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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Film Handlers' Forum   » Black & white prints smell

   
Author Topic: Black & white prints smell
Tyler Potts
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 159
From: Anderson, SC, USA
Registered: Sep 2008


 - posted 09-30-2008 10:08 PM      Profile for Tyler Potts   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I tried searching, but didn't find anything. When building and running Good Night and Good Luck it had a strong smell of shoe polish and slightly rubbing alcohol. Has anyone else noticed this with prints like Good Night and Good Luck or The Good German or anthing else.

Also... what causes this smell? Is it the stock or something in the emulsion?

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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6420
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 09-30-2008 11:32 PM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Black and white film does smell different than color film. The chemistry for b/w film is a lot different than color but I don't know that I would say it smells like shoe polish and alcohol.

Could it be some butthead used shoe polish to mark the reel ends and some other butthead tried to get it off with a bottle of rubbing alcohol? [Wink]

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Carl Martin
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1391
From: Oakland, CA, USA
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 10-01-2008 02:37 AM      Profile for Carl Martin   Author's Homepage   Email Carl Martin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
i only see one butthead... rubbing alcohol does a pretty good job of removing that stuff.

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Tyler Potts
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 159
From: Anderson, SC, USA
Registered: Sep 2008


 - posted 10-01-2008 08:10 AM      Profile for Tyler Potts   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It was a new print and no, I don't use either. Well, alcohol for splicer cleaning but that's it.

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Kenneth Wuepper
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 995
From: Saginaw, MI, USA
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 10-01-2008 08:24 AM      Profile for Kenneth Wuepper   Email Kenneth Wuepper   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Rubbing Alcohol contains water. It is better to get Isopropyl anhydrous (without water) from the paint department of the local builder's supply house.

KEN

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Richard P. May
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 243
From: Los Angeles, CA
Registered: Jan 2006


 - posted 10-01-2008 10:02 AM      Profile for Richard P. May   Email Richard P. May   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Black and white film does not have a built-in lubricant as does color print stock. It is necessary to edge-wax the prints to keep them from sticking in the projector gate, causing them to run very noisily, and eventually jumpy.
The wax is probably the cause of the smell.

Waxing is not usually needed for archival prints, as they do not get the long projection use of a general release. One of the first instances of this problem that I heard of was the original release of SCHINDLER'S LIST. This 3-hour b&w picture, run on platters, caused a lot of projection problems.

Also, the dye-transfer release of GONE WITH THE WIND a few years ago had many complaints about "flaking". The print stock for this process was basically b&w, for printing of the sound track.

RPM

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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6420
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 10-01-2008 10:46 AM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
FilmGuard removes the shoe polish too.

As Ken said, alcohol you get from the drug store has water in it.
Although I have used alcohol on some occasions, I prefer to use FG.

1) It's better for the film.
2) You don't have to keep as many chemicals on hand.

If you still want to use alcohol it is best to use the anhydrous version but if you can't get it or don't want to use it, at least be sure to buy the 90% isopropyl instead of the 70% version.

Oh, yeah! I remember that release of GWTW!
We had one projector which had the trap and shoe just a teeny bit out of adjustment but we didn't realize it until we put GWTW on that projector.

You'd think it was snowing in the booth! [Eek!]

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Thomas Pitt
Master Film Handler

Posts: 263
From: Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK
Registered: May 2007


 - posted 10-01-2008 12:29 PM      Profile for Thomas Pitt   Email Thomas Pitt   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In SCHINDLER'S LIST, wasn't there one short scene with some color? A girl is seen walking around with a red dress - was that using color stock spliced in, or was it added as a layer to the B/W film?

Make sure it's not a nitrate print you're running - the smell could well be the print starting to degenerate! I've also heard of 'vinegar syndrome' on non-nitrate prints.

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Monte L Fullmer
Film God

Posts: 8304
From: Nampa, Idaho, USA
Registered: Nov 2004


 - posted 10-01-2008 12:35 PM      Profile for Monte L Fullmer   Email Monte L Fullmer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Thomas Pitt
I've also heard of 'vinegar syndrome' on non-nitrate prints.

VG syndrome was common with triacetate film stock - open up either a 16mm or 35mm can and that acetic acid odor that emits when the acetate starts to break down can be rather pungent.

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Pete Naples
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1544
From: Dunfermline, Scotland
Registered: Feb 2001


 - posted 10-02-2008 02:22 AM      Profile for Pete Naples   Email Pete Naples   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It's not unheard of to edge wax a print with clear shoe polish, most booths do not have a proper film waxing machine anymore, so when a B&W print appears that needs lubricating, something has to be done. This one may have had that clear show polish treatment.

There is a proper bulletin from Kodak detailing the procedure, it even specifies the brand of shoe polish to use, Kiwi IIRC.

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Carl Martin
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1391
From: Oakland, CA, USA
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 10-02-2008 02:38 AM      Profile for Carl Martin   Author's Homepage   Email Carl Martin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
we only use the 91% alcohol... certainly 70% is undesirable in the booth. i don't know about filmguard. i never tried it on shoe polish during the time we were allowed to use it. i do most cleaning with ronsonol (naphtha), but some substances, like sharpie ink and shoe polish, come off much more easily with alcohol.

anhydrous alcohol... haven't seen that at the drug store.

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John Hawkinson
Film God

Posts: 2273
From: Cambridge, MA, USA
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 10-02-2008 05:35 AM      Profile for John Hawkinson   Author's Homepage   Email John Hawkinson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Kodak recommended the use of SC Johnson Paste Wax, but only under special circumstances, and certainly not colored shoe polish!

--jhawk

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Richard P. May
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 243
From: Los Angeles, CA
Registered: Jan 2006


 - posted 10-02-2008 10:05 AM      Profile for Richard P. May   Email Richard P. May   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This all started with a question of why a print of GNGL smells like wax, and everybody is giving recommendations of how to clean it off.
The point is that these prints WERE waxed when manufactured, in order to insure smooth projection of b&w print stock. They should be left alone.

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Tyler Potts
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 159
From: Anderson, SC, USA
Registered: Sep 2008


 - posted 10-02-2008 10:19 AM      Profile for Tyler Potts   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thank you, Richard.

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17678
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 10-02-2008 01:35 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Waxing black and white prints won't save them. They will get amazingly dirty in no time and if there is an SRD/SDDS track on them you can kiss it goodbye quickly. FilmGuard is the only "cure" so-to-say for black and white prints. That wax the labs put on is a very bad thing. Anyone who has ran recent black and white prints with and without FilmGuard can attest to this.

Regarding Schindler's List, the original prints were black and white with color sections spliced in by the lab. Because of the problems people were having in projection, the second run of prints were done on color stock.

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