there are countless differences in the technical aspects of films made throughout history (different width, base, colour system, etc.), all films share the characteristic of carrying successive photographic images on a relatively large support. With the introduction of digital technology film archives are for the first time confronted with a new kind of support, which needs neither to be held in cans nor to be counted by the meters and which carries images not directly visible by the human eye. Along with the change of film support, the introduction of digital technology in modern filmmaking, in laboratory procedures, as well as in access practices, is changing the way film archives operate. Not without some form of resistance, digital tools have already been partially introduced in film archives' everyday practices related to access and restoration. Concerning preservation and presen tation, on the other hand, the situation is different, as analogue techniques still prove to be preferable than digital ones today. Let's now see how film archives make use of digital technology in these different areas, what are the advantages and disadvantages and which discussions are going on within the archival community. 1 Preservation It is generally accepted that digital technology cannot offer a suitable alternative to film for long-term storage yet. Different factors like instability, obsolescence, continuously changing standards (e.g. file formats), lack of knowledge and experience in the field, and, last but not least, the still very high costs make it impossible to adopt digital media today in preservation strategies for film collections. A complete overview of all these factors has recently been provided by the project FIRST, a two-year (2002-2004) research effort funded by the European Union, focusing on questions related to digitisation and digital restoration of film collections.3 The project has produced a report on digital facilities and state-of- the-art digital tools for film digitisation and restoration. Most importantly, the project's final report4 provides guidelines and recommended practices for film archives. The results of FIRST show very clearly that traditional film, notwithstanding some disadvantages, today still offers the best long-term preservation medium for film collections. Nevertheless, it is of great importance to keep researching solutions that digital technology can offer to film preservation in the future. A time will most probably come when film will not be manufactured anymore. Film archives will then have no choice but resorting to alternative supports for long-term preservation of their decaying film originals. And, apart from the film manufacturing issue, digital technology will one day hopefully be sufficiently reliable (with respect to quality and stability) and economically advantageous to become a good alternative to film, even for long-term preservation. 2 Restoration Digital technology has demonstrated to be an effective new tool for film restoration. All damages to a film that are accompanied by the removal of part of the image can be repaired only by using digital software. In this respect, for example, digital technology is more powerful than traditional photochemical technology and enables us to do things impossible before. However, digital restoration software, being relatively new and in rapid evolution, still has many limitations and drawbacks. Two of them are the still very high costs5 and the lack of standardisation. For these reasons traditional techniques still offer the most reliable form of restoration. It is actually the combination of analogue and digital technologies that nowadays provides the best results.6 BEHOUD Afbeelding la en lb. Voor en na digitale restauratie van de zwaar verkleurde film Drie Dagen met Monica (Nederland, Wil van Es, 1956), gerestaureerd door het Filmmuseum i.s.m. het Gemeentearchief Rotterdam, [collectie Filmmuseum] 72 GIOVANNA FOSSATI DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY ENTERING FILM ARCHIVES 3 FIRST (Film Restoration and Conservation Strategies) was funded within the programme 1ST (Information Society Technology) of the European Union. The partners of the project were Association des Cinémathèques Européennes (ACE), Radio Télévision Beige de la Communauté Francaise de Belgique (RTBF), Institut National de TAudiovisuel (INA), European Multimedia Forum (EMF), ORF - Österreichischer Rundfunk and Belgacom. 4 European Film Heritage on the Threshold of Digital Era - The First Project's Final Report, publication and cd-rom, Royal Film Archive, Brussels, 2004 ( See also Paul Read, Film Archives on the Threshold of a Digital Era: Technical Issues from the EU FIRST Project, in: FIAF Journal of Preservation, Brussels, December 2004. 5 A digital restoration usually costs from twice to four times as much as a traditional photochemical restoration. 6 More on this can be found in: Giovanna Fossati, 'From grain to pixels: digital technology and the film archive', in: Restauro, conservazione e distruzione dei film/Restoration, Preservation and Destruction of Films, ed. Luisa Comencini and Matteo Pavesi, II Castoro, Milano, 2001 and: 'Video images and digital restora tion of archival film', in: Restoration of Motion Picture Film, ed. Paul Read and Mark-Paul Meyer, Buttenworth, London, 2000 73

Periodiekviewer Koninklijke Vereniging van Archivarissen

Jaarboeken Stichting Archiefpublicaties | 2005 | | pagina 38