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Author Topic: Storing 16mm feature films
Igshaan Safodien
Junior
Posts: 8
From: Cape Town, South Africa
Registered: Oct 2015


 - posted October 30, 2015 05:14 AM      Profile for Igshaan Safodien   Author's Homepage   Email Igshaan Safodien   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I recently purchased about twenty 16mm films that was in storage for 30 years. Some of the titles has never been released on DVD such as Detroit 9000, Warm December, Angel (1984), McIvor, The Robbery, El Macho, etc There are some films such as One Eyed Jacks, Mr Majestyk I don't mind watching on film, although I own DVD as well. But there is some old spaghettic westerns of Clint Walker that I have not seen yet. So this is very exciting for me. It's like discovering some lost treasure.

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They packed in their original fibre cases, some on two 2000ft reels and others on three 1600ft reels. I love the different colour metal reels such as blue, orange, white, red, etc, but some are in bad shape with lots of rust. The fibre cases with leather straps are also in bad shape covered in thick dust and holes in them.

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The reels and film are extremely dirty from all the years of storage with some spider nests on some film. Some of the films appear to be slightly warped. So I am desperately trying to see if I can obtain FilmGaurd from Film-Tech. Everybody says it can't be shipped to South Africa, but what if I arrange for it to be collected and ship via ocean freight with my forwarder. It will take two months to get here, but worth the wait. I sent an email to Film-Tech, but still waiting for a reply.I really want to clean and lubricate these old films.

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Then, my next dilemma, is how to store these films. I love these old fibre boxes with handles and straps. They each have a character and tells a story from the past. I can see they from an old film library that rented out films. So the ones in good shape I will keep, but the majority of them I will have to get rid off. It's a pity they don't make these boxes anymore.

I will also need some new 2000ft plastic reels because some of the metal reels are badly rusted. Should I replace all films with 2000ft plastic reels or only replaced bad metal reels?

Then what is the best way to store my films. Ideally I would like to keep a feature film with both 2000ft reels in one plastic can. Or is it best to store each film reel in one can. I am scared that some years from now, the reels may go missing if kept apart. I have seen so many collectors with films with missing reels.

If I order a 2000ft 35mm plastic storage can, will two 2000ft 16mm reels be able to fit in it? Or is it best to store one reel per plastic can? How do most collectors store their 16mm feature films? All in separate cans?

Then which plastic film cans is better, Tuscan or Stil?

Is Tuscan the only manufacturer that still makes 16mm film reels? Is there perhaps another manufacturer?

I was also thinking of moving the films with three 1600ft reels onto two 2000ft reels. Is this a good idea?

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Maurice Leakey
Film God

Posts: 5784
From: Bristol. United Kingdom
Registered: Oct 2007


 - posted October 30, 2015 03:56 PM      Profile for Maurice Leakey   Email Maurice Leakey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
A 2000ft 35mm can is designed to hold film mounted on a core. You will probably find that that a 2000ft 16mm spool is too wide.
I store a lot of my features on two 1600ft spools in 35mm 2000ft plastic or metal cans. They fit well. Store films flat, do not store them vertically.

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Maurice

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Ross Gibbs
Junior
Posts: 25
From: Blue Mountains, Australia
Registered: Mar 2012


 - posted October 31, 2015 11:10 PM      Profile for Ross Gibbs   Author's Homepage   Email Ross Gibbs   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Plastic reels are best but metal are fine if the condition is ok, and you can store them with some level of humidity and temperature control. Film guard is great for cleaning and reconditioning.
Tuscan grey 16 mm Archival cans are great, they have air slots and ribbed interior to let air flow around the print. I got a copy of The Day The Earth Stood Still about 4 years ago. When it arrived there was a hint of VS around a reel, but after a run through with film guard and Tuscan storage, in reasonable (but not ideal) conditions, there is not a hint of VS on the print.

PS Label your prints properly and you won't loose reels.

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“He felt all at once like an ineffectual moth, fluttering at the windowpane of reality, dimly seeing it from outside.”
― Philip K. Dick, Ubik

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Igshaan Safodien
Junior
Posts: 8
From: Cape Town, South Africa
Registered: Oct 2015


 - posted November 02, 2015 12:46 PM      Profile for Igshaan Safodien   Author's Homepage   Email Igshaan Safodien   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Ross. Thank you for the information. I will take your advice. What is your opinion of Taylor reels and their plastic cans? And do they compare against the Tuscan?

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Ross Gibbs
Junior
Posts: 25
From: Blue Mountains, Australia
Registered: Mar 2012


 - posted November 04, 2015 05:57 AM      Profile for Ross Gibbs   Author's Homepage   Email Ross Gibbs   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Not sure mate, but I love the Tuscan Cans.

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“He felt all at once like an ineffectual moth, fluttering at the windowpane of reality, dimly seeing it from outside.”
― Philip K. Dick, Ubik

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Bill Brandenstein
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1627
From: California
Registered: Aug 2007


 - posted November 05, 2015 12:15 AM      Profile for Bill Brandenstein   Email Bill Brandenstein   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Igshaan, those reels look like nothing I've ever seen before.

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Igshaan Safodien
Junior
Posts: 8
From: Cape Town, South Africa
Registered: Oct 2015


 - posted November 15, 2015 03:52 PM      Profile for Igshaan Safodien   Author's Homepage   Email Igshaan Safodien   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
So after weeks of contacting many film suppliers, I made a decision. I ordered a box of 16mm storage cans from DANCAN in Barcelona. Its made from a plastic called Moplen and includes ventilation holes. It was really much cheaper that suppliers in USA and goods from Europe come into South Africa duty free.

I have also ordered a full box of 2300ft 16mm plastic reels from Taylor Corporation in USA. Tuscan no longer manufcatures 16mm film reels.

But I have had no response from the guys at Film-Tech regarding FilmGuard. I would have arranged a collection and shipped it ocean freight without any problems, but I can't wait anymore. I have decided to simply use swabs of Isopropyl Alcohol that you obtain from any pharmacy and use that to clean these old dusty films. But some of them are really dry and warped, so I am kind of sad that I can't get FilmGuard.

Maybe I am lucky but I got a free 5 litre can of film waxing solution from an old film distributor in South Africa which specializes in asian martial arts films. They still have 16mm and 35mm film prints including negatives in a warehouse. But its all low budget and old school martial arts films.

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Anyway, once I clean my old dirty 16mm films with alcohol swabs, I will apply this wax solution to them as well. I am not sure if I must apply it to the side of the reel or use a cloth during hand rewind.

Because I am so tired of watching red coloured films, I decided to buy 5 new martial arts films from this supplier. Four of them were still sealed in plastic, still rolled on a core as it came from the lab. When I saw these films rolled around the core, I only then realized what the split reel was meant to be used for. I bought it some months earlier thinking it was a regular reel, but could never figure out how to use it because there was a screw in the way. Its a good thing I kept it because it came in handy as well as my hand rewinds. The other titles was on reels. The seller threw in another two 16mm movies for free and a old can of film waxing solution which I was grateful for.

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It is such a pleasure to have a 16mm film with all the original leaders (with number countdown) and tails as the print came from the lab. These are not original prints though, but copies. All I can make out is letters AG 2S written on film and some numbers. Its possible that the AG 2S could have been written on original film and the copy is Eastman. But I don't see Eastman written anywhere. Only time will tell if these prints are AGFA or Eastman.

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It was such a pleasure watching these brand new prints with no scratches and with nice colour. The colours seem a bit on the warm side though with a greenish tint, so even though they new, I think there has been some fade. It lacks the high contrast and sharpness or maybe this is because these are copies.

I was bit disappointed though because I expected these martial arts films to be in all scope format but two titles were in letterboxed widescreen, Jackie Chan's Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars and Jet Lee's Born to Defence. The seller did mention they sometimes used to make 16mm prints from 35mm films. The colours were beautiful on Jet Lee film, the best print I have so far in my collection, except for Sign of the Pagan (IB Technicolour. I wish I can buy more westerns or war films in IB Technicolour. I simply love these films and it would be great to have in my collection.

I was actually after original martial arts prints because films from China also used a Technicolor dye process and therefore these old classic martial arts films don't fade. But it does not help if distributors locally made copies. And this seller can't distinguish between original and copy anymore. They have been too long in their warehouse. I plan to buy some more when I have some more money, but its going to be another gamble.

The other three titles that was on reels were also brand new but was all faded red. I assume they were all Eastman prints. There was also a faint vinegar smell from these films on reels. I don't think its a good idea to use these plastic reels from vinegar smelling films on my good prints. It's a pity because these films are rare titles: Lee Majors in political thriller called "Agency" and westen with Christopher Clarke called "Chance" and other red faded film was Billy Chong kunf fu movie called "Super Power."

So the big question how long before my nice new prints begin to fade? Do I use this wax solution on new prints as well and how do I apply it? Someone meantioned I should use cotton wool soaked in this wax solution and apply it to the sides of the film whilst on the reel, like they do with 35mm films.

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Jeff Missinne
Film Handler

Posts: 69
From: Superior, WI USA
Registered: Nov 2012


 - posted July 30, 2016 01:35 PM      Profile for Jeff Missinne   Email Jeff Missinne   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I would never recommend cleaning films with isopropyl alcohol; it could do some serious damage. I'm not sure what exactly is in that "film waxing solution" shown in your post; does the product have an ingredient list on it anywhere?
A lot of film cleaning products, past and present, contained wax as an ingredient to make films (especially new prints) run more smoothly. It could be that the "film waxing solution" is a cleaner as well; if the label lists the main ingredient as trichlorethane, methyl chloroform, perchlorethylene or something similar, it is probably both a cleaner and wax.
Looking at that can, I can't quite figure how it opens. Is it like a paint can where the whole lid comes off? If so, the product was probably meant for use in an automatic machine (dump the can's contents into the machine and it does the rest...)
The best way to handle the solution might be to divide it into some smaller metal cans from which it could be poured. In the US, they are called solvent cans and most paint stores sell new clean quart size ones for a few dollars each.

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Daniel Macarone
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 222
From: Summit NJ, USA
Registered: Nov 2015


 - posted July 31, 2016 03:46 PM      Profile for Daniel Macarone   Author's Homepage   Email Daniel Macarone   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Maurice - Why do you say films should not be stored vertically and does this apply for 16mm and Super 8?

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Melvin England
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 684
From: Hull, East Yorkshire, UK
Registered: Feb 2016


 - posted August 01, 2016 11:36 AM      Profile for Melvin England   Email Melvin England   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Daniel - This was also a concern I had when I read Maurice's contribution. I have always applied the same rule to films as I have to my precious vinyl Lp collection......store vertically... to prevent warping/damage etc.

Maurice - we are very interested to hear your response....

Igshaan - Sorry I have hi-jacked your interesting post but this horizontal / vertical storage subject is important to know.

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"My name is for my friends!"

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Evan Samaras
Master Film Handler

Posts: 490
From: Queens, NY, USA
Registered: Oct 2015


 - posted August 01, 2016 12:24 PM      Profile for Evan Samaras   Author's Homepage   Email Evan Samaras   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I am still new to the hobby, however from my understanding, storing vertically can cause some sort of film sagging due to the weight. This is not an issue at all on 8mm and if I recall correctly, vertical storage is actually recommended for 8mm. Please don't ask me why though [Big Grin]

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...When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the Earth...

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Andrew Woodcock
Film God

Posts: 7477
From: Manchester Uk
Registered: Aug 2012


 - posted August 01, 2016 12:39 PM      Profile for Andrew Woodcock         Edit/Delete Post 
I store all my films (all Super 8mm) up to 1200ft vertically so they present themselves correctly and are easy to select from on a shelf.

1200ft and onwards, I store flat.
By the time you get to 2400ft of Super 8mm film on one reel, the same symptoms most definitely apply over time as with the heavier gauges.

No issues though up to 800ft in my experience.

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"C'mon Baggy..Get with the beat"

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Dave Groves
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 503
From: Southend on Sea, Essex, UK
Registered: Feb 2015


 - posted August 01, 2016 01:57 PM      Profile for Dave Groves   Email Dave Groves   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I too shall be interested in Maurice's answer to film storage. I've stored mine verticaly for over 40 years without any problem. I've always rewound by hand to ensure the film is tight.

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Dave

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Melvin England
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 684
From: Hull, East Yorkshire, UK
Registered: Feb 2016


 - posted August 01, 2016 02:04 PM      Profile for Melvin England   Email Melvin England   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Evan - When you say "film sagging" do you mean that film stored on very large spools would cause parts of the film closer to the centre of the spool to actually stretch due to the weight bearing down on it?

.

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"My name is for my friends!"

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Andrew Woodcock
Film God

Posts: 7477
From: Manchester Uk
Registered: Aug 2012


 - posted August 01, 2016 02:24 PM      Profile for Andrew Woodcock         Edit/Delete Post 
The film becomes egg shaped when stored on large reels for very long periods, vertically.
This irregular curvature from one half of the reels diameter to another can easily cause projection issues as the curvature of the film loses consistency.

As Dave says, if they are rewound nice and tight as they are supposed to be, this definitely helps.

Film, as we all know, soon becomes very heavy indeed. Especially when spooled on large reels for the bigger gauges.

There is no strain placed on the film when stored on large reels horizontally. That is why it is prefered.

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"C'mon Baggy..Get with the beat"

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Daniel Macarone
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 222
From: Summit NJ, USA
Registered: Nov 2015


 - posted August 02, 2016 08:13 AM      Profile for Daniel Macarone   Author's Homepage   Email Daniel Macarone   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This kills my plans to one day have a 16mm collection stored vertically on a film rack. I was also wondering if all film should be stored in vented cans to allow breathing.

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Maurice Leakey
Film God

Posts: 5784
From: Bristol. United Kingdom
Registered: Oct 2007


 - posted August 02, 2016 12:05 PM      Profile for Maurice Leakey   Email Maurice Leakey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Andrew has provided the answer about horizontal storage of films and the weight imposed if stored vertically.

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Maurice

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Andrew Woodcock
Film God

Posts: 7477
From: Manchester Uk
Registered: Aug 2012


 - posted August 02, 2016 12:27 PM      Profile for Andrew Woodcock         Edit/Delete Post 
Daniel, if you must store your films vertically, you would still be alright to do so so long as you rewind them tightly (without inducing cinch marks of course), and you turned them through 90 degrees periodically.
Cans store better horizontally anyhow, but if you plan to place your collection in library boxes, then this may provide you with a solution so long as you repeat the films labelling on all 4 sides of the boxes.

Here's hoping anyhow. [Smile]

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"C'mon Baggy..Get with the beat"

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Robert Tucker
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 688
From: Essex, UK
Registered: May 2005


 - posted August 09, 2016 10:05 AM      Profile for Robert Tucker   Email Robert Tucker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
For archive purposes i would suggest your films to be stored horizontally. The reason for this is two major factors. To let the film breath along with avoiding film damage (baggy syndrome).

Ideally films should be stored per reel and not as one full feature. This will eventually cause you more harm than anything especially when VS (vinegar Syndrome) is concerned.

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Evan Samaras
Master Film Handler

Posts: 490
From: Queens, NY, USA
Registered: Oct 2015


 - posted August 09, 2016 10:48 AM      Profile for Evan Samaras   Author's Homepage   Email Evan Samaras   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Robert, you mean we should not stack reels of a feature on top of each other? Sounds like one would require a lot of space, and/or some great custom shelfing system

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...When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the Earth...

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Robert Tucker
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 688
From: Essex, UK
Registered: May 2005


 - posted August 09, 2016 11:01 AM      Profile for Robert Tucker   Email Robert Tucker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Evan,

That's correct as with my archive which includes 35mm, 16mm and Super 8 prints. I try to store everything per reel, that way if one reel develops VS at least you can save the rest.

I have all my films on racks along with storage cases that are designed to air film. Another important factor for storage is temperature control. Even stored in house conditions the films should be kept at constant temperature (cool). If not you will find some films even non fading LPP prints starting to fade.

The worse possible scenario is keeping them in the house. As you know with central heating that the temperature can fluctuate. One of the main reasons why so many films on Eastman turn red/pink.

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