Restoring and Preserving

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Nitrate film (flammable)

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A significant share of the hundreds and thousands of hours of film, audio, and video material, as well as the millions of photos that lay stocked in the archives, has to be guarded against permanent destruction through erosion, fungi, and other dangers. Acetate carriers, magnetic tapes, film stock, photonegatives, and many other carriers do not live eternally. To prevent irrevocable loss of this valuable content, restoration and preservation plays a major role in the project.

It goes without saying that the archival institutions involved in the project have years of experience in preserving audiovisual heritage. Within Images for the Future they can join their forces. Historicists, restorative specialists, catalogue experts, preservers; together they will make sure that future generations can enjoy and learn from a century of Dutch visual history.

The process of restoration and preservation through digitization can be subdivided in the following steps:

1. Selecting content
What content is eligible for digitization? This involves a complicated process with various criteria, such as the importance of the material, its state of decomposition and demand from the end users.

2. Preparing for digitization
The original content is prepared in such a way that the digitizing machines can have their way with it. Because the project deals with many different techniques and carriers, this is a complicated stage.

3. Restoring
Some films, photos, or other media have been damaged so badly, that they must first be restored. Because this is very costly, an elaborate selection will also precede this step.

4. Digitization
Digitization is the first step on the road to immortality. Even though the carriers of digital files are subject to aging and environmental conditions in the same way as their analogue counterparts, the information remains the same and can be transferred to following carriers with much more ease.

5. Preparing to subcontract
Because we are dealing with staggering amounts of content, a large part of digitization will be contracted out to other parties.

6. Adding metadata and embedding content
After the material has been digitized, we arrive at a very important step in the process. What good is an enormous amount of imagery to the world if we can’t clarify exactly what has been digitized? By meta-dating (adding information about the maker, the origin, year, etc.) and contextualizing content (add categories and cross references), it will be given meaning and becomes more easily useable and traceable.