Preservation "Lay of the Land"
By Jane Johnson
Film and video are fragile media, and moving images of all types are deteriorating faster than archives can preserve them. Preservation aims at slowing the inevitable decay through environmentally controlled storage and duplication onto newer, durable media. Climate-controlled storage requires stringent standards for both temperature and humidity; ideally it includes staging areas where materials can be acclimatized and separate storage areas for materials afflicted with "vinegar syndrome," which can contaminate neighboring materials.
|Duplication is especially important for deteriorating older works that would otherwise not survive, but is also useful for making public access copies. Preservation duplication involves highly technical laboratory work, which may be provided through an outside lab or available from a properly equipped moving image repository.|
|Preservation copying by definition means transfer to the same medium, or if obsolete, to the most durable medium. Therefore, a film-to-video transfer would not constitute a preservation copy, although if done for damage mitigation (for example, in the absence of necessary resources for a film-to-film transfer), it could arguably fall in the category of preservation. For video, the preservation duplicate would usually be video of equal or better durability, although format obsolescence plays a role in choosing the preservation master's format.|
|A responsible preservation program goes beyond environmentally controlled storage and preservation duplication. It includes appropriate handling, treatment, and care of archival materials, re-housing of films into archival containers, systematic monitoring for deterioration, the setting of preservation priorities, documentation of preservation activities, provision of access copies to conserve the original material and preservation duplicates, and disaster planning.|
|Under the rubric of preservation fall conservation and restoration. Conservation is the process of performing identifiable and reversible damage mitigation and repair, and stabilization of materials to retard or stop deterioration. Restoration is the process of returning a damaged, worn, or otherwise altered item to its original condition, or the closest possible approximation. Conservation and restoration activities include routine operations such as cleaning, splice repair, or perforation repair, and more elaborate processes (photo-chemical or digital) to remove scratches and noise, or restore color or sound.|