Preparing Films for Storage

The following guidance is provided for consideration. Implementing these procedures may require equipment and knowledge not available at your institution.

There is a potential to damage motion picture film each time it is played or wound, so unless appropriate expertise is available, it is safer to simply place the film in a protective storage canister without undertaking these steps.

If the expertise and equipment are available, rewind motion picture film onto 3” cores instead of projector reels.

  • Evaluate the film leaders, which are the clear strips attached at the head (beginning) or tail (ending) of the film, that facilitate threading through the projector.
  • Replace a dirty, damaged or short leader with a new acetate or polyester leader attached with archival film splicing tape. Provide enough leader to wrap around the reel several times.
  • Wind so that the film is emulsion facing the core.
  • Wind so that the film has a solid pack and doesn’t slip around. If the wind is too loose the film will rub against itself causing scratches.

Label the film leader using a pen that is waterproof, resistant to fading, non-acidic and meets Art and Creative Materials Institute (ACMI) non-toxicity standards Approved Product (AP) Seal.

  • Include the title and other information including if the film is the original, copy, positive, or negative. 
  • Label the leader “Head” or “Tail.”
  • Also label each film canister.

For additional information about preserving motion picture film, please visit Motion Picture Film Guidance.


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Motion Picture Film in Cold Storage

These properly labeled and housed films are located in a cold storage vault.