From Our Vaults To Your Living Room

Posted by on Sep 14 2012 | Motion Pictures

<img class=" wp-image-7753 " title="Lonesome" src="” alt=”" width=”360″ height=”275″ />

Barbara Kent as Mary and Glenn Tryon as Jim in "Lonesome."

Our preserved films from the vaults are making their way to your living room, as several titles have been released this year on Blu-ray and DVD. While it’s exciting to know there are 30,000 motion pictures safely housed here at Eastman House, it’s also exciting when they are shared with the world.

The latest home-video release is Lonesome, the 1928 buried treasure from Hollywood’s Golden Age, set in Coney Island over the Fourth of July weekend.

Lonesome is on the big screen tonight at the Andy Warhol Museum and our film preservation officer, Anthony L’Abbate, is in Pittsburgh to introduce the film, a pioneer in early color and talking sequences, made by little-known but audacious filmmaker Paul Fejos. The screening is part of the Warhol museum’s “Unseen Treasures from the George Eastman House” annual series.

In the spring, New York Post, Los Angeles Times, and many other national publications were buzzing about the release of the David O. Selznick Collection on Blu-ray and DVD. The set features high-definition digital transfers from the Selznick estate/personal collection preserved in the vaults at Eastman House. The titles are Farewell to Arms (1932), Bird of Paradise (1932), Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936), Nothing Sacred (1937), A Star Is Born (1937), and Made for Each Other (1939).

This fall, the Eastman House collection further adds to your entertainment releasing The Wedding of Palo (1934) and The Penalty (1920), a horror film starring Lon Chaney.

Lonesome is available now at the Eastman House gift shop or at All other releases available at kinolorber.





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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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