Yes, it's been done before - you can develop motion picture film without
sending it to a lab. Will it be better for you? You'll have to find that out
yourself by reading further. I myself have processed movie film years ago,
before the web made it possible to learn about this subject. While I personally
haven't developed any movie film in a while, I want to share with you what
I've learned and make it easier for those who are interested in this intriguing
subject. If you want to help keep movie processing alive and growing, join
our Yahoo group (scroll down below) and share your experiences.
This information is all presented without any guarantee to accuracy or results,
and without any liability for the use/misuse of the information here. Be careful
with chemistry and hardware construction, take all possible safety precautions.
I apologize for the impromptu scrapbook type of page design, I hope it's navigatable.
Be sure to scroll to the very bottom for all the links. Enjoy!
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This is a group devoted to those who want to share
their movie processing experiences and learn more. You can upload
photographs of your processing equipment as well as construction plans.
You may not get email for a while, but if you drop a note someone
else might answer you sometime later and you can begin a discussion.
Do, however, read this page first, it will probably answer many if
not most of your questions!
from Kodak's publication H-7 (for developing black and white reversal/direct
IN GIF FORMAT
(c) Eastman Kodak Company
Many people have an idea, but
few have the original specs from Kodak on how to develop your own black and
white motion picture film. Here they are, no longer published or available
by Kodak (they used to send this out for free to those who'd request it via
mail) - so I am offering them to the internet community, painstakingly scanned
(OCR didn't take, sorry). You can also use these instructions to develop negative
film as reversal (as well as still film), best results are usually with slower
speed films like 7231 (it's recommended the film speed be rated higher by
one and one half a stop - you may have to test this).
Eastman Kodak is discontinuing all of its VNF-1/RVNP Ektachrome films
in all formats, first 7239 and 7240 in the summer (including the Super
8 Ektachrome), then 7250 and 7251 by the end of 2004.. It is introducing
Kodak Ektachrome 7285 in 16mm, a 100 asa Daylight balanced film, that
uses the very common E-6 process. It has already been available in 35mm
as 5285. No plans as of yet have been announced to introduce it in Super
8. Although this new color reversal emulsion is very modern, raw stock
expense is greater than with the older VNF-1/RVNP emulsions. For more
information check Kodak's website.
IMPORTANT NOTICE for those developing KODAK
BLACK AND WHITE REVERSAL FILMS (all formats)
As of October 1st, 2003 Eastman Kodak has introduced
two new black and white reversal films that are to replace the older
Plus-X 7276 and Tri-X 7278 films. They are to be called Plus-X 7265
and Tri-X 7266. Kodak reformulated these films to accomodate a new black
and white reversal process that uses a new environmentally safe bleach
and a higher energy developer. The new R-10 bleach does not use the
metallic compounds that the older R-9 used, therefore making it more
environmentally friendly and less costly to dispose of. The new developer/bleach
combination allows Plus-X film to be exposed at 100 ASA.
In addition, the new Plus-X features increased sensitivity
(100 ASA in daylight) at what Kodak terms aslight grain penalty,
while the new Tri-X features finer grain for its 200 ASA (daylight)
speed and lower contrast than its older brother, 7278.
Kodak claims full cross compatibility - the older films
can be developed using the new chemical formulas, and the new films
can be developed using the old classic formulas. However, it is important
to note that both the new and old Plus-X
films are to be exposed at 50 ASA (daylight) when being developed
in the old chemistry, and 100 ASA when developed in the
new chemistry. There is no change with the Tri-X films, as far
as I am aware from Kodak's information.
Most laboratories intend to switch to the new process
on October 1st, 2003. If you have Plus-X film that has been exposed
at 50 ASA, and have not processed it yet - either get it to a lab that
still uses the old process, or develop it yourself using the Kodak specifications
below or any of the other classic formulae on the net.
I have not tested these new films or process combinations,
nor do I currently have the new formulae (the Kodak D-94a developer
and the R-10 bleach) - but Kodak said that it would be releasing the
formulas around December of 2003 on their webpage. The processing information
I have on this webpage does not yet reflect the new process. Check the
Kodak webpage (cinematography section)
and the Kodak
FAQ on these two new films for more detailed information.
MORE MOVIE PROCESSING ON THE WEB
There is quite a lot of information already out there on the
web about developing movie film, below are links to various sites. One great
and reliable source of information has been Martin Baumgarten, a gentleman who
has been processing motion picture film commercially and as a hobby for many
years. Martin has written lots on the subject on the internet, and you can read
his postings archived on the Usenet if you do a search for "Martin Baumgarten"
on Google (look at the menu bar right below
the Google logo, and instead of "Web" select "Groups").
http://www.siltec.co.uk - a webpage
that has a good discussion of movie processing (leftmost column) and other
Processing (H-24) - Kodak's specs for movie processing, including for
color ECN-2 and RVNP/VNF-1 processing, also has information on B&W film.
This is all machine processing oriented, meant for laboratories that use continuous
Small Movies Hand Processing
- an unusual site primarily focused on the art of "hand processing",
but also with articles on rewind and other methods. Has a good description
of the four processes and even some do it yourself projects for making processing
equipment. However, note that the choice of materials - metal and wood -are
not appropriate for contact with chemistry. I'd use plexiglass or glass.
These pages are direct links to The
8mm Metadirectory - an excellent and comprehensive gathering of information
regarding not only the 8mm film format, but filmmaking in general.
These specific pages, mostly authored by a very helpful motion picture processing
guru, Martin Baumgarten (who also offers his own services for processing), are
a bit hard to find on the Metadirectory, so I've decided to paste them directly
here for instant access. They supercede any online info on movie processing
I've ever encountered. This information can be applied to any format you
are developing, not only Super 8:
ON REWIND MOVIE PROCESSING (INCLUDING COLOR)
by Martin Baumgarten from "Shooting
8mm", a terrific Super 8 site. The Morse/Arkay/Doran G-3 rewind tank
is probably the most easily obtainable processing device (Ebay
almost always features one). It is time consuming to use but it can develop
all widths of film (from 8mm to 35mm, including 9.5 mm for all you 9.5
enthusiasts), so long as they are no more than 100 feet in length.
ANI-MATO - A great do
it yourself webpage that has instructions on how to build your own densitometer
and other interesting projects, created by animator Jan-Eric Nyström
in Helsinki, Finland.
E-4 processing formula - the formula for a still process very close to
the ME-4 process used for certain discontinued Ektachrome motion picture films
(i.e. Ektachrome SM and EF films). Also used by some infared films.
I have for a long time thought of the concept that a limited dynamic
range could be cured by way of doing two separate passes to capture
highlights and shadows. As we have heard, there are such devices with
columnated CCD's that scan film effectively twice, once for each region.
The effect is an increase in captured dynamic range which bypasses a
devices' own limitations.
I have thought of a similar process for shooting off of a computer
monitor. Computer monitors have poor dynamic range, this is no secret.
This is one of the main reasons why kinescopes are inferior to laser
recorded output. However, they do have fairly decent resolution, over
1000 lines in many cases, and they are, compared to laser recorders,
Here is an image off of DV. Not like this example will help us improve
dynamic range, as this image doesn't have much range to speak of, but
it's just for illustration...
If we pointed a film camera at a CRT screen (eg. a computer monitor)
and exposed this image at exposure N onto film, we would get a middle
18% grey reproduced exactly.
However, we would only get black into the shadows to a certain point,
let's say 20 points RGB as an example. The last 20 points of the image
file are virtually the same as 0 points when the camera looks at the
monitor, as the monitor's phosphors are unproportionately dim or simply
Now, we want to first see if we can capture the shadows as best as
possible, so points 0 to 20 will register. So we take the image and
remove all values 128 points of RGB and up, and we get this image, which
displays every point from 0 to 127 RGB:
If we expose this image off the CRT at N, we will get the same output
that we would have if we photographed the entire frame at N, meaning
we wouldn't get any extra shadow information that we want - the monitor
is hiding that because any value below 20 won't adequately light up
any of its phosphors anymore.
So in order to accomplish this, we have to raise the base shadows for
the monitor can actually display the last missing 20 points properly,
and so the film will be able to record it. To accomplish this, we raise
the overall brightness of the image by 20 points. We get this:
But now we have a problem, because if we expose at exposure N, all
values that are at 127 points RGB (our 18% middle grey reference, in
photographic terms) are now shifted up to 147 points.
To keep our middle grey where we want it, we now have to underexpose
the image by N-X, to the point where 147 points will register at middle
grey. We still haven't lost the values below 20 points RGB, as film
has a greater dynamic range and can read the phosphors that are burning
that low without problems. We have now captured an extra 20 points of
dynamic range in the bottom part of our image!
Now, to capture the highlights we start by taking the original image
again. This time we remove all shadows, in other words anything lower
than 128 points of RGB becomes monitor black. Now we have this image,
which displays RGB points 128 to 255:
If we recorded this image at exposure N, our highlights would be too
bright, the monitor's phosphors would be at their brightest after a
certain amount of points, let's make the math even and say it's after
235 points (the same 20 point offset as with the shadows). To gain back
those extra 20 missing points at the high end, we have to dim down the
monitor's phosphors so they can resolve the extra 20 points of RGB correctly.
We make the image 20 points darker. In order for RGB 128 to perfectly
"meet" value 127 from the first exposure on film, we have
to also compensate our exposure by increasing it to N+X. We now make
the second exposure onto film.All the black regions on the two files
A and B are going to work as a matte, they prevent double exposure so
we can have a composite image made of two images that look like one.
The key trick here is getting levels 127 of exposure A and 128 of exposure
B to perfectly line up on film in a linear manner, which must be accomplished
through testing. This is also assuming the monitor is linear in its
toe and shoulder, and displays at a gamma of 1.0. If the monitor has
a non linear behavior then more complicated image manipulations may
be necessary, such as adjusting the file's curve.
Also, if we wanted to be picky, or if our tests suggest it as a good
idea, upon raising the brightness of the shadows image we could make
sure that all 0 levels stay at 0 and make only levels 1 and up are boosted
in brightness. This can be done in order to keep the black matte as
dark as possible, to prevent a small fogging exposure falling upon the
second exposure in case there are still phosphors dimly burning below
20 points RGB.
I have also thought of an automated way of doing this dual stage kinescoping.
A film camera is pointed at the CRT screen (16mm or 35mm, cameras like
a Bolex or Eyemo would be fine). The camera is hooked up to a computer
controlled intervalometer. Before the lens of the camera is a special
secondary butterfly circular shutter (just like the one in the camera),
with two openings of different sizes.
The first frame, for the shadows (A) comes onto the CRT. The intervalometer
is triggered to open the camera's internal shutter and to keep it open.
Then, the secondary, external shutter makes one half turn, making one
exposure onto the film at N-X. After the secondary shutter closes, the
intervalometer still keeps the camera's internal shutter open - the
frame does not move anywhere. Then frame B for the highlights comes
onto the CRT. The secondary shutter then makes another half turn, this
time exposing the film with its second opening which is calibrated at
N+X. The intervalometer then closes the camera's internal shutter, and
the film is advanced one frame.
The process repeats.
Registration is good as there is no chance of film movement in between
the two exposures - the shutter and film stay stationary thanks to the
This is an untested hypothesis. You are welcome to experiment and share
your results in the Movie Processing Group above if you so wish.
- George Selinsky
A GRAPHIC ILLUSTRATION
on your specific monitor, results might be different.
In A, one side of the rectangle is at 0
points RGB. The other is at 5 points. You can't tell the difference
However, when you brighten them by a certain
percent (in B), notice how they begin to become distinct.
In C, square one is 250 points RGB while
2 is at 255. It is almost impossible to tell them apart. When
you see them with the brightness lowered in D, you can see the
difference more clearly.