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What equipment do I need to process my own 35mm motion picture film at home?


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#1 Matthew Kerins

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Posted 22 July 2014 - 05:35 AM

I am planning on getting a film scanner and if it were possible and cheap enough, I'd like to process the film properly in a darkroom at home, I've processed stills many times before and would like to know details of each stage. 

 

Thanks in advance 

 

Matt


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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 22 July 2014 - 07:57 AM

I suspect doing much more than test strips isn't really practical at home. I know people have done 8mm and some short 16mm rolls at home using stills style developing tanks . However, to do it properly could involve taking over a large domestic room because for most films it isn't worth doing less than 400 ft 35mm rolls. Properly also involves doing tests to ensure consistency.    


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#3 Matthew Kerins

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Posted 22 July 2014 - 08:24 AM

yeah, well I have the space, I understand this aspect as like I said I've had experience developing photos. I'm more interested in getting an inventory checklist for a film lab so I know what I'm supposed to get. I don't mind doing 400' at a time, I want to process it in the best quality too

 

Cheers

 

Matt


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#4 Nicholas Kovats

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Posted 22 July 2014 - 08:40 AM

Matt,

 

Very high density of information on this global initiative regarding artist's run film labs. Hardcore. There may be one in your area. A mixture of semi-pro DIY and professional setups. Someone may have a lead on a discarded processor sitting in storage. Very dedicated people. 

 

http://www.filmlabs.....php/site/home/


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#5 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 22 July 2014 - 09:30 AM

Here's a site about DIY processing, however, they seem to max out at 100 ft rolls. I suspect once you go for longer lengths you're into industrial type plant with concrete floors etc.

 

http://www.oocities....elinsky/FAQ.htm


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#6 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 22 July 2014 - 11:03 AM

Are you thinking about Color Negative? ECN2 is really a small industrial process I think it would be hard to achieve consistent results without a continuous processor and all that goes with it.


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#7 Matthew Kerins

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Posted 22 July 2014 - 12:33 PM

Thanks guys. 

 

And Robert this is my issue. I want to produce consistent top quality results at as little cost as possible.

 

Given this I understand you have to put the money in to get the results. So I'm gonna have a look at economic ways to get hold of the equipment necessary. My problem at the moment is knowing exactly what equipment I need. 

 

Thanks again 

 

Matt


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#8 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 22 July 2014 - 01:41 PM

If you check the link I put up, you'll find the costs discussed.  Seemingly, for 35mm the cost benefits aren't that good compared to 8mm or 16mm because labs charge the same per ft.  


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#9 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 22 July 2014 - 02:08 PM

Well if you want to do it you will need to find a film processing machine, they can be had inexpensively but as they say it's the upkeep. We got our new Photomec ECN machine from DuArt for $2500 but it cost us about $15,000 to move it from NYC to Cinelab in Massachusetts and that does not include setting it up. Even the smallest continuous drive processors are pretty big and heavy I would suggest looking for an Allen Products machine they are only about 25 feet long and about 6 feet tall at most and can be configured to run 35mm at about 20ft/min

 

You will need silver recovery system and a mixer for chemistry plus a densitometer.


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#10 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 22 July 2014 - 03:09 PM

 

...Very high density of information on this global initiative regarding artist's run film labs. ..... 
 
http://www.filmlabs.....php/site/home/


Having loaded that page to read later I came back to my desk to find a very interesting video running. Some folk processing their film with a Lomo tank in a bathroomm in a moving train. So cool it deserves a prize. But I would have hung the film to dry down the length of the carriage. I used to hang it down the length of a hallway.

(edit) And unloading their tank hose out the window did give it a a sort of anarchic, edgy feel.

Edited by Gregg MacPherson, 22 July 2014 - 03:12 PM.

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#11 Dirk DeJonghe

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Posted 22 July 2014 - 03:28 PM

I have worked on a film, part home processed, that won a prize in Venice. However, the home processing is part of the look that the artist wants and there were some sections processed by a commercial lab (us). The difference is night and day.

If you want the home processed look, go for it. If you want consistent quality, with good agitation (impossible to achieve in hand processing for longer footage), precise gamma and density, look no further than your pro lab. In the end it will be cheaper too. Concentrate on the creative parts of filmmaking instead.


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#12 John Woods

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Posted 23 July 2014 - 04:22 PM

There are a lot of naysayers out there but you can achieve surprisingly good quality with home equipment. The problem is handling the long lengths without an industrial setup. A 100' of 16 or 35mm is about all you can realistic manage in a typical home darkroom. Also while you can get decent results for B&W film or colour E-6. Its difficult to get good colour negative results because rem jet removal is a difficult step to manage with an amateur setup.

 

If you are lucky and patient you might be able to locate a Cramer film processor. These were made for small labs, hospitals and news rooms to process 400' lengths of Super 8 or 16mm. It'd take some effort and money to get 35mm rollers and modify the machine for that guage. I know a fellow who is in the midst of restoring one, its very compact, maybe 6' long 4' high. Practically a tabletop machine. The manual for it has a brochure that says the company also made 35mm machines but I imagine those would be even rarer.

 

There is a guy in the UK who modified a Jobo processor to handle 50' of super 8, but I don't see that being realistic for 35mm.

 

More likely, you might also be able to modify a microfilm processor or a 1 hour photo lab processor to handle long lengths of film.

Here is a film done on a microfilm processor:

 

And an article on the machine used: http://cinedarkroom....-kodak-prostar/


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