When I posted a while ago about Kodak ceasing to make acetate film. I really wasn’t aware of what that meant, and I was asked in a comment what acetate film was actually used for anymore?
Simple Answer: ALL motion picture film is/was acetate film. And Kodak was the sole global manufacturer. So Movies can no longer be filmed as they once were.
Background: First introduced in 1909 as “safety film” because it was safe to keep at home, unlike the highly flammable nitrate base films (still used in Hollywood through the 1950’s). Safety film opened up the home movie market; and became the standard for still film cameras. Significant improvements continued through the 1930’s and 1940’s, with Hollywood beginning to move towards acetate motion picture films in the 1950’s.
Norway Fjord, 1998
If you ever used the old Seattle Film Work ENC-II film (example above), that was leftover film ends from motion picture canisters marketed to the public for 35mm film cameras. The original processing used motion picture film chemicals. However, in the 1990’s they switched to the cheaper E-6 processing. The result is that my 1980’s film looks as good as it did the day it was processed (almost as good as Kodachrome), and my 1990’s processed film looks like crap. So I eventually switched to E-6 professional films.
Polyester is the current film base, much more durable, but not used for motion pictures because unlike acetate films, it could not be spliced seamlessly for editing purposes.
I have not heard whether the movie industry is going to use polyester (for longevity and preservation), which could be scanned to digital for editing. I assume this may occur. However, if the final edited version IS NOT transferred back to film, then preservation of future motion pictures is in jeopardy.
The immediate effect is that by January 2014 motion pictures will only be distributed in digital format. No more reels. The problem is that digital projectors are very expensive and have lower resolution. So seeing it on a ‘big screen’ won’t be as meaningful, and Film festivals and independent movie theaters have to find the thousands of dollars necessary to purchase the new projectors by this deadline. It may put some of them out of business.
So that’s what the end of Acetate Film means................
P.S. Sunday's Overseas Returns Next Week........I finally found my Norway and Africa Slides!