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Freezer or refrigerator for film storage?


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#1 Samuel Berger

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 01:12 PM

My wife says I can't fill up the freezer on our refrigerator with film and I'm considering buying a chest freezer for the garage to store it all in, especially as I acquire more raw stock. But a refrigerator is cheaper. Is there a big advantage in getting a freezer for film instead of keeping it in a fridge?

 

What about after the film has been exposed? Is the freezer okay for it? I always thought of just putting it in the regular refrigerator but now I'm wondering about condensation.

 

Haven't read up on this stuff in ten years and it isn't really like riding a bicycle like I thought it would be. Thanks.


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#2 Heikki Repo

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 01:46 PM

My suggestion is, do not hoard (old) film :) Been there, done that. It just becomes older and more fogged every passing day. And when you finally get to make your project and you calculate all expenses, you'll end up buying new film because you don't want to risk shooting your expensive and time consuming project on that old and fogged film.

 

So, my suggestion is: buy film just before production. Otherwise you'll just lose money and feel guilty for not shooting all that film in your freezer.

 

But if you want to make the same mistakes I have made: yes, freezer is IMO better than fridge. And yes, chest freezers are quite nice :wub:

I myself haven't stored any exposed film in cold but I live in Finland, it isn't usually hot and humid here even during summer. I have only tried to have the film processed as soon as possible, no later than within a month of exposing it.


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#3 aapo lettinen

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 02:52 PM

you don't really want to store exposed film for long periods before processing, couple of months is absolute maximum and you will see elevated grain and fog levels if storing it for long. I have stored exposed film in fridge on doc projects normally for max. 4 months before processing and that is ok if you don't have to match it to other footage stored differently (for drama shoots a month or two would be fine I think).

some rolls have stayed in the fridge for about a year before processing and I don't recommend it, you will have very visible contrast and grain issues with the stuff and difficulties matching it to any other footage. especially 16mm will be very bad for long storing because of the smaller frame/more magnified grain. 

 

I would never freeze exposed film, if you have too much humidity in the can you will ruin the film and you will need to process it soon anyway so there is no point doing so in any circumstances. 

 

If you have issues with storage space you can buy a separate fridge which you will keep in the garage... if you have some factory fresh rolls which you will want to store at least three or four years before shooting them it may make sense to freeze them but otherwise one does not need to freeze any film and take the risk of ruining it. if you have factory fresh roll which you want to shoot next year the fridge is fine for it, and if having a short end you don't generally want to freeze them because of the possible humidity in the can which may cause serious damage if freezing it


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#4 Samuel Berger

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 04:10 PM

Thanks, guys. I remember in the 90's one indie filmmaking book suggested buying your filmstock right away and freezing it, because that lit the fire under your seat to get the production going. It gave you a ticking clock of one year. Might have been the Rick Schmidt book because he changed it into a digital video making book.


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#5 aapo lettinen

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 04:48 PM

Thanks, guys. I remember in the 90's one indie filmmaking book suggested buying your filmstock right away and freezing it, because that lit the fire under your seat to get the production going. It gave you a ticking clock of one year. Might have been the Rick Schmidt book because he changed it into a digital video making book.

 

the one year for frozen film would be totally wrong estimate... for refrigerated it would be somewhat correct though it would be more like 1.5 - 2 years for refrigerated in an indie production (using the same batch for the whole movie) and maybe 4 - 6 years for frozen film. freezing does not stop the ever-going gamma+cosmic rays damage so frozen film does not last forever either, you may start to see small blue flashes etc. radiation damage after the years of storing in the frozen state. 

 

one catch with the long refrigerating is to make sure all the sides of the can stay at the same temperature. so it is not a good idea to completely fill your refrigerator with film and other stuff because the other side of the film cans may have very different temperature compared to the other side and the other half of the roll thus ages quicker than the other which may lead to the extremely irritating "pumping grain" in the final image or other weird symptoms. this is one reason why it is best to have a separate refrigerator for film and keep all the food stuff in the kitchen refrig, your wife was correct in that you should not fill the kitchen freez/refrig with film stuff  ;)


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#6 Samuel Berger

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 05:15 PM

I found the actual quote from the book:

 

A: Your first decision is whether or not to spend $900 for 12, 400’ rolls of 16mm B&W filmstock to break the inertia (see “Emergency Self-Funding,” page 63, Chapter 3). Once those rolls are in your refrigerator you have approximately one year to shoot before it goes bad. Now you’re on the road. Time to get a concept, start writing, find a cinematographer, sound person, actors, and start planning, because it’s really happening!) Neither money nor self doubts can stop you once you’ve finally made a commitment to yourself.

 

Dang, film was cheaper then. I wonder why he said 12 rolls.

B&W? He had "Clerks" in mind, obviously.

 

Anyway, 12 rolls of Vision3 come up to $2122.56 unless you can ask a student friend to get that student discount for you....Carl, you around? ;-)

 

For the film I'm shooting next year I calculated 13000' of 16mm filmstock for $5749.

 

Here's the page he was referring to:

 

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Edited by Samuel Berger, 15 November 2017 - 05:22 PM.

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