Best practices

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The 21st century projectionist's guiding principle: every print borrowed for exhibition, regardless of gauge or source, should be handled with a maximum of care and a minimum of shortcuts.

...exactly what this means is a matter of debate, of course. Below we will try to collectively come up with some general best practices. Always follow any specific instructions provided by the lender. Unless you own the print, it's their property and should be returned in the same (or better!) condition as it arrived.

Do not destroy.jpg

Elements of Style

Before the show:

  • Make sure your film inspection surface is clean.
  • Have a thorough inspection procedure for assessing print condition.
  • Carefully inspect the countdown leader and the cues at the end of each reel to ensure that your changeovers go smoothly.
  • Have an inspection form to facilitate communication about print condition.
  • Cleaning the projectors and checking all parts (including reels) for damage and wear is a must.
  • Run test film to check frame and focus before the show, or run a test reel of the film (if possible).

During projection:

  • If possible, use 2000 ft. reels and a dual-projector changeover system. NEVER use platters or build archival prints onto reels larger than 2000ft.
  • If you're running small gauge film, do not have a changeover system, and have received permission from the archive to build onto larger reels, do not remove the heads and tails when you build the print. You'll have to close the dowser during the show as the heads and tails run through.
  • Never use automation systems or attach automation tape to prints.
  • Show the film in its proper aspect ratio using the appropriate lens and aperture plate.

After the show:

  • Wind the film with care, making sure the edges of the film are flush.
  • Secure the end of each reel with at least 6" of acid-free artist's tape.
  • When packing for shipping, be sure that the film is packed in material that will not harm the film (no packing peanuts!)

Practices to avoid

Recommended Equipment

  • Projector models
    • avoid lens turrets
  • splicer varieties
  • cleaning supplies
  • rewind benches

Equipment to avoid

External References