Archive for the 'Behind The Scenes' Category

Eastman House in Hollywood at TCM Classic Film Fest

Posted by on Apr 12 2012 | Behind The Scenes, Motion Pictures

TCM's Robert Osborne, left, with Eastman House's Jared Case, who is in Hollywood this week at the TCM Classic Film Fest.

Film festivals and repertory theaters have long been the best way to revisit our cinematic heritage. Festivals like Cannes and Telluride, and venues like our own Dryden Theatre have histories that reach decades back. Our preservations play at these venues around the world. This weekend, one of our favorite preservations will play at the Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival in Hollywood.

Still somewhat new, the TCM Classic Film Fest gives the audience a chance to see famous Hollywood films in famous Hollywood theaters like Grauman’s Chinese, the Egyptian, and the Cinerama Dome. Over four days, the festival runs five screens simultaneously, not including special screenings. The festival also offers the chance to see Hollywood stars and technicians, film scholars and preservation archivists talk about the films.

The year, George Eastman House offered the festival Lonesome, a film from the dawn of the sound era. Originally shot as a silent film with a music and effects soundtrack, Universal decided that it needed some talking sequences to compete in the 1928 marketplace. Three were shot and edited into the film, which was how it was released, and how it survives today.

It’s important to us that we not only preserve the elements in our vaults, but also that we preserve the experience of watching film as it was meant to be seen. To this end, we made sure to duplicate the wonderful tinting and hand-coloring of the original nitrate print, as well as the groundbreaking soundtrack, onto new 35mm stock, so that it could be played just as it was nearly 90 years ago. We actively seek out venues that can project 35mm film in an archival manner, so that our films can be seen by as many people as possible. The TCM Classic Film Fest is just such a place.

Jared Case will introduce the festival's screening of Eastman House restoration of 1928 film "Lonesome."

At 11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 14, I will be proud to present the film Lonesome to the attendees in Hollywood. Then next week I’ll return to Rochester to continue my work at George Eastman House, the everyday job of supporting film preservation.

You, too, can support film preservation every day by seeking out venues like the Museum’s Dryden Theatre, or becoming a member of George Eastman House. We’re all in this together.

I will be tweeting some of my activities while I’m at the TCM Classic Film Fest. You can follow along on Twitter @eastmanhouse and on Facebook (George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film).

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Fashion in Photography: a Royal Family Album

Posted by on Aug 11 2011 | Behind The Scenes, Exploring the Archive, Photography

During their recent visit to the area for a family wedding, fashion photographer David Burton and his wife Sarah stopped by our Gannett Foundation Photographic Study Center. Archivist Joe Struble prepared a selection of ‘fashion in photography’ images on the print rail and brought a few albums out for viewing— which gave us a chance to take a closer look at one album that made a particular (and timely!) impression with the Burtons : the British royal family.

Archivist Joe Struble (left) with Sarah and David Burton.

 

A view of images on the print rail.

 

Sarah Burton examines the royal family album.

 

The following details are from the album Famile Royal D’Angleterre, ca. 1863 (seen above). The images are printed by the van dyke brown process on silk (look closely and you can see the stiching and fabric folds).

 

 Queen Victoria

 

 Princess Louise

 

Princess Alexandra 

 

Prince Albert Victor 

 

 Princess Beatrice

 

Prince Leopold

View more of our The Photography Collection or browse selected sets on Flickr.

 

 

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What’s Behind the Glass Wall?

Posted by on Jul 09 2011 | Behind The Scenes

Any visitor who comes in through the main entrance of George Eastman House will notice a large glass wall to the left. Through this glass you can see the Richard & Ronay Menschel Library, curatorial departments such as Motion Pictures, Photography and Technology, and a staircase that leads down to two more floors. While you don’t need to make an appointment to visit the Library (especially this summer, when due to a shelving project we are all enjoying a rare treat of the Library’s photo and cinema books and magazines temporarily relocated to our Entrance Gallery), you do need to make one to visit the archives that contain our spectacular collections.

 From time to time, we host visitors where I work: the Kay R. Whitmore Conservation Center. A few weeks ago we took a small group of friends interested in preservation ‘behind the glass’ and one floor down for a special tour of the photograph conservation laboratory. The purpose of this visit was to raise awareness of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s challenge grant.  Here’s some of what they saw:

 

 

A view of the Kay R. Whitmore Conservation Center.

 

 An accelerated tarnish experiment testing daguerreotype enclosures.

 

 

The Conservator’s tools of the trade.

 

Conservation practices at Eastman House are critical to the care of photographs we have in the collection, exhibit in our galleries, or loan out to other museums. When the department was established in 1974, it was the first of its kind dedicated solely to photograph conservation. For nearly 40 years, our conservators, fellows, and interns have contributed to the preservation of history and culture — through photographic objects — at Eastman House and at institutions around the world.

In the Whitmore Conservation Center, we conduct research and report findings on Notes on Photographs , in journals or at conferences. We also hold workshops on historic photo processes for collectors, artists, curators, members or anyone interested in the history of photography (we even get a chance to go one more floor down to see choice examples in our photography collection). Eastman House is helping to ensure that photographs made since the beginning of the medium in 1839 through today will exist for as long as possible in order to visually tell our collective stories— and its these stories we love to share and discover behind the glass wall.

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John Deere Tractor Green Carbon Printing

Posted by on Apr 25 2011 | Behind The Scenes, Other, Photography

I had a small group last week for the carbon photography workshop, which made it easier for me and unusually spacious in the darkroom for the participants. Though no matter how few people you have making carbon prints though there never seems to be enough hot water, so calls of “more hot water” were regularly heard in the darkroom for three days.

We made the first batch of carbon tissues using casting frames, coating rods and our fingers so that everyone had the experience of trying different ways to make the tissues. After everyone made their initial exposure tests and first prints we made two new color batches of pigmented gelatin and prepped other support material; watercolor paper and glass.

David Developing Carbon

 

Drying Tissues

 

‘John Deere tractor’ Green Orotone

 

My demo in action


One of the colors that came from this freedom of extra time was a sort of John Deere tractor green. We also made a lovely cool blue tissue. One of the participants wanted to make a carbon transparency on glass and at the time thought he had chosen the blue tissue. He was really surprised when we turned on the white lights during the development and saw that his beautifully made transfer was actually green. When the plate was dry I held a sheet of bronze coated paper behind the image so the group could see how it would look as an orotone. The green wasn’t so bad.

 

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Eastman House restores “Local Color”

Posted by on Mar 18 2011 | Behind The Scenes, Exploring the Archive, Motion Pictures, Other, Student Work

One of the great pleasures in working for George Eastman House, and in my particular case the Motion Picture Department, is the opportunity for rediscovery. In the cold storage vaults here we house tens of thousands of films. The classics are many – Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz are  just two that are often noted.

But by and large the collection is made up of thousands of films that film history has forgotten or ignored in the years and decades since their release. Now I’ll be honest some of these films have been forgotten for very good reasons. Sh! The Octopus, anyone?

Still others have been forgotten and neglected for reasons not of their making. Wonderful films that in some cases were trampled when American audiences were captured by the birth of the blockbuster. In 1977 filmmaker Mark Rappaport released Local Color.

"Local Color," 1977

Film Critic Roger Ebert called this funny, and melodramatic tale of the interconnected lives of New Yorkers “a strange and wonderful movie.” Shot in black-and-white, Local Color has the look and feel of another NYC-based film that would appear two years later, Woody Allen’s Manhattan. But like many films released in 1977, Local Color would never have a chance to find its wider audience as another little film steamrolled across American movie theaters. That film was Star Wars.

 The role that George Eastman House plays in Local Color happens 30 years later when Mr. Rappaport decided to entrust the original negatives of Local Color to the Motion Picture Department. Received in 2008, Local Color was almost immediately on our preservation radar.

By now Mr. Rappaport was a well-known and respected independent filmmaker of the 1980s and 1990s. Many of his films had garnered a following, but prints in screenable condition were quite rare. Initial inspection of the material also revealed something very troubling. The original picture negative was exhibiting signs of “vinegar syndrome.” Long-term exposure to above average temperatures and humidity cause film made on acetate film stock to give off an acetic acid, vinegar-like smell. This is usually just a sign of deeper problems. Film naturally shrinks over time and vinegar syndrome can expedite this process. The film can become warped. The photo emulsion can become soft causing the image to loss definition.

 Luckily for us and the film, preservation funding was obtained through the Avant-Garde Masters program funded by The Film Foundation and administered by the National Film Preservation Foundation. We worked with the Los Angeles-based laboratory Film Technology to preserve Local Color.

 Along with the original elements, brand new negatives now sit in our cold storage vault. New projection prints have been struck and are just beginning to make their way to screening venues. It is appropriate that our new preservation of Local Color was screened recently at Anthology Film Archive in New York City. Hopefully those audiences were able to rediscover the charms of Local Color.

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