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Keeping an old 35mm film in your drawer? - Don´t!

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Presentation on theme: "Keeping an old 35mm film in your drawer? - Don´t!"— Presentation transcript:

1 Keeping an old 35mm film in your drawer? - Don´t!
How to document, preserve and store your moving image heritage Lasse Nilsson, SVT/Tevearkivet The reason for that rather draconic heading of my presentation I will return to soon and probably you may find it less drastic when we are finished today...

2 Outline of Presentation
SVT organization, archives, film & video collections Film: gauge, base, formats and history Storage, handling and preservation; something about video Documenting moving images: the problem of several levels; creating a catalogue, indexing, preserving information, rights, database and software Ladies & Gentlemen, Colleagues... First of all, I would like to thank you all for coming here today, giving me the opportunity to share experience in the fields of film- and video documentation, preservation and storage. To begin with I will try to give you an outline of what of I´m going to elaborate on. Maybe it will give you a chance to prepare your questions already now on beforehand; SVT organization and its audiovisual archives Film: Formats, their history and future; Handling and preservation; Storage Video (in a little more summarized format): Formats and their history and future; Handling and preservation; Storage Documenting moving images: Several levels; Creating a catalogue, Indexing, Preserving Information, Rights, Database and Software That´s about what we should need to talk about and also have several days at our disposal. We haven´t today, but you are lucky – my colleagues will give you more input on these topics even if they start from other media like stills and sound recordings ...

3 A few words about myself as a ”starter” then...
I have a Degree in Litterature and Sociology and in Librarianship. Since more than 30 yrs i have been working with the SVT as Archive Editor, with Archive Management and as Producer. Today I´m working as Project Manager in the field of Film Preservation and Film Migration. I may be of a certain interest here to know that I have also been working with International Audiovisual Archiving Organizations such as the FIAT/IFTA and the BAAC for almost 20 yrs. So I can say without exaggerating that I´ve seen a lot of different audiovisual archives all over the world from inside. Before I came here today I tried to recollect my personal links to the Baltic countries before I ended up in this exchange of know-how in the audivisual archiving business and I realized how close connected we are on many levels – both in history and everyday life. I have lived most of my life in Tullinge, part of the southwestern Stockholm suburbia. The largest industry there in the 50:ies and early 60:ies was the Separator foundry – today known as Alfa Laval – employing skilled metal workers from all over post-war Europe. I have always had class-mates and neighbours with Baltic family names. The best friend of my mothers origins from one of the Estonian islands, and so on. And about the history we have in common, not to forget the domination of the Baltic area by the 16-17th century Swedish Empire.

4 SVT`s organization and archives
Since 1925 Since 1978 NEWS To give you some background, the company I´m working with since the mid 70:ies, the Sveriges Television (SVT) was founded in 1925 as Sveriges Radio. From the beginning it has been a public service company, then privately owned by the press and NGO`s. Today it is controlled by an independant foundation to guarantee non-state influence on the programming. Though some state influence is maintained through a special broadcast charter and it is also the parliament that is deciding on the funding through the level of the lisence fee. The official start of the Swedish Television was made in 1956, still within the Radio corporation. In 1978 the company was reorganized in separate companies: one each for television, national radio, regional radio and the educational radion and television. Today we are formed in three independant companies, owned and controlled by the foundation. The archiving activities of course started together with the first broadcasting activities, but the official formation of a televison archive with standards and policies set was made in 1958. Today we have gathered about 51 million meters of film and magnetic sound. Our video collection, which we are now migrating to digital files contains more than hours of programming. Add to that the programming of recent years of several hundreds of terabytes as digital files. Adding it up to our digital archives it now already holds several Peta bytes of content. (One pByte = 15 zeros!

5 Film Film Film Film Film 1896
The history of the celluloid film begins And the earliest item in the SVT film collections is from 1896, which is also the earliest preserved Swedish film at all. It is a short fictional scuffle at Djurgården, filmed by the legendary early filmmaker Max Skladanowsky. The reason we hold considerable collections of pre-television material is that SVT acquired major Swedish commercial shortfilm and newsreel archives some years ago to serve as stock shots/raw material for future television programming. That also meant we had to put in enourmos efforts for documentation and preservation to make it useful and accessible. Most of the material was on nitrate film and had to be copied to safety film before it perished. In all, it is one of the greatest efforts in cultural heritage preservation in the last 50 years in Sweden. That also means we hold a lot of material of interest to the Baltic countries, since these news reels often was a result of an exchange of film material between producers of different countries. Filmclip: The King Gustaf V of Sweden visit to Tallin and Riga in the summer 1929. When it comes to later years we have covered both the way to liberation of the Baltic states and the actual liberation process quite thoroughly. Both with a frequent series of programmes during the last years of Soviet occupation, called ”Neighbouring country”, covering all kinds of social life (often produced by soviet-baltic TV) to a close news coverage of the period – and especially afterwards - during the reconstruction of democracy in the Baltic states. Filmclips: Rapport (News) Soviet troups in Vilnius, | Bingo Baltic (Post-Soviet Culture in Latvia), 1996

6 Film gauge ... That was a glimpse of what we have on the shelves at SVT. Now to what you have in your collections and how we can share our knowledge with you on how to take care of it... What do you actually keep in your archives? To analyse that the easiest way is to start with gauge. What you come across will probably be one of these three to the right on my slide – 35 mm: thats where the film history started and believe it or not - still is in use as an important movie industri format and probably it also is the main format of pre-television archive films - color negative - b/w print with optical sound Already in the early 20:ies the b/w 16 mm film was introduced, mainly for the amateur market. It was rather soon (mid 30:ies) to be followed by the Eastman Kodak revolutionary invention of the Kodachrome color reversal film. - reversal film - color print film The main amateur format though the 8 mm became from the early 30:ies. From the beginning it was an 16 mm film that was run through the camera twice – after turning the spool. The exposed film was then split by the laboratory into two 8 mm film strips. The format was later developed to Super8 mm, using more of the filmsurface for the actual frame. On the road in the beginning there was several other odd formats like the 9,5 mm film with center sprocket holes. It was rather sucessful in Europe as an amateur format during the 20:ies and 30:ies and it is not unlikely that you will come across it in old private collections. The main format in TV-production was from the very beginning 16 mm.

7 Film base Nitrate Acetate Polyester
Magnetic tapes (Acetate or Polyester) Before we arrive at the preservation and storage issues it´s necessary to straighten out a few thing about film bases, what are they made of and how they do react to ”time” – if you in the latter include both the actual storage time, environmental and tear-and-wear impact as well as well as chemical degradation. The original filmbase was made of Nitrate Cellulose. When people hear the word ”Nitrate Film” they react as if it would explode in their hands without a warning. I doesn´t, taking to normal precautions in handling it. But when it ignites, it burns explosively – even under water - and develops intensive heat. How do I recognize it? Firstly, it wasn´t manufactured after 1952 , secondly it doesn´t come in other formats than 35 mm. Make a simple burning test from a small piece. If it ignites easily like gunpowder it´s nitrate. How can I tell when it is getting dangerous? By the sharp odour it gives off and when you can observe that the film has started to disintegrate. Nitrate film should always be stored in well ventilated, climatized and fire safe vaults. There are also restrictions on transporting this kind of film. The nitrate was replaced from the late 40:ies by ”Safety Film” made on acetate base. It doesn´t ignite, but is susceptible to degradation by acetic acidity mainly caused by bad storage conditions. We´ll return to that soon. Acetate (di-asetate and tri-acetate) begun to be replaced in the 60:ies by the strong polymer polyethylene. The magnetic film for filmsound is more or less following the development of ordinary film.

8 Storage Storing film – and videotape for that matter – for preservation is generally a matter of a right combination of temperature and relative humidity. Of course also together with acid free cardboard filmboxes or boxes made from stable polymerics like polyethylene with no components that can migrate to the film etc. Boxes of vinyl plastics are definitely not to recommend. That also goes for metal filmcans. As a very a very general recommendation – keep your archives at a uniform temperature! Rather on a higher level than lower, with changes. From this table by the Image Preservation Institute in Rochester, USA you can find the ideal combination for different media. These figures you also find at the International Standardization Organization (ISO). It is when you have the wrong storage conditions at hand that acidity is developed in acetate material, known as ”the Vinegar syndrome” by its apparent smell of vinegar. Such material should be copied before the degradation process has developed to far. Degradation could be stopped momentarily by freezing such material in sealed containers. I just put a ban on metal filmcans. That´s because the metal serves as a catalyst in the degradation process. That´s also the reason why you mustn´t put film and magnetic tape in the same container, because the magnetic layer contains metal oxide.

9 Video When it comes to handling, preservation and storage of video media we face a much more complex picture, not the least since carriers of of video content is in such a fast development. A wide range of formats: 2” 1”  many different cassette format professional & home video What we generally think of are the VHS, CD and DVD formats, apart from all the professional formats today and historically. As a general recommendation: videotapes could follow films on the same kind of base – with one important exception, videotapes must´n be stored frozen (< +4 C).

10 Documenting Moving Images
The main purpose is of this section in the archiving process isof course to furnish us with information about the actual physical object - the film, but also just as much about it´s origin and content: - What kind of film material is it? - When was it recorded? - With what was it recorded? - By whom? - Where was it recorded? - How was it processed in laboratory? - What does it show. Content? - Who is supplying the information? I´ll try to elaborate on that with the help of a few examples. Filmclip (video original) Rapport (News) Runö special, Estonian-Swedish refugees returning to their native island after almost 50 years.

11 Filmclip: SF Shortfilm for schools
Filmclip: SF Shortfilm for schools. Life of tthe Estonian-Swedish settlement on the island of Runö/Ruhnu in the 1920:ies.

12 Swedish documentary ”Baltikum – en kulturexpedition: Gränsdiktarna vid Rigabukten, 1978 / The Baltics – A cultural expedition: Poets at the Riga Gulf/ produced during the Soviet occupation and followed up 20 years later in the free Latvia by the documentary ”Bingp Baltic. Kulturstämningar i det fria Lettland”, 1996 /Bingo Baltic – Cultural atmosphere in the free Latvia/ Filmclip: Bingo Baltic, 1996

13 SF short film 2528 D ”Kung Gustaf V:s baltiska resa”, 1929 (King Gustaf V`s Baltiv journey). The official visit by the Swedish King Gustaf V to Estonia and Latvia. Meetings with the Presidents Rei and Zemgals in Tallinn respectively Riga. Views from the cities and a lot of officials apart from the king and presidents that probably still could be identified. Film of Baltic provenance. Filmclip (origanally 35 mm b/w): King Gustaf V`s Baltiv journey

14 The popular defence of the parliament building and the Radio and TV-building i Vilnius 1991 against the Soviet troops. Filmclip (video): Soviet troups and armoured vehicles, angry and upset Lithuanian demonstrators, injured in hospitals

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