Film Preservation 101 is an occasional series in which we answer our most frequently asked questions. You may have heard that old films can be dangerous, and potentially even explosive (we covered this topic in Film Preservation 101: Is Nitrate Film Really Dangerous?) and you’re worried about your grandfather’s home movies that you keep in … Continue reading Film Preservation 101: Why does this film smell like vinegar?
Working within the Special Media Division presents many challenges. Not only do staff strive to become experts on the subject matter covered within our holdings, but also the physical format and the processes that made them. In the Still Picture Branch, we have a wide range of photographic formats and processes that provide unique preservation … Continue reading 19th Century Photographic Processes and Formats
Today’s post is written by Larry Shockley, Archives Specialist in NARA's Office of Innovation. One of the more rewarding aspects of working for an institution such as the National Archives is our ability to serve archival colleagues at state and local levels. A recent trip to the West Virginia Archives and History provided one such … Continue reading NARA Film Preservation Unit Serves State and City Level Colleagues
Is Nitrate Film Really Dangerous? Nitrate film is a material we don’t often encounter at the National Archives for obvious reasons. After the devastating 1978 nitrate vault fire, the agency quickly copied any remaining nitrate to acetate or polyester safety film and disposed of the original reels. When we do come across a reel in … Continue reading Film Preservation 101: Is Nitrate Film Really Dangerous?
The Battlefield at Gettysburg is primarily known for two things. First, over three days, July 1 through July 3, 1863 the bloodiest battle of the Civil War took place there. Second, it was the site of The Gettysburg Address, the famous speech that President Abraham Lincoln delivered four and a half months after the battle on … Continue reading Gettysburg: Civil War Monuments, Nuclear Arsenals, and Dreams of Peace
For those working with archival films, encountering film scratches is just part of the job. At the National Archives we care for films that range from pristine camera negatives with not a scratch to be seen, all the way to beat-up projection prints that look like they were rubbed with sandpaper. Scratches can be black … Continue reading Film Preservation 101: Scratch Hazards and Fixes
This post was written by Criss Kovac. Criss is the supervisor of the Motion Picture Preservation Lab. Sometimes you just never know what you’re going to find in a can, or in this case, four cans. What I did know is that it wasn’t going to be good, at least physically, because I could smell … Continue reading Record of a Homecoming: Preserving Interviews with Doug Clower and John McCain
Earlier we wrote about an Oscar-nominated film preserved at the National Archives (NARA) called Jenny is a Good Thing. It was produced in 1969 by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, but for a long time we didn’t know where the original film reels were stored. In 2007, NARA archivists rescued over 3,000 government … Continue reading Film Preservation 201: Exploring A&B Rolls with “Jenny is a Good Thing”
This post was written by Criss Kovac. Criss Kovac is the supervisor of the Motion Picture Preservation Lab at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). It’s not uncommon for NARA to receive less-than-perfect material for films created by federal agencies. One of the types of elements we sometimes receive is called a workprint. Workprints … Continue reading When a Workprint is the Only Print
Film Preservation 101 is an occasional series in which we answer our most frequently asked questions. Please submit your burning questions about film preservation in the comments below! What is Color Fading? Why are old films sometimes pink? The simple answer is color fading. This might seem a little confusing, since it looks like the film … Continue reading Film Preservation 101: Why are old films sometimes pink?