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Good article on Nitrate films.


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#1 Shawn Sagady

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 04:24 AM

http://originalart.x...st#.WJRL9FJOmRN
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#2 Simon Wyss

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Posted 04 February 2017 - 03:39 AM

One more time the embarrassing confusion of nitrate base and photographic properties, if not cinematography

 

Well lit and or photochemically correct and or optical clear images have absolutely nothing to do with the

chemical composition of a film base. At times, the use of the Tessar formula with lenses, naturally bloomed

lenses, carbon-arc light, and crisp grain development, to name a bundle, were falling together but one must

not say nitrate film and inherent quality simply like that. Outright crap

 

We can produce the beautiful old-time cinematography still today, if it’s about technics alone, on triacetate or

polyester base film. Contrasty images are the simplest thing to do. We still have relatively slow films, we still

have orthochromatic films, we can still expose and develop for stronger contrast, we can still make step contact

prints from such negatives and we can still project such positives with low-intensity carbon arc lamps and

Petzval type lenses onto a limed wall. That is how silent pictures were made for the first 30 years.

 

Then there are serious lacks in the tale. “Scientists in the US, including those at the Eastman Company

(later Eastman Kodak Company) continued refining the formula to produce their own plastics.” Who were they?

John Wesley Hyatt, John H. Stevens (US patent 269,342), Hannibal Goodwin, Henry Reichenbach, these are

the names that deserve citation, not Eastman.

 

The article is a nostalgic trial, as valuable as a piece of rotten nitrate-base film in a dented canister.


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#3 Martyn Stevens

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 06:33 AM

I have never quite understood precisely what it was about nitrate film that made the industry apparently so reluctant to give it up. Was it just price?

Or did physical characteristics such as flexibility come in? If there is any confusion between the possible quality of images and different film bases,

I suspect it arises from the amazing clarity of early films, which could show through even in their narrow-gauge reproductions.

This sharpness and depth of field went away (much earlier than nitrate did) and, again, I am not really clear why. How much of it was due to changes in cinematographic

practices? - this is something members would know about I guess. No doubt there are other factors, only hinted at in Simon Wyss' post.

 

The fear of nitrate does seem odd. After all, it was used for decades with relatively few fatalities - it would be interesting to have some

exact facts and figures and not have to fall back on an early French disaster for illustration. But going to the movies was not normally seen as a life-threatening practice,


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#4 John E Clark

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 12:17 PM

I have never quite understood precisely what it was about nitrate film that made the industry apparently so reluctant to give it up. Was it just price?

Or did physical characteristics such as flexibility come in? If there is any confusion between the possible quality of images and different film bases,

I suspect it arises from the amazing clarity of early films, which could show through even in their narrow-gauge reproductions.

This sharpness and depth of field went away (much earlier than nitrate did) and, again, I am not really clear why. How much of it was due to changes in cinematographic

practices? - this is something members would know about I guess. No doubt there are other factors, only hinted at in Simon Wyss' post.

 

The fear of nitrate does seem odd. After all, it was used for decades with relatively few fatalities - it would be interesting to have some

exact facts and figures and not have to fall back on an early French disaster for illustration. But going to the movies was not normally seen as a life-threatening practice,

 

From the wiki on Nitrate based film stocks...

 

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The year 1978 was particularly devastating for film archives when both the United States National Archives and Records Administration and George Eastman House had their nitrate film vaults auto-ignite. Eastman House lost the original camera negatives for 329 films, while the National Archives lost 12.6 million feet of newsreel footage. Because cellulose nitrate contains oxygen, nitrate fires can be very difficult to extinguish. The US Navy has produced an instructional movie about the safe handling and usage of nitrate films which includes footage of a full reel of nitrate film burning underwater. The base is so flammable that intentionally igniting the film for test purposes is recommended in quantities no greater than one frame without extensive safety precautions.

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