Nitrate v Safety

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by David Lyga, Apr 10, 2017.

  1. lantau

    lantau Subscriber

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    In the 90s as a student I had a friend, who was manager of the local cinema. I was often visiting there behind the scene and occasionally helped carrying those 5000ft (IIRC) reels to the projectors.

    Anyway, once he took me to another older cinema. They still had a lot of the old equipment there, including a projector with the old electric arc lamp, using a carbon anode that had to be continuously adjusted for the length loss through burn. Manually of course. It also had a read head for 'magnetic sound'. Prints with magnetic sound hadn't been made for a long time then. Too expensive, but higher fidelity than the optical version. So my friend was hoping to 'inherit' that beast from the boss.

    So about burning rolls of film. There was an old solid wooden storage cabinet. Each film roll (probably 1000ft?) would go into its own slot with lid. The wood was probably treated and the whole thing made sure that a fire wouldn't ignite any rolls in storage. So you'd never have 1000m of film in one place. While I mentioned the modern 5000ft rell back then they didn't glue (can't be bothered to find the right term, right now) together the individual rolls but used two projectors to run them sequentially and fade over. And if the operator didn't pay attention the screen would go white! :D

    The projected film was running through a kind of fire trap (probably two metal plates sandwiching the film, or similar). So if the film were to be ignited by the heat of the lamp, because of an accidental stoppage, the combustion would stop right there. Just cut the burned section, glue the ends together and continue.
     
  2. AgX

    AgX Member

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    I know about that trap and above I hinted at means to keep a fire inside the booth, but nevertheless nitrate-base film got prohibited.
    And at least here in Germany projecting such film would even be a crime, covered by two different laws.
     
  3. lantau

    lantau Subscriber

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    No argument there. I just pointed out how they managed to survive prior to 1957 and that they were (hopefully) careful not to to have too much ordnance out in the open at any one time. That cinema was deep in the Allgäu btw.
     
  4. oldtimermetoo

    oldtimermetoo Subscriber

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    I think the term you were looking for to "glue" movie/cine film together is "splice" done to your home movies with a splicer and an acetone base fluid. In projection booths, they probably used an electric splicer that melted the ends into each other. I am told that two projectors are still being used in most theaters tho the "change-over" is probably automated. When I was much younger we would watch for the signals that told the projectionists that it was almost time to make a change-over. That is why the projection rooms had several windows, some for the projectors to project through and some for the projectionists to look through for change-overs and focusing........Regards!
     
  5. AgX

    AgX Member

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    How is the legal situation in the rest of the world?
     
  6. Doc W

    Doc W Subscriber

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    Kino, I find your response really interesting. The first real job I had as an adult was working in the National Archives in Canada and at one point, I was only handling nitrate film. I didn't know anything about the legend of nitrate (other than how dangerous it could be), but I did notice a real difference in the actual prints as I ran them through a viewing machine (I think it was a Steenbeck). I don't know if nitrate prints are any better than modern prints, but the nitrate did seem to have a kind of glow to it, particularly in films which had a lot of contrast and particularly bright areas.
     
  7. Kino

    Kino Subscriber

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    Doc,
    It's very hard to generalize about 50 years of film, so I do not doubt your observations.
    I have seen *some* incredible nitrate prints we could never match and some of that might have to do with the base thickness or a special tint/tone that affected the base, but I can only speculate. All the reasons why films look the way they do over 100+ years will probably never be totally understood before they disappear.

    Thanks,
    Frank
     
  8. Doc W

    Doc W Subscriber

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    Frank, I agree. I think that my observations raise more questions than provide answers. It would make an interesting study for some aspiring graduate student in Film Studies.
     
  9. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Like the glow it gives when burning?
     
  10. lantau

    lantau Subscriber

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    Ahh, thanks for the hint. I should have remembered that. After all I had heard that before.

    In my friends cinema the splicing was done with a clear adhesive tape. At least it was one made for specifically that purpose. The ends were clipped and then placed end on end onto a block with a 35mm track and a lid. The adhesive tape applied and the lid closed. Then once more on the other side of the film. This memory isn't really that fresh, so don't hold me to the fine details, please.
     
  11. AgX

    AgX Member

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    The classic mean of splicing is solvent cementing.

    With the PET-based films that does not work, thus adhesive tape was used that also yielded the benefit of being reversal.

    A alternative is welding PET-based film.
     
  12. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Electric splicer heated the film so the solvent dried faster after it was applied.