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Author Topic: Old Damaged Film
Jamie Forbes
Posts: 1
From: Troy, MI, USA
Registered: Dec 2016

 - posted December 20, 2016 09:18 PM      Profile for Jamie Forbes   Email Jamie Forbes   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi, I'm new here. My dad passed away a few years ago and left us with many very nice 8mm films of the family, some dating back to 1939. Most are in pretty good shape, but one of the most important films, of my parents wedding in 1952, is really bad. It was on a 300 foot real wound very tight. It's bent and curled and won't run thru the projector. It has a strong smell, not really a vinegar smell. It was more like solvent or chemicals. We would really like to transfer to digital. Can anything be done to help save this film? Thanks.

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Tom Spielman
Master Film Handler

Posts: 339
From: Minneapolis, MN, USA
Registered: Apr 2016

 - posted December 20, 2016 10:11 PM      Profile for Tom Spielman   Email Tom Spielman   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm not an expert but here's some info I've run across:

Higher end video/film transfer services can usually recover most if not all of the film. There could be some discoloration and there may be portions that aren't recoverable but if it's important to you, it's worth a shot.

I'd look for places in your area that specifically address vinegar syndrome in their marketing and do "frame by frame" captures.

You can try some things on your own, but I guess it comes down to how much risk you want to take in terms of further damage. What I've seen recommended is:

1. allowing the film to ventilate for awhile

2. find a larger reel and carefully wind it backwards (inside-out) on to that reel and leave it for a day or two. Then wind it normally on to another reel. Leave it another day or so, then repeat. This will sometimes cause the film to "relax" and remove the curls enough so that you can project it. Whatever curling remains will lead the focus of the projector to drift, just so you know.

3. Some will recommend certain film cleaners. Others will tell you to avoid them.

Good Luck.

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Graham Ritchie
Film God

Posts: 4001
From: New Zealand
Registered: Feb 2006

 - posted December 20, 2016 10:39 PM      Profile for Graham Ritchie   Email Graham Ritchie   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This contact might also be of interest, I guess it wont be cheap but it might be worth thinking about...


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Joseph Gerard
Posts: 4001
From: New Zealand
Registered: Feb 2006

 - posted December 29, 2016 09:50 AM            Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Jamie,
I am not in the US but there is new equipment out in the US that is sprocketless and clawless and will be the most gentle in the handling of your film to do a frame by frame HD transfer (at 10 frames per second). Once it has been digitised there is a lot that can be done in terms of colour grading, dirt removal from the transferred frame etc. If it has had liquid on it then there is a risk that the emulsions will be damaged if the film was wound whilst still damp. If its coming down with vinegar syndrome it should be isolated and transferred asap. Other than that I agree with the earlier comments re rewinding except I wouldn't put any cleaning or other fluid on it at this stage.

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