A lot of films are genuine works of art and require special attention during conservation and digitisation. That’s why VIAA applies a complete film strategy where conservation and digitisation go hand in hand. PACKED vzw and Cinematek support us in its development and realization.
Under favourable conditions, film can be preserved maybe even for 100 years. Under poor conditions, for example poor ventilation or packaging, humidity or variable temperatures, the acidity increases and a vinegar smell emerges. In later stages, the film will start deforming. Itm can shrink, curl and curve, crack, or white powder can appear on the edges due to decomposition. This process, the so-called vinegar syndrome, aggravates after initiation, is irreversible and on top of that, it can spread to other films in the vicinity of the damaged film.
The digitisation of film is very expensive. The price can be up to fifty times higher compared to other carriers. That’s why there’s a selection at item level beforehand, which always takes place before the digitisation of film.
Within audiovisual archiving and film archiving, experts are still looking for the final, most suitable target formats, codecs and specifications. Which is why we’re now choosing – along with many audiovisual archives – for the best and most widely accepted archiving master format that is available for film right now: DPX for image and LPCM in a wav-container for sound.
In 2014, PACKED vzw identified the at-risk film material from Flemish broadcasters and collection management institutions, subsidised under the Cultural Heritage Decree. This report showed that there’s an urgent need for a global approach regarding the conservation and digitisation of Flemish film collections. VIAA therefore started three projects (click to find out more):