History, Identification, and Preservation of Motion Picture/Video Materials

Current Faculty: Snowden Becker

Description: Designed specifically for special collections librarians and archivists, this course provides a comprehensive overview of film- and tape-based motion picture materials, with particular focus on those formats most likely to be encountered among collections of personal papers and corporate records.  Topics covered in depth include the fundamentals of identification and assessment for motion picture film and video formats; basic film handling, repair, and preparation for storage or transfer; information resources useful in identifying and assessing the uniqueness of specific holdings; and preservation planning for collections that hold motion picture materials in varying concentrations and quantities.

This course includes a substantial hands-on component, which will introduce the essential tools and techniques of the film archivist, including use of manual rewinds, split reels and cores, tape and cement splicers, cameras and projectors. Site visits and case studies will assist in demonstrating the substantial variations in professional film- and media-preservation practice among dedicated motion picture archives, smaller media-focused collections, and sites where film and video exist alongside material in a wide variety of other formats.

While strongest emphasis will be placed on media from the first half of the 20thcentury, their material characteristics and critical affordances, this course will also engage—as contemporary archivists and librarians must—with the unique challenges of digitizing film and video and providing up-to-date access to historic motion pictures. Students are warmly encouraged to bring examples of audiovisual materials from their own collections to the class as object lessons in identification and assessment.

The National Film Preservation Board’s Film Preservation Guide is the basic text for this course; bound copies will be provided to students while supplies last.

Requirements: No previous experience necessary.

Years Taught: 2014, 2016, 2018, 2019