Motion Picture Film Preservation

Much of the content of this page was created by Hannah Frost who served as Associate Editor until Nov 2011

See also

Formats & Identification
Storage & Handling
Deterioration: General, Vinegar Syndrome
Bibliographic Resources: General, History, Conferences, Additional Resources
Tools & Glossaries
Digital Issues: Bibliographic Resources, Projects
Other Resources
Mailing Lists


American Film Institute
Preservation: Why are Films and Videos Disappearing?

Association of Moving Image Archivists
Film Forever

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Archives
A Visit to the Archives
A lively portrait of the various media collections held by the CBC and the preservation and restoration activities it undertakes. In addition to film, covers video and audio formats and equipment.

Film Preservation on Wikipedia

Home Movie Day
Preservation Links

Kodak Technical Information
Covers a range of topics relevant to film preservation, including: transport and shipping , storage, bulletins, FAQs, and interactive tools.

Keep Moving Images > Film
Preservation information for artists working with the moving image

Library of Congress
Care, Handling and Storage of Motion Picture Film
A basic discussion aimed at the general public.

The Library of Congress Motion Picture Conservation Center
A brief history.

Motion Picture Conservation at the Library of Congress by David Francis
A description of the restoration process.

Moving Image Collections (MIC)
Sponsored by the Library of Congress and the Association of Moving Image Archivists and funded in large part by the National Science Foundation, "MIC documents moving image collections around the world through a catalog of titles and directory of repositories, providing a window to the world's moving image collections for discovery, access and preservation."

The Preservation Portal includes an extensive bibliography, articles, a glossaries, a timeline, format identification information, and more.

The National Film Preservation Foundation
The Film Preservation Guide: The Basics for Archives, Libraries, and Museums, 2004.
Available in print for purchase or in digital form (download chapter-by-chapter or in its entirety.

National Film and Sound Archive (formerly ScreenSound Australia)
Film Preservation Handbook
How to Care for Your Film

The National Museum of Photography, Film, and Television
Nitrate Film (also available in PDF format)

Video Aids to Film Preservation
Guide to learning motion picture film preservation and restoration.

Formats & Identification

Film Identification
Chronology of Film - 1889 to Today
Discontinued Products
KEYKODE ID numbers
16mm film
"16mm, 8mm, Super 8 and even 9.5 are alive and well."

National Park Service
Identification of Film-Base Photographic Materials

Storage & Handling

Image Permanence Institute
IPI Media Storage Quick Reference
IPI Storage Guide for Acetate Film
See also: IPI's extensive list of available publications

Kodak on Storage
Technical information for storage of new and old, processed and unprocessed film. Also covers nitrate's special needs.

Library of Congress
Specifications for Plastic Containers for Long-term Storage of Motion Picture Film and Magnetic Tape Media
Specifications for Stainless Steel Cans For Long-term Storage of 16mm Motion Picture Film

Mark McCormick-Goodhart
"The Allowable Temperature and Relative Humidity Range for the Safe Use and Storage of Photographic Materials". Originally published in Journal of the Society of Archivists Vol. 17, Number 1, 1996, pp 7-21.

"On the Cold Storage of Photographic Materials in a Conventional Freezer Using the Critical Moisture Indicator (CMI) Packaging Method". Additional information on cold storage is available from Wilhelm Imaging Research.

National Film Preservation Board
Keeping Cool and Dry: A New Emphasis in Film Preservation. Supporting Document A. Redefining Preservation Task Force, August 1994.

Handling and Projecting 35mm Archive and Studio Prints: Voluntary Guidelines. Supporting Document B. Public Access and Educational Use Task Force, August 1994.

National Park Service
Caring for Cellulose Nitrate Film. 2004.

Oakland Library Consortium
Care and Handling of 8mm and 16mm Home Movies


International Imaging Industry Association (I3A)
BSR/ISO 6051-1997, BSR/PIMA IT9.20-1998 Imaging Materials - Processed Reflection Prints - Storage Practices. Specifies dark storage conditions, storage facilities, and handling and inspection procedures for reflection prints of all types and sizes. This is a revision and redesignation of the ANSI/NAPM IT9.20-1996 by the International Adoption of ISO 6051-1997.

International Standards Organization (ISO)
ISO 18902:2001 Imaging Materials - Processed Photographic Films, Plates, and Papers - Filing Enclosures and Storage Containers
ISO 18920:2000 Imaging Materials - Processed photographic reflection prints - Storage practices
ISO 14523:1999 Photography - Processed Photographic Materials - Photographic Activity Test for Enclosure Materials
ISO 18911:2000 Imaging Materials - Processed Safety Photographic Films - Storage Practices

National Fire Protection Association
Standard for the Storage and Handling of Cellulose Nitrate Motion Picture Film (NFPA 40)
Standard for the Fire Protection of Storage (NFPA 230)

Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE)
SMPTE produces more standards and recommended practices relevant to film and video production and preservation, such as RP 131-2002: Storage of Motion-Picture Films, than can be listed here.



National Film Preservation Board
Film Preservation Photo Gallery: What We Aim to Prevent

The National Film Preservation Foundation
Under Preservation Basics, see: "Film Decay and How to Slow It" by James M. Reilly.

Vinegar Syndrome

See also ANICA: Australian Network for Information on Cellulose Acetate

Association des Cinémathèques
Vinegar Syndrome

Image Permanence Institute
Vinegar Syndrome: An Action Plan by Jean-Louis Bigourdan.
Effectiveness of Storage Conditions in Controlling the Vinegar Syndrome: Preservation Strategies for Acetate Base Motion-Picture Film Collections by Jean-Louis Bigourdan and James M. Reilly.

Molecular Sieves and the Prevention of the "Vinegar Syndrome"
Extracted from a paper presented at the 1992 AMIA Conference on December 10, 1992, by Dr. Tulsi Ram.

Molecular Sieve Acid Scavenger from Kodak for Moisture Free Film Storage and Extended Dye Images

Bibliographic Resources


American Film Institute and Louis Wolfson II Media History Center
The Administration of Television Newsfilm and Videotape Collections: A Curatorial Manual. Edited by Steven Davidson and Gregory Lukow. Los Angeles: American Film Institute. 1997.

American Museum of the Moving Image
Behind the Screen: The AMMI Guide To Who Does What In Motion Pictures and Television. New York: American Museum of the Moving Image. 1988.

American Society of Cinematographers
American Cinematographer Film Manual, 7th Edition. Hollywood: ASC Press. 1993.

Karen F. Gracy and Michèle V. Clonan
The Preservation of Moving Images. Advances in Librarianship, ed. Frederick C. Lynden, vol. 27. New York: Academic Press. Preprint in PDF.

International Federation of Film Archives
A Handbook for Film Archives, 2nd Edition. Brussels: IFFA. 1991.
Preservation and Restoration of Moving Images and Sound. Brussels: IFFA. 1980[?]
This Film Is Dangerous: A Celebration of Nitrate Film. Brussels: IFFA. 2002.

The Book of Film Care. Rochester: Eastman Kodak Co. Publication H-23, Cat 121-1317. 1992.

Henry Wilhelm and Carol Brower
The Permanence and Care of Color Photographs: Traditional and Digital Color Prints, Color Negatives, Slides, and Motion Pictures. Grinnell, IA: Preservation Publishing Company. 1993.
This seminal publication on photographic materials preservation is now available in PDF form by individual chapter or in its entirety.


Charles "Buckey" Grimm
"A History of Early Nitrate Testing and Storage, 1910-1945" in The Moving Image Vol. 1 Number 2, Fall 2001, pp 21-38.
See also: Buckey's Film History, Preservation, Conservation and Resources Page.

Penelope Houston
Keepers of the Frame: The Film Archives. London: British Film Archive. 1994.

Alan D. Kattelle
Home Movies: A History of the American Industry, 1897-1979. Nashua, NH: Transition Publishers. 2001. See also:

Sarah Zeibell Mann
"The Evolution of American Moving Image Preservation: Defining the Preservation Landscape (1967-1977)" in The Moving Image Vol. 1 Number 2, Fall 2001, pp 1-20.

Tom McGreevy and Joanne Yeck
Our Movie Heritage. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. 1997.

Anthony Slide
Nitrate Won't Wait: A History of Film Preservation in the United States. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. 1992.

Conference Proceedings

Joint Technical Symposium - JTS covers fundamental technical topics relating to audio-visual preservation, including degradation, storage, digitization, risk assessment, and media testing.

JTS 2004: Preserving the AudioVisual Heritage – Transition and Access, Toronto, Canada.

JTS 2000: Image and Sound Archiving and Access: The Challenges of the 3rd Millenium, Paris, France. Conference papers edited by Michelle Aubert and Richard Billeaud. Paris: Centre National de la Cinématographie. 2000.

Care of Photographic, Moving Image, and Sound Collections
Held at the University College of Ripon & York St. John, York, England in July 1998. Conference papers edited by Susie Clark. Worcestershire: Institute of Paper Conservation. 1999.

Tools and Glossaries

Greg Pak
Footage Calculator and Charts

Glossary of Film / Video Terms

Digital Issues

Steven Asher and Edward Pincus
The Filmmaker's Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age. New York: Penguin Books. 1999.

Association des Cinémathèques Européennes
Digital Film Restoration

Howard Besser
"Digital Preservation of Moving Image Material?" in The Moving Image Vol. 1 Number 2, Fall 2001, pp 39-55. Preprint in PDF.

David Chute
"Film Preservation At The (Digital) Crossroads"

Nigel Culkin and Keith Randle
"Digital Star Wars heralds new dawn" in The Guardian, May 20, 2002.


American Film Institute (AFI)

Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA)

Audio-Visual Preservation Trust
Dedicated to the preservation of and enhanced access to Canada's Audio-Visual Heritage

Film Foundation
Facts about Film Preservation

The International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF)

The International Federation of Television Archives (FIAT/IFTA)

Museum of the Moving Image

National Film Preservation Board
Film Preservation 1993: A Study of the Current State of American Film Preservation. Report of the Librarian of Congress.
Volume 1
Volume 2: Hearing, February 12, 1993, Los Angeles, California
Volume 3: Hearing, February 26, 1993, Washington, D.C.

Redefining Film Preservation: A National Plan. Recommendations of the Librarian of Congress in consultation with the National Film Preservation Board. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., August 1994

National Film Registry

National Film Preservation Plan: An Implementation Strategy. June 1995.

Studio-Archive Joint Restoration Project Guidelines. Supporting Document C. Public-Private Cooperation Task Force, August 1994.

Depositing Films with Archives: A Guide to the Legal Issues. Supporting Document D. Public-Private Cooperation Task Force, August 1994.

National Library of Australia
ANICA: Australian Network for Information on Cellulose Acetate A forum point for sharing information and accessing resources about preserving cellulose acetate collections in Australia

South East Asia-Pacific Audiovisual Archive Association (SEAPAVAA)

Other Resources

Sound and Image Collections Conservation (SOIMA) Programme, "a platform for highlighting the issues and challenges that smaller institutions face in preserving sound and image materialss"

Internet Archive moving image collections

Internet Movie Database

Mailing Lists
Archives in Conservation OnLine
AMIA-L is an e-mail discussion list sponsored by the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA). It is intended to facilitate communication among AMIA members and professionals in related disciplines interested in issues relevant to the association, to archival issues involving all aspects of moving image materials and moving image archives, and to any related technologies or special interests of the profession. Appropriate postings from AMIA non-members are welcome, and subscription to AMIA-L is open to the public.

To subscribe to AMIA-L, send the following message to Listserv@LSV.UKY.EDU:
Subscribe AMIA-L Your Name
Archives in Conservation OnLine

[Search all CoOL documents]

URL: http://