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jason duncan

poor man's storage for 16mm print with v.s.

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Hello,

Recently purchased a 16mm print with slight vinegar syndrome. Need suggestions for low-budget storage. In researching I ran across a few options:

1) plastic, vented, film can

2) placing sieves (silica gel) inside can

3) storing in fridge (no room in my freezer).

One site says safety film needs to breath, yet also suggests possibly sealing film inside a moisture proof polyethylene bag (food saver).

Recommend un-winding from head to tail once every six months?  (I don’t have a projector or additional reel; how is this accomplished)?

Should I purchase AD strips?

Film is currently on reel with no can. I plan on having it scanned at 4K one day.

Thank you~ Jason

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Is it warped yet?

Keep it cool and vented to breath. Sometimes collector reverse wind the film.

I will poll the film collectors to see how they store in cold storage. I don't have any room in freezer either and have 3/4 million feet of film anyway. 

I can't say the chemical treatments help much with VS. Verdict is still out.

https://danieldteolijrarchivalcollection.wordpress.com/2018/11/25/test-results-for-vitafilm-treatment-of-vinegar-syndrome-16mm-films/

As far as A-D test strips? They tell you how things are progressing. Up to you. If kept cool and vented, VS is a slow process. I try to keep them vented and smell and look at them to see how things are going. But if I had excess $$, I'd buy strips. 

Just curios, what is the film about?

Good luck!

 

 

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

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Got timed out...

Dealing with archival material I get some really bad films.

https://archive.org/details/the3graces4.32mbd.d.teolijr.

But as long as it has not turned to liquid from VS, I will still work with them...if the subject matter interests me.

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

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2 hours ago, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

Got timed out...

Dealing with archival material I get some really bad films.

https://archive.org/details/the3graces4.32mbd.d.teolijr.

But as long as it has not turned to liquid from VS, I will still work with them...if the subject matter interests me.

Hi Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

Thanks for your reply. I bought a film called "The Doors Are Open" a 1968 BBC film about The Doors' visit to the UK. I still have time to return for a full refund, but being a big fan, and a film buff it's the perfect collectable.

I may have room in my fridge to store. But if I do, should I not get a vented plastic can? (food/liquid spillage). If I store in a closet, I was thinking vented for sure?

The print currently looks beautiful. No shrinkage, warp, nothing. Just a slight VS odor. Of coarse the seller says it didn't have VS when listed.

Jason

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I find that much, if not most, of the colour film that comes my way has a slight whiff of vinegar, even junk neg from the 90s, but it's not my material so I don't have to worry about it! Most of it is going to be scanned in short order and then will be of little further interest to the production company so I just suggest keeping it cool in a rust-free can.

The film you mention isn't rare- it's been released on DVD- so if you just want to keep your own copy in good condition I would be keeping it as cool as possible. Since it's on a reel, a can would protect the reel against warping, so if you have to buy one it might as well be  vented. I'm with Daniel, I wouldn't put it in a fridge for the reasons you state, and it's possible to damage the film if it's not chilled and warmed carefully.

Incidentally, you may intend to scan it, but of course you won't be able to publish it unless you have a licence.

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Hi Mark,

Since the film is released on dvd and BD I admit it's a little less appealing to keep an actual print, esp if it means the extra hassle of cold storage & annual unwinding. I was thinking about a 4K scan for my own entertainment, no distribution as the official BD is only 1080p .

I'm torn as I still have the return option for a refund, or take chance and hope I store properly and the current light VS odor won't turn to an unusable print. 

Stupid question: how to go about unwinding w/o any equipment?

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My point was that you're not in the position of an archive with rare or even unique material.

Without the equipment I wouldn't attempt rewinding. You could easily end up with a damaging "bird's nest". You could look out for a set of rewinds- although they tend to be overpriced on eBay- but it's hardly worth it for a single reel.

On the wider point of film collecting, I can't afford to do that, but I have to say that if I had no way of viewing it and no commercial reason to own it,  I wouldn't bother. In my case, film comes in the door, is viewed, and then goes out again. My only archive is of my Super-8.

Edited by Mark Dunn

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I realize the documentary itself is not rare, but I've never seen a print for sale. And from what I know, Granada is not known for letting prints out of their vaults. 

I agree, one reel is not worth buying rewind-gear. Although I do have a handful of Super 8 reels (non commercial).

Just mainly wondering if the film is on borrowed time. Is it absolutely doomed once VS is evident, even only a slight odor, or is it only going to survive if stored in the best possible conditions, and if so, then yes I'll return for a refund.

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Jason, you have to use rewinds to reverse wind a film. 

https://www.google.com/search?q=film+rewinds&sxsrf=ALeKk03OM270fcwh5ukIACHmJrCSskdfBg:1604442929247&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjDkvDWt-fsAhUJXc0KHQcFDGEQ_AUoAnoECA8QBA

If frozen / cold storage you don't have to unwind annually. You just let it sit. When the gas builds up it hastens VS. If not in cold storage then it is good to vent it some. 

Here is what the film collectors have told me...so far.

------------------------

Paul:

This is what I have followed for quite some years

www.filmforever.org

The only difference is I purchased dri shield 3M anti static bags from digi-key multi sizes for your reels, and use paper tape, or athletic tape that does not have any sticky residue to seal your bags. Paper card humidity gauges can be purchased from Amazon.

-----------------------

Steve:

I vacuum seal mine.... works great

-----------------------

I can't vouch for any of their replies, as I've told you I don't freeze the films and have no experience with it. I have a vacuum sealer, so maybe will try it just to see how it works. But my sealer only handles small things, so could not seal big reals.

I understand your interest in the film versus getting DVD or BR-D of it. I had an old VHS of Certified Mail, a 1970's 16mm grindhouse porno film that was transferred to VHS tape. The poor quality VHS had some Beatle's songs on it as it was a true copy of the film. A later DVD of Certified Mail removed the Beatles music, (for copyright?) and substituted some  generic music. 

The point is, when you are interested in something you like to view it is all its versions to see how its evolution evolved. Without the VHS tape I would have never known about the Beatles songs.

As I told you before Jason, VS is kinda a slow killer of film. VS never effects my decisions to acquire a film, but I'm not as picky as the film collectors. They are a different breed. Film collectors prefer to watch the actual, faded red film projected than a cleaned up version on BR-D on TV.  

Me?

If I could get high quality scans I don't care about getting the film. All my work pretty much gets digitized, so it just skips some of the middleman if I can get the hi-quality digital first. But if possible, I still like to get the actual film.

I used to project more film in the past, but finding bulbs is a hassle and it is wear and tear on the film, so I've cut back on the projection. But projected film has a certain magic to it. People that have never seen film projected  are mesmerized. 

 

 

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

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On the internet you only tend to see the very worst examples of VS as a warning! It's difficult to find out how it progresses- I wonder if that's because archives tend not to check assets routinely, so they only see the horrorshows when they are acquired, or accessed for copying.

Some of my worst examples have actually been magnetic film- it shrinks differentially, so it tends to "weave" through the Steenbeck, but it can still be run with care, and I've never had any problems with the oxide layer.

Incidentally, I assume your print has optical sound, but I did once have a BBC print with mag stripe. I can see why it would be more common for TV stations. Just curious.

Sorry, this isn't necessarily very helpful, but I'd tend to reckon that a film that could be run now would last our lifetimes- certainly half a century or more. I've had material back to the early 60s and whilst it has all shrunk more or less, none has been unshowable with care, and that's on a Steenbeck. Scanners these days are gentler, they don't use sprockets.

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Thank you everyone for your replies. I've shoot lots of S8, but don't have any experience with 50 year old 16mm film.

The film has been in my garage the last few days and not enclosed in a can etc. The odor went from terribly pungent to a faint glue smell. I'm thinking if I get a vented, plastic can and store it in a basement (cooler temps) it might be ok.  

 

Thanks,

Jason

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Jason,

An an avid film collector here is my advice:

1. Keep it away from all other film. VS can be contagious and is an autocatalytic reaction.

2. Keeping it open is best. Without any cans. Like you were advised, reverse winding it can also be helpful, though once the process picks up it can be difficult to slow down. 

3. It should be kept in conditions of less than room temperature (70 degree or less if possible) with a relative humidity of 50% or so.

If it is just one film and you are absolutely keen on keeping it, get some Ziplock bags, and a can for the film. The Ziplock should be at least 3mil thick. Put the film, in the can, in the ziplock. Tape it shut with camera tape. Then put that ziplock in another 3 mil ziplock, and tape that one shut too. Then take that package and stick it in the freezer! It's the best way to stop the process where it is. If you ever need to bring it back out, put it in the refrigerator for half an hour, and then to room temperature for a few hours before opening anything to prevent ruin due to condensation. 

 

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Thank you Evan for the detailed freezer packaging option. I like that idea and will prob go that route. This is a 15" reel, not sure if it will fit in a Zip Lock bag.

Edited by jason duncan

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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.

Edited by Dennis Toeppen
fix

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Thank you Dennis for your detailed advice, and links. I hope the films you have had scanned haven't been affected by other films that may have VS. My reel fits in my freezer, but once it's in a can and bag(s), it prob won't, so I'm thinking I'm stuck with a vented, polyproylene can from Bags Unlimited will have to do. I may be able to store in a basement.              

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