Academy Boosts Film Preservation with Film-to-Film Initiative

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by Anne Thompson & Sophia Savage
May 7, 2012 4:55 PM
1 Comment
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Until recently, the mass production of film stock required for theatrical exhibition made this resource widely available and affordable for preservation work. However, as the industry continues its rapid transition to digital technology, film prints and the film stock required to create them are becoming increasingly scarce. The Academy’s Film-to-Film project is intended to take advantage of the remaining availability of celluloid stock to preserve a diverse slate of important works on film. At the same time, the initiative also ensures that high quality film elements will exist for easier, more cost-effective digitization in the future.

"Film-to-Film represents an extraordinary commitment to preserving our film heritage on film, but it’s also a part of our digital future," noted Academy Film Archive director Mike Pogorzelski. "Once the industry has resolved the challenges still posed by digital preservation, including the lack of standard file formats and continuous technology migration, we will be able to scan these films without relying on brittle, fragile, or deteriorated elements."

Between 1992 and the launch of the Film-to-Film project, the Academy Film Archive had preserved approximately 1,000 titles. Under Film-to-Film initiative, which began in 2011, the Archive has preserved or acquired about 300 more, including feature films, documentaries, experimental works, shorts and the home movies of Hollywood luminaries. A number of the initiative’s preservation projects are being conducted in partnership with other institutions, including the UCLA Film &Television Archive and the British Film Institute, as well as other archives in countries including Hungary, Norway, Sweden and Japan.

Dedicated to the preservation, restoration, documentation, exhibition and study of motion pictures, the Academy Film Archive is home to one of the most diverse and extensive motion picture collections in the world, including the personal collections of such filmmakers as Alfred Hitchcock, Cecil B. DeMille, George Stevens, Fred Zinnemann, Sam Peckinpah and Jim Jarmusch.

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1 Comment

  • Brian | May 7, 2012 5:20 PMReply

    When I ask techies how they're gonna preserve works made or distributed on digital formats when those formats change every few years, they say, "It's easy, just keep backing it up." Yeah, right. Who's gonna be in charge of that? Who's gonna make the decisions of what gets backed up and what doesn't? Who's gonna REMEMBER to back everything up? And in the case of another inevitable format war, which format? The end result is that much of the visual documentation of the 21st century will be lost to future historians.

    1000 years from now (or much sooner, I imagine), when our descendants dig through the rubble to explore the history of their ancestors, they'll be able to pick up cans of film, look at the images on 35mm and 16mm film, inspect the squiggly lines on one side and the sprocket holes on the other and figure out how to reverse-engineer a film projector with sound. When they look at tape (rolls of ribbon?), discs (beer coasters?), graphics cards (guitar picks?) and computer hard drives (???), they won't know what the hell those things were.

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