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Film Cement and Modern Stocks


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#1 Aaron Martin (TX)

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 08:16 AM

Film cement will no longer work on modern 16mm and 35mm workprints, correct?

Thanks,

Aaron
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#2 K Borowski

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 09:47 AM

Define "modern". . .

I think you can still get work-prints on acetate film, rather than the commonly-used estar (polyester).


With affordable HD telecines available, that can show you practically everything on the film (unlike SD transfers from the '90s), why would you even want to work-print?
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#3 Aaron Martin (TX)

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 12:53 PM

Define "modern". . .


A work print delivered to me in August or September of 2009.
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#4 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 02:02 PM

I think you can still get work-prints on acetate film, rather than the commonly-used estar (polyester).


Just checked print films on the Kodak site.

The only acetate print film Kodak offers is 5302/7302.


the color print stocks are all estar base.

maybe LuckyColor.
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#5 Charles MacDonald

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 08:57 PM

Film cement will no longer work on modern 16mm and 35mm workprints, correct?

Almost all if not all print stocks these days are polyester. You can splice polyester with tape, or an ultrasonic splicer. Film cement works on acetate and I would guess nitrate.
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#6 Charles MacDonald

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 08:58 PM

With affordable HD telecines available, that can show you practically everything on the film (unlike SD transfers from the '90s), why would you even want to work-print?


Because you want to work with _FILM_ and not video off a computer screen?
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#7 Dirk DeJonghe

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 12:06 AM

As noted before, all prints stocks are now polyester except for B&W which can be acetate or polyester. For a workprint it makes no difference since you want to make single sided tape splices in the first instance, so you can easily undo your splice without losing frames. Also your magnetic sound stock needs to be spliced with diagonal tape splices on the back side only. The negative conforming needs to be done with cement splices, no tapes allowed there. Ultrasonic cleaning will soften the tape adhesive.
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#8 K Borowski

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 09:46 AM

If you want to work with film in the editing phase and spend thousands of dollars on something that is going to end up in a trash can at the end of the process, fine. But please, "I want to work with film not computers" is a good-enough reason? That comes across to me as haughty and arrogant. Do you insist upon having the color timing done without video analyzers, and on machines that have manual dials instead of computer control? Where does this purism end?

My money goes towards the finished product and an HD transfer that is NOT trash at the end. The steps taken to contact print the master negative are irrelevant to me; the cheapest means to that end that produces a high quality result is the route I will take.

Let's put it another way: What advantages does a workprint-edited film have over an NLE finished film in the final product?


As far as acetate prints, I could have sworn I saw a print from 2005 that was on acetate. Granted they were very rare. I know for certain I have a trailer of "Independence Day" that is on acetate.

When did they axe acetate prints altogether? I assumed they kept the stuff around for some of the older, quirkier projectors.
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#9 Simon Wyss

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 03:43 PM

But please, "I want to work with film not computers" is a good-enough reason? That comes across to me as haughty and arrogant. Do you insist upon having the color timing done without video analyzers, and on machines that have manual dials instead of computer control? Where does this purism end?

Wow, Karl, what's bitten you in the meantime?

I can't see any purist attitude with somebody who has film in her or his hands, and the question was so beautifully simple. Does film cement work with modern stock tells me so much about Aaron. There is a director who wants to know about the very base of our industry. I have just reread US Patent 610,861 of September 13, 1898, to Hannibal Goodwin of Newark, NJ: What I claim as new is an improvement in the art of making transparent flexible, photographic-film pellicles, the same consisting in dissolving nitro-cellulose in a . . .

There is not a trace of arrogance in Aaron's post. We who know well enough can explain to him that PET polyester is chemically inert, i. e. not affected by any substance in view of making a bond between two pieces of such film. So we enter film manufacturing history over triacetate base to nitrate base and the ugly beginning with the betrayal of Goodwin by Eastman (US Patent 417,202 of December 10, 1889, to Henry M. Reichenbach). I read Witnesses: George Eastman, Fred F. Church.

We're back in 1887 when Goodwin filed the application on May 2. Since then nothing has changed. Film cement is in close touch with the fabrication of film. The rest, in my ears, is silence, perhaps the humming noise of my ultrasonic polyester film welder.
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#10 Dominic Case

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 07:01 PM

When did they axe acetate prints altogether?

Agfa Gevaert introduced polyester print stock in the mid 1980s. Eastman Kodak came a little later, but by the late 1990s virtually everything was polyester. They kept acetate print stock for a little while as there were still a few customers who insisted on it, particularly for high status show prints, as they had had problems with polyester.

The issue was never quirky projectors. The newer iterations of print stock had a habit of building up static charge as they ran through the projector. This would lead to several turns of film sticking together as they fed off the platter system. They would bunch up in the rollers and jam.

In the case of acetate base, that would usually result in the film breaking. Embarrassing for the cinema, but a good projectionist who noticed the break could have the show running a gain in a minute or two.

In the case of polyester prints, the film would not break. Often the entire print would be dragged off the platter onto the floor. Sometimes the platter system itself has been pulled over. Usually there is a trip switch that prevents the drive motors from burning out. But it's often a half hour or more before the show can resume, if at all.

Too low a humidity would lead to this static build up. Too high a humidity would lead to the emulsion getting sticky with the same end result.

Before anyone says it, we all know that with digital projection there can be no possibility of any faults of any sort ever happening to upset the show. Not now not ever. It's digital. <_<
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#11 K Borowski

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 07:16 PM

Because you want to work with _FILM_ and not video off a computer screen?



Simon, I didn't refer to it before, but this is the post that strikes me as elitist.

It's silly to take that attitude. Every piece for film equipment I've come in contact over the past TWO DECADES has had integral computer controls.

It's one thing to want to project film, show film, and avoid any quality losses from a digital intermediate. It's another thing entirely to insist upon not using computers at all.

Maybe we should write down all edits by hand, and not use keycode. Maybe we should avoid Excel spreadsheets and stick our heads in the sand and shun what has become the industry standard, NLE, pretending it isn't there.

But I would like to think that money is far better spent elsewhere than in the manufacture of workprints that, again, just end up in a trash can at the end of the editing process. :blink:


@Dominic et al: So, when was acetate stock discontinued? I had thought it was still being manufactured to this day, albeit in limited capacity. I knew that estar had become mainstream a long time ago.
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#12 Brian Pritchard

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 01:50 AM

@Dominic et al: So, when was acetate stock discontinued? I had thought it was still being manufactured to this day, albeit in limited capacity. I knew that estar had become mainstream a long time ago.


All camera stocks are still manufacturered on acetate stock; there is always a danger of a camera jam in which case polyester will damage the camera.

Most laboratory stocks are polyester although they usually are still avaliable as acetate mainly to special order.
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#13 Antti Näyhä

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 02:13 AM

The issue was never quirky projectors.

Just a side note: I've encountered one 35mm projector that doesn't like polyester film, and that's the Cinemeccanica Portacine 35. I've used two different models, and both of them keep introducing an extremely irritating wow/flutter effect to the sound on maybe 90–95% of the polyester prints I've ran through the projector. All acetate prints work flawlessly. The film transport mechanism (a very simple design optimised for portability) before the optical sound reader just doesn't handle the thinner film base smoothly enough.

There is a workaround, however. Gently pressing your finger on the edge of the film over one of the transport wheels is enough to stabilise the film before it reaches the sound head. I used to run a film club with one of those, and I have to say my finger did sometimes hurt after a two-hour show...
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#14 Dirk DeJonghe

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 04:37 AM

There is one very big advantage to polyester stock: fifty years from now, or fivehundred, it will still be there and not decomposed like acetate base with vinegar syndrome. I have a contract to do restorations for our national television network and some of the images and sounds (on acetate sepmag) aer degraded beyond recovery because of vinegar syndrome. Usually the images are in better shape than the acetate sepmag, even if they were kept in the same can.

Another point: my negative cutter is pregnant, and she doesn't want to touch Kodak film cement since day one of her pregnancy. Kodak film cement contains dioxane and other stuff. It is used in minute quantities, but since it is written on the tin, she will be on 'sick' leave for about one year. Very expensive cement if you ask me.
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#15 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 03:04 PM

Most laboratory stocks are polyester although they usually are still avaliable as acetate mainly to special order.


The Kodak literature says that '302 can also be used for making mattes and titles.
I suspect this is the reason for having it availiable with acetate base.
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#16 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 03:14 PM

Almost all if not all print stocks these days are polyester. You can splice polyester with tape, or an ultrasonic splicer. Film cement works on acetate and I would guess nitrate.


I was at WRS when Agfa-gaevert switched over to all estar base.
So Jack Napor bought up all of the remaining Agfa film cement.

We did a lot of repair work on nitrate films. A lot of this was recementing weak splices.
The Agfa cement was amazingly harsh to the nitrate, almost completly dissolving the splice area.
We had to beg for the management to order Kodak cement for the nitrate.

Also the Agfa cement had a sickeningly sweet smell.
We all hated the stuff.
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#17 Dominic Case

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 05:59 PM

There is one very big advantage to polyester stock: fifty years from now, or fivehundred, it will still be there and not decomposed like acetate base with vinegar syndrome.

I well remember the "Nitrate Won't Wait" campaigns that a lot of film archives pursued in the 1970s, when millions of feet of nitrate material was duplicated onto modern safety base (acetate stock) that wouldn't decompose in the same way as nitrate. It was "the solution" for long-term preservation.

Then I remember the growing alarm as archivists opened cans of nitrate a few years later and smelt the vinegar smell of deteriorating acetate.

Sure, it doesn't turn to powder and spontaneously ignite like nitrate. And though it is flammable, it won't burn under water like nitrate does. But as we all know - now - some of thoase acetate copies have decayed faster than the nitrate originals.

BUT I would be very guarded about predicting the life of even polyester stock 500 years from now. So far it seems OK, but it's early days.
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#18 Charles MacDonald

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 11:17 PM

But as we all know - now - some of those acetate copies have decayed faster than the nitrate originals.

I wonder if anyone has a handle on the factors that start decomposition on both?

I used to work on microfilm, and recalled that one drawer in the cabinent smelled like vinigar, but had no idea what was happening, we were instead scrambling to re-reel all the rolls in another area, since the reels that the nice folks from the canadian archives had used were causing re-dox blemishes on all our rolls.

Folks talk about heat humidity and poor washing causing the breakdown to start? I wonder if there is a predictor?

Polyester does LOOK like it will last longer and Microfilm was one of the first to switch over 100%.
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#19 Brian Pritchard

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 08:46 AM

The usual way to detect Vinegar Syndrome is to use A-D strips (Acid Detection Strips) They change colour from blue to yellow as they detect the Acetic Acid. You can find information on Vinegar Syndrome on the IPI website
They have a downloadable pdf file all about VS and storage of film.
http://www.imageperm...b/downloads.asp
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#20 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 01:18 PM

Folks talk about heat humidity and poor washing causing the breakdown to start? I wonder if there is a predictor?


From all the work on older titles and cart loads of Columbia trailers I did at WRS, it seemed that 35mm mag stock is the most likely to get vinegar syndrome. Which would minimize poor washing as a major cause.

Also, it hit after my last posts here that the main reason for still having acetate base B/W print stocks is that it's also used for white leader.
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