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Spooling Down Your Own Film...


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#1 Matthew B Clark

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 01:30 PM

I've been paying Spectra to spool down 400' loads for me into 100' daylight spools, but it's becoming a frequent econmic drain at $10 a roll (so $40 per 400').  I figure if I can just learn how to do it correctly myself at home, I can save a lot of money, and shoot a lot more film with that extra money.  Does anyone know what this process entails exactly? 

 

Thanks.


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#2 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 01:41 PM

I tried spooling down some old 800' Fuji rolls I had and quickly gave up on it. You need to, obviously, do it all in the dark. Also, you have to wind it twice. Once to get it off of the original core, and once to get the winding back to where the perfs are on the bottom when loading. It is also hard to know exactly where 100' is unless you develop a point of reference. 

 

Pav Deep on this forum claims you can use Nightvision googles without damaging the film. If he is correct then I would go that route. Doing it completely in the dark is a tedious and stressful task that I wouldn't wish on anyone.


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#3 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 01:49 PM

You need a darkroom. Not just a dark room, but a room completely free of light leaks. If you have such a space, you'll need a clean rewind bench and a set of good rewinds (you can get them on ebay fairly cheaply). If you need to spool to cores, then you also need a tightwind arm on the left rewind. Now that you're set up, it goes like this:

 

--In total darkness--

1) stand in the room for several minutes to acclimate, and tape off any light leaks around the door with gaffer's tape

2) Put your film in a split reel, and stick it on the left rewind. Set up another split reel on the right side.

3) VERY SLOWLY wind the film from left to right until all of the film is on the right side. You have to go slowly to prevent static electricity from flashing the film.

4) Now remove the left split reel and replace it with a daylight spool. VERY SLOWLY rewind the film onto that until it's full. Repeat 3 more times.

 

If you have something like an Eclair 200' mag and you want to go to cores, Step 4 is a bit different. In this case, you load up a 2" core on the left rewind, thread in your film and drop the tightwind arm. Then you have to load the film until you get to 200' -- but how do you know you're there in the dark? You have to practice with some leader or exposed film with a sync block that has a counter on it, and count the number of cranks on the left rewind. I used to know this number because I did this all the time for my Eclair, but I forget what it is now. I'm sure someone will know.


Edited by Perry Paolantonio, 30 April 2014 - 01:51 PM.

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#4 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 01:59 PM

Another issue to consider is that, if spooling to 100', you wont have 4 "daylight" spools. The daylight spools have more film to allow for loading but mainly for wrapping around the deeper film to prevent light coming in. So if you wish to load in the light, you will need to use the (109' feet I believe) standard which only gets you 3 spools with some left over.


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#5 Zac Fettig

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 02:06 PM

Nightvision goggles are a terrible idea around unexposed film. Just because you can't see IR, doesn't mean it's invisible to the film. Especially around high speed film.

 

Taking a pair of film winders into the darkroom with you might not be a bad idea though. Spool the whole load onto a 400' projector spool, then respool onto 100' daylight loads. Pray there isn't too much scratching.


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#6 Matthew B Clark

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 02:06 PM

Thank you Perry.  I'm thinking this would be worth it when dealing with a bulk buy...like one of those Aviphot cans of 2 x 1,200' cores.  I appreciate that thorough breakdown.  I might just try it with a 400' load of some expired stock I have just laying around here.  Just to maybe get the feel of it.  It's damaged/expired film, so it's not going to tell me much about light leaks and handling, but it will get me the idea of working with my hands in the dark doing this...


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#7 Matthew B Clark

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 02:07 PM

Thank you Zac and Matthew.


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#8 Geoff Howell

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 02:08 PM

I've often thought about modding an arri 400ft mag, and just winding straight from the 400ft load on to an empty 100ft spool on the take up reel; using the footage indicator to tell when I've wound 100ft  


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#9 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 02:09 PM

I did this on a film, used to black out the windows in the room that was used for editing and do actual winding when it was dark outside. One spool was always a bit shorter than the others


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#10 Matthew B Clark

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 02:09 PM

I've often thought about modding an arri 400ft mag, and just winding straight from the 400ft load on to an empty 100ft spool on the take up reel; using the footage indicator to tell when I've wound 100ft  

 

Yeah, but then isn't the film going to be on the daylight spool all backwards?  Because the Arri load would just be a regular "forward-facing" load, right?


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#11 Matthew B Clark

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 02:11 PM

I did this on a film, used to black out the windows in the room that was used for editing and do actual winding when it was dark outside. One spool was always a bit shorter than the others

 

How'd it turn out?  Did you do that method described above with two split reels on a rewind?  And did you notice any substantial (or minor) scratching or fogging?


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#12 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 02:17 PM

Nightvision goggles are a terrible idea around unexposed film. Just because you can't see IR, doesn't mean it's invisible to the film. Especially around high speed film.

 

 

Like I said, I had never tried it. Only relaying what Pav said on another thread. He claimed to have tried it with no negative effects. If you haven't tried it and he has, how can you be certain that you are correct?


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#13 Pavan Deep

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 02:50 PM

I put the unexposed new film core onto a flat with the core inside a core holder and wind the film across to a 400ft spool and the I spool the film onto 4 individual daylight spools, I guess as to when the daylight spool is full, I am sure you end up with 400ft, but daylight spools will waste the first foot or so so in reality you won't be able to fully expose the 400ft reel.

 

I reluctantly tried night vision goggles, initially I thought it was a bad idea too, but I checked with labs and photographers who all believed night vision goggles would be okay, but very few had tried them with colour film but, many had tried night vision goggles with black and white film and were comfortable that night vision goggles were okay for black and white film.

 

My film has not been affected [if it has I can't tell, the labs can't tell nor can the post houses], I have loaded all sorts of film stock with night vision goggles such as the Agfa Aviphot, Kodak Ektachrome 100D, 64T, Vision 2 and 3 50D, 250D, 200T, 500T and all the recent Fujifilm stocks. I now think nightvision goggles is a great idea and the best way to load and spool film. The nigh vision goggles I bought can be easily found on Ebay.

 

Pav


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#14 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 02:52 PM

 

How'd it turn out?  Did you do that method described above with two split reels on a rewind?  And did you notice any substantial (or minor) scratching or fogging?

 

It worked fine, I used split spools, This was B & W neg film, so it may be more robust than colour neg, but no sign of scratches for fogging. It's no different to what the guys in the lab do when loading up for development, just they've got a flat winder. You can feel when the spool is full, so you don't need to read off footage,


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#15 Matthew B Clark

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 03:47 PM

That's what I figured too....you'll obviously feel with your thumb when the spool is loaded up, since you have to carefully guide the whole process anyway...I mean it's actually tough to even conceptualize NOT being able to sense that!


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#16 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 03:48 PM

That's what I figured too....you'll obviously feel with your thumb when the spool is loaded up, since you have to carefully guide the whole process anyway...I mean it's actually tough to even conceptualize NOT being able to sense that!

 

If you fill the spool completely then I guarantee you wont get 4 spools off of a 400' core.


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#17 Matthew B Clark

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 03:51 PM

Oh I know.  Since I'm looking at doing this for those Aviphot cans though...that's two 1,200 cores.  So I'd rather load up 10 or 11 to the brim like normal, then have one ratty short end spool. 


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#18 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 04:00 PM

Don't forget to post later and let us know how it worked out. We all learn by doing (or watching some unfortunate soul try first!) ;)


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#19 Matthew B Clark

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 04:02 PM

I will!  I feel you there.  I need to quit usurping everyone's knowledge and give some back, you're right! 

 

I'm glad to hear all the responses.  This is good info.  And I definitely don't want to pay $800 for the Aviphot and then $300 to do a spool down.  After a while, that eliminates all the savings. 

 

William Mishkin style penny-pinching, baby.  Taking the wife's wheelchair for the day for dolly shots etc., because she can sleep in bed JUST FINE, thank you very much!  Ingenuity can be so ugly sometimes!


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#20 Heikki Repo

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 04:08 PM

Nightvision goggles (IR) can be used. In fact, most labs use them. Much easier to work with film when you see it. Many film processors have IR sensors or cameras to monitor the process and control it.

 

Normal motion picture film isn't sensitive to IR and Kodak doesn't manufacture IR motion picture film anymore.

 

So if you are going to work with film a lot in the dark, do yourself a favor and buy nightvision goggles, then install some IR lights on the wall or ceiling.

 

John Pytlak wrote 10 years ago:


 

For infrared, you then need to find a lab willing to process it (many labs use infrared night-vision scopes and infrared leader detectors in their darkrooms).

http://www.cinematog...opic=505&p=6099


Edited by Heikki Repo, 30 April 2014 - 04:11 PM.

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