Film Threats: How to Save Your Film Collection
For year and years,
film was considered to be an unassailable
medium. It was thought that, once put on these
carefully spin strips, that those under the
camera's lens would forever be secured of their
place in time.
But now, it has become
rapidly apparent that these promises are not to
be. Film collections across the world have begun
to deteriorate rapidly. Through a combination of
aging, cracking, and a dreadful disease know
colloquially as “Vinegar Syndrome”, cherished
family memories and works or art alike are at
risk. Conscientious collectors are turning to
digitization services, turning their amassed
celluloid into neat, well organized collections
of computer files.
Here's a look at some
of the problems facing today's film buffs.
The Rapid Infection
If you crack
open your film canisters and notice a strange
smell, it's already too late. In fact, your
entire film collection may now be contaminated.
Vinegar Syndrome is highly contagious, spreading
rapidly through the air in and around the
containers. Once this happens, you'll
immediately need to charter the services of a
film digitization company. Sometimes, this
dreaded disease can take effect without even the
telltale scent. If you notice curling or
rippling on your film, then things may have
already begun to decay. There's no reversing the
process once it starts, so the need for swift
action is imperative.
Paradoxically, the more tightly
a film canister is sealed, the more likely it is
to contract Vinegar Syndrome. The less a strip
of film has been allowed to “breathe”, to
interact with its environment, the longer it
stews in its own vapors. The film itself
actually produces gasses, which essentially
marinate the reels. This creates the perfect
conditions for Vinegar Syndrome. There's simply
no way to avoid it. And, in fact, there's no
real treatment. There have been a few rare
instances in which certain stretches of infected
film have been treated with chemicals such as
camphor, which will allow it to be run through a
projector one final time. The images will,
unfortunately, be majorly distorted as a result
of the process. Due to this fact, perhaps, there
are only a few places in North America which
perform the service. Really, there is no other
way to go than digitization.
of Super 8
For many years, Super 8 film
was thought to be immune to the Vinegar
Syndrome. Now, however, it's begun to show up in
alarming numbers. And though the buildup to the
end is slower, the downhill slide is much more
rapid. Once infected, Super 8 will deteriorate
at an alarming rate. Once again, digitization is
the only option.
Beyond the Blight:
Other Aging Factors
There's much more to
worry about than just a storage disease. Film
itself is made of plastic tape (known as
backing) underneath an organic film strip known
as the gelatin emulsion. This forms the basis of
all film, both color and black and white.
Because of this universal structure, all film
suffers from the same inherent age failures. The
gelatin can crack and flex with age. Beyond
this, improper storage can cause a mold that
will chew up the organic material. You'll notice
this as a blue and green discoloration, or even
as a smattering of black specks. Even simple
scratches on the film surface can serve as a
breeding ground for this fungal foe. In fact, a
great deal of the film currently in existence is
probably already infected, to one degree or
There's also the tape to
consider. As this dries out, it will eventually
become brittle and prone to snap. Old movie
projectors aren't exactly easy on the film as it
runs through, which causes even more potential
for disaster. So really, there's no good news in
sight for the future of classic film.
Digitization: The Saving Grace
all this talk about digitization, film
collectors and keepers of family memories will
be keen to know more about the process itself.
The folks at MisterVideo.net are here to help.
They've got several levels of service to choose
from, each of which can be customized to suit
the unique needs of the consumer. The software
they use is top of the line and features many
unique processes which can not only capture the
images on the film, but also improve upon them.
The effects of mold, scratches, and even fading
can be reduced or eliminated.
So be sure
to check out the offerings of MisterVideo.net.
The numerous choices allow for several different
variations, any of which can save the most
cherished films from the trash heap. Whether
they're classic movies or cherished family
memories, there's no reason to let your film