How Do We Preserve Digital Films?

How Do We Preserve Digital Films?  

With rapidly changing technology, movie preservationists are fighting for a truly “archival” format By Tim Barribeau

One of the great strengths of analog film is just how long it can last, if preserved properly. Thanks to a film negative being stashed in just the right way, we can recover fantastic old images, or partly reconstruct previously damaged works of art. There’s even an industry devoted to restoring damaged old films to the best possible quality. But what happens when the world moves to digital?

Over at The Dissolve, Matthew Dessem has put together an excellent article looking at the current difficulties of trying to properly archive films that may only ever exist in a digital form—and it’s a complicated and worrying situation. For now, the standard seems to be to make a 35mm film print (or preferably color-separated black and white prints), which will last more or less indefinitely if stored properly. But some films don’t exist in this format—the Wolf of Wall Street was digital only, and 3D versions of films like Avatar were never committed to celluloid.

And unfortunately, digital preservation just doesn’t seem to be at a point where you could find it in a basement 50 years from now, and recover all the data. Where, with analog formats, the worry was the degradation of the data itself, with digital media, the problem’s more around technological obsolescence of the storage media and data formats. If you’ve ever found yourself with a Zip disk full of documents from the late 90s, you know that feeling well.

Source: Pop Photo

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