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Lightweight Film Stocks

Published : 2nd July 2004


I recently proposed this question to a certain manufacturer, but since everyone in Rochester was stumped, I'm throwing it at you folks....

I'm trying to reduce the physical mass of 400ft 35mm film loads.

Ideally, is there such a thing as "thin base" film??? I don't require durability for high speed film transport, ramps or frequent handling, and yes, the idea of shaving the perfs off one side has crossed my mind. Ounces count and every little bit is a huge gain in performance for the end result.

I'm workin' for free on this one, so any thoughts would be helpful.

Patrick "I should have kept my cushy office job" Thompson
Key Grip, Toronto



"I'm trying to reduce the physical mass of 400ft 35mm film loads"

I wonder if the first step is to reduce the weight of the cores somehow (lighter material?). If every ounce counts, there are probably a few to be shaved off there.

Eh, what do I know?

David Obuchowski
Brooklyn, NY



>the idea of shaving the perfs off one side has crossed my mind.

You're drinking more strong coffee than I am, and that's not good...

Polyester is it, but JP went through this with Kodak I believe - as I understand the A-minima could take a poly (Estar in Kodak branding) negative. But I don't think he was able to convince them.

Sam Wells



Not entirely flippantly, the question made me think :

Shoot at 12fps and optical print later to 24 = 50% lighter…

Or…Shoot single frame and reshoot dissolving at 24s to make a saving of...can't work it out, but means 1/24 lighter. i.e. 400ft. becomes 400x16/24 = ?


Or ... Dare I suggest ... Is Super 16mm a possibility?

Dr. David Woods
HOLCUS Ltd.
16 John Street
Kingston Square
Hull
HU2 8DH
UK



Shoot 3 perf ? You'd have a collection of 100' ends, but...

Curious as to what this project is.

Sam Wells



> Dare I suggest ... Is Super 16mm a possibility?

That sounds like the answer to me, though, not knowing details of the project it's hard to say. If you read the recent thread about mounting cameras on race cars there is some sound advice on using 16mm. Bear in mind that 16mm can look incredible with new stocks, telecines, etc.

Again, not knowing the details, a B&W stock like Ilford is thinner and lighter.

So what is this project?

Best,

Anders Uhl
Cinematographer
ICG, New York



Kodak has made a few camera films (e.g., SO-579) on thinner ESTAR (polyester) base, mostly for use in instrumentation cameras and for special applications (e.g. 65mm VISION Color Negative Film used to shoot some IMAX movies in outer space).

Kodak has coated other films on even thinner ESTAR base, but as you go down in thickness, you significantly reduce the stiffness of the film. Curl becomes a significant issue with really thin base materials, and holding the film flat in the camera or printer gate can be problematic. Likewise, if the film is processed in existing processing machines designed and optimised for thicker films, care is needed not to stretch the film, or have it cup into the undercut process machine rollers.

Here is some information about the physical properties of film base :

http://www.kodak.com/US/en/motion/support/h1/base.shtml

John Pytlak
EI Customer Technical Services
Research Labs, Building 69
Eastman Kodak Company
Rochester, New York 14650-1922 USA
website: http://www.kodak.com/go/motion



Patrick Thompson writes :

>I'm trying to reduce the physical mass of 400ft 35mm film loads. Ideally, >is there such a thing as "thin base" film???

I'm assuming this is your winch driven cable or rope travel rig previously described and that you are looking to reduce the mass of the camera package that you need to move with the rig, rather than a transportation problem of getting the stuff to a remote location.

What kind of camera/lens are you planning to use?

Brian Heller
IA 600 DP



Mr Heller,

The lightweight film inquiry is unrelated to the camera rig you mentioned.

Regards

Patrick Thompson



Patrick Thompson writes:

>The lightweight film inquiry is unrelated to the camera rig you >mentioned.

I have worked with some of the thin films that John Pytlak describes. These were wider in formats much wider than 35 mm. The cameras were especially designed to work with these films. Some of the cameras had air/vacuum film positioning systems to deal with the curl, etc. Estar is not a lot of fun to handle when it's cold.

Brian Heller
IA 600 DP



Thanks for the info Brian.

I've spoken to some engineers at Contax regarding the active film transport vacuum employed on some of the stills cameras they make, you could be on to something.

Special thanks to John P Pytlak at Kodak for pointing me in the right direction, when few others did.

To the mystery guest who fed-ex'd that spool of 1/2 perf 5218..... you are a god!!

Many Thanks,

Patrick Thompson
Key Grip, Toronto



>To the mystery guest who fed-ex'd that spool of 1/2 perf 5218..... you are >a god!!

How much weight was saved?

John Babl
Miami