CLEANING FILM AND FILM CLEANERS: DO-IT-YOURSELF
IMPORTANT FACTS AND INFORMATION YOU MUST READ BEFORE ATTEMPTING TO USE CHEMICALS ON YOUR WARPED, SHRUNK, MOLDY, VINEGAR SYNDROME, DRIED OR BRITTLE FILM
READ THE LABEL OF ANY FILM TREATMENT PRODUCT BEFORE CONSIDERING PURCHASE OR USE – THESE ARE DANGEROUS CHEMICALS AND SHOULD BE HANDLED WITH EXTREME CARE – If you tried using chemicals on any of your films without success and now want to send your films to us for Recovery, please don’t. WE DO NOT ACCEPT ANY PREVIOUSLY CHEMICALLY TREATED OR HOME REMEDY TREATED FILMS. You can’t “unshrink” motion picture film with chemicals to make it transfer better, brittle film will not become pliable, wavy warped film will not straighten using any of the chemicals listed below. Chemicals and treated film is not the only solution to helping with film recovery and restoration. If you think by soaking the film, your damaged film problems are going to magically go away… think again… read the facts on film chemical use.
TEAMWORK MEDIA LAB uses a custom build special vented Film Treatment Laboratory with vented soaking bins, drying, heating racks and pressurized tanks along with airpack respirators, face shield and specific clothing for the safe handling of dangerous chemicals. DO NOT SOAK DRIED, CRACKED, EMULSION DAMAGED OR BRITTLE DAMAGED FILM. If your film shows any signs of being brittle or cracked, do not use a chemical bath or soak the film. Let us handle the film for you. Exposing brittle film to any solutions will result in the complete loss of the film. No soaking chemical treatment will help make the film hold together or unshrink the film. We use our specific professional treatments for dried, cracked or brittle film. There are many types of chemicals for the treatment of movie film and film transparencies which are great for cleaning and softening films. All are “chemicals” that should be handled VERY carefully with proper safety gear including the right respirators (Respiratory protection), safety gloves, goggles along with clothing and WELL ventilated area. The vapor is harmful (may affect the brain or nervous system without proper precautions).
The use of any film treatment product without trained knowledge on how to handle the film would be a mistake. We use several types of treatments for warped, dried, vinegar syndrome film, including chemicals/heat/pressure to achieve the best result for handling and then transfer of the film with our specialty designed scanners. We have had several customers treat their film with products such as Vitafilm, Filmrenew, Filmguard and home remedies only to find out it turned into a disaster or did not work at all.
One of the most important steps in film recovery is applying the correct pressure in a pressure tank to squeeze out the chemicals, dirt, grime and mold rather than using cleaning cloths to wipe the film clean, which will scratch or cause damage to or removal of the films emulsion. Chemicals soften the film… along with the emulsion and removes film splices. Soaking the film and then drying the film without pressure to squeeze out the chemicals can cause further damage or complete loss. Don’t get your hopes up on these particular products if using yourself, your inexperience could result in total loss of your film. You can’t “unshrink” OR make dried, cracked or brittle motion picture film hold together with any of the chemical products to make it transfer better. Using any of the chemicals mentioned in this article are not the only solution in helping with film recovery and restoration. It has to be combined with several processes and possibly several proper applications to be successful.
NOTE: Please let us know if you have used any chemicals or home remedies on your films BEFORE sending them to TMTV. It is possible that we will not accept your films after you or someone else has attempted home or professional chemical or home remedies of your movie film and was not successful. Although we are your last resort for successful Recovery, the film may have received further damage by using these chemicals that can not be repaired. Reasons for us not accepting film for recovery can include the type of chemicals you may have used, the film has been unwound and replaced onto the reel improperly, the film is off of the reel, the film is in small pieces. Shipping of chemically treated films can also be considered “dangerous goods” that would not be accepted by the carrier without special precautions and huge delivery costs.
IF the film has very mild signs of vinegar syndrome including mold or mild warping then a quick dunk or an easy soak can help, but again, some of these products are very toxic, smell really bad and are very harmful if not handled properly. Vitafilm themselves says; “make sure your METAL reel does not have a plastic core or it will MELT”. So you can see, it is not, too mild of a product and care should be taken when using these products on you own. AGAIN…You can’t “unshrink” or make “brittle” or “dried” motion picture film stick together again with ANY of these chemicals mentioned. Using chemicals is not the only solution in helping with film recovery and restoration. It has to be combined with several processes to be successful. If the films is dry, brittle and falling apart, then let the pros handle the film. Believe us! If your film is on plastic reels and has mold, dirt, grime or vinegar syndrome, is brittle or dried… DO NOT USE Vitafilm, Filmrenew or Filmguard, it will melt the reels and could melt, soften or remove the film emulsion and will remove all the film splices, melt any plastic cores or plastic film reels. There are many stages of vinegar syndrome, knowing how to treat it properly should really be done by experienced personal. The companies that markets VITAFILM and other products for curing vinegar syndrome is not going to tell you that! They just want the sale. It is a shame, but improper handling has resulted in many disappointments by people who think they can treat movie film themselves. They usually end up sending the film to us (TMTV) after their treatment, but by then it’s usually too late and the film gets thrown out. We have seen this many times. If you have used these chemicals and if your film is not in good to excellent condition after treatment, then DO NOT RUN THROUGH A PROJECTOR ON ANY FILM TRANSFER UNIT THAT IS NOT DESIGNED FOR RECOVERY, also any warped or shrunk film will be damaged by using any device that runs in real-time or close to real-time, any device with a sprocket, gate, claw or pinch rollers will damage and possibly wreck the film. All the above chemicals soften the film which makes is very susceptible to scratches, breaking, stretching, more shrinking (once dried again), sprocket damage and weakening or removal of splices or the total removal of the films emulsion (the actual image of the film).
Avoid long term contact with the film and handle in a well ventilated area.
HANDLING YOUR VINEGAR SYNDROME MATERIAL – VERY IMPORTANT – USE CAUTION WHEN HANDLING VINEGAR SYNDROME MOTION PICTURE FILM American Moving Image Archivists provides the following advice: Be aware that acetic acid (Vinegar Syndrome) is water soluble. This means that anywhere that there is moisture (eyes, nose, throat, mouth, lungs, etc.) you can form acidic solutions. Most frequently it appears as lung, throat, and sinus irritation as well as blepharatis and conjunctivitis (both irritations of the eye). In addition, there are cases of people getting mild to moderate acid burns caused by transferring these acid solutions formed on moist skin (particularly the palms of the hands) to other more sensitive areas (like the face). Acid solutions formed in the mouth can cause dental erosion too, just as sucking on lemons will do.
PROPER STORAGE OF MOTION PICTURE FILM If you are not ready at this point to send your film for recovery and restoration and if your film is in advanced stages of vinegar syndrome, it needs cold/frozen storage to slow down or even stop further damage. The more advanced the decay of acetate film collections, the colder the storage should be. The best storage for motion picture film includes cold storage and moderate humidity conditions and good-quality storage enclosures. Metal or plastic cans are safe for film, provided that the containers are not rusty or broken. Archival-quality cardboard boxes are also safe. If film is kept at or near room temperature, do not seal film inside tightly closed bags. At all costs, avoid storing film in prolonged dampness. Under damp conditions, the film will stick together and mold may grow, ruining the emulsion. Damp locations such as basements or attic areas are particularly unsuitable for film storage.
FILM RECOVERY & OR RESTORATION INCLUDES: – Full inspection and quote showing minimum charges and charges for complete recovery if successful. This includes the estimated percent based on the amount of film on each reel we expect to Recover. Sometimes we Recover more film then expected resulting in additional cost. Our goal is to save and scan as much of your film as possible for you. Upon completion we only charge for the actual amount of film Recovered and scanned. – Recondition and stabilize dehydrated, dried out 8mm or 16mm motion picture film, at least long enough for transfer to our digital formats by the use of our TMTVISION™ HD Digital Film Scanner. Some film may be recovered in its entirety and preserved for future use (this depends on the films current and final recoverable condition). Film that is not brittle, is expertly cleaned to remove dirt, dust, mold. For severely damaged film such as warped, shrunk, water or fire damage, the Recovery process can involve several chemical solutions, baking, heating, applied pressure processes, Plasticizer Treatment or apply a new film base through Lamination. – The Transfer system for film recovery: TMTVISION™HD Digital Film Scanning- Single frame scanning. We use several custom-built preservation scanners that are specifically designed for handling several types of damaged motion picture film along with specialized film Recovery equipment and applications. The absolute best transfer available for your severely damaged home movies. The scanner features zero image area contact at the gate and a rubber guide that handles the film only by the edges for maximum film safety. No sprockets, no advance claw, no capstan, no pinch roller & no belts. These include a Sprocket-less film transport with fully adjustable film tension, adept at handling compromised film with missing or torn perforations, brittleness, highly warped or shrunk film. No dancer arms or undersized rollers to damage brittle film. Precision non-contact perforation sensors for extremely damaged film. Meaning no sprocket driven assembly to tear the film. Curved gates and optics for severely damaged vinegar-syndrome or other physically damaged film. Specialized film recovery equipment including; Pressure, Heat & Drying tanks, several Plasticizer & Lamination applications & Recovery Treatments. – We include “TWO” file formats when providing Film Recovery services: your choice of standard definition (SD) or high definition (HD) files in .MOV or NIS (Numbered Image Sequence) which are individual photo images of each frame of film in JPEG or PNG. Options include individual TIFF image photos, DVD or Blu Ray disc masters.
– FILM RESTORATION: We replace old reels if damaged, rusty or bent with new film reels new as required or needed for scanning. NO FILM WILL BE RETURNED if it was exposed to any of our “Film Recovery” chemical processes.
UPDATES DURING THE RECOVERY PROCESS: – E-mailed updates on the progress of your films. Depending on the size of your project, we provide updates as we go through several stages of the recovery process. You can email us at anytime for an update.
RETURN SHIPPING: Free return shipping is available on minimum size orders and is quoted in the estimate we would have provided you prior to shipping. We ship Expedited Parcel or Xpress Post (Canada & USA) which includes tracking number and delivery confirmation. 5 to 10 business days to most locations in Canada and the USA. Customer requested return shipping by courier such as Fed-Ex, DHL or UPS is additional cost.
KEEPING YOUR MASTERS, ORIGINAL FILES AND FILM ON FILE AT OUR LAB: For safety purposes (In the unlikely case of loss or damage during return shipping after your order has been completed) we will retain and keep on file a copy of your transferred mastered archive files at our lab and return ship your masters. (we can also ship your files on the media in one shipment and your originals in another – additional shipping charges would apply) Once your films and masters arrive safely, you have inspected and given us the ok (within 60 days), we will delete the mastered archived files. Customers original material “films” if not returned we would hold for a maximum of 60 days. Any Vinegar Syndrome or chemically treated films submitted to us for “Recovery” can not be shipped back because they would be considered “Dangerous Goods”. No returns, No exceptions. The film will be disposed of usually within a weeks time. Please see: RETURNING CUSTOMERS FILMS AFTER THE RECOVERY PROCESS in the section: 8MM VS 16MM RECOVERY
FILM RESTORATION, PRESERVATION, CLEANING AND LUBRICATION
NOTE: This process is used for film that is not warped, shrunk or extremely moldy but is in poor condition from minor mold, dust, dirt, scratches, broken or damaged splices. Film that is warped, shrunk or extremely moldy requires our film recovery and restoration process. See “Film recovery and restoration” above.
COMPLETE RESTORATION OF MOVIE FILM INCLUDES: Having your film cleaned, lubricated, restored & preserved which removes surface dust, grime, minor mold and minor scratches on the film which helps restore and preserve the movie film for future use or transfer. We will also repair bad splices, broken or damaged film or film reels and replace missing film leader as required.
OUR FILM CLEANING SYSTEM USED PRIOR TO LUBRICATION AND PRESERVATIVES (PLIABLE FILM ONLY): The Kinetronics StaticVac Anti-Static Film Cleaner is a vacuum cleaner to be used on film. It utilizes an electronic “bipolar” ionizing system. The StaticVac produces both positive and negative ions for complete static elimination. It will clean all film sizes up to 70mm (2.75″), including 35 mm, 120, and APS. As the film is passed through the StaticVac, the ionization system gets rid of the static on the film. Then, the gentle StaticWisk brushes wipe dust and lint away. The vacuum action draws the dust and lint into the foam filter. Even digital ICE tool software does not replace the StaticVac film cleaner for the removal of dust from both sides of your film prior to scanning.
EXTREMELY DIRTY, CONTAMINATED OR MOLDY FILMS (PLIABLE FILM ONLY): We have several processes for removing dirt from extremely dirty, mud or contaminated flood damaged or moldy films and can be removed safely using a variety of film conditioners and equipment including; Ultrasonic Cleaning, UV light or solvents & chemicals. These processes are not used for any shrunk, brittle or physically broken or emulsion or base damaged film.
LIQUID FILM CLEANER AND RESTORER: After cleaning all films are lubricated and a preservative added. All the above would be determined during visual inspection when the films arrive at the lab.
- Kodak™ film Restorer and Anti-static cleaner with SILICONE which Cleans, Polishes, Lubricates and removes fine scratches.
- Revitalizes film
- Reduces projector wear
- Reduces film wear
- Removes static
- Eliminates “grime distortion”
- Reduces film squeal and chatter
- Cleans, lubricates and protects by depositing a micro-scopic film of SILICONE on the film
Some dirt may remain because it is embedded in the film’s emulsion. Cleaning solution MAY remove dirt but not in all cases. We may be able to remove the dirt prior to using any film preservatives using an Ultrasonic Film Cleaning Machine.
YOUR ORIGINAL FILMS CONDITION: If you know the condition of the film that helps to determine if complete restoration or repairs are required. Most Super 8mm film is found to be in good condition, some regular 8mm film & 16mm film can be in poorer condition depending on its age and stored condition and may only require cleaning using the Kodak™ Particle Transfer Rollers only and no cleaning solutions or lubricates.
FILM CLEANING & REPAIR REQUIREMENTS: If the film is in poor condition, has a white powder (mold) or smells like vinegar (vinegar syndrome), then your film will need to be cleaned, lubricated, restored & preserved before transferring your films to ANY format. Film that is warped or shrunk may require our recovery process.
REPAIRS/SPLICING/EDITING: If your film is broken or the splices have come unglued or separated then splicing/editing will have to be performed. If you wish to repair your films before shipping to TMTV, DO NOT USE HOUSEHOLD TAPE TO REPAIR OR SPLICE YOUR FILMS, use only the recommended film splicing tape or glue or make a note on the film it requires splicing or repair.
REMOUNTING FILMS: If your films are mounted backwards on their original film reels then they will have to be remounted. Damaged or broken film reels will have to be replaced at additional cost if your film is being returned.
RECEIVING AN ESTIMATE BY EMAIL
COST ESTIMATES BEFORE SUBMITTING YOUR FILMS
WANT AN ESTIMATE BY EMAIL OR SEND YOUR FILM TO OUR LAB FOR A NO OBLIGATION HANDS-ON INSPECTION AND QUOTE? Estimates, pricing or quotes for film Rescue, Recovery or Restoration are not provided by phone due to their complexities… you can contact our lab and we will be more than happy to guide you through the estimation process so we can then provide you an accurate estimate for your project. If you are dealing with an urgent situation such as flood and/or water damaged film contact our lab immediately.
TO REQUEST A FORMAL ESTIMATE WITH PRICING AND DETAILED INFORMATION FOR DAMAGED MOVIE FILM YOU MUST EMAIL THE LAB
- PROVIDE YOUR NAME, LOCATION, PHONE NUMBER
- HOW MANY FILMS YOU HAVE
- THE FORMAT/TYPE (8MM, 16MM, 35MM)
- THE SIZES OF EACH REEL OF FILM. DON’T KNOW? – SEE THE FILM CHART POSTED FURTHER DOWN ON THIS WEBPAGE
- TYPE OF FILM DAMAGE YOU ARE DEALING WITH. – What decay and damage does the film exhibit: shrinkage, warping, curling, brittle, image deterioration, tears, broken splices, damaged perforations, vinegar syndrome (very smelly), water or mold damage?
- EMAIL US PHOTOS IF POSSIBLE. PHOTOS SHOULD INCLUDE A REFERENCE NUMBER CLEARLY VISIBLE IN THE PHOTO FOR EACH FILM.
DOUBLE 8/REGULAR 8, SUPER 8MM AND 16MM FILM SIZE CHART
||Film sizes measured across the reel
Films length in time is determined by the original film speed. Most Double 8/Regular 8mm film was shot at 16 frames per second (FPS). Although some older hand crank models shot at 12 FPS. Super 8 was normally shot at 18 FPS with the exception of some professional cameras that could shoot 24 FPS and shoot Super 8 sound at either 18 FPS or 24 FPS. 16mm home movies were normally shot at 16 FPS and professional 16mm silent and sound film was shot at 24 FPS.
WHEN SUBMITTING FILM TO OUR LAB – please number them CLEARLY in order of sequence, Example: 1, 2, 3, 4. (do not use POST-IT Notes, they fall off). If you don’t know what sequence please number them anyway for reference. TAKE PHOTOS OR WRITE DOWN THE ORIGINAL INFORMATION FROM YOUR BOXES, CANS OR REELS FOR YOUR REFERENCE. If there is ANY original writing or printed information on the boxes, reels or cans you want preserved, please take photos of the information or write it down before sending your films as they may be discarded after our Recovery process unless specified by the client that you want the original reels, boxes or cans returned and if they are in good enough condition to be returned.
PLACE STINKY, RUSTY, MOLD/WATER OR BRITTLE, DAMAGED FILMS IN PLASTIC ZIPLOCK OR EQUIVALENT TYPE BAGGIES OR WRAP THE FILMS IN PLASTIC AND SEAL WITH TAPE – Most Vinegar Damaged films smell. You can place one or several films into one bag. Once all bagged, make sure they are well wrapped (bubble wrap preferred), place the films in a strong, sturdy box and tape tightly. You do not want the box to split open and loose any films during shipment.
MIXING FILM FORMATS: R-8MM, S-8MM, 16MM with or without sound: All film formats are scanned (transferred) separately, meaning you do not have to separate the films, we will do that on inspection or before Recovery.
SHIPPING YOUR FILMS TO TMTV AFTER WE PROVIDED AN ESTIMATE – If you want to ship your films to us after we have provided an email estimate, please print out, fill out and sign the email estimate we provided and include that with your films and follow the important shipping instructions provided with the estimate or go to our shipping webpage for details.
SHIPPING THE FILMS FOR A HANDS-ON INSPECTION & QUOTE – Please email us and we will provide the important shipping information required.
ONCE THE FILMS ARRIVE AT OUR LAB we will email you an order number and perform a complete a FREE hands-on inspection and no obligation detailed quote by email. If you decide to proceed with your project your films will be schedule in for processing.
SCANNING & CAPTURING AUDIO FROM DAMAGED SOUND FILM. We are unable to capture any sound from damaged, shunk, brittle, twisted motion picture film even after the Recovery process due to several factors. If the film is pliable, mild warping and not shrunk we may be able to capture the sound from the film. This would be determined upon our hands on inspection before scanning.
MAJOR CHEMICALLY TREATED FILM WILL NOT BE RETURNED – All chemically treated, stinky, moldy, “film” that required major chemical Recovery or any rusty, moldy, water damaged boxes, reels or cans, will not be returned – (no exceptions) due to the chemical treated films are considered Dangerous Good by the shipping companies and Canada & US customs authorities.
OUR SUPPLIED MEDIA PREFERRED We can only use customer supplied new or used media if it meets our specifications.
SUPPLYING YOUR OWN THUMB/FLASH DRIVE OR HARD DRIVE MEDIA: You can supply your own 3.0 USB new or used media but it must be large enough to fit all of your files. Hard Drives should have a standard USB 3.0 connection and must be PC/MAC compatible and pre-formatted in EXFAT or NTFS. No warranty or guarantees on customer supplied media. We prefer “plug & play” media over A/C powered hard drives. We do not accept customers supplied tape or DVD/Blu Ray disc media
OPTIONAL “DIGITAL” RESTORATION AFTER RECOVERY
Digital Restoration is different from Physical Recovery and Restoration. Physical Recovery must be completed before providing the optional “Digital” Restoration. If you wish to discuss Digital Restoration after Recovery please let us know. The main defects needing Physical or Digital Restoration or recovery:
- Scratches, tears/burned frames
- Color fade, color change
Once a film is inspected, cleaned, lubricated, restored or recovered it is transferred via motion picture film scanner and we scan each frame into a digital file. Digitize the audio (if sound film) and can sync to create a new master if required.
Providing Digital Restoration after scanning
Modern, digital film restoration takes some or all of the following steps:
- Scan each frame into a digital file after Recovery.
- Restore the film frame by frame by comparing each frame to adjacent frames. This can be done somewhat by computer algorithms with human checking of the result.
- Fix frame alignment (‘jitter’ and ‘weave’), or the misalignment of adjacent film frames due to movement of film within the sprockets. This corrects the issue where the holes on each side of a frame are distorted over time. This causes frames to slightly be off center.
- Fix color and lighting changes. This corrects flickering and slight color changes from one frame to another due to aging of the film.
- Restore areas blocked by dirt and dust by using parts of images in other frames.
- Restore scratches by using parts of images in other frames.
Teamwork Media Film Recovery Motion Picture Film Archivist, serving Canada & USA since 1980
NOTE: * The photos and videos on this website are not shown in their actual size. The images are reduced for internet viewing for all devices. All photos, video and images on this website are under copyright protection by TMTV, Teamwork Media Television Inc. and are not to be used without the express permission of TMTV. Any other photos used by exclusive permission from their original content creator. Kodak is a trademark of Kodak.com TMTVISION is a trademark of Teamwork Media Television and our DigitalVideoLab department. Special thanks to the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia for some valuable information as well as Chempoint Products & Kodak products we use for Film Recovery.