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Dennis Toeppen

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About Dennis Toeppen

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  • My Gear
    Arri 235, Arri 416, Aaton A-Minima, various Bolexes and B&H
  • Specialties
    Making test films of the same subject over and over using different permutations of cameras, lenses and film stock but never actually shooting anything interesting.

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  1. Have you visited the Image Permanence Institute website? There is a ton of good information there. I have an archive of Kodachrome films back to 1937. The only films that have VS are the 1937 film (minor waviness) and, oddly, 16mm from the 70's with magnetic sound stripes. All film was stored in identical conditions from 9/1963 to present. When I encountered the minor VS 8 years ago, I got really worried and researched the matter thoroughly. Since I can't afford to have a room at low temp and 20 RH, I settled for appropriate micro environments. Specifically: 1) All films were moved to PP or PE reels & cans. 2) Films were double-bagged with appropriate ratio of film to EK molecular sieves. Having too little film in a bag with a molecular sieve can apparently over-dry the film. Each bag has a moisture indicator in it and a strip of the litmus paper that detects VS (buy from IPI). The litmus reading was only valid for some short period after insertion and is now not useful, as I understand it. I'd have to put new strips in the bags to check current VS levels. 3) The 16mm films with magstripes are stored in a fridge that's set at about 45F. I'm sort of trying to not destroy the sound on the magstripe, while also trying to keep the acetate in good condition. I did capture the audio on the magstripes before putting the film into storage. 4) The 8mm films with VS are stored at -10F. 5) The rest of the films, with no signs of VS are stored in a dedicatd fridge at about 32F. The key term in this all is micro environment. I need to start checking on the films annually. The fact that I haven't been monitoring them regularly has me a bit on edge, now that I've thought about that. Before I'll use any of these films for anything, I'll let them equilibrate with ambient air for maybe a week. I theorize that trying to scan too-dry film would yield disastrous results. I am not an expert. Visit IPI website and National Parks websites for really good, authoritative, expert info. NPS: https://www.nps.gov/museum/coldstorage/html/packaging4_2.html IPI: https://www.imagepermanenceinstitute.org Edit: Also, PP bags are supposed to be better for archival purposes than PE or PU. But beware, PP gets brittle and fractures at low temps, as I quickly discovered with the 8mm films at -10F. Edit2: And I agree with the recommendation to keep VS films the F away from good films. I wonder to what extent my films have gotten slimed by scanners in the past. I hope my good films haven't picked up acetic acid from the films that were on the machine before it.
  2. Hartford is evil. Two thumbs up for Athos. They are very responsive.
  3. I want to see an IMAX 15/70 film sometime soon. It doesn't really matter which film.
  4. There wouldn't be anything worthwhile in any partial roll. Each roll is a scene at a particular place - establishing shots, action, wrap up. It would be impossible to match sky from a roll with a reshoot of just a couple shots. In some cases, establishing shots are on a half roll and action is on a whole roll. If any part of 1.5 rolls is bad, all of it is bad. That's what makes this one so frustrating. I reshot a scene yesterday and blew the last shot. Today I have to go reshoot the whole thing because sky is different today and there are no sunny (it was sunny no clouds yesterday) days in the forecast for the next two weeks.
  5. Thanks for the very detailed, thorough, helpful response. The lab has agreed to waive all charges for developing of 14 rolls (9 good, 5 bad) and telecine. That covers the film stock loss and then some. I'm glad they did the right thing. I am going to ask Athos about this. Perhaps incidental damages are covered by my policy. Have a good weekend.
  6. I didn't think anything of it, so the info wasn't transmitted.
  7. That seems about right. Lab should engage in due diligence before putting customer's costly footage into their machine, and lab should use qualified/experienced staff for this step.
  8. Hello, I'm hoping someone can give me some guidance on a situation. I've spent about 5 weeks shooting about 31 x 400' of 50D. I've got a cooler with me that contains 20 rolls of 35mm 200T, that I intend to also shoot. The fridge contains 7 rolls of 50D x 35mm, and 10 rolls of 50D x 35mm are enroute from EK. I imagine I'll shoot it all over the course of the next 3-5 weeks. This is relevant later. I'm shooting with an Arri 235, on the surface of the sun - also known as NM. Today, it was 97 degrees with a 15 mph wind. I'm doing about two setups per day, on my own. Every shot requires 95# of sandbags, and I have no grips or assistants. It's kind of rough work. I sent 14 rolls to the lab in June. No problems. Then 14 more rolls on Monday. Today, I got an email telling me that the film broke during processing and about 5 rolls were destroyed. Kind of a bummer. The break occurred where a mid-roll magazine switch happened. I've been shooting establishing shots in one mag, and action shots in another. I do this because action shots potentially take 100-200' of film, and I don't want to run out. It's hard to shoot establishing shots after the action shots, because continuity is broken by rapidly changing weather. When I swap mags, the film sometimes becomes pinched in the mag throat, because I'm doing the change in my car - which is very confined. On a few occasions, I've noticed that I pinched part of the film loop. I pull the film into the camera and it winds up creased. But I've never had a severe crease that the film gate got mad about or that had a broken edge, as far as I know. I tend to notice such things. The lab seems to be running on a skeleton staff. I'm glad they exist and I like them. They haven't disappointed me in the past. I wonder if skeleton staff isn't as good as regular staff. I asked lab to replace the film stock. What that would mean here is not charging me for processing and not charging me for telecine. The cost of those equal (within $100 or so) the cost of the lost film. They refused. I guess their position is that I am responsible for the break. But I feel that the lab bears responsibility for ensuring that whatever they get will make it through their machine. I expected them to simply agree to eat the cost of processing and telecine to compensate for the stock. I thought this was industry standard for film manufacturers and labs. I've never actually ever had a lab ruin a roll - not in 47 years of shooting film - so I don't actually have any direct experience. Their refusal to waive charges to compensate for the film loss is particularly frustrating because I have to bear the cost of an additional ~5 days of shooting to replace the footage. I'll incur lodging, car rental, lens rental, tripod rental, and other expenses during that time. I don't expect them to compensate me for incidental damages, but it seems like the incidental damages should make them feel a bit crummier about the situation. I conducted some experiments this evening with film, my camera, and a mag. I pinched the film to varying degrees. I was not able to break any of them by applying strictly a longitudinal load to the film. The only way I could get it to fail is if I bent i the film, like I was trying to tear it. When a side load was applied, I was able to tear it at the pinch. This leaves me wondering if an inexperienced machine operator did something that caused unusual loads to be applied to the film and made a defect tear that would not normally tear, If I were running a film lab and I messed up someone's hard work, I would waive all charges as a natural reflex. I wouldn't have to think about it for a second. And if that reflex didn't kick in, I'd at least think about whether waiving fees is the best move in terms of maximizing future profits. Like, if I don't waive fees, I may not get the rest of the job or any business at all from this customer in the future. I'm interested in gathering information from others to guide my approach to this situation. Thanks in advance for any wisdom/anecdotes.
  9. He worked on one of my A-Minima mags. Great guy. Will try. Thanks.
  10. The video tap on my 235 is ill. It provides an image, but none of the buttons on the faceplate of the tap work at all. Visual Products says the "brain" is dead and that Arri will not repair video taps. I guess this leaves me looking for a replacement tap. Does anyone have a 235 tap they want to sell? Or is anyone aware of anyone who can repair my unit? Thanks in advance for any information.
  11. Turns out this is due to film shards in gear train. On its way to Visual Products for the full spa treatment.
  12. I'm 14 (x 400') rolls into a project and upon loading 15th roll, all hell broke loose. Am I missing something obvious? It seems to me that I'm just plain screwed. My Arri 235: A happier 235:
  13. Hey, that's pretty cool!
  14. Update: The supposed all-terrain wagon from B&H Photo is a completely worthless POS. Their definition of all-terrain apparently includes only level concrete and short-pile carpet. On anything other than that, the front wheels often turn sideways and you're stuck dragging it. This is the case because the front wheels have TOTALLY inadequate caster - maybe 5 degrees. They probably need 30-40 degrees of caster to function as desired.
  15. Edit: That was some awful narration. Strike B&H and replace with B+W. Strike ND1 and replace with ND.3. I drove straight through from IL to NM and I'm a little tired still the day after.
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