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Digital-Transition Doc Side by Side Gets Archived … on Film

For Long-Term Storage, Physical Reels Are Still the Gold Standard

Side by Side
Oh, the irony! The 2012 documentary Side by Side, which is all about the relatively sudden transition away from film to digital image capture, is being preserved for the ages … on Kodak intermediate film stock. 
Kodak is publicizing the decision as a testament to film's continued viability as a stable preservation medium, especially when there is no time-tested equivalent in the world of digital archives. In a press release, Kodak said film technology has been around for more than a century, and noted that titles archived on film should be readable for at least another century to come.
"Keanu wants to make a film-out and actually have that print in the metal can with the handle and the whole thing," the film's director, Christopher Kenneally, told StudioDaily in an interview last year. "There's something to be said for that from an archival standpoint. Some people can really scare the crap out of you. They say the digital world is full of abandoned formats, and hard drives are going to die, and you'll lose all your material."
Side by Side has been transfered by Technicolor New York to a Kodak Vision3 Color Digital Intermediate Film 2254 element, which will serve as a master for creating "a few" 35mm release prints, Kodak said. The first 35mm print of Side by Side was scheduled to be shown yesterday at the Academy Film Archive in Hollywood, where the 2254 element will be stored. Kodak said the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is "providing substantial and instrumental support" for the project.
"We took a deep dive into the evolution of filmmaking technology and spoke to hundreds of artists and filmmakers to make this documentary," said Reeves in a prepared statement. "What we took away is that, right now, film is the only archival medium that is truly proven. We'd like Side by Side to be available for future generations, and we think creating film elements is the best way to do that."
Side by Side toured the festival circuit last year before premiering August 30 on PBS. It's available for viewing on DVD, Blu-ray, and via digital streaming services. For more information, visit the film's website.


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  • Anonymous

    I’m waiting for digital to be preserved on film as data, not analog images. Then we will have a truly robust archival format.

    • Augusto

      Watch for Cinevation’s Archivator next year then

    • A.Linder

      It seems to me that the best and most efficient way to use film as an archive medium is to just store analog photographic images (frames) on it.
      What a waste of the subtleties of color and shade of analog film grain it would be to instead use it to store switched-on or -off dots, representing bits, representing numbers, representing… subtleties of color and shade!
      If each pixel of an uncompressed digital frame requires 24 bits to store, then even if those dots are imaged as close together as the film grain reiliably can resolve, just storing an analog image on the film instead is 24x more efficient (ok, compression could compensate for that, but only if it is greater than 24x compression)!
      Not to mention that as long as an analog film master/print survives, even if all civilation ends on earth, even there are no people and it is an alien future archaeologist who finds it, they could easily figure out how to view the images on it.