NFSA blog entries for May 2010
Wake in Fright, The Sentimental Bloke and The Story of the Kelly Gang – each could well have become victim to Australia’s fragile heritage of moving image were it not for the determination and detective work of a couple of people, or in some cases just a single individual, to ensure their survival. Instead they share a history of resurrection and restoration – and now comes another important discovery in Australia’s search for 'lost’ film.
Carol Galbraith, the motion picture laboratory specialist in film inspection at the Library of Congress, took me on a tour through the film preparation area. This section of the Library of Congress complex is responsible for the inspection, cleaning and repair of film. Films are carefully inspected over light-boxes on work benches and any damage is noted and repaired. The repairs can vary from a single perforation replacement to a major repair of missing frame sections. The repaired film is then cleaned in an ultrasonic film cleaner and then goes to the timing/grading area.
The Cooee Cabaret had its second outing on Friday night in Gunnedah. Whilst the audience was smaller in size than the turn out in Mildura, they looked like they had a great time.
Monday and Tuesday (17 and 18 May) I spent at the Library of Congress, Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Virginia.
The majority of this complex is hidden underground and houses 6.3 million collection items; 1.2 million moving image, 3 million recorded sound and 2.1 million supporting documents such as scripts, posters and photos. The building site was originally used by the US Federal Reserve Bank Center and after an extensive rebuild was officially opened by the Library of Congress in 2007.
We are putting together a small exhibition of reproductions from the illustrated song slide collection. Illustrated songs are glass magic lantern slides and were around in the first three decades of the 20th century. They featured photographic, painted or drawn images which were projected onto a screen in sequence to create a narrative. The slides accompanied a singer who invited the audience to join in during the chorus. These community singalongs took place in halls, theatres and cinemas and some were regularly broadcast on radio.
Friday the 14th saw me start the day with Juan Vrijs from Haghefilm for a lesson in film repair and splicing. I was joined by two L. Jeffrey Selznick School students, Josh Haidet from Alliance, Ohio and HyunJu Jang from South Korea. Juan took us through film preparation and a variety of repair techniques including ultrasonic film splicing and film sprocket repair. Careful examination of film to be duplicated is essential. This ensures any damage to the sprocket holes or film surface is repaired prior to the film being duplicated, thus reducing the chance of further damage occurring to the film during the duplication process.
Recently Technicolor donated a large and extremely important collection to George Eastman House (GEH). I was lucky enough to have a glimpse of this collection while given a tour of the Gleason Storage Facility. The collection includes motion picture cameras and printing equipment as well as papers such as technical drawings. This important collection will eventually be made available to the public to view.
Today I visited the Motion Picture Department at George Eastman House (GEH) which is run by the delightful team of Nancy Kauffman and Dianna Ford. This department is responsible for the digitisation of photographic stills, posters and paper documents, all relating to Motion Pictures. One could say they are the sister department to Still image services at the NFSA, where I am based. I found many similarities between the two sections. One issue we both have is the ongoing battle of scanning collection material at as high a resolution as possible but keeping in mind the limited space available for the storage of the digital files.
Last Friday about 150 Drama and English students from nine high schools around NSW attended a Q&A with actor Aden Young and film director Ian Darling. This was 's most successful videoconference to date. Amid the thunderous applause there was one image that really made me smile – a handwritten sign held up to the camera that read: 'We Love You Aden’!
After over 24 hours of travel in four different aircraft I finally arrived in Rochester, NY, on a rainy Friday night. I was met by the smiling faces of Jeff and Deb Stoiber from George Eastman House. Over the weekend I was taken on a tour of Buffalo, NY, by Jeff, Deb and past NFSA/GEH Exchange participant Tim Wagner. We met up with Juan and Gerard from Haghefilm, Amsterdam, and two students from the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation, Maggie Yin and HyunJu Jang. A great time was had by all and Tim made the perfect tour guide.
Last Friday night I attended the premiere of Cooee Cabaret in the Mercury Theatre in Mildura (north-west Victoria). The ABC regional radio station in Mildura publicised the performance, interviewing Brendan Smith and the cast, promoting the Sounds of Australia registry and encouraging residents in Mildura and surrounds to make their nominations.
Last Friday I left Canberra for New York to participate in the NFSA/George Eastman House (GEH) Exchange Program.
As well as George Eastman House, Rochester, NY, I’ll visit the International Centre for Photography and the Metropolitan Museum of Art , then the Library of Congress Audio-Visual Conservation Centre in Culpeper, Virginia.
A new, more interactive presentation of the Sounds of Australia collection is now available from australianscreen.
One of the main reasons we started the Sounds of Australia in 2007 was to find out what recordings people care about and why. This new website makes it easy for you to give us feedback – by adding a review or commenting about the sounds online. We would love to hear if you have information or personal reminiscences about the recordings in the collection.