Talking Stone Film

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– [Instructor] In this
demonstration, I’m going to show you how to roll film onto a processing reel. I’m going to use a steel processing reel. And this is a 35mm processing reel. It’s the kind of reel
you use 35mm film on. In this case, black and white film. I’m not here to endorse
particular products, but this reel is a Hewes brand reel. H-e-w-e-s. And I do find that Hewes reels
are much easier to roll on than less expensive products. The metal, the gauge of the metal is wider and it just has a better anchoring system. So that’s what I’ll be using. So first we need to open our film. Keep in mind that everything
I’m doing in this demonstration you will do in absolute darkness, either in a completely
darkroom with no safe light or using a changing bag
or something like that. So to pry open the film cassette, you want to take the lid
off on the flat side, not on the side with this
spool sticking through. I’m going to use a can opener
with two little prongs on it. And you can use a regular
can opener too, if you want. And I’m just going to pry off. It’s harder to pry off
than they normally are, I don’t know why. Once you have the cap off,
put the can opener aside and then slide the film with its interior spool out of the cassette, the
shell of the cassette, and discard that. So now, again in the dark, you need to cut the leader off the film, so I usually lay my left index
finger along the back side and it’s a way to guide the scissors. And I try to use smaller
scissors, like children’s scissors if I’m using a changing
bag, because it helps me make sure I’m not going to cut the bag. So I can lie that across my
finger and cut a straight line, which will help me roll. Now I usually check this with my finger to see if I’ve cut through
any of the sprocket holes. And if there’s kind of
a jagged edge there, I’ll take another cut until I have a nice, smooth edge like that. All right, now I’m going
to pick up the reel. And the reel is one coil of metal or two coils of metal for both sides. And when you roll it onto the reel, what this does is it prevents
the film from touching itself in anyway and it
allows all the chemistry, the liquid chemistry to flow through and evenly develop your film. So it’s very important to get
it onto the reel properly. So I hold my film in my right hand and the reel in my left hand. And I have the coil coming off
towards the reel on the film and I have the coil of the reel
coming off towards the film. Not like that, they can’t
be going the same way. They have to be going towards each other when they’re at the top. So doesn’t mean I’m always
going to have it at the top, but when it comes to the top, that’s the position I want it to be in. Now, if you can see in here, there are two little teeth right there and there, or more like fangs really, so they’re sticking out there and there. That’s important to note
when you’re getting ready to roll a film. So what I do is I hold the film, or hold the reel in such a way that I put my thumb in this space right above and behind those two fangs. So I’m going to end up putting
the film into this space, this nice, big space. But it’s dark, so I won’t
be able to see that, so I put my thumb there and
that’s how I hold the reel. Now, I have to pull out
a little bit of film and bend it in just slightly, so
that it can reach inside here. Now, if you don’t hold on
enough, you can’t get it in. And if you hold out too
much, that’s what happens. So you have to find just the sweet spot of how much film to extend. So in the dark, I’ve got
my thumb in that space and now, I insert the film
in and I can knock the film into my thumb and I can feel that, so I know I’m in the right space. So when I have it right
in the right space, touching my thumb, then
I slowly remove my thumb and use my thumb to help guide
the film into that big space. Now, the next step is critical. I want to pull the film
down at a sharp angle, so that the fangs or the teeth engage two sprocket holes. Hopefully you can see that there. And that’s going to anchor it evenly. Now, usually, I’ll set the reel
down, but before I do that, I like to do my first couple of turns with the film angling very far down. So it’s going up into the reel like this. Not like this, but like this. So I’ll gently roll the reel like that. Okay, so once I get started
and everything’s going okay, I’m going to keep a gentle
bow here to guide the film into the reel and I’m going
to keep my finger and my thumb close to the reel. I’m not going to be over here,
because that’s going to make it a problem. So I’m just going to stay
right there and I’m going to let the action of rolling the reel take the film up. And all the time I’m
doing this, I’m listening and it should be a nice,
smooth kind of shushing noise. If I hear a pop or a crackle or something, or if I feel what seems
to be the film jutting off to the side, then I know
I have made a mistake and I can back up past that point and gently try to lay it down again. So there’s no hurry. You really kind of want
to get into a zen state when you do this, sort of,
you know, be in a peaceful state of mind. If you get anxious about
it, you’ll find that you’re more likely to damage the film. And then, once you’ve damage
the film, it’s very hard to roll onto the reel. So it’s going nice like this. And then, there’s a
couple ways where you can, couple of ways for you to confirm whether you’re doing it right. One happens about midway through. You’re midway through – if you do this, there should be some play. It should move like that a little bit as you go back and forth. If there’s not, it means that
the film is bound up somewhere on the steel reel and it won’t move. If it doesn’t move at all,
there’s probably a problem and you should back up. Then you continue going. Once you get into a groove,
it doesn’t take long at all. The next confirmation you
have that you’ve done it right is that a roll of 36 exposure film, a roll of 36 exposure film
should take up whole reel. I’m working with a roll
of 24 exposure film, so I expect it to end right around here. But if it ends here, and
you’re rolling 36 exposures, you have a problem, because
it’s doubled up somewhere. So a 24 exposure roll can stop here. 36 should be on the end. One more check when you’re done is to run your hands across
both sides of the reel. And if there’s a problem,
you normally will feel a peak of film sticking
out, like a high point. And there’s nothing like that here. So once you have it rolled, in the dark, you just want to cut close to the spool and then, just lay that tail down like so. Then of course, you want to put
it into your processing tank and you want to put your
processing lid and cap on there and seal it, so it’s light-safe. Now, once you’ve sacrificed a roll of film in order to practice this,
you can always take it off and reuse it as a practice film, because you really don’t want
to jump into processing film until you’re confident that
you can roll the film properly. And that means that you
can do it several times without any mistakes. So practice in the light and then, dim the lights and practice, and then, turn the lights off completely and continue to practice
and you should be okay. All right, thanks very much.

3 thoughts on “How to Roll 35mm Film onto a Steel Processing Reel

  1. At 1:46 I said "Right index finger" when I meant to say "Left index finger". Apologies for the confusion. – Paul M.

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