Preservation of moving image and still photography content is a vital issue for the entertainment industry. A great deal of valuable content – stories essentially, either made-up or documenting actual happenings – exists today on paper, film and other physical and analog formats. These studio assets are an important part of the American cultural heritage.
Unfortunately, content owners – whether they be Hollywood movie studios, broadcasting companies or even corporations far removed from the industry – haven’t always done a good job of safeguarding their old content. The Library of Congress completed a comprehensive survey of American feature films from the silent era of motion pictures from 1912-1929, which revealed that only 14 percent (some 1,575 titles) exist in their original format.
Preserving Vital Content – Stories Told in Film, Tape and Photography
With our library roots (not to mention LA headquarters), it was a logical step for LAC Group to carve out a niche archiving service for the curation and preservation of this content. We help motion picture studios, television networks, independent film makers, institutional facilities and other content owners safeguard their assets, not only for historical preservation but for active post-production retrieval and use. We currently operate two archival vault facilities in the Los Angeles area.
PRO-TEK Film Preservation Vaults
Our Burbank location is a PRO-TEK facility. LAC Group acquired the PRO-TEK film preservation business from Kodak in 2013. This facility is considered to be a world-class film preservation facility protecting moving images for the content owners. Each PRO-TEK vault was built to maintain ANSI standard temperature and humidity specifications for long-term film storage and the environment is carefully monitored and maintained by specialized software. The facility includes a Class 10,000 Clean Room for inspection and repair and it is secured by electronic card key access and closed circuit cameras.
New Tape Vault in Thousand Oaks, California
In addition to our acquisition of PRO-TEK the end of 2013, we opened a new tape vault in Thousand Oaks, CA. This facility was created to maintain a secure, climate-controlled environment for tape and other media. Current usage of this 40,000 square foot facility is primarily for one media client. We are in the midst of working with the company to identify and curate their diverse collection of tapes, film, posters and other assets. As we do so and continue to develop this facility, it will greatly increase our capacity for meeting the preservation needs of other clients.
This facility will be used to store assets for a range of retrieval purposes, from very active to inactive. Currently we accommodate twice-daily courier service, much of it for television programming. As we are going into summer, which is mostly ‘rerun’ time in television, we expect to get busier.
Preserving Content Assets Far Beyond Storage
While many long-term storage facilities are available for preservation and archiving, not many options exist for specialized environments. According to Rick Utley, PRO-TEK Vice President and General Manager, “Our film inspection, repair and preservation capabilities are not readily available without building your own archival vault facility and staffing it with trained technical specialists.”
“We have competition, but most of them just do storage,” says Donna Holbeck, manager of the Thousand Oaks facility. “Clients come to us for answers to two questions: ‘What do we have?’ and ‘What should we do with it?’ We also help clients pare down what they have, whether that means eliminating unneeded duplicates, or digitization, or consolidating multiple tapes into one.”
Other value-added archival services we can do includes still image scanning, quality control and metadata creation, and we do them for all kinds of clients, not only Hollywood film studios or major media corporations.
We are becoming more deeply immersed in helping our clients curate, archive and research digital information. Yet we love this slice of our business that deals with content in those “old-fashioned” formats like film, tape and photographic paper, and we are proud to play a small part in preserving them for future generations.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences operates an extensive film archive in Los Angeles (at Vine and Fountain in Hollywood) which is open to limited public access via request and appointment only.
Learn more about PRO-TEK or contact us to discuss your archiving and preservation needs.