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How are movies restored?

Workers of the Cinemateca and National Image Archive (CINAIN) tell us the step by step process that protects the audiovisual
restauración películas
| 10 April, 2019 |

How is the tour to get good results? The process has its flats and complexities. To learn more about film restoration procedures, CINAIN workers detailed the step-by-step conservation. Next, we synthesize some essential points:

The restoration of the digital film material comprises different stages that range from the identification of the materials with which it will work (in many cases its physical repair), to the digital color correction treatments, the format and final display support and, by Of course, the support in which it will be preserved in the long term. Everything that has been preserved can be restored, considering as original materials of greater value for restoration the original negatives in film but also any material that can help the research process that is required to be carried out in any audiovisual restoration project.

The complexity of restoring older or newer movies depends on various variables. Old films are affected by the greater passage of time, which means a greater possibility that the material has degraded. But the conditions under which the audiovisual work has been preserved also influence, that is, if it has been preserved through its original negatives or what are the materials that are available to start the restoration project. In addition to the passage of time, other conservation factors can initiate decomposition processes, such as temperature, humidity and ventilation of the place where they are stored. It is also necessary to consider the type of support in which the work has been carried out, since the oldest films (prior to 1930) have different formats that require a much greater job as they do not correspond to the industrial standards adopted later. Another difficulty, not least, is the fact that the artists involved in the work are not alive, since supervision is essential not only in technical but also aesthetic terms with respect to restoration. For example, in the case of one of the films restored by CINAIN – together with Dac and its Recover Plan – for the Mar del Plata Festival, Pizza, Birra, Faso, the process was supervised by its directors Bruno Stagnaro and Adrián Caetano, but also by its director of photography Marcelo Lavintman who had to determine the technical aspects that allowed to restore the film according to the vision that was taken at the time of its premiere, taking into account that its original projection was in film and that the film had a particular type of grain, of “definition” of the image, for having been shot in 16mm. and enlarged to 35mm. Today, with digital projection technology, a technical decision had to be made to respect that original aesthetic decision.

Currently restoring films is both a problem and a necessity of the film industry that has to do with the need to preserve our cultural heritage, in this specific case, the audiovisual heritage. The CINAIN Law was sanctioned in 1999 and it declared the emergence of film heritage. It is believed, based on approximate data, that almost all of the silent films and more than half of the sound films are lost. This is a fact that with the substantial task of CINAIN must be corrected, not only because of the fact that it is approximate and should be specified with data based on scientific research, but also because the task of CINAIN is to modify those numbers by recovering our cinema and all the audiovisual works of our country. On the other hand, there is also a timely need for the film industry, since for many years it was believed that the production chain of a film had three backbone columns: production – distribution – exhibition. Today we know and it is necessary to be aware that there is a fourth column that is fundamental for the industry: preservation. To the extent that an audiovisual work is not preserved, its commercial exploitation cycle ends. By preserving it, the work can be distributed again and exhibited again, to be preserved again, that is to say that the audiovisual product thus complies with a virtuous circle. This is very sensitive in terms of public policies, given that, as in much of the world cinematographies, Argentine audiovisual production is a subsidized production, therefore we talk about the fact that the State had so far not guaranteed the preservation of the works that He helps produce himself. This resulted in a loss of assets in the sense of cultural good and economic good.

Para restaurar una película se requieren tanto de personal especializado como de equipamientos técnicos específicos. Una incluye a la otra porque sin los saberes específicos no es posible definir qué tipo de equipamiento serán necesarios y, cuando se cuenta con los equipos, se necesita además quién sepa operarlos. Por este motivo, la primera actividad que dio inicio al funcionamiento de CINAIN fue la creación de la escuela de restauración más prestigiosa del mundo, como lo es la Film Preservation & Restoration School, que se realizó conjuntamente con la Cineteca di Bologna, L’Immagine Ritrovata la FIAF (Federación Internacional de Archivos Fílmicos) y la fundación The Film Foundation de Martin Scorsese. 
To restore a film, both specialized personnel and specific technical equipment are required. One includes the other because without specific knowledge it is not possible to define what type of equipment will be necessary and, when the equipment is available, it is also necessary who knows how to operate them. For this reason, the first activity that began the operation of CINAIN was the creation of the most prestigious restoration school in the world, such as the Film Preservation & Restoration School, which was carried out jointly with the Cineteca di Bologna, L’Immagine Ritrovata the FIAF (International Federation of Film Archives) and the Foundation The Film Foundation of Martin Scorsese.


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