Sparkle refers to small white spots on the positive image, usually due to tiny pieces of dust or dirt being present on the film negative (or internegative) from which the positive was made. Sparkle often occurs more frequently at the beginning or end of a reel of film.

Sparkle should not be confused with emulsion damage whereby the emulsion is flaking off and becoming detached from the film base. If in doubt, view the filmstrip under magnification.

Can it be fixed?

Sparkle can be reduced by cleaning the affected negative using an ultrasonic cleaner, particle transfer rollers, or even by hand-cleaning with a velvet cloth. Rewashing the negative will also help reduce sparkle.

If you are dealing with a positive film element for which the sparkle is printed-in, its appearance can be reduced or removed by using digital restoration software.


Sparkle in a shot of Chow Yun-Fat in John Woo’s The Killer (HK 1989):

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