scratch that

March 12th, 2012

Film is both sturdy and incredibly delicate.  One wrong move can ruin a film forever.  The biggest mistakes most often happen in projection.  Like vampires, film projectors often destroy the ones they love.

The image above, seen through a loupe,  is from a 16mm print that was most probably projected from or onto a bent metal reel that had a burr on it.  This print of The Great John L. (USA, 1945) is from the Howard E. Burr Collection.  (This is also the kind of scratching you can get from running a film on a platter incorrectly, but those of you projecting at home probably won’t have to worry about that.)

The image above, from another print of the same film, shows damage that can be done inside the projector gate.  There is a short white line through the man’s head in this Gone With the Wind – style shot.  This is where the emulsion has been abraded, probably by something stuck to the gate.

The arrows point to another emulsion scratch.  This could easily have been made by a dirty roller in the projector.

Always clean your projector prior to showing your movie!  Here are some tips on projector cleaning from Bob Brodsky.

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