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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Film Handlers' Forum   » Film handling 101

Author Topic: Film handling 101
Ron Davis
Film Handler

Posts: 23
From: Morgantown WV, USA
Registered: Jan 2007

 - posted 08-03-2008 07:57 PM      Profile for Ron Davis   Author's Homepage   Email Ron Davis   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
All: Everything we know at our little theatre about threading movies is what was passed on to us from those who came before us. And all they knew was what was passed on from their predecessors. And everyone knows what happens to a story after you pass it down from generation to generation.

Is there a resource out there somewhere that outlines exactly HOW to thread and treat movies that we can get into the hands of our projectionists? Do's and Dont's, that kind of stuff. We, technically know HOW to it, but even at that our prints start to show damage after 10-15 runs.

I would think the life expectancy of film is longer than that, and its just our lack of understanding thats causing the pre-mature wear?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!



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Justin Hamaker
Film God

Posts: 2114
From: Lakeport, CA USA
Registered: Jan 2004

 - posted 08-03-2008 08:11 PM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
See if your company would foot the bill to have a tech or other qualified person spend a few days working with your projection staff.

See if your local chapter of NATO has periodic seminars on various aspects of film handling. I know NATO of California/Nevada has them from time to time.

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Monte L Fullmer
Film God

Posts: 8318
From: Nampa, Idaho, USA
Registered: Nov 2004

 - posted 08-04-2008 12:53 AM      Profile for Monte L Fullmer   Email Monte L Fullmer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Maybe, give us a rundown on what make of film handling equipment is up in your booth(s) e.g. projectors, lamphouses(consoles) film transport systems, sound, ... so that the lot of us that do work with equipment can begin in Square One with you - to be on the same page so that we can help you understand where we are coming from.

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Paul Mayer
Oh get out of it Melvin, before it pulls you under!

Posts: 3835
From: Albuquerque, NM
Registered: Feb 2000

 - posted 08-04-2008 08:26 AM      Profile for Paul Mayer   Author's Homepage   Email Paul Mayer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Before you do any of that you might want to take notice of and click on a little button to the left marked "TIPS". If your operation is damaging prints at only 10-15 passes you might as well start your operator re-births from the beginning. It'll save some time and lots of retyping of that which is already available.

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Brian Guckian
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 594
From: Dublin, Ireland
Registered: Apr 2003

 - posted 08-04-2008 10:01 AM      Profile for Brian Guckian   Email Brian Guckian   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Additional to the above, the BKSTS in the UK publishes an excellent Projectionists' Manual (currently being re-formatted as a Handbook) and earlier this year brought out a new addition to its series of Wallcharts entitled Film Handling for the Projectionist, which covers a great deal of practical issues in the projection room / booth.

Visit and click on Merchandising for more information [thumbsup]

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Chris Slycord
Film God

Posts: 2986
From: 퍼항시, 경상푹도, South Korea
Registered: Mar 2007

 - posted 08-04-2008 02:00 PM      Profile for Chris Slycord   Email Chris Slycord   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Also, if damage occurs that early... keep track of WHEN the damage occurs and WHO is working the shift when the damage occurred. It could very well be that one person needs to be talked to.

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Joe Redifer
You need a beating today

Posts: 12859
From: Denver, Colorado
Registered: May 99

 - posted 08-04-2008 05:50 PM      Profile for Joe Redifer   Author's Homepage   Email Joe Redifer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
When you thread, keep the leader off of the floor. Once everyone in the theater does this habitually, throw away the old cruddy stuff and get all new leader.

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Monte L Fullmer
Film God

Posts: 8318
From: Nampa, Idaho, USA
Registered: Nov 2004

 - posted 08-05-2008 12:21 AM      Profile for Monte L Fullmer   Email Monte L Fullmer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Joe Redifer
When you thread, keep the leader off of the floor
..and there are numerous ways on doing this which the most common two are: small box lined with a trash bag to capture the leader that gets piled on the floor and the other one, which takes time to learn, is the "reverse thread" procedure - lacing the projector from the bottom to the top.

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Brad Miller

Posts: 17688
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99

 - posted 08-05-2008 02:54 AM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Sorry but every time I hear of the "box" solution I have to [Roll Eyes]

Seriously, as if that box doesn't collect dust and dirt just like the floor does. So then the box advocates say "change the liner" and I see that as #1 an unnecessary expense and #2 why not just learn a better way to thread in the first place.

Besides for those "reverse threading-challenged", they can always follow the guidelines in the tips section for threading except when it comes to threading the actual projector head, clip the film to the side of the soundhead to hold it and then "thread down" like they are used to. (Other people clamp the film to the holdback sprocket...same thing.)

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12448
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 08-05-2008 10:43 AM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Or just hold it in your hand. I use the first 2 fingers of each hand to manipulate the film inside the projector head - it's easier than trying to stick my whole hand in there - and use the rest of my left hand to hold onto the extra leader. I do keep a trash basket under the projector that I can drop the leader into if I need to let go of the film for some reason.

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Kenneth Wuepper
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 996
From: Saginaw, MI, USA
Registered: Feb 2002

 - posted 08-05-2008 11:08 AM      Profile for Kenneth Wuepper   Email Kenneth Wuepper   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Even in reel to reel operation with 2000 Ft spools, it is better to take the leader from the top spool to the takeup spool and then load the projector. It is still easier to load from the takeup to the top.

This method does not have any film loose to fall on the floor.

After a little research in the amount of film needed inside the machine, you can spool down to the proper footage number in the leader before actually starting the loading process.

KEN [Wink]

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Gary Crawford
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 200
From: Neptune NJ USA
Registered: Nov 2003

 - posted 08-06-2008 12:29 PM      Profile for Gary Crawford   Email Gary Crawford   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Specific damage wasn't mentioned. Maybe it's a cleaning issue? We run sub-run, so a lot of the prints I get show some wear. I find a lot of scratching on the non-emulsion side looks simply like the previous theatre's sound drum wasn't clean. Sprocket damage is usually from a takeup pulling too hard, or an upper reel shaft being too tight.

Hire an "Oldtimer" as a consultant to show your guys how to do it, if that's an issue.

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Brad Miller

Posts: 17688
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99

 - posted 08-06-2008 01:14 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
I am a firm acvocate that reel to reel guys should NEVER advance the film directly to the takeup reel (or onto the floor or into a box) and then thread the projector. That puts the part of the film that is handled only a few feet away from the first projected frame, which is why you will notice that older prints that were ran reel to reel have massive dirt buildup towards the end of each reel and at the beginning of each reel. It is bad form and unprofessional since all of that handling is putting wear on the film.

Extra head and tail leader should ALWAYS be added and only that extra leader should be handled. From there the film can be motored down to the starting frame.

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