Shooting Cinema Film By Mark Ewanchuk

Shooting Cinema Film

By Mark Ewanchuk

Hi Brandon and Steve–I hope this email finds you well!

Inspired by prior posts from Brett Price and others, I decided to attempt to shoot and process cinema film. I have included five recent images, but this is more of a “how-to” for those so inclined.

More details may be found on my site at http://iftimestoodstill.net/developing-cinema-film/

The two main questions that I had getting started were:
How do I get the film off the 400+ ft roll, and into my bulk-loader?
How do I remove the Remjet with minimal mess and difficulty?
One of your readers (Thanks, Dominic!) http://blog.wakingmist.com/?p=1481 was most helpful in addressing some of these concerns.
I have since acquired large rolls of Kodak Vision3 500T, and Vision2 200T–of the two, I must say I prefer the 200T for it’s slightly finer grain structure.

As far as Question #1 goes: Into your standard changing bag, you will require:

Your bulk roll of cinema film (Take the sealing tape off the film tin, but don’t open it yet!!)
Your bulk loader
Some scissors
Some cellophane tape
An empty inner spool or roll, which will fit easily into your bulk loader. I used the plastic roll from a standard film canister–I had to drill out the core to ensure that it would slide freely onto the post of my bulk loader.
White cotton gloves (from eBay!) to avoid marking the film.
Once all above in the bag, open the film tin, then the inner bag, and find the end of the film reel. Next, (using a small piece of cellophane tape…) tape the leader to the inner reel you’ve set aside. Start rolling the film tightly onto the reel, ensuring that the inner surface (the emulsion side) stays IN. This will likely take you ~10 min to transfer ~50 feet of film, and make the roll approximately the same size as your bulk loader. When finished, cut the film, and load into your bulk loader in the usual fashion. Don’t forget to re-package and seal the bulk roll into the tin!!

The next part, you know how to do: Load your film into canisters, and shoot away!

As far as development goes, standard home C-41 works fine (I use the Tetanal kits)–but you need to get the Remjet off first. (Thanks again to Dominic for the tip!) I use 2 litres of SUPER HOT water, to which 2 tablespoons of standard, garden variety (well, home variety, I guess…) Baking Soda has been added. This step must be done before your standard pre-soak. Two litres should give you about six washes. The water will start black, turn to pinkish-grey, and should be clear by the final wash.

Process according to your standard method, then stop after your final wash (and before your stabilizer). Remove the film from the development canister and hang–wipe once with a soft sponge as carefully described on my site. Re-thread the roll, and run through the stabilizer…Surfactant and distilled water to finish up, and you’re all done!

Yes, it’s a lot of effort…but I really do enjoy the results.

😉

The film has a unique character, and really affords you some creative latitude. Thanks to all who have contributed to this ongoing odyssey.

Best regards,
Mark

PS: If anyone wants a roll or two, shoot me a line…I’m sure we can work something out!

200T-SH-1

200T-SH-2

200T-SH-3

200T-SH-4

200T-SH-5

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53 Comments

  1. Thanks a bunch! I just bought 400ft of 500T after reading this and will start out processing it. Have some experience with Black & White though and lots of analog gear waiting for the film 🙂 Even a wet lab to load the bulk film in red light (hope that works).

  2. Are there any cine labs around that will process this stuff at a reasonable rate for small rolls?

    • Hi Andrew,

      I am not aware of any–a contact of mine in California had two rolls of ECN-2 that he was trying to get processed, and was unable to do so.

      The “Cinestill” brand comes pre-cleaned, and thus only needs standard C-41 chemistry. However; it does come at quite a price premium…

      All the best,
      M.

    • Thanks Ibraar, I appreciate your comments. There is definitely a green bias to these–this film is definitely not for everyday use, but certainly has a unique character.

      All the best,
      M.

  3. I am so glad you posted this – mainly because I tried to revisit your site after viewing it once. I didn’t bookmark it and could not for the life of me remember the URL. You’d think the browser’s history would help but for some reason it didn’t. Maybe I viewed it on the iPhone. Anyway, I wanted to use your site as an example of how different film and digital can look (M9 shots are way, way different to Fuji 200 shots).

    Movie film is great stuff – particularly 5219 (500T) because it has a one stop advantage over Portra 400 if you need high speed film without pushing. CineStill is too expensive for everyday use, IMO. But despite that, I’m not sure it’s a good buy because the Remjet is removed before packaging, which means you get halation.

    Your shots here are very nice indeed, especially the first one. Beautiful tonality and feel.

    There is obvious graininess in these shots and I think your scanner could be the culprit. Cinematographers are happy to shoot Vision3 stocks at their rated speeds, which implies that the shadows are well looked after. So I am not sure that overexposing is going to help too much.

    Maybe a one-shot scanner (e.g. Sony A7 with a backlight and super-sharp lens) would be better? I have a cheap, one-shot scanner, which is just a box with a tiny sensor,a backlight and a touch screen. The files are brittle if viewed at large sizes (a characteristic of a tiny sensor) but otherwise they actually look much nicer than scans from dedicated scanners.

    Or maybe because 5213 is tungsten balanced, you’re starving the red layer of light. I assume you did not use a correction filter? I’d love your thoughts on these issues.

    I’d love it if you gave 5203 a try (50D). Maybe next time!

    • Thanks for your time and comments Karim!

      This particular series with scanned quickly, and manually adjusted with the Pakon F135–they are not overly high resolution files. I have recently taken to using a daylight filter with this film, but these were shot without one. There is certainly slightly more grain than I expected, but I attributed this to the film’s age, and the occasional need to push it a stop or two in development or post-processing. The other factor is the fact that I often save these films for when my chemicals are becoming exhausted, so as not to extensively contaminate them.

      I will now definitely have to keep my eye out for some 50D!

      All the best,
      Mark

  4. Thanks Tom–Interesting situation you’re in there.

    I myself like the VSCO Classic Film Pack #2, but the look is quite different than the color profile obtained here.

    All the best,
    M.

  5. These are really nice!! Lovely colors! Can this be developed at spot that does normal old C-41 processing? Or are there extra steps involved in the home brew? I’d love to get a roll, tried finding contact info on your site. But no luck. Either way, i love these =o]

    • Hi Larry,

      No–this cannot be developed at a normal lab (they will be VERY cross at you, as it will ruin their chemicals…) without first removing the Remjet backing. There is a company that does it first (and charges an arm-and-a-leg for the film!) Try searching for Cinestill film.

      I’ll put a contact link up on my site, but if you post a comment I’ll have your email address to get in touch with you.

      All the best,
      M.

  6. Looks great! How hot is “SUPER HOT”? I’d be afraid of reticulation if it’s too extreme. Your results look great though, so you’re definitely doing something right. 😉 Thanks for sharing?

      • 🙂

        Thanks Wolfy. You raise an excellent point, and are quite correct about the risk of reticulation–I haven’t seen a huge degree of it, but I do find there is some subtle alteration in the grain structure of the film.

        The biggest factor, I have discovered, is now quickly the film changes temperature–therefore I am careful not to go from “cold-to-hot” (and back again…) without gradually changing the temperature of the washes. Therefore, I will do a “pre-pre-wash” with slightly cooler water before dumping in the HOT Remjet rinse. I will then use a slightly cooler rinse before dropping all the way to my 102 degree developer. (Does that even make sense?)

        Anyway, this process seems to keep the reticulation under control.

        All the best,
        M.

        • Thanks Mark. Yes, I think I follow. Do you have a ballpark temp you use for the HOT remjet rinse? 1. Pre-Remjet Rinse (cooler than Remjet rinse but hotter than 102F degrees dev temp), 2. HOT Remjet Rinse, 3. Post Remjet Rinse (again cooler than Remjet Rinse temp), 4. Pre-Dev Rinse, 5. Dev at 102F etc…

    • I almost forgot to add, if you like low grain, get your hands on some Kodak 50D. You’re going to really love that one.

      One tip after cleaning the remjet. Don’t go through the hassle of respooling. Just put your stabilizer in a shallow tub or bucket, then dunk your film in the bath. Hang to dry. 🙂

      Love your images!

      • Thanks Romeo!

        I’ve got some Borax hanging around here, so I’ll have to give it a try–I’ve often thought about mixing some in with the soda…

        Thanks also for the tip on the stabilizer; I knew there had to be an easier way!

        All the best,
        M.

  7. Beautiful colours and shots. Legally we can no longer develop colour film where I am from – sure you can shoot it, but we have to send our rolls into a sanctioned development centre as the chemicals are no longer available to the general public 🙁 Thankfully we can still shoot and develop B&W.
    For somebody who would like to get a similar look in digital (and I want to avoid a Film VS Digital debate 🙂 ) can anybody recommend a profile from VSCO, DXO Filmpack, Exposure etc… that may give a relatively similar look ?

    Thanks.

    • It would be possible to get a profile for night and day if one generous mate could shot images with the film and at the same time with a digital camera in raw.
      I can’t because I’ve almost the same problem as you, I don’t have a lab that could handle this film and I think customs don’t let the chemicals needed to do it at home. FWIW I didn’t see it in the free profiles from DxO filmpack.
      BTW I love the colors from the last photograph.

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