8mm Forum


  
my profile | my password | search | faq | register | forum home
  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» 8mm Forum   » 8mm Forum   » Vinegar Smell vs. Film Smell (Page 1)

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!  
This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2 
 
Author Topic: Vinegar Smell vs. Film Smell
Ernie Zahn
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 540
From: Greenwich, CT, USA
Registered: Oct 2004


 - posted November 24, 2013 11:35 AM      Profile for Ernie Zahn   Author's Homepage   Email Ernie Zahn   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think my paranoia is stopping me from distinguishing between the vinegar smell and normal film smell.

I have some films that have a really pungent vinegar smell but others that smell like freshly developed film. The ones that smell freshly developed, is that just the smell of healthy film or is this film going to eventually be strong vinegary?

--------------------
Check out the trailer for my feature length Spaghetti-style Western:

Six and Bisti

 |  IP: Logged

Pete Richards
Master Film Handler

Posts: 302
From: Australia
Registered: Sep 2010


 - posted November 24, 2013 12:09 PM      Profile for Pete Richards   Email Pete Richards   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Film has a distinct smell, each type has its own, so it is most likely nothing to worry about. I'd grab some cheap sieves anyway, but VS is a pretty specific smell. You probably are just spending too much time sniffing things ;^)

 |  IP: Logged

Maurice Leakey
Film God

Posts: 5895
From: Bristol. United Kingdom
Registered: Oct 2007


 - posted November 24, 2013 02:45 PM      Profile for Maurice Leakey   Email Maurice Leakey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
As Pete says, each type of film has its own distinctive smell. Take Agfa stock, for instance, it jumps straight at your nostrils, it's impossible to describe it, but once you've met it you can be sure of Agfa the second the spool comes out of its carton or can. Here I refer to 16mm stock, I can't say that Super 8 has the same smell.

Vinegar Syndrome is something else, completely unmistakable, probably more prevalent in the US than in Europe. Storage in warm and humid conditions will accelerate the unsought of V.S. Early diagnosis and cold, moderately dry storage conditions are the most effective defences.

--------------------
Maurice

 |  IP: Logged

Steve Klare
Film Guy

Posts: 7016
From: Long Island, NY, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted November 24, 2013 07:33 PM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The first issue is always the material of the base. I've had polyester films smell vinegarish, but it's a "don't care" in that case because Polyester films can't develop VS. (Best theory: the prints were in a collection where other prints had VS, and the boxes picked up the odor.)

Most commercial S8 films are polyester, so VS is less common with S8.

--------------------
All I ask is a wide screen and a projector to light her by...

 |  IP: Logged

Pasquale DAlessio
Film God

Posts: 3523
From: Bristol,RI, USA
Registered: May 2010


 - posted November 24, 2013 07:40 PM      Profile for Pasquale DAlessio   Email Pasquale DAlessio   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Believe me if any of your films have VS you will know it. You won't have to think about it. [Eek!]

 |  IP: Logged

Michael O'Regan
Film God

Posts: 3085
From: Essex, UK
Registered: Oct 2007


 - posted November 25, 2013 12:29 PM      Profile for Michael O'Regan   Email Michael O'Regan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I agree with Pasquale. If your film has VS, you'll smell it, no mistake.

 |  IP: Logged

Ernie Zahn
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 540
From: Greenwich, CT, USA
Registered: Oct 2004


 - posted November 25, 2013 12:42 PM      Profile for Ernie Zahn   Author's Homepage   Email Ernie Zahn   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks for the reassurance everyone!

--------------------
Check out the trailer for my feature length Spaghetti-style Western:

Six and Bisti

 |  IP: Logged

David Guest
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1704
From: Lancashire, UK
Registered: Oct 2011


 - posted November 25, 2013 12:56 PM      Profile for David Guest   Email David Guest   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
a visit to the doctors might sort it for you

 |  IP: Logged

Gerald Santana
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1060
From: Cottage Grove OR
Registered: Dec 2010


 - posted November 25, 2013 01:14 PM      Profile for Gerald Santana   Author's Homepage   Email Gerald Santana   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My friend in film has a theory that VS is caused by film processing later, treatment. The film is the host, it's smell is determined by stock and the chemicals used in processing. VS is not one condition but, they are symptoms of degrees in film degradation and decomposition. All cases are individual and subjective. So, there will be a few different kinds of VS smell. Here are a few that I've noticed.

The Kodascope Smell: Very old acetate film (like Kodascopes), locked up in a can for dozens of years. When opened, the contents are not shrunken, no crystallization or very little. The odor is not like vinegar but, more like old processing chemicals gone sour. The films usually play fine with no signs of shrinking. Usually on old Kodak stock but can be detected on some on Agfa/Ansco and Ikon. I don't think these are even afflicted with "VS" and I bet they were always stinky like this, similar to AGFA Ozaphans.

 -

BVS: The "Baby Vomit Smell" afflicts originals printed around 1940-1960's, usually only on Black and white prints like RKO and Universal. The odor is self explanatory, probably the worst of the VS smell. No crystallization. Prints are dry and heads are usually badly shrunken. The film smells like old pizza mixed with vomit so, I'll never thread this one up to view.

 -

Chemical VS: The print looks good, no shrinking or very little shrink. Upon inspection the film is loose on the reel and bends very easily. The film plays like nothing is wrong with it. The film odor is more medicinal with a slight hint of vinegar. I've only noticed this one most on old black and white television shows. Very slight to no crystallization, which comes off upon cleaning.

 -

Severe VS: As most know this one, as it advances, the film has a very powerful odor like distilled vinegar. Putting your nose near the film and inhaling sends a cold chill down your spine! The film is shrunken from the heads down. The film breakdown is geometric and every 4-6 inches there is a "corner" that makes the reel look like an octagon. Bad crystallization. The film plays with bad focus but the sound is usually still there.

 -

Mold VS: Looks like mold growing on your film that's been in a case or can for a very short time. You don't remember the print having VS but, suddenly it's there. The first 100' ft is usually very badly decomposing, the emulsion is coming off like water damage. This is very rare but, I've seen it. Sometimes there is visible grey mold present.

 -

Old VS: This is on prints that go back to the 30's which have been sealed in cans since the 50's. Agfa film stock smells rancid, there is bad crystallization on the film. Emulsion is still in tact but, it looks like the film was shot through a cracked window. If you play this film after cleaning it, it runs but focus is soft and grainy. Once projection is over, take a look at your rollers, they will now need to be cleaned or the remnants will scratch your film. There are two film stocks spliced together on the print below--one has Old VS, the other does not. How is this possible? Well, the kind of film stock is different.

 -

These are some of the varieties of VS that I've identified, there are probably more. One thing that I've noticed is that VS is probably not contagious if the film is stored open reel. The other thing is that it can spread to other film stock but, only if enclosed in the same container. Let me explain...I received a 1600' reel of film that looked to be in order with about 10 different shorts on it. The prints were inside of a can spliced together, probably unseen for over 30 years.

As I cleaned the reel before projection, I noticed the smell suddenly coming from the film. I was upset, thinking maybe all of the films were afflicted but the first two or three where fine. Then, as I wound the reel, the third or fourth short was badly shrunken and had a very severe VS. I kept cleaning it to the end, where it was spliced onto the next print, a different acetate film (of a different stock) that was not afflicted with severe VS but, only very mild chemical VS.

The rest of the films were fine. Some were a little shrunken some were not. But, see below how they all wound into the supply reel flat, while the severe VS print in the short reel that I took out, had trouble winding into it's new small reel. It was badly shrunken with corners every four inches.

 -

Did someone splice a VS print into other prints? Probably not, as the reel had been put together years ago. So my observation leads me to believe that VS could possibly spread but, it will defiantly destroy the film that it has afflicted if left unnoticed and untreated. Those that are quarantined early could have a second chance once it has off-gased for a few years.

[ November 26, 2013, 02:25 AM: Message edited by: Gerald Santana ]

--------------------
http://lostandoutofprintfilms.blogspot.com/

 |  IP: Logged

Michael O'Regan
Film God

Posts: 3085
From: Essex, UK
Registered: Oct 2007


 - posted November 25, 2013 02:15 PM      Profile for Michael O'Regan   Email Michael O'Regan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In my experience, VS smells like vinegar.

 |  IP: Logged

Gerald Santana
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1060
From: Cottage Grove OR
Registered: Dec 2010


 - posted November 25, 2013 04:50 PM      Profile for Gerald Santana   Author's Homepage   Email Gerald Santana   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've edited my post to include pictures of my findings. I've gone through over 10,000 films and it's true that most have the severe VS smell, however there are others.

You can say VS smells like vinegar but, what kind of vinegar? Apple cider, White Distilled, Red Wine, Coconut, Rice, Malt...etc. [Wink]

--------------------
http://lostandoutofprintfilms.blogspot.com/

 |  IP: Logged

Dominique De Bast
Film God

Posts: 4486
From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Jun 2013


 - posted November 25, 2013 06:15 PM      Profile for Dominique De Bast   Email Dominique De Bast   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
That's interesting, Gerald. So, you mean that a VS film can often still be watched and that it is not unsafe to keep it ? I hope I will never experince VS but in case I do it would be better to know what to do.

--------------------
Dominique

 |  IP: Logged

Pasquale DAlessio
Film God

Posts: 3523
From: Bristol,RI, USA
Registered: May 2010


 - posted November 25, 2013 06:25 PM      Profile for Pasquale DAlessio   Email Pasquale DAlessio   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
You can say VS smells like vinegar but, what kind of vinegar? Apple cider, White Distilled, Red Wine, Coconut, Rice, Malt...etc. [Wink]


All of the above!

Just serve fries with them [Big Grin]

 |  IP: Logged

Dominique De Bast
Film God

Posts: 4486
From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Jun 2013


 - posted November 25, 2013 06:34 PM      Profile for Dominique De Bast   Email Dominique De Bast   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Oh, you put vinegar on fries in the US, too, like in the UK ? I tried it in London some years ago (as we don't do that here) and I have to admitt that I like it a lot.

--------------------
Dominique

 |  IP: Logged

Gerald Santana
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1060
From: Cottage Grove OR
Registered: Dec 2010


 - posted November 25, 2013 06:43 PM      Profile for Gerald Santana   Author's Homepage   Email Gerald Santana   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Quarantine badly VS prints until they have off gassed to better work with them. Soak them in a film cleaner to give them plasticity again. Drying will take a long time but, the less afflicted only need to be cleaned and stored open reel. Keep them tails out for a while then, after some time ready them to project. You can also throw away the film but, depending on the content, it might be worth trying to preserve.

You can still play VS films, but the film might break from timt to time if its too dry or it may leave behind residue if there is crystallization there. Cleaning them first helps to figure whether or not they're worth keeping.

--------------------
http://lostandoutofprintfilms.blogspot.com/

 |  IP: Logged

Adrian Winchester
Film God

Posts: 2941
From: Croydon, London, UK
Registered: Aug 2004


 - posted November 25, 2013 07:08 PM      Profile for Adrian Winchester   Email Adrian Winchester   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Gerald - thanks for your post with the photos, which is a great example of the sort of contribution that makes this forum such an exceptional resource. It would make a very good article for one of the film collecting magazines. The 2006 British film 'Alien Autopsy' has references to a 16mm film losing nearly the entire picture due to VS. I used to think this was completely exaggerated but in fact it sounds like Mold VS!

--------------------
Adrian Winchester

 |  IP: Logged

Gerald Santana
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1060
From: Cottage Grove OR
Registered: Dec 2010


 - posted November 25, 2013 08:08 PM      Profile for Gerald Santana   Author's Homepage   Email Gerald Santana   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks Adrian, Unfortunately mold VS is the hardest to combat since the emulsion will dissolve like water damage even if you try to clean it, it will wipe right off. There must be something you can treat the film with that will make the emulsion stable again but, I'm not sure yet what to do.

I noticed it first on a (gulp!) 16mm polyester print of a Ken Burns documentary I was checking that was treated with Photo Gaurd. There it was...the grey, moldy fuzz but, I thought it was water damage. Photo Guard is an old 3M film cleaner that was notorious for giving prints VS. It was inside a plastic case with a Photo Guard sticker. The film looked okay after the first 50' so, it was preserved but, the heads looked to be badly water damaged.

Then, I saw it again. I purchased a two reel feature on 16mm; Pygmalion (1938), printed on acetate stock. When I used to keep my films in cans and cases, I cleaned the first reel with Film Guard and left the other untreated. I looked at the first reel and then went back three to six months later to look at reel two when I saw grey fuzz coming out of the plastic case.

I didn't see it there when I first bought it and looked the heads. I inspected both reels but only previewed one, the one that I cleaned. But, months later, the emulsion was stripping off from reel two and onto a cloth. There was no stopping it, after 100 ft, I gave up and threw the film away. The first reel remained fine and later sold it as an odd reel. The print above with mold VS is an I Love Lucy episode and I didn't have the heart to throw it out. Maybe someone will find a remedy for it one day?

[ November 26, 2013, 12:45 AM: Message edited by: Gerald Santana ]

--------------------
http://lostandoutofprintfilms.blogspot.com/

 |  IP: Logged

Joe Balitzki
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 529
From: Charleston, SC, USA
Registered: Aug 2005


 - posted November 26, 2013 05:58 AM      Profile for Joe Balitzki   Email Joe Balitzki   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
There are two errors in Gerald's posts:

"Baby Vomit Smell" is common in old Blue Soundtrack IB Technicolor prints. In the majority of cases the prints run just fine but they will emit a odor when projected. I also have a 16mm Kodachrome print with a odor but it runs fine. The smell comes from the Technicolor process of development itself.

"3M PhotoGuard" is a coating applied to new prints for scratch protection. It is often found on polyester 16mm prints. There are instances where it has been applied to Acetate prints and it has been said that the coating did not allow the emulsion to breathe which led to Vinegar Syndrome. 3M denied this in the past but its really impossible to confirm because improper processing at the lab when a print is struck can cause Vinegar Syndrome.

--------------------
Movie Lovers Do It in the Dark

 |  IP: Logged

Dominique De Bast
Film God

Posts: 4486
From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Jun 2013


 - posted November 26, 2013 10:22 AM      Profile for Dominique De Bast   Email Dominique De Bast   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It is difficult to know if Filmguard could prevent from VS just from one example, especially as it has been reported here that one can find VS one some parts of a film that has VS free parts, on the same reel. It would be interesting to know if other members experienced it also or heard about that.

--------------------
Dominique

 |  IP: Logged

Maurizio Di Cintio
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 977
From: Ortona, Italy
Registered: Jan 2004


 - posted November 26, 2013 10:48 AM      Profile for Maurizio Di Cintio   Email Maurizio Di Cintio   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In any case I can confirm Joe's point about the need of film to be able and "breathe" in order to prevent VS: that's why films are periodically wound and rewound in film libraries. If the gases propagating from the film base can dissolve in the air, VS is less like to start. And, yes, once started there is no stopping it, you can only slow down the process but the print is doomed.

--------------------
Maurizio

 |  IP: Logged

Gerald Santana
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1060
From: Cottage Grove OR
Registered: Dec 2010


 - posted November 26, 2013 12:36 PM      Profile for Gerald Santana   Author's Homepage   Email Gerald Santana   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Joe,

I think we are both in agreement with your reply to my post. I didn't mention IB Technicolor on purpose but, that is a good point and one to add under "The Kodascope Smell" filmstocks. You can call it the Technicolor smell or as Maurice already pointed out the Agfa smell. In any case, these are films that have their own odor and has nothing to do with VS, but the film does have shrinking as well, which is misleading.

And as far as Photo Guard goes, I also agree that it's impossible for us to know the truth unless we work in a laboratory. I was only relating a story based on an polyester, LPP, Ken Burns documentary called Brooklyn Bridge that I saw the sticker on. I've seen the sticker on other films that are fine, some that are VS. I've also opened Goldberg cans with VS prints and some are not. I can't blame the can for the VS, or can I? I was surprised however that I saw the damage on an mylar film, later recognized it on an acetate film.

I've also noticed a strong film smell coming from some LPP prints that have been in plastic cases for a long time. I don't think that it's VS at all, It's just how the film smells, like AGFA, Tech, and Kodachrome. Again, I think VS is completely subjective. Someone with a poor sense of smell could have a Chemical VS print, sell it someone with a better sense of smell and the new buyer could be upset or confused about the deal.

The baby vomit smell is unmistakable, much more powerful than the Kodascope smell. In fact, that's why I grouped them so close. Maybe the Kodascope smell leads to the baby vomit smell, then decomposition? The sign for that change to the subjective person inspecting is that the heads are now very badly shrunken but, only the first 25-50 ft. the rest plays fine.

And I also agree with Maurizio as well. Ever since the discovery of of the mold VS in one of my films, I got rid of all of the cans and cases and started to store them all open reel on racks. Those in cardboard boxes are mostly LPP and have molecular sieves plus, I rotate all of the films at least every three to six months. I can't risk losing any more if I can honor preventable maintenance.

--------------------
http://lostandoutofprintfilms.blogspot.com/

 |  IP: Logged

Joe Caruso
Film God

Posts: 4105
From: USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted November 26, 2013 03:49 PM      Profile for Joe Caruso   Email Joe Caruso   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Couldn't have said it better myself - Shorty

 |  IP: Logged

Panayotis A. Carayannis
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 969
From: Athens,Greece
Registered: Jul 2008


 - posted November 27, 2013 01:28 AM      Profile for Panayotis A. Carayannis   Email Panayotis A. Carayannis   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thank you Gerald and everyone else for a most enlightening thread, although, I must admit that in all my years of dealing with (8 mm) film,I don't remember ever having met with the problem. Just lucky?

 |  IP: Logged

Maurice Leakey
Film God

Posts: 5895
From: Bristol. United Kingdom
Registered: Oct 2007


 - posted November 27, 2013 02:58 AM      Profile for Maurice Leakey   Email Maurice Leakey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I was once told to put prints which were just starting to have the V.S. "smell" in the sun for a few hours, turning the spool over occasionally.
It does work (to a degree). I assume the warmth gives the gasses a chance to partially evaporate.

--------------------
Maurice

 |  IP: Logged

Lee Mannering
Film God

Posts: 3216
From: The Projection Box
Registered: Nov 2006


 - posted November 27, 2013 03:25 AM      Profile for Lee Mannering     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Some of those pictures look a bit like some of the films we get in for video transfer, usually in a biscuit tin and found in a shed. Poor storage plays a great part with acetate film deterioration but there is a great deal of satisfaction where a really warped film full of VS gets my loving treatment and makes it onto DVD for a client.

Is it time to watch Konga again yet? [Cool]

 |  IP: Logged



All times are Central
This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2 
 
   Close Topic    Move Topic    Delete Topic    next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:

Visit www.film-tech.com for free equipment manual downloads. Copyright 2003-2019 Film-Tech Cinema Systems LLC

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classicTM 6.3.1.2