Cinema Product Reviews

Particle Transfer Roller Film Cleaner (PTR)
Various Manufacturers
Grade:  F
Reviewed December 1999 by Joe Redifer

The theory behind Partical Transfer Rollers (PTR's) is that they use a sticky surface to remove dirt and debris from the film as it runs, much like those cat hair rollers that you use to remove cat and dog hair from all of your clothes.  Does it work?  You bet.  Effectively?  No way.

Here's how you use the PTR Film Cleaning System:  First, take clean PTR rollers and mount them to the projector/platter of the film you desire to clean.  Thread your film through the cleaner and run your show.  When the show is over, remove the dirty, scummy PTR rollers and take them to a sink and wash them with warm water and a touch of soap.  Let them air dry.  Remount the rollers onto the cleaner and repeat the process every show.  What a pain!  PTR's will not work if you only run them for one or two shows.  You must literally run them every single show.  So imagine washing all of those rollers everytime that you threaded a movie!  Or, you can purchase many more sets of rollers and have a enough clean sets waiting by each projector so they can be quickly swapped out during each thread.  But then at the end of the night or early the next morning you must clean all of those rollers again!  That's worse that washing dishes by yourself after a huge Thanksgiving day feast, especially if you have a lot of cleaners!  So even if they actually did clean the film, using PTR's in the booth is as impractical as licking each film clean with your tongue.  Oh, did I mention they are about $250 for this "technology"?

But PTR's don't even clean the film.  They do exactly what the name suggests:  They transfer particals from one part of the film to another.  I do not exaggerate.  This just keeps building and building until you have a holy mess of a print.  Probably before reel #1 even ends, and perhaps even sooner, the PTR rollers are already maxed out with dust and dirt.  There is no more room for the "sticky" part of the roller to do any good.  I tested out PTR's using the film "City of Angels" as a guinea pig.  We had two prints, both of which were on Kodak stock.  On one print, we ran PTR cleaners every single show, with clean rollers swapped out during each thread.  On the other print, we didn't use any type of cleaner at all.  This was before my theatre even had any media cleaners.  To make a long story short, over weeks of time both prints got very dirty and shed in the projector like you wouldn't believe.  However, the print with the PTR's was substantially dirtier.  I have honestly never seen a print that dirty.  I sure wish that I had FilmGuard back then.  It was so dirty that we would actually get complaints about it on a constant basis.  That says a lot, because customers never really complain about that type of thing!  The other print wasn't quite dirty enough for customers to complain about.  PTR's lost that battle.  If your print is shedding or even a bit dirty to begin with, applying PTR's will do absolutely nothing except make it worse.  Even brand new prints fresh out of the can will get dirtier quicker used with PTR's than without, especially if you have abrasive projectors like I do.

But that's not all!  PTR's are at their stickiest when they are new.  Over time, the constant use and washing makes the sticky go away.  So in less than a year, PTR rollers are almost useless.  Hell, they're useless fresh out of the box, in my opinion!  And some projectors now have PTR rollers built in, like the Christie 35/70mm EPIC.  There is no way to go around the PTR rollers.  You have to install your own non-PTR rollers just to keep the film in acceptable condition.  To my knowledge, Christie does not offer a PTR-less version.  It should come with a 70mm media cleaner instead.

There's not really much more that I can say about PTR film cleaners, except that you are definitely better off without them.  They do not make life any easier or onscreen presentation any better.  It does not matter who the manufacturer of the PTR cleaner is, they are all equal.  Save your money and buy a media cleaner and some FilmGuard.  A media cleaner alone without FilmGuard is still better that PTR's, even though a standalone media cleaner isn't exactly "super effective" without FilmGuard either.  And no, FilmGuard cannot be used with PTR's.  You are wasting your time with PTR's.

Bottom Line:  PTR's suck!

-Joe Redifer
Kodak can be contacted at

Joe Redifer has been a projectionist for the last few years.  He learned at Mann Kipling, went on to the UA Greenwood and finally spent 2 years at Mann Chinese.  At the Chinese, Joe performed most of the daily maintenance on the equipment.  Joe is not a technician and has no test equipment, but is an experienced projectionist.  These reviews are representative of the performance of the equipment/services from his perspective.

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