Archive for the 'Technology' Category

This… is the Memory Card

Posted by on Jan 22 2013 | Technology

Check out this short clip from the local news with Todd Gustavson our technology curator taking a look at the inside of the Tactical Camera. One of only two models ever made, this camera is what all digital cameras were derived from.

Big box of a memory card shown above

More on our new historic acquisition here.

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Historic New Acquisition at Eastman House

Posted by on Dec 19 2012 | Technology

An excerpt from our Films & Events publication

The object above is the Eastman Kodak Company Tactical Camera. Designed in 1989, this was donated to us by Exelis Inc. in Rochester, NY.

This piece is most notable for being the earliest extant digital single-lens reflex camera. Eastman Kodak produced its first megapixel imaging sensor in the mid–1980s.

James McGarvey, a company engineer, designed and built the imaging firmware and storage system for the M1 sensor, which was installed in a Canon F1 film camera, making it the world’s first digital single-lens reflex camera. Known as the Electro-Optic (E-O) Camera, it was built for the U.S. government in 1988 for covert use. The Tactical Camera evolved from the E-O project the next year and was a more robust system used to demonstrate the company’s digital technology to potential industrial customers.

Kodak M1 Sensor

Our Technology Curator Todd Gustavson on the acquisition, “The Tactical Camera may well be the most important object acquired during my 24 years at Eastman House. There is nothing like it in the collection. Not only is it is the oldest digital camera in the collection, but more importantly, it is one of only two ever made, and it is from these models that all digital cameras were derived.”

For more information, visit McGarvey’s website.


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Digital Dilemmas: Future-proofing the Motion Picture Collection

Posted by on Aug 27 2012 | Motion Pictures, Technology

When you hear the words “digital” and “cinema” together, you probably think about special effects and the kind of computer-generated imagery seen in a Michael Bay summer blockbuster: Explosions! Robots! Spaceships!

While our work here in the Motion Picture Department isn’t quite as heart-pounding, “digital” is still a word we’re using more and more as we face the challenges of preserving and maintaining access to one of the major moving image archives in the United States.

It’s a fact that motion picture film made with organic materials such as nitrate and acetate, no matter how well preserved in the proper conditions, will eventually deteriorate and no longer be projectable. This creates an enormous dilemma for moving image archives all over the world: how best to apply digital solutions to the preservation, storage and exhibition of collected films.

As the digital film technician, it’s my role to help prepare the motion picture collection for a future based on pixels in addition to perforations. Over the coming months, I’ll be writing posts here to talk in more detail about the tools and processes we’re using in the various functions of the department, such as:

  • Preservation: a large amount of materials related to the motion picture collection are not on film, but on legacy analog media like U-Matic and VHS (hey, remember those?), and need to be digitized and stored before the tapes oxidize and before the professional-grade equipment necessary to play them is no longer available.
  • Restoration: during the preservation process, films are often scanned at a high resolution (2K or 4K) and brought into a powerful computer system here in the department to be digitally cleaned of dirt and scratches prior to being reprinted to film.
  • Exhibition: as more and more theaters make the transition to digital cinema, it will be necessary for us to prepare and distribute titles  from our collection in the form of digital cinema packages, or DCPs, to venues who have traditionally been loaned physical films.

There are many hurdles ahead as the world of motion pictures goes through this epic shift, but I’m excited to be straddling the line between film and digital and looking forward to sharing our work with you. -Tony Delgrosso


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