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Cleans, Lubricates, Coats and Protects
ALL Motion Picture Film
keeps new prints looking like
works by cleaning dust and dirt off of the film and forming a slick protective
coating, ensuring hundreds of runs free of dirt, scratches and static charges.
dirt and scratches
gate projection qualities
electricity is neutralized
from future damage
for all film gauges and formats
for the collector
The FilmGuard cleaning system was derived from a personal desire to be able to run the same motion picture print for months and months without the annoying dirt and scratches which will typically come from dirt buildup in the gate of the projector. As everyone who has ever worked with 35mm film in real life projection rooms and not under the "ideal" white room conditions commonly spoken of in trade documents knows, film cannot be run over and over without at least a slight amount of dirt buildup. In fact, SMPTE believes the useful life of a 35mm print is only 300 runs through a projector. That's only two months. Many solutions have been presented to the industry over the years, the most popular two being the dry web media cleaner and particle transfer rollers (PTRs). I have personally done extensive testing with everything I have ever heard of on the market and I assure you NOTHING comes close to the quality level you will find when using FilmGuard. The following are basic questions and their associated answers.
How does it work? Simple. FilmGuard is a non-evaporating lubricant and cleaner. All other liquid film cleaners currently on the market, such as VitaFilm, RTI, ECCO, Renovex and FilmRenew to name a few, are designed as a cleaner/lubricant, but only really provide cleaning benefits due to their evaporative qualities. Pads of some sort are soaked in the liquid and then the film is quickly dragged through the cloth, before the cleaner evaporates. The second most popular method of cleaning film is through the use of PTR rollers. Upon my personal testing of these, I have found they don't really accomplish anything. In fact a theater I worked at tried a side by side comparison between a dry web media cleaner ran once a week vs. a PTR cleaning system ran every show. The prints were both brand new, of the same film stock and movie, run on exactly the same projection equipment and by the same caring operators, with the projectors thouroughly cleaned out after each run. To put it simply, after one week the PTR print looked dirty and the print that had only been cleaned once with a dry web media cleaner still looked good.
But prints ran once or twice a week through dry web media cleaners will still attract dust and dirt, right? Correct. This is where FilmGuard comes in. By utilizing the commonly found dry web media cleaner most projection rooms already have, I have developed a system for application of a cleaner, lubricant and protective coating all in one.
First, FilmGuard will deep clean better than any other liquid cleaner on the market. I have taken many an older print and run it through FilmGuard several times and cleaned up virtually all of the dirt and even covered up base side scratches.
Second, FilmGuard is polyestar safe! As everyone knows, the switch to polyestar film was accompanied by a loss of ability to lubricate prints at the theater level, and even recent attempts to lubricate prints at the lab do not work effectively. FilmGuard is the first cleaner which is safe to apply to polyester film since Warner Brothers introduction of Estar film stock with "The Fugitive." Prints ran with FilmGuard run smoother, steadier and quieter than prints without.
Finally, since FilmGuard is designed to NOT evaporate, a thin coating is created on both sides of the film. Thus, the film is in a way "submerged" in liquid and will project to the screen with true "wet gate" qualities, the likes of which can only be seen today in laserdiscs, DVDs and the Texas Instruments' new DLP video projection system. As I mentioned above, since the film is covered in liquid, many base side scratches, just like in wet gate printing, will be covered up and will not project to the screen...even though they are still there. With FilmGuard, you will have all these benefits without having to purchase new equipment or make any modifications to existing equipment.
What do I need to use FilmGuard? Although it can be applied just like any other film cleaning solution on the market, the preferred method as mentioned above is through a typical dry web media cleaner. Since these small machines are film driven and geared to a takeup shaft, a constant fresh stretch of media is presented to the film at all times during the show. In addition, these machines will apply even pressure unlike a pair of hands would holding a cloth on the rewind bench. Best of all, it is fully automated and once set requires no operator attention whatsoever.
What the operator does is load up two rolls (one for the base side and one for the emulsion) onto the media cleaner as normal. Then, he takes the spray bottle of FilmGuard and while holding the sprayer tip against the media pads, he sprays the FilmGuard cleaner onto the pads until they are soaked. The reason I say hold the sprayer tip against the media pads is to keep from spraying the FilmGuard all over the cleaner. Now run your film as you normally would through the cleaner. At the end of each show, rewind the media pads to the start again by loosening the take-up thumbscrews and inserting the plastic rewinding key (supplied with each bottle of FilmGuard) into the supply roll for quick and easy rewinding of the media pads. Retighten the take-up thumbscrews and you're ready for another show. I recommend the film be ran on every show and new pads with freshly soaked FilmGuard be loaded onto the cleaner once a week. In short, use the same set of media pads over and over for an entire week. If FilmGuard is utilized in this manner, your film will look just as good 6 months down the road as they did on the first day of the engagement when the print was brand new from the lab.
An alternative method for theaters who don't have enough of these film cleaning machines to go around is to cycle the cleaners between the auditoriums during the course of the week. The preferred method in this instance is once a day. For example, a 14 screen with only 2 cleaners could clean auditoriums #1 and 2 on Friday, #3 and 4 on Saturday, #5 and 6 on Sunday, etc. If used in this manner, be sure and load up fresh media pads at the start of each day and soak thouroughly with FilmGuard. This will keep your prints looking in very good condition, but may pick up traces of dust and dirt and the film is not being constantly cleaned. However, your prints will STILL look far better than any other cleaning method on the market to date. Another example would be a 16 screen with 4 cleaners. This way auditoriums #1, 2, 3 and 4 could be cleaned for 2 days straight on Friday and Saturday. Auditoriums #5, 6, 7 and 8 could then be cleaned on Sunday and Monday, etc. In short, the more you can run your prints through FilmGuard, the better they will look.
What if I don't own any media cleaners? You can still use FilmGuard to effectively eliminate static charges and shedding from your prints! The method in this case is simple. Spray a thick cloth with FilmGuard and then wipe the cloth on the top edge of the print as it is laying on the platter. The ideal procedure is to start the platter spinning (from a makeup table or an obstruction in the centerfeed arm) and wipe slowly from outside edge to the center. There should be a definite "wet" glaze to the print. On this next performance, takeup the film "upside down" from your normal procedure and when the show is over, wipe the other side (now up on the platter) in the same manner as before. (Note: using FilmGuard in this manner will not offer cleaning benefits...only the elimination of static and print shedding.)
So using FilmGuard in the above mentioned manner, how long will a one quart spray bottle last? Typically one month for the average 8 screen. That estimate will very slightly due to climates and other conditions specific to the theater. For example, if your facility runs 6 shows a day, you may need to change out the pads once every 5 days. On the other hand, if you only run 3 shows a day, you would probably be more ideally suited to changing out the pads every 10 days. The operator will need to make that specific call. If he finds the pads are severely drying out at the 5 day mark, that would be the ideal interval for changing. On the other hand, if the pads are still moist after 7 days of running, the operator can run them a couple of extra days. The bottom line is each booth varies with temperature and humidity, but typically a once a week change-out is ideal.
How much extra time is taken away from the operator's normal threading and projector cleaning between shows to use FilmGuard? None at all! When using FilmGuard, your projectors won't need cleaning between shows. Test theaters as well as my own personal results find that brushing out the projector once a week is more than acceptable. The only real reason to clean the projectors is...A: for cosmetic purposes and B: to remove the tiny buildup of FilmGuard which will accumulate on the sound drum. We have found a quick wipe with a degreaser will remove this buildup quickly and easily. Since shedding is put to a halt, the projector doesn't get dirty. The time spent in rewinding the cleaning pads between shows (approximately 20 seconds) is more than made up for in the time saved by not needing to clean the projector heads between shows.
So if I run FilmGuard every show, wouldn't the action of the film rubbing across the pads create a higher static charge then already exists with my polyestar prints? No. Remember the pads and film are WET. Thus, static is virtually non-existent. Brain wraps, lost shows, refunds and disappointed customers are a true rarity.
What about my Dolby Digital and SDDS tracks? I find if they get a mark on them they will stop playing properly after a few weeks/months. Well, the same rule to the digital tracks applies to the picture. If there is no dirt on the film and a thin coating has formed, the digital tracks will play flawlessly throughout the entire run, because there would be no dirt or scratches to cause it to dropout to analog. In fact, if you have access to QC programs, you will actually see a reduction in tracking errors.
Are there any side effects to using FilmGuard? None that have come up in almost ten years of testing. Thus far, all test theaters as well as my own experimenting have turned out virtually perfect results every time, regardless of the film stock or type of projection equipment used. However there are two added and unexpected benefits with the FilmGuard sytem.
Has your theater ever had a roof leak water onto a print? I have ran across seven. Two of those were at theaters currently testing FilmGuard. Even after considerable water dripped onto the print, the film still ran perfectly fine and projected flawlessly! The other five were at other non-test theaters. When those prints were attempted to be unraveled, the film stuck together and was very tacky, the emulsion literally peeling off. By putting clamps on the print and standing it upright, we were able to soak some thick paper towels with FilmGuard and wipe it on both sides of the film, literally to the point where the edges of the print were shining with FilmGuard liquid. After letting it soak in for a few minutes, we found we could thread up the movie as normal and ran it through a freshly soaked set of new media pads and only the tail end of the film which was attempted to be unraveled before applying FilmGuard wouldn't project. The rest of the print looked perfect!
The second unintentional benefit has not had a lot of testing, but I offer it here for what it is worth. I am speaking of Vinegar Syndrome. I have had several prints come my way with a distinct vinegar odor to them, coated them with FilmGuard and after 5 years are still running beautifully without any vinegar smell. Is this a cure? Well, I'm not sure. Again I have not done enough testing to promise that. However, if anyone uses FilmGuard specifically for this purpose, I would be very interested to know the results and will post them here.
What about film storage? Films stored wet with FilmGuard will be protected far better than prints stored dry. The film does not get brittle if relubricated occasionally. I have tested identical prints of brand new trailers, some almost ten years old, and the trailers coated with FilmGuard still run perfectly while an identical trailer stored dry is brittle, warped and will not run steadily.
You say FilmGuard is "polyester safe." I heard polyester film could not be lubricated. You heard correctly. Polyester film can't be lubricated...that is with the conventional products out on the market. FilmGuard does not damage polyestar film stock. It is the only cleaner/lubricant available that doesn't.
What about magnetic film? We run a lot of repertory films in 35mm and 70mm magnetic. Will this damage the sound tracks? No. The General Cinema Northpark West 1 & 2 has used the FilmGuard system on many, many repertory and new magnetic prints for very long playdates and has found there is no degradation and admitted the tracks actually held up so well that dropouts never occured.
What is the longest run of a film using FilmGuard? 8 months, 3 weeks, 6 shows a day. On the last day, I screened that print in it's entirity and it looked absolutely perfect without the slightest speck of dirt, even around the splices, and not a hint of a scratch anywhere. That's almost 1500 runs! Remember the 300 runs according to SMPTE?
There has to be something negative related to FilmGuard. Yes, but it is minor. The first time FilmGuard is applied to a print you will notice some light streaking which looks like water on the film. This is normal and will disappear within 1-2 shows. It is part of the coating process. This is also why I strongly recommend FilmGuard be applied starting on the FIRST run-through showing. This way, the public only sees a perfectly clean presentation.
Also, FilmGuard was not intended for use with Photoguarded prints. FilmGuard will not damage them, but will offer no benefits as the lubricant cannot penetrate through the Photoguard. However, Photoguarded prints are a rarity and most theaters will never run one. In addition, FilmGuard should not be used on endless loop platter systems. However, endless loop cabinets are fine.
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