Inside the Film & Media Archive – Film Inspection

24 May

Film inspection is an integral step in the workflow of a film archive. Inspection must be done before a film is projected, sent out for preservation, or any other treatment. Other aspects of film inspection can involve cleaning the film, repairing splices or tears, and the completion of a Film Inspection Report.

Here, Irene Taylor, Film and Media Cataloging and Preservation Archivist, inspects the film, A Regular Bouquet, a documentary by actor and filmmaker Richard Beymer made during Freedom Summer in Mississippi (1964). Portions of this film appeared in episode five of Eyes on the PrizeMississippi: Is This America? (1962-1964). 

The National Film Preservation Foundation has an online guide that talks about the special handling, care, and equipment that is needed to safely inspect a film. Filling out the Film Inspection Report is a vital step in this process where the archivist can record specific data about the film. Is it a positive or negative, how many feet is the film, what is the gauge (16mm, 35mm, etc.), is it silent or sound? The archivist can also note if the film needs major repairs, has many scratches or perforation tears, if the film has shrunk, or has vinegar syndrome, a process where the film degrades and gives off a strong smell of vinegar. With this knowledge the film archivist can make decisions on future care or treatment of the film.

Irene Taylor, Film and Media Cataloging and Preservation Archivist, inspects a reel of film.

Irene Taylor, Film and Media Cataloging and Preservation Archivist, inspects a reel of film. Photos by Alison Carrick.

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