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Storing old Kodak motion picture color stocks


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I've got some old 400ft kodak stocks rolling up that I will go through over the course of a year or so. The stocks are Kodak EXR 100T, Kodak EXR 50D, and Kodak Vision 800T.

Would freezing them at -18 degrees in a frost free freezer with silica gel packets be ideal to preserve it longer? I won't put silica gel packets in the actual silver container holding the film, just on the outside. And silica gel packets don't work once below -3 but on cooling down its useful. Do the silver looking containers that hold 400ft film build up moisture or ice? Meaning, will keeping them in a freezer keep everything dry? Or is it better to refrigerate old motion picture stock.

Cheers.

Edited by Seth Baldwin
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  • Seth Baldwin changed the title to Storing old Kodak motion picture color stocks

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3 hours ago, Seth Baldwin said:

Does that have any impact on the image?

Yes of course. Everyone has cold vaults. IMAX's cold vault is one door away from our office. It contains the cut negative for nearly every IMAX film made. It's not freezing, it's around 42 degrees Fahrenheit. You do not want to freeze processed camera negative. 

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The question is in regards to freezing unexposed unprocessed film. I wouldn't freeze processed film. What's the case with unexposed unprocessed film? It shouldn't frozen?

Edited by Seth Baldwin
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Those stocks are all at least 15 or 16 years old. They are likely to have already deteriorated somewhat, particularly the Vision 800.

Freezing them won’t hurt, but you may be shutting the gate after the horse has bolted, as it were. If you do freeze them, just allow plenty of time for them acclimate back to room temperature before use.

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The EXR stock at the latest was manufactured 23 years ago. Between 1989 and 1996. So it's obviously gonna be fogged by gamma by this point. Will freezing or refrigeration even matter much then. I want to keep the last breath it has alive as long as possible. Any tips to combat fogged film? I was just gonna rely on DI to try to bring contrast back to hopefully it's closest original state. Cheers.

Edited by Seth Baldwin
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5 hours ago, Seth Baldwin said:

The EXR stock at the latest was manufactured 23 years ago. Between 1989 and 1996. So it's obviously gonna be fogged by gamma by this point. Will freezing or refrigeration even matter much then. I want to keep the last breath it has alive as long as possible. Any tips to combat fogged film? I was just gonna rely on DI to try to bring contrast back to hopefully it's closest original state. Cheers.

EXR 500T was discontinued in 1995, and 200T in 1996. The other EXR stocks were available until around 2004, as was Vision 800T. How badly fogged they are will depend on how they've been stored over their lifetime. Freezing them might not make much difference at this point, but it certainly won't hurt. Usually when shooting old film, you would overexpose in order to lift your exposures above the fog level. The rule of thumb is to overexpose by one stop for each decade that the film is out of date.

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3 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

EXR 500T was discontinued in 1995, and 200T in 1996. The other EXR stocks were available until around 2004, as was Vision 800T. How badly fogged they are will depend on how they've been stored over their lifetime. Freezing them might not make much difference at this point, but it certainly won't hurt. Usually when shooting old film, you would overexpose in order to lift your exposures above the fog level. The rule of thumb is to overexpose by one stop for each decade that the film is out of date.

Okay cool. What about what Robert said? 

"

I would recommend refrigeration not freezing.

I feel that freezing can cause the carbon backing to stick to the emulsion.

"

I'm wanting a clear pick as I will be investing in either a new fridge or frost free freezer. Which option will preserve the film for longer and not damage it what so ever. Thanks.

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9 hours ago, Seth Baldwin said:

The EXR stock at the latest was manufactured 23 years ago. Between 1989 and 1996. So it's obviously gonna be fogged by gamma by this point. Will freezing or refrigeration even matter much then. I want to keep the last breath it has alive as long as possible. Any tips to combat fogged film? I was just gonna rely on DI to try to bring contrast back to hopefully it's closest original state. Cheers.

You can't combat fogging, you can slow it down, but never prevent it. 

If the film hasn't been stored in the refrigerator (41 degrees) since purchase, it's probably trash by now. If you store it right away from purchase, you can extend its life pretty far. 

I got lucky and got some film that was stored in the freezer from day one, originally purchased in 1998. It came out of the freezer as a block of ice actually. I shot a few rolls in 2015 and it worked good, but it was 64D. I can't imagine shooting anything much higher than that and getting a decent image. 

I shoot a lot of re-can and older 35mm stocks and I just used some from 2011 that was frozen from day of purchase, sealed cans. I over exposed it a bit and it came out good, but for sure more noisy than the new stock, nearly twice the amount of visible grain. 

Personally, with 16mm, I would stay away from old stocks. With 35mm you can get away with a lot more, especially with stills. But with 16mm, you're just going to get a horrible grainy mess. 

Edited by Tyler Purcell
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Okay guys again, I'm either going to buy a fridge or a freezer. Which one won't damage the film and preserve it better? From contacting the previous holders of the stock, most of them were stored refrigerated over the years. So fridge or freezer? Cheers

Edited by Seth Baldwin
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Personally, I've never had any trouble with shooting stock that was previously frozen. That doesn't mean that Robert is wrong, just that I've never had that problem. If you're worried about it, then just keep it refrigerated.

If it's a significant amount of stock, and you're planning to use it for an important project, you really should be getting it clip tested before use anyway.

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Yeah I'm certainly leaning towards a fridge based on what Robert mentioned earlier.

When film is decades old, will freezing even really fit the purpose for why people even freeze their film in the first place? I've read for new stock you want to refrigerate up to 6 months, and start to freeze if being stored for longer then 6 months.

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8 hours ago, Seth Baldwin said:

When film is decades old, will freezing even really fit the purpose for why people even freeze their film in the first place?

Chilling or freezing film is done to slow down fogging from atmospheric radiation. That’s a process that continues to happen no matter how old the film is. It’s probably fair to say that whatever damage has already been done is unlikely to get too much worse in the timescale you have for shooting it, so simply keeping it refrigerated should be fine.

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Okay cool, thanks for the advice. A bit off topic but if after clip testing I find some of the stocks are decently fogged, are there any processing tips with ECN-2 that help to reduce or remove fog.

Through a google search I came across this article where I guy managed to remove fog from old still black and white stock: 

https://www.diyphotography.net/how-i-removed-base-fog-from-old-film-stocks/

The results are pretty impressive. Are there any practices available for attempting to remove fog from old motion picture color negatives?

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Digitally finishing your film is going to be much more effective in dealing with fogging than a photochemical finish would be. The tools available in software like Resolve will help a lot to mitigate the worst effects. It really depends on what you regard as acceptable results.

Black & white film processing is incredibly flexible. There are many, many different developers and developing techniques, all of which can have a marked effect on the negative. That article shows what can be done with some experimentation. Unfortunately, color negative processing is much more standardized, and there is little flexibility. Robert Houllahan would know more than me about processing chemistry, so maybe he’ll chime in. I think it’s highly unlikely though that color neg can be “fixed” like that.

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I think you and Robert may have hold of opposite ends of the stick.

Unexposed stock should be frozen long-term. Processed film should merely be kept cool.

Since you don't know where the film has been for the last 20-odd years, it may be that freezing it for another year won't make much difference.

Edited by Mark Dunn
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20 minutes ago, Mark Dunn said:

I think you and Robert may have hold of opposite ends of the stick.

Unexposed stock should be frozen long-term. Processed film should merely be kept cool.

Since you don't know where the film has been for the last 20-odd years, it may be that freezing it for another year won't make much difference.

Well doesn't film just keep fogging faster each year it isn't frozen?

When we say freezing won't make much difference, do we mean:

1. If its already very unusable, making it more unusable won't matter.

Or:

2. That the fog has some kind of cut off point (where the film can't noticably fog more)

If 1 is the case, then keeping it frozen seems smarter because why make something noticably worse. If 2 is true, then refrigeration should be fine.

Edited by Seth Baldwin
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This is what Kodak says about storing EXR 100T

"Store unexposed film at 13˚C (55˚F) or lower. For extended storage, store it at –18˚C (0˚F) or below. Process exposed film promptly. Store processed film at 21˚C (70˚F) or lower at a relative humidity of 40 to 50 percent for normal commercial storage; for long-term storage, store it at 2 to 10˚C (35 to 50˚F) at 15- to 30-percent relative humidity"

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I have a chest freezer in my garage for film. I’ve got tons of unexposed 120, 135, and 16mm rolls sitting for years. Still have about 10 rolls of 16mm 7285 Ektachrome reversal (the original version). I probably wouldn’t keep so much stock if it was a fridge, wouldn’t last as long.

The only issue is when there’s a power failure for an extended period and the ice melts. Best to have some plastic bags or buckets so the water doesn’t get in.

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1 hour ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

I have a chest freezer in my garage for film. I’ve got tons of unexposed 120, 135, and 16mm rolls sitting for years. Still have about 10 rolls of 16mm 7285 Ektachrome reversal (the original version). I probably wouldn’t keep so much stock if it was a fridge, wouldn’t last as long.

The only issue is when there’s a power failure for an extended period and the ice melts. Best to have some plastic bags or buckets so the water doesn’t get in.

Or a frost free freezer too which i think I'll get.

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