Developing Cinema Film

TestShot-2

…or “Proof Of Concept – The Conclusion

 

The answer to your first question is, of course:

“Because”.

(If you have been here before, you will already know this, and will probably not have even asked this question in the first place).

The second answer is a little more complicated, requires a protractor, some trigonometry, and the (temporary…) use of a rubber chicken.

Ahem.

In any case, as some of you have already guessed, this is indeed tungsten-balanced motion picture film…Kodak Vision3 500T, to be exact.

It is rated at ISO 500, but may easily be shot at ISO 800 if not terribly expired.

It is one of the few color films still available for bulk loading.

Given what I have already spent (let’s not talk about the hours here, m’kay?)  It will probably run me about $2 per 36 exposure roll.

The problem is, it has one major (major.) caveat:

It is coated with black goo.

Vision3

The strip on the left (well, the left, coursing down toward the bottom right…) is the Vision3.

The strip on the right is regular ‘ole Superia 400.

The black stuff on the shiny back side is called Remjet; it is an anti-static/anti-halation layer.

It must be removed before traditional processing.

(Motion picture films are intended for different chemistry called “ECN-2″ which take into account this layer.  If you want to use standard C-41, this stuff needs to come off first.)

There are companies which happily sell you a 36-exposure roll (with the Remjet already removed…) for around $10.

As it turns out, it is not all that difficult to get off, but does require some extra attention.

While my process is still under refinement, the following has been working for me presently:

  1. BEFORE undertaking traditional C-41 processing, you will need some baking soda, and water that is HOT.  Really HOT.
  2. Put 1 tablespoon of baking soda in each litre of water.  I recommend two litres.  (Remember: HOT!!)
  3. Try to portion it out into 4-5 washes (about 400cc per wash)
  4. Dump it in.  Agitate for 60 seconds.  Dump it out.  Repeat.
  5. You will notice that the first wash comes out black.  This is good.  Successive washes will get more greyish/pink.
  6. The water should be clear by the fifth wash.  If not, keep going:  More water.  More soda.  More HOT.
  7. Once the water is clear, do one final rinse with plain warm water.
  8. Start my Guide to Color Developing…
  9. Do the Pre-soak.
  10. Do the Developer (Yes, 3:30 if shot at ISO 400-500)
  11. Do the Blix.
  12. Do the Rinse (3:00)
  13. STOP RIGHT NOW!!!
  14. Pull the film out
  15. Yes, that’s what I said: Pull it out.  It is no longer light-sensitive.
  16. Hang it up on a clip.  Don’t clip the bottom.
  17. Put a small piece of very wet (and well-rinsed!!) soft sponge at the top of the SHINY BACK SIDE of the film (Where the Remjet used to live…)
  18. Make your fingers into a “pair of scissors” and clamp the film…One on the back of the sponge, and one on the front of the film (emulsion side).  Don’t worry: your bare finger will not damage the emulsion side of the film.
  19. Sweep from top, to bottom in one smooth, continuous motion.  This will remove the remainder of the deposited Remjet.
  20. (Now this is the hard part…) Remove the film from the clip, and carefully re-thread it onto the spool.  (This will be difficult, because the spool is wet, and the film soft).
  21. Don’t touch the emulsion!!
  22. I said don’t touch it.
  23. Do the Stabilizer.
  24. Do the Photo-Flo (or similar surfactant…)
  25. Rinse.
  26. Remove.
  27. Dry for 2 hrs.
  28. Scan, and process to your heart’s content.  (More on that to follow at some point in the future…It definitely requires some tweaking).

(Look, I never said it would be easy…just fun).

Dammit, I already told you: Because!!  But there’s more: It has a unique character (beautiful skin tones, with a vintage look to boot.  Forgiving grain.  It’s different, OK?)

I hope this was entertaining…Now don’t you y’all go driving up the prices of this stuff on Flea-bay!!

All the best,

M.

12 thoughts on “Developing Cinema Film

  1. iamamro says:

    This is wonderful. I’m not sure I can manage it – but I’d like go try! I’ve only just got used go black and white home developing.

    • mewanchuk says:

      Hi Karim–

      Yes, I did see that on the site, and was actually thinking of ordering a bulk roll of 250D…looks like good stuff!

      Thanks for the link,
      -M.

  2. brothernigel says:

    Thank you for the write up. In step 1 and 2. When you say hot. Approximately how hot is hot? is 102°F sufficient?

    • mewanchuk says:

      Hi there–

      As hot as you can get it from the tap…And it is best to use a stainless steel developing canister if you can.

      Good luck!

      -M.

      • brothernigel says:

        Thank you for the response! My tap gets up to 130°F to 140°F so I was a little worried about cooking the film emulsion. I am also currently using steel tank and reels. ^^;

        • mewanchuk says:

          Hi “Brother…”

          As per one of the earlier comments, you may want to come up and down from peak Temp gradually (two or three steps) to avoid reticulations from cracking the emulsion.

          Let me know how it turns out!

          Cheers,
          M.

  3. rpavich says:

    I’ve seen folks clean off the remjet with baking soda and tap water at just 100 deg f. How important do you think it is so go hotter?

    I’m just trying to get as much info as I can because I have a roll of 5219 coming this week.

    • mewanchuk says:

      Hi there,

      I have read that as well; however, my own experience has been “the hotter, the better”. I really did not have sufficient removal at a 100 degrees. You will find that your chemicals become quite contaminated, and there will be plenty of residual residue to wipe off.

      Having said that, FPP (The Film Photography Project) actually recommends just developing normally, and then manually washing the negative strip under running tap water at the conclusion of the procedure (rather than using Baking Soda at the beginning). They then suggest pouring the chemicals back through a coffee filter to remove any particulates. I have not attempted this, but I suppose anyone wanting to dedicate a set of chemicals to just cinema film could try this procedure instead.

      Best of luck,
      Mark

        • mewanchuk says:

          My pleasure–thanks for stopping by! Keep me posted on your results and I’m happy to share.

          On another note: (I am not sure if I have emphasized this before…) Although I prefer Paterson tanks and plastic reels, Stainless steel really is more suitable for this undertaking. The Remjet residue stains REALLY badly. I have a few plastic reels that I have just not been able to clean–even in the dishwasher!

          All the best,
          Mark

  4. rpavich says:

    Thanks! I use all metal, it’s easier for me. I’ll keep you updated as I progress, I got two rolls of 400′ and one roll of 100′.

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