Digital Applications For Film Preservation

Erik Piil and Peter Oleksik
The Electronic Media Review, Volume Four: 2015-2016


As photochemical motion picture production winds down, film archivists and conservators must aim to engage with alternative forms of preservation. This alterity allows for a different, yet no less robust, approach to film preservation and conservation. Conservators Erik Piil and Peter Oleksik will describe the current landscape of film scanning and digitization, including photochemical and non-photochemical objectives, intermediate workflows, and metadata documentation. Erik will address key technical specifications for film digitization, including image acquisition, target color spaces, sampling depth, and common acquisition file formats. These considerations, when weighed with the various characteristics of motion picture film, present to the audience multiple frameworks for preservation. Following Erik’s overview of the technical specifications for film digitization, Peter will present recent case studies at MoMA, including the project to digitize the entire filmic output of Andy Warhol, to illustrate these concepts in a conservation oriented digitization workflow. Looking at both recent acquisitions as well as preparing works on film for exhibition using digital intermediaries, Peter will show how both photochemical and digital approaches are increasingly becoming the norm in a symbiotic relationship of conservation and access. In addition, issues of cataloguing, digital storage and institutional infrastructure will be addressed.

Erik Piil
Digital Archivist, Anthology Film Archives

Peter Oleksik
Assistant Media Conservator, Museum of Modern Art