The Alchemist in Hollywood
This historic 1940's film originates from the Internet
Archive, and is available there as a two part video. Since
it complements the Kodak
1958 documentary on "How film is made" so well,
and since it is in the Public Domain according to the Creative
Commons license, I decided to add them to my website, and in addition
merge the separate parts into a single Flash video for more comfortable
The documentary was sponsored by the American Chemical
Society and shows the lab-processing of motion picture film and
gives insight into the actual chemical processes involved in exposure,
development and fixing of film. All of these processes are equally
valid for normal photographic still film, so just as informative
for analog photographers as it is for film makers. You will see
some truely amazing scenes, for example the already in the 1940's
outdated method of manual development "by inspection"
by simply lifting a rack of developing film from the developer
and judging the ongoing process, while the "modern"
plant shows "train station clock" sized automatic indicators
on a wall covering an entire room... And for example the "timer"
gentleman, picking out the right exposure time for each scene
for the conversion from negative to positive film by comparing
test strips of film wearing a complete suit, and the automation
based on tape punches... or the ending phrase about the "philosopher's
stone". How much more in the 1940's could you be? However,
there is a lot to learn, especially the small "chemistry
experiments" that demonstrate the function of (components
of) developer and fixer are really informative. Enjoy!
If you want to know more about (motion picture) film,
I can strongly recommend you to read the Kodak document "The
Essential Reference Guide for Filmmakers". This is a
very good introductory guide to film. The document is available
as PDF and can be downloaded.
References from the Internet Archive
This film is part of the collection: Prelinger Archives
Producer: Atkinson (Ralph B.) & Solow (Sidney Paul)
Sponsor: American Chemical Society
Creative Commons license: Public
If you want to access the original sources of the
film on the Internet Archive, you can find part 1 here
and part 2 here.
code that needed to generate the movie player to view
the film, failed. Sorry.
There can be two reasons for this:
- First: check if you have Adobe's
Flash Player 9 or higher installed, because that
is the minimum required version of Flash Player needed
to play the film.
- Second: This may be due to incorrect
browser. Reset the security settings of your browser
to the default values and try again.