Recently I’ve been exploring developing film at home, specifically motion picture film since standard labs don’t support ECN-II development. I decided to write this how-to since there is no single page resource for ECN-II development and most of the information is scattered across multiple forum posts or different websites. Hopefully this will be of some help to new comers.
The method is cross processing ECN-II film with C-41 chemicals. I know there is a lot of talk about incorrect colours, incorrect contrast. Yes the contrast ratio will be different but the colours, to me at least, are very appealing.
Now I won’t be documenting how to mix your chemicals or what you’ll need for processing but if there are enough requests I may do a beginners tutorial for film development.
Additional item’s you’ll require:
- Baking Soda
- 1 Litre plastic jug with measurement markings.
- Very soft sponges. Usually the cheapest grocery store sponges are the softest.
- Kodak Photo-flo (Optional)
- Tetanal (or Jobo) C-41 Press Kit. You can find it here at B&H
Motion Picture film contains a special anti-static layer called Rem-Jet. This layer is a thick black layer on glossy side of the negative film which needs to be dissolved or scrapped off. The method documented below should help you safely remove the Rem-Jet without damaging your negatives.
Start by filling a sink, tub, or large pot with hot water to warm your chemicals up to 39C/102F. Place your bottles into the sink and put a thermometer into the developer bottle. While your chemicals are warming up go ahead and spool your film on the tank reel(s).
1.) At this point your chemicals are probably getting close to the optimal temperature, fill your tank with 39C water and let it sit for 1 1/2 minutes to warm up and then remove the water.
2.) Place 1 tablespoon of baking soda into 1 litre of warm water (35C -> 40C) using a plastic jug and pour into your tank. You will need to agitate roughly for the next 1 1/2 minutes. When you dump the water you will notice a pink/red tint or blackish tint depending on the film stock. Continue pouring more baking soda water and agitating until the water runs clear.
3.) After the baking soda rinse you’ll need to rinse the film with clean water for about 1 1/2 minutes. Go ahead and fill the tank with warm water and agitate gently to remove any remaining baking soda water.
The process from this point is the same as C-41 Development.
4.) Pour the warmed developer (39C/102F) into the tank and continuously agitate for the first 10 seconds then do 4 inversions every 30 seconds. Do this for 3 minutes and 30 seconds.
5.) Once you are done with the developer return the chemical to it’s bottle and pour the Blix in. Continuously agitate for the first 10 seconds then every 30 seconds for the next 6 minutes and 30 seconds. The Blix needs to be between 35C -> 40.5C (95F -> 105F).
6.) Return the Blix back to it’s bottle and rinse the film under warm water, 39C, for the next 3 minutes. Let the water pour directly into the tank, swirl it around and pour it out.
7.) Now it’s time for the stabilizer. I put 5ml of Kodak Photo-flo into the stabilizer to enhance the wetting agent and prevent streaks, stains, etc. Pour the stabilizer into the tank and agitate for 15 seconds. Let the film sit in the stabilizer for the next minute. While this is happening soak your sponge in water.
8.) Take your reel out of the tank and soak your sponge in the stabilizer. Do not discard the stabilizer solution. Un-spool your film, remove the sponge from the stabilizer and wrap the sponge around your negative, pulling the film through the sponge. You’ll start to notice the remaining black Rem-Jet leak right off the film and your images will start to be visible.
Squeeze the sponge and rinse it in warm water. Make sure you have removed all the Rem-Jet and place it back in the stabilizer. Wring out the sponge and wrap the clean side of the sponge around your negative running the film through to remove remaining water to prevent staining.
9.) Hang your film to dry and wait for approximately 2h before scanning.
Feel free to leave any comments or questions you have below.