

Opal

Metropolis Post

Broadcast Solutions Inc

FJS International, LLC

CineLab

Rig Wheels Passport

rebotnix Technologies

Ritter Battery

CineTape

Abel Cine

Paralinx LLC

Willys Widgets

Glidecam

rebotnix Technologies

Technodolly

Aerial Filmworks

Willys Widgets

Paralinx LLC

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

CineLab

Glidecam

The Slider

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

FJS International, LLC

CineTape

Wooden Camera

Tai Audio

Opal

Abel Cine

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Visual Products

Rig Wheels Passport

Ritter Battery

Metropolis Post