19th century inspiration



As I was imagining ways to move large amounts of motion picture film through continuous immersion baths I had a revelation. I would take giant, horizontal developing darkroom trays and flip them vertically to save 75-80% of the footprint. A horizontal tray becomes a vertical tank. Ingenious I thought! I was excitedly explaining this concept to a colleague, Dan Cordle, in the US. Within a few minutes of our conversation he sent me some photos of a film processing lab in France in the 1890s. They had usurped my idea, but a mere 125 years ago! Okay, so it seems I am re-inventing the wheel, or building a better mouse trap. But this concept allows me to fully immerse the film in a high concentration of salt water for long periods of time to perform the fixing process and thus be 100% nontoxic in the lab. It also opens up the possibility for stand development of the negative (also requiring long immersion times).

Another colleague, John Locke, here in the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema sent me a chapter from The Motion-Picture Cameraman, published in 1927. The chapter discusses aspects of developing the film negative. It offers other means of full immersion processing.  I am excited to be looking at ways to refine, improve upon, or mill pre-existing apparatus for the 21st century. Stay tuned!












21st century tanks
caffenol, wash, fix
rack for winding film, 400′ can for scale
dip and dunk processing
twelve litre tanks