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Subject: Cleaning motion picture film

Cleaning motion picture film

From: Salome Guggenheimer <sg>
Date: Sunday, April 29, 2007
David Pullen <david [at] lib__usf__edu> writes

>We have a large quantity of 16mm film, most of which is well into
>the vinegar stage of demise. We will soon be able to transfer to DVD
>inhouse, but, the film still needs to be cleaned. Most cleaners I've
>seen are either toxic or there is debate on whether it causes damage
>to the film. I have to say that the film will not be kept after
>digitization so cleaning is the priority. Any suggestions on a
>reliable product that's also non-toxic?

For large amount of films we use cleaning machines. As these
machines haven't got any sprockets, shrunken film can be cleaned and
speed can be adjusted. Different solvents are in use. You might
contact a film lab for tests on the efficiency of an equipment and
of the solvent (in terms of cleaning and of not damaging the film).
It is true that many cleaning substances for film are toxic:
precautions have to be taken (therefore it might be easier to use an
external lab).

If time and money are available, we do hand-cleaning, most often
with isopropanol (which is less efficient if applied in a cleaning
machine). You mention possible destruction of the 16mm films after
producing DVDs. We always advise archives to keep the originals.
Especially if the transfer to another base means a loss of
information and that a better transfer is possible in the future
(which would be the case with using DVD only, that comprises much
less information than the film itself and the data are compressed).
DVD is not an archival storage format as it has a very limited
lifetime. Storage of film material can also be achieved by an
external service (if you need more sophisticated equipment, e.g. to
freeze material very advanced in degradation). Helpful links:

    MIC (Moving Image Collections)

    FIAF (International Federation of Film Archives)

    AMIA (Association of Moving Image Archivists)
    They have a platform for questions as well as many other
    informations on archives in the US and around the world.

Salome Guggenheimer, Conservator Sarl
Film preservation
CH-Ecublens (VD)

                  Conservation DistList Instance 21:3
                  Distributed: Thursday, May 10, 2007
                        Message Id: cdl-21-3-005
Received on Sunday, 29 April, 2007

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