[Tig] How much time film really has?

Jim Houston jdhouston at earthlink.net
Sun May 19 06:08:10 BST 2013

> It's known that film will last at least 50-60 years if it's stored well.
> Maybe longer if it's on great stock and is well-exposed. 

So far, it is known that you can still get acceptable film images from
material that is color from 61 years ago, from black and white 110+ years ago,
and from three strip seps from 78 years ago. 

Testing shows that well stored black and white film that has been thoroughly
washed of developer can last under accelerated testing for between 500-1000
years (based on thermal degradation only).   Frequent usage of the material
every 10 or 20  years will of course lower the possible life more quickly.

It is interesting that Protection Seps are used less now than just a few
years ago because studios -- whether they realize it or not -- are betting
 that the digital copies they have made will somehow survive when a
proven but more expensive film technology could guarantee results
that are usable 100 years from now.

It is pretty likely that with a film element a User in 2113 could build
a mechanical contraption to hold plastic flat while you shoot it with the
lastest 128K Red holographic camera.

But could your average engineer in 2113 build a GMR reading head
with servo tracking and the software to decode the magnetic pulse
 modulations of today's magnetic media?  Can you imagine building
on your own, the components for a vacumn tube from the 60's? Or
an LSI chip from the 70s?

Although we may be moving out of the mass production Age of Film,
we are likely just taking a step back into the custom-crafted Age of Film.
There was a time when if I wanted to have film scanned, I had to 
build a scanner myself.  I did this several times for various companies.
Eventually, I could buy a product that did a better job.   I could see
us going back to that stage of building your own things again.
 -- but can't tell you if that will ever be economical. (A question I
can't generally answer about the film industry either :-)

> The story about how TOY STORY 2 was almost lost is also very sobering -- and
> the Pixar people are very bright and know what they're doing:

Though they don't make it clear in the video, what was being lost
was the CGI construction data.    The finished movie images themselves
were fine.

Jim Houston
Starwatcher Digital
Pasadena, CA

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