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Successful Film-O-Clean hacks?


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Tonight, I had a really nice conversation with Roy Neil, the inventor of the Film-O-Clean.

He told me has heard from at least 10 ScanStation owners who have modified their machines to include the Film-O-Clean inline during the scan.

He also said that many RetroScan owners have modded their machines to include the Film-O-Clean.

I told him that I have a Filmfabriek HDS+ and asked if anyone had ever modded one to include the Film-O-Clean.  He said no.  He also suggested that if I did add it to the machine as part of the scanning process, I should remove the PTR rollers and not use the wet gate feature.  (Reason:  he suggests using FilmGuard as a cleaner, because it fills in scratches really well if it's used right before capture.  He also said it doesn't work with PTR rollers and doesn't play nice with the isopropyl alcohol that Filmfabriek recommends for its wet gate system.)

To all of you who use film scanners regularly, how do you clean your film?  (No Lipsner-Smith owners, please.  I get that it's top of the line and the best way to clean films, but I can't afford one of those machines yet.)

Do any of you have any pix of your scanners modded with a Film-O-Clean or some other cleaning mechanism?  I'm curious about what others are doing successfully.  Also curious about what you learned along the way.

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I'm not sure if i'd add it in line on my HDS, i'd probably reserve it for the rewinding bench. But it's a good idea for moviestuff owners. 

I'd probably whip the film through it a couple of times while i add leader/tail and tension the reel before mounting it on the scanner. 

At the moment i'm cleaning film by hand using these - https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/71154-REG/Photographic_Solutions_PAD44_Pec_Pad_Photo_Wipes.html

I either use iso alcohol if i want a fast drying solvent, but if the emulsion is sensitive or there's a magnetic strip, i'll use IsoparG as a 2nd option. It's much slower drying and the fumes are much stronger. but it's safer for some film and doesnt remove magnetic particles from the sound stripe. I hold the cloth in my hand soaked in the solvent as i slowly wind the film through, changing the pad very frequently to avoid using the trapped dirt to scratch the film. 

I haven't tried anything labled as film cleaner as I would take a wild guess they they are most likely using an off-the-shelf solvent combo.

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Still gonna try it.

It will probably look weird/bizarre, but if it reduces lines better than the existing isopropyl method, then that’s a win.

Worst case scenario:  it does’t work, and I mount the Film-O-Clean to my rewind bench and now have a better film cleaning mechanism than my vintage Ecco cleaner.

Because the HDS+ is so modular, I have nothing to lose by removing unneeded parts. If the experiment doesn’t work, I simply plug the parts back in.

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Not to break up the flow, but I'm just pleased there's actually a piece of real equipment called the Film-O-Clean. Sounds like the sort of thing Wile E. Coyote would purchase in pursuit of the Road Runner.

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FWIW, we clean any films known to have Film Guard applied to it to remove it before scanning. That stuff makes a mess of PTR rollers, and the capstan on our ScanStation is permanently stained from it. We have seen films with this stuff leave a gunky residue on the rollers that required manual cleaning of everything after each roll.

Not a fan. 

(an aside: @Phil Rhodes: I've been reading HHGTTG to my 7 year old at night before bedtime. We just got to the quote from Marvin in your sig last night. He was most amused.)

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3 hours ago, Phil Rhodes said:

Not to break up the flow, but I'm just pleased there's actually a piece of real equipment called the Film-O-Clean. Sounds like the sort of thing Wile E. Coyote would purchase in pursuit of the Road Runner.

I’ve set up an auto responder to post to this forum if the Acme anvil flattens me:  “Didn’t work.”

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2 hours ago, Perry Paolantonio said:

FWIW, we clean any films known to have Film Guard applied to it to remove it before scanning. That stuff makes a mess of PTR rollers, and the capstan on our ScanStation is permanently stained from it. We have seen films with this stuff leave a gunky residue on the rollers that required manual cleaning of everything after each roll.

Not a fan. 

(an aside: @Phil Rhodes: I've been reading HHGTTG to my 7 year old at night before bedtime. We just got to the quote from Marvin in your sig last night. He was most amused.)

Perry, what’s been your best solution for cleaning film (Lipsner-Smith/perc excluded)?

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19 minutes ago, Todd Ruel said:

Perry, what’s been your best solution for cleaning film (Lipsner-Smith/perc excluded)?

We primarily use 99.99% isopropyl. That's in our Lipsner Smith, and for hand cleaning with Pec Pads, or on an Ecco cleaner. It works well for most film. The most common thing we see, primarily with home movies, is residue from tenite reels - those grey plastic ones that often leave a talc-like coating on the film. Alcohol does a good job of cleaning off most dirt and dust. Doesn't get the really caked on stuff on a single pass, or thick adhesive residue, unless you stop and work at it carefully with a swab, but it does a decent job. 

We're not a wet lab, so we don't really use any harsh solvents. We're not set up with the proper ventilation and that stuff is just cancer in a bottle if you're not clearing the air fast enough. It's not worth our employees health to deal with that. 

People seem to like Solvon II, which Urbanski sells. We used it a bit in the past and it does a nice job, but you need the right respirator, gloves and ventilation or it's pretty nasty.

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49 minutes ago, Perry Paolantonio said:

We primarily use 99.99% isopropyl.

Thanks, Perry.  I'll compromise.  I'll try to bolt on this Film-O-Clean device, but I'll stay away from FilmGuard.

If you have a special case, like, say, the film is coated with nicotine, would you still use isopropyl, or is there something better?  (I have run into a few nicotine-stained prints in my time, especially if a home movie came from a smoker's house.)

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5 minutes ago, Todd Ruel said:

Thanks, Perry.  I'll compromise.  I'll try to bolt on this Film-O-Clean device, but I'll stay away from FilmGuard.

If you have a special case, like, say, the film is coated with nicotine, would you still use isopropyl, or is there something better?  (I have run into a few nicotine-stained prints in my time, especially if a home movie came from a smoker's house.)

My parents were smokers for a long time, so I'd recognize the smell of stale cigarette smoke anywhere. There's some Super 8 footage of me in a carriage at 3 months old with a foot-long candy cane in my mouth at a christmas party. You can see the smoke line about 2 feet above my head. ahh, the 70s. 

To be honest, I can't recall coming across that, but I don't do the film cleaning and scanning so much myself these days. That said, I would imagine it would be pretty effective at cleaning that. The main thing, with any hand cleaning - ecco or pec pads - is to be constantly using clean parts of the pad. As soon as it starts to look dirty, fold it over and use a fresh section. Smoke should leave a pretty nasty residue on the pad, and require a lot of cleaning media!

*most* of the home movies we see are in metal or plastic cans or were stored in latched film boxes, so probably had limited exposure to smoke. I'd imagine.

 

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One does not necessarily need to use a solvent like Perc or Novec as a cleaning solution.

There was a interesting and supposedly quite effective cleaner made by TFS in LA that used distilled water in a rewash-like setup that had heaters for the water and a tank with turbulation / agitation and then a dry box. Supposedly it worked well but it required people to maintain the distilled water to prevent mold and that is why it was not a popular machine like a Lipsner Ultrasonic with Tric or Perc.

Rewash "processing" is an extremely effective way to clean film and it basically uses some of the tanks of a film processor to do heated full immersion in turbulated tanks and then out through the drybox. This does not need the semi hazardous Perc and a ton of ventilation. I am building a rewash processor out of some PhotoMec spares right now.

On a smaller level there are tons of heated ultrasonic tanks for stuff like jewelry and a fairly simple transport and post ultrasonic air knife system could be put together maybe running a final bath or bleach bath as a solution.

Machines like the Lipsner XL1100 or San Labs or the new Kodak PhotoMec P200 spray or wet the film then buff it and dry it, this is good for surface dirt but cannot really "open up" the emulsion and turbulate away trapped dirt.

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17 hours ago, Todd Ruel said:

he suggests using FilmGuard as a cleaner, because it fills in scratches really well if it's used right before capture.

I always thought Filmguard was used in projection booth settings to "extend" the life of scratchy prints. For scanning it sounds like a nightmare as @Perry Paolantoniosaid - I could be wrong.. 

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2 hours ago, Todd Ruel said:

Thanks, Perry.  I'll compromise.  I'll try to bolt on this Film-O-Clean device, but I'll stay away from FilmGuard.

Film Guard is designed for projection, you probably want to use either Isopropyl or IsoparG if you want to attach that cleaner directly to a scanner. As you say though you can disconnect it anytime and put it between rewinds as well, which you will need to do anyway if the film requires multiple passes.

4 hours ago, Todd Ruel said:

Perry, what’s been your best solution for cleaning film (Lipsner-Smith/perc excluded)?

A couple of people are setting up some of these SanLabs cleaners soon, they use IsoparG.

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57 minutes ago, Dan Baxter said:

 

A couple of people are setting up some of these SanLabs cleaners soon, they use IsoparG.

I have an early version of the San Labs Pristsa it is sub par compared to the Lipsner XL1100 series IMO and for some inexplicable reason it's transport puts the dirty film on top and the clean film on the bottom as if gravity did not exist....

It would not be hard to modify a Lipsner Alcohol cleaner to run IsoparG and if you look at the San Labs wetting buffers (with the two gold anodized bars under them) and then the four buffers for post wetting polishing below that is essentially the same configuration as the XL1100 but without an air knife as I think IsoparG evaps very quickly. The rest of the machine is a pile of PTRs.

I heard from some people in NY Post that the SLS worked ok but was not ultrasonic cleaner. The "Prototype" Cinelab has from San Labs was a real pile of junk. I am using the cabinet and some other parts from it for the rewash machine I am building.

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15 minutes ago, Robert Houllahan said:

I have an early version of the San Labs Pristsa it is sub par compared to the Lipsner XL1100 series IMO and for some inexplicable reason it's transport puts the dirty film on top and the clean film on the bottom as if gravity did not exist....

Yeah from what we've heard people's experiences with these has been mixed. With that said they're cheap (they're being sold for about $2K each from that company) and they appear to be in working condition. I'll let you know how it goes, there are at least three of them currently being set up at separate locations by different people, and I think there's a couple of other people interested in them too.

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6 hours ago, Dan Baxter said:

Yeah from what we've heard people's experiences with these has been mixed. With that said they're cheap (they're being sold for about $2K each from that company) and they appear to be in working condition. I'll let you know how it goes, there are at least three of them currently being set up at separate locations by different people, and I think there's a couple of other people interested in them too.

Well I think these machines were built in another time and can make good platforms to modify and improve.

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18 hours ago, Perry Paolantonio said:

FWIW, we clean any films known to have Film Guard applied to it to remove it before scanning. That stuff makes a mess of PTR rollers, and the capstan on our ScanStation is permanently stained from it. We have seen films with this stuff leave a gunky residue on the rollers that required manual cleaning of everything after each roll.

Not a fan. 

(an aside: @Phil Rhodes: I've been reading HHGTTG to my 7 year old at night before bedtime. We just got to the quote from Marvin in your sig last night. He was most amused.)

Yes good point, you just reminded me, the capstan on the HDS does sometimes slip a little while i'm doing a wetgate, but you can just click then tension up a little, slow the scanning speed, or ease off on the alcohol. I've never handled filmguard, but from what i've read it sound oily. I can imagine the HDS capstan really struggling to grip. 

 

But yes Todd, if you're going to get one anyway, no harm in giving it a go and seeing how it works out 🙂

Otherwise if you think filmguard is they key, you could always try soaking the wetgate rollers in filmguard. 

Another product i use for wet scanning is called Gamsol, it's sold at the art shop nearby. It's an oily liquid that i use on my epson V850 flat bed scanner with the epson wet mount kit, it works great for scanning scratched or odd sized negatives. I chose Gamsol because the official  KAMI liquid can't be shipped to Australia. Maybe you could try one of their liquids too. 

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5 hours ago, Andrew Wise said:

Otherwise if you think filmguard is they key, you could always try soaking the wetgate rollers in filmguard.

Andrew,

I think Perry successfully convinced me not to use FilmGuard.  I don't really need a lot of oily gunk on my machinery.  If it requires too much cleanup afterward, then I'm not a fan.  I'll stick with 99.9% isopropyl.

However, I will proceed with trying to make this Film-O-Clean box work inline with the scanning process.  As I've said before, I have nothing to lose.  Very low risk even if I fail.

I will investigate Gambol.

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21 hours ago, Perry Paolantonio said:

We're not a wet lab, so we don't really use any harsh solvents. We're not set up with the proper ventilation and that stuff is just cancer in a bottle if you're not clearing the air fast enough. It's not worth our employees health to deal with that.

Do you have an ultrasonic machine? I haven't seen alcohol and ultrasonic and didn't know how well it worked. All of the guys here I use for cleaning use pert and ultrasonic. 

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6 hours ago, Andrew Wise said:

Another product i use for wet scanning is called Gamsol, it's sold at the art shop nearby. It's an oily liquid that i use on my epson V850 flat bed scanner with the epson wet mount kit, it works great for scanning scratched or odd sized negatives. I chose Gamsol because the official  KAMI liquid can't be shipped to Australia. Maybe you could try one of their liquids too.

Oh so you don't use alcohol in your HDS wet gate? 

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Just now, Tyler Purcell said:

Do you have an ultrasonic machine? I haven't seen alcohol and ultrasonic and didn't know how well it worked. All of the guys here I use for cleaning use pert and ultrasonic. 

none of the alcohol machines are full immersion, so no ultrasonic. I don't think Alcohol has the strength to dissolve the really gunked on stuff that perc can get, at least not as quickly as perc, so there's not much point in adding the ultrasonic vibration to the mix. 

 

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1 minute ago, Perry Paolantonio said:

none of the alcohol machines are full immersion, so no ultrasonic. I don't think Alcohol has the strength to dissolve the really gunked on stuff that perc can get, at least not as quickly as perc, so there's not much point in adding the ultrasonic vibration to the mix. 

 

Oh interesting, I thought you could use alcohol in pert machines as an alternative. So can you slow down your machine to actually get some of the real deep grime off? I'm interested because I have the same problem you do, can't run chemicals here. 

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5 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Oh interesting, I thought you could use alcohol in pert machines as an alternative. So can you slow down your machine to actually get some of the real deep grime off? I'm interested because I have the same problem you do, can't run chemicals here. 

it doesn't work like that. Yes, you can slow it down, but there's not a tank of alcohol that the film goes through. In the ultrasonic machines, a set of rollers lowers down into a bath of the solvent, and the ultrasonic agitators are in that tank as well. So the idea is that the solvent loosens the stuff, and the vibration from the ultrasonic agitator basically shakes it off the film. 

In the Excel 1100,  film only passes through 4 wet rollers, which are saturated in isopropyl, then 4 dry rollers, then a drying box. There is a storage tank under the machine that holds the liquid and it's fed to the wet rollers using peristaltic pumps (like the kind used to pump medication into an IV drip), and that saturates them. 

I don't believe you can use alcohol in Perc machines, but I could be wrong. Some of the perc machines can be modified to take HFE, but that stuff is super expensive and it evaporates insanely fast. Kodak's machine uses HFE, but instead of a bath it sprays it on the film. HFE is safe to use in office environments, but it's wicked expensive. 

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1 minute ago, Perry Paolantonio said:

Some of the perc machines can be modified to take HFE, but that stuff is super expensive and it evaporates insanely fast. Kodak's machine uses HFE, but instead of a bath it sprays it on the film. HFE is safe to use in office environments, but it's wicked expensive. 

Ohhhh yea that's what it was, HFE. I thought they had an alternative for the toxicity of pert. 

Cool thanks for the insight! I know nothing about cleaners. I always send it out due to how good pert is. They only charge .04 cents per foot over at Spectra, which is only a few blocks away. So I just drop older content off and get it cleaned. But we've found that even the ultrasonic pert machine can't get off the real baked in dirt. We're trying some hand cleaning with some other stuff that I'll talk about if it works! 

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