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Moisture Static - blue flashes


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#1 julietw

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Posted 26 May 2005 - 11:53 AM

I'm a post supervisor shooting super 35 mm - 4 perf - in NYC and when the film is tranfered we're seeing blue flashes of light that someone at Technicolor describes as moisture static. Has anyone experienced this or knows the cause?
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#2 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 26 May 2005 - 03:25 PM

I'm a post supervisor shooting super 35 mm - 4 perf - in NYC and when the film is tranfered we're seeing blue flashes of light that someone at Technicolor describes as moisture static.  Has anyone experienced this or knows the cause?

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If the unprocessed film picks up excess moisture (very humid conditions or condensation on a cold roll), the film emulsion gets a bit "sticky" with the added moisture. When two film surfaces are slightly "stuck" together and pulled apart when unwinding the roll, you can generate static that will cause a blue glow at the point of separation.

You can see this effect for yourself. Go into a totally dark room and let your eyes accomodate to the darkness for a few minutes. If you pull the tape off a film can, or perhaps take the protective paper off the sticky side of a "Band Aid" bandage, you will likely see a bit of static discharge as the sticky surfaces separate.

The solution to the problem is to control the moisture content of the film. In really damp conditions, a bit of dessicant (silca gel or molecular sieves) can help keep the opened film roll dry. Always let a can of film warm to ambient temperature before opening, or condensation may form on the film surface if its temperature is below the dew point.
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