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How to Treat Water Damaged Cine Film

Water damage can have a pretty catastrophic effect on cine film. However, it’s not always the case that water damage will result in ruin and, with some specialist care and attention, it is sometimes possible for your film to be repaired and restored.

Signs that your cine film has been damaged by water

  • Slimy Film – You will notice that the edges of the film have begun to dissolve and become slimy or slippery to the touch.
  • Mould – bacteria or spores in water can severely damage film, causing mould to grow across the film.
  • Threads on the film – If you notice thin threads appearing through the film then it’s a sign of damage to the emulsion’s adhesion to the base and should be taken to a technician as soon as possible.
  • Grey Soup – The film has taken on a greyish gloopy, slimy appearance. This is a sign the film is severely damaged and decomposed from water.

For the best chance of saving a water damaged cine film, one should try to follow some simple procedures.

Store the damaged film in water

It might sound an odd thing to say but one of the best chances of rescuing your water damaged cine film is to keep it stored in water.


If you let a wet film dry out naturally in the air, you’re in great danger of the emulsion on the film sticking to the base layer which can cause what’s known as BLOCKING, which will further damage the film when it’s unwound and potentially make the situation irretrievable.


Keep the film cool

A major factor in the chances of saving a film that’s been damaged by water is the temperature at which the film has been kept.

The warmer the environment in which you store the film the LESS time you will have before the film goes beyond repair. Keeping the film cool gives you a greater window of opportunity to repair the damage.

Get the film to a specialist as quickly as possible

Your best chance of saving the water damaged cine film is to get it to a specialist as quickly as you possibly can.

If you have followed the procedures above and then get the film to a specialist, they will have the correct equipment to properly dry and clean the film.

Unfortunately there are no guarantees that a film can be saved but this is the best chance that you will have. So if you are in this situation act fast and get your films attended to immediately that way you can save those precious films.

Get in contact to find out how we can help you rescue your water damaged cine film.