The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 14, Number 7
Nov 1990


Movies & TV

Conferences on Preservation of Moving Images

The Film and Television Archives Advisory Committee (F/TAAC, pronounced FAC-TAC) met in Portland Oct. 30-Nov. 3, 1990, and heard papers on a wide range of topics, including the history of videotape, disaster preparedness and recovery for film and video collections and motion picture preservation and the vinegar syndrome. At the business meeting, F/TAAC decided to reorganize as the Association of Moving Image Archives and to have a secretariat. For further information call Greg Lukow at the National Center for Film and Video Preservation (213/856-7637).

"Fast Rewind II" (June 13-16, 1991, at RIT) is an international conference focussing on the preservation and use of moving images (film, video and TV). There will be a tour of the Image Permanence Institute facilities on the first day, and of the International Museum of Photography the second day, with a reception and a screening on preservation efforts at IMP. For more information call Bruce Austin, 716/475-2879 or 475-6649.

James Reilly gave a paper (coauthored by three colleagues) on "Humidity Dependence of Deterioration in Acetate and Nitrate Base Film" at the 132nd SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) meeting October 13-17, in New York City. It reports several unexpected findings from a large research program at IPI on the deterioration of six kinds of films, at five temperatures and four RHs. The findings:

Film life was extended 4 to 10 times when film were stored at 20% rather than 50% RH.

The first sign of degradation is an increase in acidity in the base film. It evolves as a gas.

Nitrate film in good condition and stored properly can last as long as acetate film, or longer.

On the basis of the findings, they make the following recommendations:

For permanence, store at 20-30% RH. Highest priority for duplication should be given to film in the worst condition, regardless of the base type. In other words, nitrate duplication might be deferred for nitrate films in good condition.

More research is needed for development of an early warning system for degradation.

This paper can be ordered for $3.00 from SMPTE, 595 W. Hartsdale Ave., White Plains, NY 10607 (914/761-1100).

Grants for Preservation of Moving Images

The Film Preservation Program is jointly sponsored by the NEA and the National Center for Film and Video Preservation at the American Film Institute. It awards grants to help organizations preserve, safeguard, and restore films of artistic or cultural value. The Film Preservation Program does not fund film purchase, the preservation of videotape, or the transfer of film to videotape.

Only tax-exempt organizations may apply for support from the program. Applicants must meet the legal requirements of the program and have an existing archival film collection (unique or best surviving material), adequate staff and equipment to carry out the project, and must provide reasonable access to film which have been preserved.

Grants are made on a matching basis, and generally will be for less than $25,000. Up to 50% of the matching amount must be composed of in-kind contributions. Application deadline: Jan. 31, 1991. Write AFI/NEA, Film Preservation Program, National Center for Film and Video Preservation at the American Film Institute, John F. Kennedy Center, Washington, DC 20566 (202/828-4070).

National Film Registry is Proving Untrustworthy

As a result of outcries about the colorizing of classic movies for TV, Congress passed the National Film Preservation Act of 1988. The 13-menber Board set up by the Act is to select 25 films a year for a National Film Registry, to be preserved intact and unchanged by the Library of Congress (AN 1989, p. 27); or, if anyone wants to change any of the protected films, they only have to label it as such, to forewarn viewers. That was compromise #1.

Compromise #2 has been made by the Library of Congress, which has interpreted the law to mean that labelling of protected films is only necessary if they have been altered by more than 5%. According to an angry letter in the Aug. 31 Variety, this makes the meaning of the word "preservation" meaningless. Changes may include colorization, "panning and scanning (cutting off the sides of wide-screen film images to make them fit a TV screen, using "mechanical pans" whenever possible to preserve continuity of action), and speeding up or slowing down the pace of dialog or action, in addition to outright cutting and editing.

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