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Top tips on Storing Cine Reels

How to store cine reels has never been such an important question. Cine reels don’t last forever. Whether they are 8mm cine films or 16mmm cine films, they degrade in a number of ways that can cause their footage to become completely unwatchable, effectively causing you to lose precious video footage.

However, there are some ways that you can maximise the lifespan of your cine reels by creating the ideal environment to store them in. While this won’t stop them from deteriorating completely, you can slow down the process and keep your cine reels useable for as long as possible by storing cine reels correctly.

How Do Cine Reels Degrade?

Cine reels degrade over time due to several factors. Light and sunlight can break down the chemicals that coat the film, which causes the picture to fade and become transparent. This will often cause the picture to be lost for good.

Vinegar Syndrome

Vinegar syndrome is also a common cause of losing your cine footage. This is caused by a chemical reaction in the cellulose triacetate film. The base layer of the film degrades when the acetate ions react with moisture. This causes it to decompose and give off a free acetic acid, which is released inside the film base and diffuses to the surface. It produces a vinegar smell, hence the name, and the syndrome is devastating to cine film. It causes it to become brittle and warped as the base shrinks, and even a 1% shrinkage can often cause the footage to become unusable.

Aside from causing vinegar syndrome, moisture in general is terrible news for cine reels. Water damage can cause mould, fungi and mildew, causing damage to the emulsion of the film, resulting in spots and streaks on the images. Mould eats away at the image as it produces enzymes on the surface of the film.

Finally, the simple process of ageing will cause cine reels to become brittle, leading to breakage and tearing, which will show up as specks when the film is viewed on a projector.

Ideal Storage Conditions

Most people tend to store their cine reels in the likes of attics and garages, which very seldom offer the ideal storage conditions to prevent deterioration. Here’s how you can keep those cine reels in the best conditions:

Don’t play the films on a projector. This can accelerate their deterioration.
The ideal humidity for cine reels is between 20 to 30%. So keep them dry to prevent all the issues that excessive moisture can cause. Airtight containers might seem like a good idea, but these can actually accelerate vinegar syndrome. Vented reel cases can allow air to pass in and out, but the air needs to be filtered to protect the film from dust. A permeable cardboard enclosure allows for air movement but also filters out dust particles. Sunlight is very bad for cine reels, so never expose them to direct sunlight.
A good rule of thumb is to keep the reels cool and dry. So you can see why keep your 8mm cine film reels in places like attics and garages are not ideal, as these rooms are often exposed to fluctuating temperatures and humidity.

Cine Film – How Long Does Cine Film Last?

Whether they are 16mm cine film rolls or 8mm cine film reels, it’s quite difficult to know precisely how long will cine film will last. With optimal storage conditions as listed above, you can expect that they could last for many decades. However, most people will not be equipped to ensure that their storage is always kept at the correct temperature and humidity, so you will likely be unable to completely prevent deterioration. And even if you do have optimal storage conditions for your 8mm cine reels, you can still expect deterioration to eventually occur.

Cine Reel to DVD – Preserving Your Cine Reels

Fortunately, there is something you can do to prevent losing your cine footage entirely. You can save that video footage by carrying out a cine film to DVD conversion with Supaphoto Ltd.

We are experts in cine reel conversion. When you preserve your footage on a DVD or MP4 file, you get the reassurance that your original footage has a more reliable backup. We will perform the conversion for you and then send you your DVD along with your original cine reels, so you can still have them and use them should you want to.

However, if one day you break out the projector and find that your 3 cine film reels are now unwatchable or completely deteriorated, you can rest assured that your 8mm cine reel footage isn’t lost for good and that it’s still available in a more reliable format for you to enjoy and share for years to come.

Make sure you hold onto that precious footage with a DVD conversion today. They make great gifts to loved ones and will allow you to share those memories with friends and family more easily. Contact Supaphoto today to find out more about our cine conversions.