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?
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?
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
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 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?
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
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?
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?
What's the difference between these objects? If you’re one of the people who can immediately identify the objects in the images seen here, the answer to this question is easy. But with the way the language has evolved to discuss audiovisual materials, it actually isn't obvious for a good chunk of the population. I learned … Continue reading Film Preservation 101: What’s the Difference Between a Film and a Video?