New to Film Work

The following is an attempt to explain why this site exists in a world rapidly adopting digital cinema and video technology, in which film and video are merging into a single, unified medium for expressing the moving image.

Many firms known for traditional photography are now fading into memory. Some camera makers have left the market while others are repositioning to make digital only products. The elements of traditional photography, chemicals and film stock are becoming unavailable. The cinema is on the verge of a digital revolution. Now that the digital photography revolution is in full swing, working with film has become something of a lost art, similar to blacksmithing. The blacksmith disappeared from the scene as the industrial revolution progressed. The automobile replaced the horse and factory production of hardware replaced the hand wrought products of the blacksmith.

The process of digital filmmaking and editing automates nearly all the tasks of the film worker. Seen in this light, the work of the editor and the various film workers required to produce a finished print, bears a strong similarity to a traditional craft. The amount of hand work involved in filmmaking can now be seen in comparison to the highly automated digital work process.

In a way, traditional film work can be seen as an extension of nineteenth-century or early industrial age processes into the twentieth century. In this century, film work bears a resemblance to the revival of blacksmithing in the post-modern era (when the industrial era began to wane). Because blacksmithing was no longer produced items necessary in daily use, the craft began to be adapted to making art objects, used as a research tool on historical processes, to fulfill a desire for hand made objects and architectural elements. In many ways blacksmithing is more vibrant and relevant, more artistically advanced and current that it ever was when the primary role of the blacksmith was to produce cheap, practical items for everyday use. As you work through the tasks and methods on this site, you will be learning to work much as blacksmith or nineteenth-century cottage worker did.

I firmly believe if you have to tell the next generation "it's really important for you to learn this, because it's going to die out" you've already failed. The reason traditions are passed on is because they are useful. Blacksmithing was a dying art until a few young people became interested in it in the 1970s. They did not take it up because they wanted to preserve a dying tradition, but because they wanted to make things using the tools and techniques of blacksmithing and to work with iron. It is in this spirit that we invite you to explore the world of film work, whether you are an archivist or an artist looking for a medium of expression.

Getting started on our site:

Get the Guide to Film Preservation to accompany the videos on our site.

You may browse our video by subjects or by chapter in the guide.

Visit our resources for sites with related material.

If you are involved in preserving home movies, please feel welcome to use our site to learn techniques and visit the home movie related sites in our resources.