So, Has All Footage Been Digitised Yet?

Dec 2011
2,291
#1
I am primarily thinking of the cine films from the 2 world wars, which have visibly degraded over the years. But the digitising of these should, in effect, stop any further degradation, because of course the images are then in the form of fixed information which can be readily copied. I suppose that CD copies of them could start to degrade, but making multiple copies, and periodically going through a process of analysing and comparing them, should enable restoration of any lost data, and I think preserve the information indefinitely.

I wonder if it is possible for me to buy a set of DVDs containing the entirity of documentary films made during the First World War?
 
Jan 2015
2,932
MD, USA
#3
This article about the recent WWI documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old, addresses your question:

How Peter Jackson Made WWI Footage Seem Astonishingly New With ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’
Well, it says he restored 100 hours of footage from one museum. I'm guessing that was a drop in the bucket for WWI footage alone. There are archival storage facilities FILLED with films, many of which haven't even been viewed in decades. But the film often degrades, flaking apart or melting into a solid mass, or it spontaneously combusts and destroys the entire facility. Plus there are slightly newer videotapes, also disintegrating, some of which *were* re-recordings of old films. Thirty-odd years ago we had quite a few old 3/4" videotapes (pre-VHS), and 20 years ago most of them would self-destruct as they played. Anything digitized onto old-fashioned floppy discs is practically unusable now, even assuming the disc hasn't gone bad. It's probably safe to assume that whole collections were stored on machines or servers which no longer function or even exist.

I strongly suspect that we've barely scratched the surface in preserving audio-visual historical records.

Matthew
 
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Oct 2013
14,438
Europix
#6
Well, it says he restored 100 hours of footage from one museum. I'm guessing that was a drop in the bucket for WWI footage alone. There are archival storage facilities FILLED with films, many of which haven't even been viewed in decades. But the film often degrades, flaking apart or melting into a solid mass, or it spontaneously combusts and destroys the entire facility. Plus there are slightly newer videotapes, also disintegrating, some of which *were* re-recordings of old films. Thirty-odd years ago we had quite a few old 3/4" videotapes (pre-VHS), and 20 years ago most of them would self-destruct as they played. Anything digitized onto old-fashioned floppy discs is practically unusable now, even assuming the disc hasn't gone bad. It's probably safe to assume that whole collections were stored on machines or servers which no longer function or even exist.



I strongly suspect that we've barely scratched the surface in preserving audio-visual historical records.



Matthew

Maybe we shouldn't be over pessimistic.


A lot of digitizing was done, only that that work it's rather unknown. INA in France, SONUMA in Belgium, (to name only the two I consult most often) as a lot others in Europe are quite advanced on the path. As (generally speaking) news was for a long time a public service, it has the advantage archives were often well kept, and states invested for some time in digitalizing.

It's rather a question of access, of finding them. They're not gonna popup in the first 10 results on a simple googling.

Also, using only English in searching, will increase the difficulties in finding them. But they're out there, and a lot of them.

An example of vids on WWI available online (but it's in French):
Grande Guerre 14-18 : Vidéos en ligne | Guerre1418.fr
 
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