Edward E. Stratmann's Posts

Edward (Ed) E. Stratmann, Associate Curator, Preservation Hired by James Card in 1974, Ed has worked for all five Curators/Department heads of the Motion Picture Department. He started as a Curatorial Assistant, working with nitrate. Over the years he has been Film Technician, Vault Manager, Projectionist, in charge of the Study Center, and Assistant Curator. He took over Preservation in 1988. Ed received The AMIA Dan and Kathy Leab Award and The Pordenone Preservation Award, both in 1998. He is a founding member of AMIA and has served on the AMIA Board of Directors, as Secretary. Ed has been a member of SMPTE for over ten years and has been on the local board of Managers three times.

AMIA at 20

Posted by on Nov 02 2010 | Motion Pictures

Many of the members of my department will be attending this year’s AMIA (Association of Moving Image Archivists) conference which begins today in Philadelphia, PA. It is the 20th year anniversary of this organization made up of international institutions and individuals representing a broad range of the field, including: archives, studios, universities, funders, vendors and other commercial entities.

From the AMIA website: “In the early part of the 20th century, most people, even those in the film industry, considered movies to be only a cheap and disposable form of entertainment. Now we realize that a moving image is many things: a form of entertainment, an art form, an historical record, a cultural artifact, a commodity and a force for social change.”

I was lucky to be a founding member back when AMIA was known as FAAC/TAAC (Film Archive Advisory Commission/Television Archive Advisory Commission) and to serve as a member of the Board for four years. In 1990, the whole audio visual field was changing and archivists were looking to formalize a group that would reflect emerging key issues— from nitrate film handling and training to the latest software to artifact copyright. Quite a bit has changed since that first conference in New York City, and each year I am amazed at the resource and knowledge exchange that comes from this gathering of professionals from around the world.

As a representative of George Eastman House over the years, AMIA has given me a chance to benchmark the latest and greatest preservation technologies and methods— and to impact and shape them. Eastman House frequently showcases projects there and this year is no exception. On Nov. 4th, Motion Picture Department Preservation Officer Anthony L’abbate will participate on a panel discussing Applied Color: Restored, Revived, Revisited. The following day, I will be introducing a newly discovered and preserved Essanay splitreel during Archival Screening Night.

Scenes from the 1910 preserved Essanay splitreel ‘A College Chicken’ (top) and ‘Mulcahy’s Raid’ (above). Previously thought to be lost, this film was recently discovered during a routine vault inspection.

Finally, I should emphasize that AMIA strives to encourage student presence and participation. The conference provides an unparalleled experience as THE place to gain an awareness of the field and build relationships. Not only are the sessions invaluable to career development, but there aren’t too many other places I know of where a student can walk right up to the head of preservation of a major movie studio with a question. We fully support this idea, and each year our staff is joined by students from the Museum’s L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation. I can’t help but notice how each conference seems more and more like a reunion for the School as we meet former students who are now presenters and colleagues. It’s a wonderful thing to be a part of and truly characteristic of what this organization is all about.

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Eastman House restoration of John Barrymore’s 1922 Sherlock Holmes now on DVD

Posted by on Dec 16 2009 | Motion Pictures

 

Robert Downey Jr’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes just earned him a Golden Globe nomination as Best Actor (the new film opens Christmas Day). But, another famed actor brought it to the big screen first — John Barrymore.

Sherlock Holmes from 1922 was the most sought-after “lost” John Barrymore film. However, it is not only no longer lost— restored in recent years by George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film— but it is now available on DVD.

 

Barrymore in Sherlock Holmes, recently restored by George Eastman House

Barrymore in Sherlock Holmes, recently restored by George Eastman House

 

As a world leader in film preservation efforts, Eastman House has many stories to tell about the restoration of films once thought lost.  However, the story behind Sherlock Holmes is particularly interesting. 

A print of this important silent film was rediscovered in the 1970s by then-Eastman House film curator James Card. However, the film was not complete. In the 1990s a print containing the missing original intertitles was found within the Eastman House vaults, and a major restoration was undertaken.  

Using the two prints, titles were digitally remastered and each frame restored. This project was funded by the National Film Preservation Foundation as part of a $1 million grant titled “Saving the Silents.” Sherlock Holmes is one of 19 titles from the George Eastman House collection restored by that funding. 

The project took preservation staff at Eastman House two years to complete, with the premiere of the restored film taking place at Eastman House’s Dryden Theatre on Jan. 12, 2003. It has since been screened worldwide at film festivals and archives. 

Silent films represent the work of America’s first filmmakers; yet fewer than 20 percent of all silent films survive today, since they were printed on highly flammable nitrate film stock and discarded after the advent of “talkies” in 1928. George Eastman House holds one of the largest silent film collections in the world. Other important restorations undertaken by George Eastman House in recent years include Snow White (1916), and The Lost World (1925), and The Big Parade(1925).  

The restored Sherlock Holmes (Albert Parker, US 1922, 97 min.) is a faithful adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original story (the film was in fact fully endorsed by Doyle in 1922). The film stars screen idol Barrymore as Holmes, aided by the ubiquitous Dr. Watson, battles wits with sinister arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty.

Sherlock Holmes not only provided Barrymore with one of his most prestigious early roles, but also presented the screen debuts of two notable actors: William Powell (The Thin Man) and Roland Young (Topper). The DVD, available on Kino International, was mastered from Eastman House’s 35mm restoration, and is accompanied by a score by Ben Model, performed on the Miditzer Virtual Theatre Organ. 

To purchase a copy of Sherlock Holmes on DVD, visit Kino International at www.kino.com/video/item.php?film_id=979

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Preserving The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind

Posted by on Apr 16 2009 | Behind The Scenes, Motion Pictures

Eastman House’s camera negatives are  at Warner Bros. Studio for Blu-ray scanning

fourAs folks watch The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind on their Blu-ray ® players later this year, it may be interesting to know the images were created from 70-year-old separation camera negatives – as all prints and video copies have been since 1939.

George Eastman House has been the steward for these original camera negatives for decades and it is a testament to our preservation efforts – as well as Kodak’s quality film stock and the Technicolor ® process – that the original material is the best source for all future prints and copies.

These negatives are the actual film in the camera when the movie was shot, just feet away from Judy Garland and Clark Gable as they told the world, “There’s no place like home” and “Frankly, I don’t give a damn.” Well, we very much give a damn at Eastman House, as we care for some of the greatest film collections in the world, including the world’s largest collection of Technicolor ® films – which includes both The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind.

The camera negatives to these two classics recently have traveled from Eastman House in upstate New York to the Warner Bros. Studio on the west coast, so high-res scans can be made. Soon Judy and Scarlet will be back home in our climate-controlled nitrate vaults, enjoying a balmy 40-degrees, where films made before 1951 are stored (the earliest film in the collection dates to1894). And with optimal preservation care, these original camera negatives may be in as pristine condition they are today, for the 200th anniversary of these films.

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