Print-through (film)


Print-through is an image that occurs on film in the negative/positive process.

All film stocks, well nearly all, have information about the manufacturer printed in the margins. When the camera original negative is copied, the whole width of the film is copied including the stock information. The subsequent copy will have its own stock markings plus a copy of the camera originals. The copy is called print-through.

The print-through will be white on black/grey and be reversed in comparison to the duping material’s own stock markings. The print-through will also be less sharp or slightly fuzzy. As you may surmise, print-through can occur through several generations of copying, making the margins a veritable melee of information. In these cases it may be difficult to decide which are the stock markings of the film you see in front of you. In these cases try to find the most sharp or clearest of them all that is black, these are the ones you seek.

Print-through can occur on reversal materials. The density, or sharpness of the marking cannot be depended upon. The density of the markings vary marking greatly, and it is possible for a dense mark on one film to be copied onto raw stock which may only have a faint marking. Certainly it can be very difficult, or impossible to sort out. If a sequence of markings changes at a change of scene (with no physical join), it does not belong to the film in hand. One cannot assume the reverse, that an unbroken series of markings across a change of scene belongs to the copy in hand.