The First Step in Film Restoration

So you've just uncovered an archival master element to one of your favorite films, you are so excited and can't wait to get to the nearest telecine so you can transfer the film and get it re-stored. There are so many wonderful film labs spread out across the United States, but chances are that you will still have to ship your elements to the lab. Wether you are using the regular mail or private carrier, there are several steps that you must take to insure that your film elements arrive at the lab, safe and sound. I can't stress this enough. The following is the right way to do it:

STEP 1: Open the tins and makes sure that the reels are wound tight and are secured with tape or string. Then use clean plastic, paper, bubble wrap, etc. and gently stuff the gap between the film and the tins, all around the outside border( this will keep film movement and rubbing to a minimum).


STEP 2:  Then place the the film elements into a box that is of similar size to the film reels( just a drop bigger). Proceed to stuff the empty spaces around the film reels with newspaper, bubble wrap or the equivalent. Make sure the reels are tight and there is no empty space, as you want to create padding all around the film. Once the films is secure, proceed to pack the box with several layers of heavy duty tape and then make sure the box is labeled properly, with the name of the film, type of element, and ownership information, just like the picture below.


STEP 3:  Take the box from Step 2 and place it into another box that is just a drop larger. Proceed to follow the simlilar actions in Step 2, and pack the empty area around the first box with newspaper or bubble wrap and create yet another level of padding. This outside box acts as a barrier to protect the elements from accidental water damage and damage from improper handling, which is so common in everyday shipping. It is also important to keep in mind that by taking the time to properly pack your films, you will also make it much easier for the lab technician or colorist to simply place the reels back into the boxes and tape them for return shipment.



STEP 4: Do this to all of your films that need to go to the lab and then you are ready to ship. Make sure your film lab is aware that you are shipping your elements and provide them with the tracking numbers. Follow these simple steps and your film elements will survive any shipping conditions, except natural disasters!!