I have a direct animation project I want to do using super 8mm film, but I'm struggling to find the right kind of film. I am wondering if I can buy some super 8mm film, leave it in bleach so it removes the pictures -- will that leave it clear?

Has anyone done something similar to get blank film?

  • 1
    So you are looking draw directly on the film? You want to bleach it, in theory, because then you can draw on it and have a white background?
    – Matt
    May 24, 2016 at 10:19
  • yes that sounds right. I may scratch in the emulsion as well. I just want to make sure I remembered how do do this properly. May 24, 2016 at 15:22

2 Answers 2


No, the gray and black light-sensitive chemicals are embedded on the film media and won't simply wash off or "turn clear" in bleach.

What you are trying to do is known as Draw-on-film animation, but I've also seen it referred to as cameraless animation, clear leader animation, marker animation, scratch film, and direct animation. I enjoyed trying this in my early experimental-film days. It was a lot of fun and you can create some interesting experimental media projects using various techniques.

Draw-on-Film Animation Media

Typically you start with clear film leader (comes in acetate, polyester/mylar) where you essentially draw or paint your animation frame by frame. Folks also scratch animated pieces into black exposed film and (optionally) add color later. Folks have even added hand-drawn animation over traditional black & white films, so if you have some footage available to you, that's an intriguing option.

Here are some examples and techniques to help get you started:

  • Yes, this is how many of the early cinematic masterpieces from filmmakers like Melies were colored... they'd add pigments to the developed film. Very time consuming but a beautiful outcome.
    – Catija
    May 24, 2016 at 18:22

Yes you can, dilute ordinary household bleach 1:10 with water, works a treat, I've done it loads of times.

  • Upvoted to offset the unexplained downvote. Accepted answer is wrong about film structure and I believe you when you say you have actually done it! You might want to flesh out your answer a little... do you need to wipe the emulsion off the base? etc... cheers!
    – rebusB
    Mar 11, 2019 at 23:45

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