Processing Motion Picture Film at Vandenberg AFB in 1971-72
The Processing Lab
The large Houston-Fearless ME-4 processing machines cast an impressive sight at first glance and required a great deal of technical know-how in their maintenance and operation. The dark end allowed only a barely perceptible glow of low grade red light, so one had to adjust between the brightness of the light end of the machine and the relative dimness of the dark. I often had the task to clean the machines and learned how to make their stainless steel exteriors gleam with a bit of hand polishing along their long and intricate architectural edges.
The photographer wanted an action shot of an Airman working at the light end getting ready to cut the film at the appropriate moment, a series of steps to assure that each spool of film was handled properly and that the machine would continue to run without having to shut down. There was only a brief moment of time allowed to photograph this event and then the final result handed to me some time later. I was an Airman First Class at the time on my way to becoming a Sergeant. Later I would be transferred to the Editorial Section where I would work as an Artist/ Illustrator doing charts & graphs, designing creative projects and learning some of the basics of lettering and film animation.