Finding Transparencies In Bulk, Cheap
February 5, 2008 7:55 AM   Subscribe

Help me find LOTS of transparencies. The office-supply, overhead-projector type (or maybe not). Cheap.

I've been trying my hand at hand-drawn animation, and my improvised home setup has been working great-- except for one thing.

The transparencies (like these) that I use to draw animation frames work really well, but even at "discount" prices at online stores, the cost is starting to add up (traditional animation requires tons of individual sheets of transparency).

I've tried the usual routes searching online: Googling for transparencies in bulk, eBay, Craigslist, etc., with only minimal success. So I turn now to you, AskMeFites, for the innovation and tacit knowledge that has helped me so much in the past. I need lots of see-through sheets. Like thousands. As cheaply as possible.

Requirements/Qualifications:
1) I need thin, non-wrinkling, see-through material of some kind that a drawing instrument can draw on. Yes, I've tried tracing paper, and it doesn't work with my setup. It doesn't have to be high-grade material; just very, um, transparent, and able to be cut down to size if necessary.

2) Speaking of size-- the sheets don't have to be uniformly sized, or even the same shape. I have the means to cut sheets off a roll, or cut big pieces into small ones, fairly quickly (I have time; money, not so much). As long as the sheets are big enough for my camera area and the holes I punch in them to fit on my pegs (in this case, about 5"x6"), I'm good.

FWIW, I'm not making pristine, Disney-esque painted cels-- I'm doing quick "penciling" on the transparencies and scanning them for further work in Photoshop.

3) Assume that going a different route with my media/methods (e.g., "Why are you doing animation that way? Why don't you just...") is not a useful solution in my case.

4) The cheaper, the better. Bonus points for free solutions!
posted by Rykey to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hit your yellow pages and look for companies which lease/sell/service wide format inkjet printers. You should be able to pickup a roll of transparent polyester film for under $100. I know $100 seems like a lot, but that's probably for a 36"x100' roll. (Too bad you're in Madison and not Minneapolis -- we generate an amazing amount of scrap, 4-mil clear film from doing digital color keys.)
posted by nathan_teske at 8:13 AM on February 5, 2008


Laminating film, perhaps?
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:16 AM on February 5, 2008


You used to be able to buy these in any office supply store to photocopy your prsesentations onto. Staples has 'em in Canada but the cheapest ones are out of stock. But they list 100 letter sized sheets for $10.
posted by GuyZero at 8:18 AM on February 5, 2008


Real animation studios mostly just washed and re-used the cels. Any reason you can't do likewise?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:23 AM on February 5, 2008


Contact animation studios in your region or elsewhere. I'm sure they have unused boxes of cels lying around since most animation studios are now doing digital ink & paint. If you're lucky you might be able to pick them up for a low fee, since they just take up space. (I myself have only one box left and want to keep it just in case I ever need it in the future).
posted by maremare at 8:31 AM on February 5, 2008


Thanks for the replies so far.

You used to be able to buy these in any office supply store to photocopy your prsesentations onto. Staples has 'em in Canada but the cheapest ones are out of stock. But they list 100 letter sized sheets for $10.
I should have been more clear, sorry-- I have already scouted the local office-supply retail stores.

Real animation studios mostly just washed and re-used the cels. Any reason you can't do likewise?
I plan to do this, but I only have a few hundred "cels" now. Having a few thousand would give me a lot more breathing room project-to-project.
posted by Rykey at 8:34 AM on February 5, 2008


Since you don't mind cutting the plastic, you could try Clearbags.com.
You can get virtually any size, and each bag would turn into 2 sheets of transparency.

Cost is around 6-7 cents per envelope for the size you need.
posted by whoda at 8:35 AM on February 5, 2008


If you get a job in an office...
posted by loiseau at 8:43 AM on February 5, 2008


The mechanical engineering department at the University I attend has a spring cleaning every summer. Because more and more profs are making the transition to computer-based lecture slides, there are always a bunch of transparencies collected and put in the "free to take" pile during cleaning. Sometimes they're a little used, but they are perfectly good. Maybe you could put out a request on cragslist, or contact a local high-school or a large department at a local college or university and ask for their old transparencies.
posted by Eringatang at 8:54 AM on February 5, 2008


I meant spring cleaning every, well, spring.
posted by Eringatang at 8:54 AM on February 5, 2008


I meant spring cleaning every, well, spring.

No, summer is about the right time for university departments to get around to spring cleaning ;)

posted by Rykey at 9:06 AM on February 5, 2008


Googling for roll transparent mylar got me here: they're offering 50' rolls at $7.80 per; you have to buy 4; that's a lot better deal than $10 for a box of 100 sheets but of course you'd have to cut them yourself. I use transparencies for art projects occasionally (I don't need the kind of quantities you do, though, and I've just been buying them at Office Depot where the price does add up fast) so I'll be watching this question with interest.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:07 AM on February 5, 2008


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