Anti-halation backing

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An anti-halation backing is a layer found in most photographic films. It is usually a coating on the back of the film base, but sometimes it is incorporated between the light-sensitive emulsion and the base. The light that passes through the emulsion is absorbed by the anti-halation layer. This prevents any light from being reflected back through the emulsion from the rear surface of the base, or from anything behind the film, such as the pressure plate of the camera, and causing a halo-like effect around bright points or edges in the image.

This effect is particularly pronounced in motion picture cameras. These cameras are subject to the constant motion of film being dragged through the film gate, so most motion picture cameras have film movements made or plated with wear-resistant alloys such as hard chrome. Given such a relatively reflective pressure plate behind the film, many motion picture films use an anti-halation (and anti-static) backing.

Still cameras, which handle less film and thus contend with less wear, typically hold their film in the gate with components painted or treated to be black, so reflections are less of an issue and few still films made use of anti-halation backings.[citation needed] The notable exception was Kodak's Kodachrome which incorporated such a backing to aid with a very sensitive innermost layer.

The anti-halation layer is rendered transparent or washed out during processing of the film, for example, the K-14 process for Kodachrome still film and the ECN2 process for color motion picture film both have steps which remove this layer.

The lack of an anti-halation layer in Kodak's High Speed Infrared film (HIE) (HIE) is the cause of the ethereal "glowing" effect often associated with infrared photography,[1] rather than an artifact of IR itself.