FilmGuard by Film-Tech is designed as a film cleaning and lubricating system. Hell, if you're reading this site, chances are that you are at least familiar with what this product is. That's because the guy who runs this site also developed FilmGuard himself (I forget his name -- not too important anyway). Actually his name is Brad Miller, who has spent the last 10 years developing, testing and perfecting FilmGuard. Where were you 10 years ago? That's quite a long time. FilmGuard has now been available for sale for a few months. I am here to review FilmGuard and its supposed "results". Let's see if this stuff lives up.
Each 1 quart bottle of FilmGuard comes with a sprayer and three patented EZ-2-Drop rewinder cores. And yes, you WILL drop them! At least occasionally. These special cores are not only specifically designed to be dropped, but the have notched edges to permit rewinding of the media used with FilmGuard. You see, using a standard Kelmar media cleaner, you soak up some pads with FilmGuard, run your show, and rewind the same pads back to the beginning and run the film again! You typically repeat this process every show for a week before new pads are installed and soaked with FilmGuard. The pads can get dirty, but don't be fooled! The print WILL NOT be scratched and the pads will still clean. Of course, do not attempt this with dry media pads! Speaking of rewinding the media pads, Film-Tech states that the action of resetting the cleaner for the next show takes about 15 seconds or so typically. 15 seconds? I don't know what kind of superman Brad Miller is, but there is no way that the cleaner can be entirely reset in 15 seconds! From the time you take off both caps, loosen the thumbscrews, rewind the pads with the EZ-2-Drop rewinder core (without dropping it), retighten the thumbscrews and replace the caps, at least 35 to 40 seconds has usually passed. Still a small price to pay. It would be easier and quicker if Film-Tech sold a special rewinder core with a small crank on it.
Each week you must load media from the cores that they come on to the special notched EZ-2-Drop rewinder cores. This is easy to do but can be time consuming if you have tons upon tons of media cleaners. If only Kelmar and Filcro could offer their media on notched cores to begin with, then that would make it a lot less time consuming. There are rumors floating about that the suppliers might offer media pads already presoaked with FilmGuard, so it is obvious that the big wigs are taking notice of this product. This is good.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "Why doesn't Joe just tell me how well this product works? I am not reading this review for his opinions on how fast the media can be rewound! That bastard! I think I'll mailbomb him or something! He must pay for wasting my time!" Ok so maybe that's a little extreme. But in a word, FilmGuard is INCREDIBLE! Since I have been using it, I have nearly forgotten what dirt onscreen even looks like. It simply doesn't exist at my theatre anymore. Typically I have been running FilmGuard on each new print for one week each before moving the cleaners to the next weeks new shows. This alone improves picture quality and shedding over the life of the print at least 1000%. Ideally you would want to run FilmGuard on each print every show for its entire stay at your theatre, and this is the best way to acheive optimum results from FilmGuard. This stuff also brings out the colors in the picture like you wouldn't believe over time. It just gets better and better! The worst presentation of any given film will be the first day that you have it, brand new out of the cans. It significantly adds to the life of any print. It will also protects the Dolby Digital and SDDS tracks on any print, as now it is protected and cannot be "scratched away" by abrasive projectors over time. The error rate stays low and the digital does not drop out.
FilmGuard improves the projectionists life as well, as he or she will no longer have to deal with hideous amounts of shedding after each and every show. Only a quick wipe (if you're really anal) will restore the inside of the projector to "band new" cleaniness. No more static to deal with, as FilmGuard actually makes the film wet, static is neutralized. If FilmGuard is removed from a print, static can come back, but never to the point where it is a problem. FilmGuard has been known to make prints that have recieved water damage from a leaky roof completely runable. FilmGuard has been known to help out the effects of vinegar syndrome, though full testing on this has not yet been performed. FilmGuard makes the projectors run quieter, since it goes through smoother and easier. It will also help image stability. I can really attest for that one. FilmGuard can improve focus and registration. FilmGuard can make base scratches go away. Unfortunately, Cheerios do not stay crunchy in FilmGuard.
But what if your theatre doesn't have any media cleaners? First, you should go buy them! Second, if you can't get the money men to spring for some, you can still use FilmGuard on your prints. By spraying some FilmGuard onto a thick paper towel or cloth, you can wipe the edges of the print while it is laying on the platter (then of course, take up the next show "upside down" and wipe that side) to virtually eliminate static and shedding. Now this practice isn't quite as effective as the full blown media cleaner method, but hey who wouldn't love to be rid of static and shedding? Granted, that won't do much for cleaning the image area, but if the static and shedding is stopped, your presentation will improve dramatically just from that alone!
So if FilmGuard is so great, then why does it get and 'A' and not an 'A+'? Is it the EZ-2-Drop rewinder cores? No. Is it the Cheerios thing? No... well maybe partially. When FilmGuard is first applied to a print or the pads are resoaked with the stuff, you will notice vertical streaking on bright scenes being projected onscreen. It looks as if the film is wet (probably because it is, I'm betting). These streaks usually last one or two shows at the most before they go away by themselves. To be honest, the streaking is not actually that distracting, but it is recommended that you prescreen each print with FilmGuard before a paying audience sees it. And resoak the pads on a day of the week when your theatre is dead. This is the only negative that I can really come up with about FilmGuard. It does more good than you know. Every booth should use FilmGuard. It should be required. Get some now. And stock up on media cleaners!
Bottom Line: FilmGuard may save the world someday. Be a part of the FilmGuard revolution!
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