Film Preservation 101: Is Nitrate Film Really Dangerous?

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?

Film Preservation 101: Scratch Hazards and Fixes

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

Film Preservation 201: Exploring A&B Rolls with “Jenny is a Good Thing”

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”

Film Preservation 101: Why are old films sometimes pink?

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?

Film Preservation 101: This 80 Year Old Film Printer Still Contributes to Preservation

This week we celebrate the National Archives' 80th birthday. For the motion picture lab, this anniversary was an opportunity to look back to the beginnings of the organization, when the Archives was still in its teen years and William T. Cooper, Jr. posed for photographs with the Depue optical reduction film printer. The photos, taken … Continue reading Film Preservation 101: This 80 Year Old Film Printer Still Contributes to Preservation

Film Preservation 101: What are the holes on the sides of the film for?

Have you ever thought to yourself: “Those holes on the side of the film, I wonder what they’re for?” Maybe you were afraid to ask? If you think it sounds like a dumb question, let me assure you that some super-smart people have asked us this before. Today we’ll tell you not only what those … Continue reading Film Preservation 101: What are the holes on the sides of the film for?

Film Preservation 101: Is Restoration the Same as Preservation?

When you watch NARA's video for The March on YouTube the first thing you see onscreen is a note that the film was “Preserved and Restored by the National Archives.” You may wonder why we make the distinction between preservation and restoration. Aren't they the same thing? The differences between preservation and restoration are subtle, … Continue reading Film Preservation 101: Is Restoration the Same as Preservation?

Film Preservation 101: What’s the Difference Between a Film and a Video?

This week’s guest post is from Audrey Amidon.  Audrey is a Preservation Specialist in NARA’s Motion Picture Preservation Lab. Film Preservation 101: What’s the Difference Between a Film and a Video? Do you know what I am? Okay, if you’re one of the people who can immediately identify the objects in the images seen here, … Continue reading Film Preservation 101: What’s the Difference Between a Film and a Video?