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Meeting Follow-Up
Film Preservation News
Issues first brought up at the June '96 meeting

By John Gates

Just a follow-up to our New England SMPTE Section June 1996 meeting. One of the meeting topics that night dealt with our film heritage; preservation, storage, image transfer, etc. were all covered to some degree. Here’s some more information about film preservation.

AMIA
The Association Of Moving Image Archivists

AMIA has a membership of over 325 archivists in the United States and Canada. If you are interested in more information about this group, contact them at:

AMIA Secretariat
National Center For Film & Video Preservation
American Film Institute (AFI)
2021 N Western Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90027213-856-7636

Americal Cinematographer Special Report
Film Preservation

The June 1996 issue of the American Cinematographer magazine has two articles relating to film preservation, both written with the "lay person" in mind.

Film Preservation: A Practical Guide is the single best source of information about film preservation & storage that I have found in just six pages. If you don’t know anything about film preservation, this is a MUST READ article. You will find more information in a readable form here, than in any other place. The article also lists many related organizations, associations and businesses that deal with film preservation & storage.

The companion article Attack Of The Vinegar Syndrome is, despite the attempt at humor in the title, a very thorough (and serious) examination and explanation of many of the problems associated with deteriorating film stock during the storage process. Both nitrate film and cellulose triacetate (safety film) are covered in this article. (There is a similar article in the May 1992 SMPTE Journal.)

FPC, Inc. & The Reel Sentinel

This is a "Kodak subsidiary" that "provides the motion picture industry with a wide range of ancillary services, including certified destruction of obsolete print film". This subsidiary company's most significant public "face" is their PRO-TEK division that specializes in film inspection and film preservation storage at their facilities in Hollywood, CA, Mountain City, TN and Milan, Italy. Their quarterly publication The Reel Sentinel is full of film preservation news and can be received by contacting:

Mr. Richard Utley, Manager
PRO-TEK Film Preservation
1017 N Las Palmas Ave.,
Hollywood, CA 90038
(Tel) 213-468-4450
(Fax) 213-468-4486

The latest issue of The Reel Sentinel had several interesting items:

On The Internet: The AFI OnLine Cinema shows classic silent movies on the internet using "new technology developed by VDOnet that enables viewers to watch films without going through time-consuming downloading delays." Charlie Chaplin's 1926 classic The Rink was featured through February. Buster Keaton's 1921 film The Boat started on March 3rd and Harold Lloyd's High And Dizzy starts April 20th.

Another Digital Film Restoration: The 1928 "lost" film The Matinee Idol by multiple-academy-award-winning director Frank Capra became the 1st live-action feature to be completely restored with the aid of digital technology, according to FPC. The Disney animated feature Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs is acknowledged to be the 1st film totally restored by digital technology (in 1991). (You can read more about the Disney "Seven Dwarfs" restoration in the September 1993 issue of the American Cinematographer.)

Michael Friend (director of the A.M.P.A.S. film archive) and Grover Crisp (director of asset management at Sony Pictures) found and borrowed a "diacetate" print from the Cinematheque Francaise to make a duplicate negative and then a new interpositive. This new fine grain was then scanned into Sony's digital 1125-line format at Sony Pictures High Definition Center (Culver City, CA) where the restoration, using "manual" CGI techniques and/or "automatic" specially written software, took place in the "digital domain". Once the restoration was completed, the output, to a "successive exposure positive", used an "electron beam recorder, line doubled to 2250 lines". The print was then "step printed (every 3rd frame, the magenta record) on Eastman 5234 at Cinetech (Burbank, CA) to create a new black & white negative." This article also details their concerns and approach to maintaining the integrity of the original film and its original "look".

Film Archives Honor Video Engineer and Star Wars Contributor: The Anthology Film Archives recently honored six people for contributions to the "preservation of our film & video moving image heritage". Among those honored was a former Ampex Chief Engineer, Jim Wheeler "who invented slow motion and instant replay in video and who has authored technical standards for the care and preservation of videotape materials." Also honored was Richard Dayton of YCM Laboratories (Burbank, CA) for being "in the forefront of restoring film, most recently the Star Wars trilogy."

Film Preservation Symposium: A special one day symposium on Film Preservation is scheduled for Saturday, April 19th at Chapman University. Contact:

Ms Maureen Furniss
714-744-7018
furniss@chapman.edu
Chapman University School Of Film & Television
333 N Glassell St.
Orange, CA 92866

John Gates is a former SMPTE Governor and New England Section Chairman, who sometimes earns a living as a lighting director for film and television production. He can be reacned at: 508-651-7889, fax: 508-651-7889, liteguy@bu.edu.

Posted: April 1997
Bob Lamm, SMPTE/New England Newsletter/Web Page Editor
blamm@cync.com