I do not know all of what went into film degradation research and the
late Ed H. Zwaneveld, a wonderful man from the Canadian Film Board who
was a pioneer in this who did know is long gone. I think John Schroth
may be better plugged into this space by virtue of geography AND his
dealing with visual media as well as audio media which I do not do
except for my personal collection.
Yes, one of the reasons to freeze NITRATE is to decrease the risk of
rapid combustion, but it is also to preserve it, I believe. Almost no
consumer motion picture or still films were on nitrate base and, with
certain impermeable packaging guidelines, Henry Wilhelm, I believe
recommends freezing film and prints. By film, I mean still film as well
as motion picture film, most of Wilhelm's research was with cellulose
acetate based films because, as I said, almost all the consumer film
sold was "safety film" which meant NOT nitrate.
The left column has a whole heap of stuff including a video with Bill
Gates about the Corbis collection (which I have yet to watch).
My friend, Sue Bigelow, wrote this report which is on Wilhelm's website:
Then there is the story of the late Sam Kula who was once president of
AMIA, if I recall correctly, and his involvement with the swimming pool
full of old films that had been dumped there when the pool was
decommissioned and filled in. Some were the only surviving print. Since
this was in Dawson City, Yukon Territories, Canada, they were from the
early part of the 20th century when Dawson City was a gold rush boom
town. The projection prints (which were most certainly nitrate in that
era) would go to Dawson City as their last stop because it was too
expensive to ship them back. So they were hoarded there and then dumped.
A decade and a half ago, they were uncovered, cleaned and discovered to
be a treasure trove.
As John said, there is need for understanding the parallel research that
has been done for film and how it applies to audio tape. I say audio
tape because, to the best of my knowledge, there were no acetate video
tapes as the moving heads shredded it. Later video tapes may be PEN
instead of PET or other more "exotic" (as in rare and possibly better)
It is too bad that the one research effort by Image Permanence Institute
into audio degradation was a bust, but like other research into sticky
shed syndrome, publishing it allows others to evaluate the work and move
on, so if some of these studies prevent people from burning through
limited funding repeating unrewarding avenues of exploration, then they
actually do serve a purpose. They also help build the walls around the
problems to exclude certain unrewarding potential technologies.
On 2015-03-01 2:12 PM, Tom Fine wrote:
> Hi Richard:
> Yes, I think the film research has concentrated on NITRATE, and I think
> the reason it's kept freezing is to keep it chemically stable so it
> doesn't combust, no?
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Richard L. Hess"
> <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Sunday, March 01, 2015 11:50 AM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Distressing data point for upcoming ARSC tape
> playback workshop
>> Hi, Tom,
>> I think the research has been completed for FILMS and that
>> below-freezing is good with no side effects that you say tape is
>> suffering from.
>> You do raise the interesting question that what may be good for
>> cellulose NITRATE is not necessarily good for cellulose ACETATE.
>> The point I was trying to make was that slightly cold and dry might be
>> worse than very cold and dry.
>> On 2015-03-01 11:20 AM, Tom Fine wrote:
>>> Hi Richard:
>>> I worry that below-freezing storage of acetate media may freeze-dry it
>>> out and make it so brittle that eventually it has no plasticity. If
>>> super-cold/super-dry storage staves off severe sticky-shed and it can be
>>> proven to really do that over time, then I would say it's the way to go
>>> on that quantity of polyester-backed tape prone to sticky-shed (I've
>>> heard estimates of 25-33% of tapes in vaults; I'd say it's probably
>>> closer to 25% given the long history of tape recording before polyester
>>> back-coated tapes, the fact that not all polyester back-coated tapes
>>> develop sticky-shed, and the fact that there is no consistent data
>>> showing that "post-sticky-shed" formulations didn't solve the problem,
>>> and tape was used for quite a while after the problem was said to be
>>> It may well be that sticky-shed tapes need to be stored in a special
>>> way, by themselves. Much like nitrate films (maybe even in the same
>>> vaults, because I think they both need the same storage conditions).
>>> Everything else should probably be stored in somewhat warmer, somewhat
>>> wetter conditions. But, we're all just speculating until there's more
>>> reliable science on this. I do speak from decades of experience owning
>>> and using old acetate tapes, however.
>>> -- Tom Fine
>> Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
>> Aurora, Ontario, Canada 647 479 2800
>> Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.
Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
Aurora, Ontario, Canada 647 479 2800
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.