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Shipping 1200' 35mm lab rolls


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Saga...

I had 70 x 400' x 35mm rolls processed at a reputable lab. They were spooled onto cores as 1200' lab rolls. Then each 1200' lab roll was placed into a ~2 mil poly bag, then roll and bag were placed into an 11.5" x 11.5" pizza box. A 1200' lab roll is about 11", so there was some play.

The pizza boxes are thin 1 ply cardboard. The top and bottom are easily deflected, particularly when containing a 1200' lab roll. These must weigh 10-12# each. 

Next, 9 boxed lab rolls each were stacked in three rather flimsy 12" x 12" x 16" cartons, and the cartons were shipped via FedEx.

Results: 

Worst carton was burst at one corner, crushed upward about 1" at corner, and box showed clear evidence of having been compressed by a load on top of it. The bottom five pizza boxes had broken at the top and bottom seams. Film in bottom few boxes had unwound a bit. Film in these bottom boxes also showed evidence of "coning". To me, this suggests that I will have both longitudinal scratches and perpendicular scratches. Also, at least one poly bag failed, so shards of cardboard and some dust made it into the bags to serve as grinding media.

I'm kind of mad about this. But being mad won't fix the problem, nor will it undo the expenses I've incurred, nor will it return the subjects to the location the were in last summer, nor will it take the subjects out of retirement, nor will it bring back to life the subjects who have passed on. So I'm not dwelling on that. But I do need to figure out how to properly ship multiple lab rolls of 35mm film after processing, so this $*&#* doesn't happen again.

It seems like reels are the best way to ensure the safety of film. But putting negs on reels? That seems kind of odd. The negs are on cores when they come out of the lab. 

Split reels seems like an ideal solution. But do I want to buy 10+ 35mm split reels? I'm sure that would be extremely expensive, if I could even find 10.

1200' lab rolls are slightly too big for 1000' cans. If I have them make 800' lab rolls in the future, that will drive the cost of prep and transfers way up, and they won't be snug in 1000' cans. 

I really don't know what to do. But I'm 100% certain that I am not the first person to ship processed 35mm film.

I'm hoping someone out there can point me in the direction of a good solution. At some point, I need to ship this to get it scanned. Right now, 28,000' of 35mm is unseen. I hope not to destroy it before I see it!

At least it's stored at 60F/30% RH.

Thanks in advance for any wisdom you toss my way...other than suggestions that I go digital 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Dennis Toeppen
clarify boxes vs cartons
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In the future have the lab ship 1200 feet in 2000-ft. metal cans and fill the space around the film with cores. Make sure they lock the cans with fresh textile tape. Better still is to avoid 1200-ft. lengths. I have dealt with all sizes of 35-mm. film from 100 to 2000 feet. As a projectionist I know about damage to prints. Cardboard is allowed for snippets and such in a cutting room, never with transports.

A pizza is nothing else than a week’s review, you know, kitchen leavings thrown together on some dough, a culinary strafer. Film people should not eat pizze. That’s the plural of pizza. Funnily enough, pizza means also film container in Italian.

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There's the solution I was looking for. That sounds perfect. I can't wait to try this tomorrow. I've got some 2000' cans and plenty of cores (2" and 3").

I also found this shortly after posting the saga above. I don't like that only 180 degrees of each side is supported, but the price is right. As you can see, it's made of PPE, so it's archival. The nice thing about this solution is that I don't have to scrounge for free 2000' cans and a truckload of cores - although I think your solution is superior.

https://www.printfile.com/product/ap351200-35mm-1200ft-film-container/

Thanks very much for your suggestion.

Edited by Dennis Toeppen
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I've shipped those very same Fotokem 1200ft boxes all over the country and never had this problem. You have to pack them super tight, they can't flop around. I have a garage full of them and not a single one is crushed, many are stacked 8 high and have full 1200ft rolls of 35mm. I also have the bigger 2000ft lab roll boxes, these are great for 35mm because you can put 2x1000ft rolls together. I have those stacked 6 tall, no issues. I think your problem is not the boxes, but the packing job. They don't really have someone who boxes, it's all done by the will call area, I doubt they're proficient boxers. I'm local, I deal with them directly and again, never have any issues. 

You don't want to put film in can's if possible because they won't exhaust the fumes from the left over chemicals. Even if film is washed multiple times, it still has some residue on it. So the first step is to always leave it in a box so it can outgas for a few years. Then maybe after 3+ years, you can put it in cans for longer term storage. This is why so many negatives have faded so fast, not just because of heat, but because of buildup of chemical residue that has nowhere to go. 

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Yeah. We have to reckon with innocent people at work today. The knowledge around film is getting lost more and more. That the uppermost can of a pile ought to be stacked is one such detail. Those who have an eye for things recognise bottom and top then.

The 1200-ft. cans are an option.

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I have seen cardboard box shipping only once in my life...   the labs I use always ship the film in metal or plastic film cans. Normally in 1000ft or 2000ft cans if it's a longer roll. One Swedish lab used to use a type of rectangular orange heavy duty plastic 'cans' for shipping which were actually better protection than the metal cans I think

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The original plan was for them to scan. The cost-minimizing way to scan is to build the largest rolls the scanner can handle. They said this meant 1200'. I never really understood that. All DPT scanners seem to be able to handle more than 1200'. But that's my only reference.

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7 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

I've shipped those very same Fotokem 1200ft boxes all over the country and never had this problem. You have to pack them super tight, they can't flop around. I have a garage full of them and not a single one is crushed, many are stacked 8 high and have full 1200ft rolls of 35mm. I also have the bigger 2000ft lab roll boxes, these are great for 35mm because you can put 2x1000ft rolls together. I have those stacked 6 tall, no issues. I think your problem is not the boxes, but the packing job. They don't really have someone who boxes, it's all done by the will call area, I doubt they're proficient boxers. I'm local, I deal with them directly and again, never have any issues. 

You don't want to put film in can's if possible because they won't exhaust the fumes from the left over chemicals. Even if film is washed multiple times, it still has some residue on it. So the first step is to always leave it in a box so it can outgas for a few years. Then maybe after 3+ years, you can put it in cans for longer term storage. This is why so many negatives have faded so fast, not just because of heat, but because of buildup of chemical residue that has nowhere to go. 

Yes, that's right. The packing job ruined the pizza boxes. The 12 x 12 x 16 cartons were too thin and I think a maximum stack of 4 would have eliminated crushing of bottom pizza box(es). The crushing clearly occurred during carton drops.

I've never had problems with 16mm film shipped in these boxes, because it's much lighter and because the lab rolls have been smaller. But 35mm is too heavy in relation to the strength of the thin cartons.

Edited by Dennis Toeppen
fix
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10 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

I have seen cardboard box shipping only once in my life...   the labs I use always ship the film in metal or plastic film cans. Normally in 1000ft or 2000ft cans if it's a longer roll. One Swedish lab used to use a type of rectangular orange heavy duty plastic 'cans' for shipping which were actually better protection than the metal cans I think

In the US, nobody uses cans for cut negative anymore, it's all in boxes. I think once things go to long-term storage, they're transferred into used 2000ft can's from print stock. I see that a lot at archives, rows and rows of print cans. 

I'll say this much, I manage 2 pretty decent sized archives of films shot from 1975 - 1984 on 16mm and 35mm, no cans anywhere, it's all boxes. 

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7 hours ago, Dennis Toeppen said:

The original plan was for them to scan. The cost-minimizing way to scan is to build the largest rolls the scanner can handle. They said this meant 1200'. I never really understood that. All DPT scanners seem to be able to handle more than 1200'. But that's my only reference.

Actually, you want to have them prep the film because they re-wash it after assembly. It's a pain to deal with adding your own leader and then have dirty heads and tails. Much better to have the lab do it, get it washed properly and ready to scan. The "prep", where not complicated, is very important to be done right. The results between unprepared and prepped film is night and day. 

1200ft rolls are the "industry standard" for scanning. You will notice they made the boxes that size, not 1400ft, not 1100ft, but exactly 1200ft capable. They also make an 2000ft box, which I use quite a bit for longer rolls. I hate them tho, when you pull them in and out of the box, they're unwieldy to deal with. 1200ft is way easier, especially with 35mm where it's already difficult to get your hands around the back side without shifting the core. The 2000ft rolls are a nightmare, I've had many that have shifted on me getting them onto the scanner, what a nightmare. 

I've seen quite a few scanners that can take 2000 - 2500ft rolls. I believe the reason is because it's common for certain elements in the printing process to be longer. So they make the scanners capable of running longer rolls. Even our toy scanner can run 1800ft no problem. 

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If you are going to store the film in metal cans, be sure the lid loosely fits;  not air tight.

Better yet, invest in some archival cans like these (no endorsement for any particular brand, do some research):

https://stilcasing.com/products/35mm-casing/

https://filmforevermpe.com/t/tuscan-archival-film-cans

The cans the film came in work perfectly fine too, but just be sure they are not sealed or have tight fitting lids.  In the distant past, someone made a punch that knocked-out a few breathing holes in the side of the can;  that works too...

One final thing;  try not to store film on reels if at all possible.  The uneven covering of the film edge causes "spoking" (like the spokes of a wheel) due to higher out gassing of the uncovered edge of the film.  Store on cores and then wind back to a reel if you need to put it on a reel for whatever purpose.

 

Edited by Frank Wylie
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On 11/20/2021 at 10:25 AM, Frank Wylie said:

If you are going to store the film in metal cans, be sure the lid loosely fits;  not air tight.

Better yet, invest in some archival cans like these (no endorsement for any particular brand, do some research):

https://stilcasing.com/products/35mm-casing/

https://filmforevermpe.com/t/tuscan-archival-film-cans

The cans the film came in work perfectly fine too, but just be sure they are not sealed or have tight fitting lids.  In the distant past, someone made a punch that knocked-out a few breathing holes in the side of the can;  that works too...

One final thing;  try not to store film on reels if at all possible.  The uneven covering of the film edge causes "spoking" (like the spokes of a wheel) due to higher out gassing of the uncovered edge of the film.  Store on cores and then wind back to a reel if you need to put it on a reel for whatever purpose.

 

 

Does breathing matter anymore? Isn't all film Estar / poly and no VS issues?

OP...if you are not using the films,  store long term on cores.

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
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Emulsion is emulsion;  it needs to breathe a bit or the trapped gasses will attack the gelatin, dyes and/or silver, starting decomposition.

The only time you should seal a can is if it has already started Vinegar Syndrome and you are placing molecular sieves into the can to scavenge the acid vapors and extend the life of the film. 

However, alas, Vinegar Syndrome is incurable; you can only retard the process, not stop it.

Edited by Frank Wylie
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3 hours ago, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

 

Does breathing matter anymore? Isn't all film Estar / poly and no VS issues?

OP...if you are not using the films,  store long term on cores.

All negative stock is on acetate base except some rarely-used-in-camera special stocks and if one shoots print stock or photography film with a movie camera (most photo stock is polyester based). So most mp camera negative is acetate and prone to VS 

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16 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

All negative stock is on acetate base except some rarely-used-in-camera special stocks and if one shoots print stock or photography film with a movie camera (most photo stock is polyester based). So most mp camera negative is acetate and prone to VS 

I thought they got rid of that all. Isn't that something. 

If so, definitely store cool and in vented cans for long term storage.

35mm vented archival film can - Google Search

OP...

Running a film archive, I'm somewhat of a specialist of sorts in shipping films and seeing how films survive from shipping.

For shipping you could use any container. Metal film cans offer good protection, but if they get dinged bad, they can be hard to open.

These plastic cases were popular before things went digital.

16mm%20Movie%20Film%20Plastic%20Shipping

I can't believe you would use pizza boxes. You put all that work in film...protect your film!

Small%20Gauge%20Film%20Reel%20&%20Can%20

Some of the film shippers were like a steel vault. You could kill someone with it.

Heavy%20metal%20film%20shipping%20contai

Photos D.D.Teoli Jr. via Small Gauge Film Reel and Can Archive

The big boys had huge metal suitcases for shipping films to theaters.

2fd38fad146889f3a56939af5b819b5b.jpg

Internet photo: Fair Use

theater 35mm film shipping cans - Google Search

Here were some film shipping and storage options from back in the day for 16mm.

Small Gauge Film Reel & Can Archive Vol.7 D.D. Teoli Jr. A.C. : D.D.teoli Jr. A.C. : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

If you want to use cardboard boxes, get heavy duty shippers and bubble wrap your film.

 

 

 

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
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9 hours ago, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

Running a film archive, I'm somewhat of a specialist of sorts in shipping films and seeing how films survive from shipping

Just remember, the OP is talking camera negative, not prints. You aren't going to store OCN in one of those boxes for prints, not a wise idea. Everything is stored in boxes or can's really, I've never seen anything else. Heck, I've seen more negative stored loose, one on top of another in plastic bags than I've seen those 16mm print shipping boxes. 

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On 11/23/2021 at 7:39 PM, Tyler Purcell said:

Just remember, the OP is talking camera negative, not prints. You aren't going to store OCN in one of those boxes for prints, not a wise idea. Everything is stored in boxes or can's really, I've never seen anything else. Heck, I've seen more negative stored loose, one on top of another in plastic bags than I've seen those 16mm print shipping boxes. 

He said shipping in the title.

Storage should be in vented cans if acetate and cool temp if possible. Vented plastic cans are not the best to ship in, they can crack, but they can still be used.

So, it has to be clarified does he want to ship or long-term store?

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1 hour ago, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

So, it has to be clarified does he want to ship or long-term store?

Sounds like he wants to know what other methods there are for shipping. I've only really seen the method they used. But in the past, labs have had these: https://www.printfile.com/product/ap352000-35mm-2000ft-film-container/  on standby. They work a lot better for long term storage AND shipping. 

 

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When shipping special film, you can go Registered USPS mail. I've had lots of problems with Priority Mail. The post office is hiring lots of part time people so they don't have to pay benefits and they are delivering my mail to other people. Has happened a few times now this year. Maybe Registered mail has gone to hell too, but it used to be the most secure way to ship. Everyone that receives it along the way has to sign for it.

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