PSLC - The Macroplex Cinema

Polymers in Film Production
If you want to know what polymers are used in the process of making a movie, you've come to the right place. But be warned. You'll also learn a lot about how films are made before it's all over. Some of the sections get pretty in-depth, but we have a lot of nice pictures to help get the point across. So have fun, and write us with your questions.
What is film made of?
Film production begins with MOTION PICTURE FILM. This stuff comes in a variety of sizes and speeds. The film pictured here is 16mm color film. The darker film in the picture has been processed and printed. The lighter brown-looking film is unprocessed negative. You might notice that it looks a lot like the film you would put in your 35mm camera before taking snapshots. It's essentiallay the same thing. The darker shiney side is the amber-colored base material that we all get back from the drug store as negatives, and the lighter, duller side is the emulsion that actually registers the image that is left on the negatives.

Motion picture negative for use in shooting the "camera original" is made from
cellulose acetate, one of the earliest synthetic polymers produced from wood or cotton fibers. It was first produced by the Eastman company in the early part of the Twentieth Century when it was found that the flamable tendencies of the early cellulose nitrate films made them very hazardous to the health of theater patrons and amateur film makers.

Black bags to protect unprocessed negative 400 foot rolls of 16 mm film come shipped in securely taped metal cans. This does pretty well to protect the unexposed film inside, but, just in case of accidents, the film is packed in black bags made of high density polyethylene. Despite this safety feature, the very best place to open a can of film is in a darkroom or in a change bag. The change bag is double layered black material with two zippers. It holds the can of film and a camera magazine, so that the film can be opened and loaded in the dark on locations where there are no darkrooms around - like in the middle of the Sahara desert, the deck of an aircraft carrier, or Antarctica in the summer time. The bag has arm holes for the camera assistant so that the bag can be completely closed to light during loading. And Loading in the bag instead of in a darkroom also goes more quickly becasue the camera assistant is not disoriented by total darkness.

Blach change bag The bag in this picture includes the ingredients for successful loading - a can of film, a magazine, and scissors to trim the film end. The bag is made of nylon with an inner cloth lining that is coated with rubber, and we are pretty sure that there is some polyisoprene rubber and polyester in those elastic armholes.



Special thanks to the University of Southern Mississippi Department of Radio, Television, and Film for the opportunity to get all the pictures on these pages and to Gregory Brust for aiding in the idetification of all these polymers.