Periodic graphics: Chemistry at the movies | February 20, 2017 Issue - Vol. 95 Issue 8 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 95 Issue 8 | p. 24
Issue Date: February 20, 2017 | Web Date: February 14, 2017

Periodic graphics: Chemistry at the movies

Chemical educator and Compound Interest blogger Andy Brunning takes a gander at the molecules responsible for your cinematic experience
By Andy Brunning
Department: Science & Technology
Keywords: periodic graphics, science, neuroscience, Oscars, movies, popcorn, cellulose acetate, butanedione

To see more of Brunning’s work, go to To see all of C&EN’s Periodic Graphics, visit

This article has been translated into Spanish by and can be found here.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © American Chemical Society
David Gedymin (February 17, 2017 4:07 PM)
Thanks for sharing this, these are always great to read! I had no idea that people emit isoprene and its levels can be used to indicate stress. I wonder now, does watching a thriller among an audience enhance the intensity due to a sort of feedback from higher isoprene levels in the environment?
Fabrice (February 21, 2017 6:28 AM)
Well, I'm sorry to say that motion pictures aren't shot on film anymore. Since about 2010 the whole industry has shifted to digital. The complete chains of production and distribution (cameras, editing, VFX, sound recording/mixing and cinemas screenings) are now entirely digital. There are about 3 facilities left in the world to process 35mm or 70mm films (one in USA, one in Europe and one in Asia).
Hard drives containing the movies are now delivered to cinemas and downloaded to a computer. The image you the watch in a cinema is a 2K digital file.
Not as poetic as it used to be, but that's the way it is...

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