Film Matters: Ain’t Nothin Like The Real Thing

Posted by on Aug 30 2012 | Exploring the Archive, History, Motion Pictures

The Dryden Theatre is a staple to film culture and motion picture history. The venue contains decades of memories among the walls, floors, and folding seats. The stories within the deep, curious cinema are many. The modest piano sits stage right, finely tuned and ready to go.  The hushed voices, watchful eyes, ears and smiles surround the box office just before a film begins.

So let’s talk 35mm – let’s talk depth of field, luminosity, purity and beauty. The Dryden screens 35mm almost exclusively (well, every once in a while we mix it up).  You won’t find DVD or Blue-ray here- only film–and oftentimes original. The George Eastman House collection is vast, as are our connections to fellow archives and studios, allowing the Dryden’s film series to be strategically crafted with thoughtful themes and chock-full with the best actors, directors and producers throughout history.

The next frontier for the Dryden is making members and the public aware of the magic of the theater. It is reminding patrons of the unique experience of watching a movie on the big screen shot on 35 or screening silent films with musical accompaniment. It is about the conversations before and after, and the community of this place. I’m proud to present to you a look at the Dryden Theatre and its importance locally and internationally. 
Meet Lori and Kolbe…

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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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