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Archiving video on film as _digital_ data?


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#1 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 19 June 2005 - 10:55 AM

I'm just curious if there might already exist a method to record digital video data on film as _digital_ information for archive purposes? In other words, not create a traditional video-to-film "film-out" print, but somehow record video data as a digital pattern on film stock so that _all_ the original ones & zeroes from the digital video file are preserved?

I suppose the advantage of this approach would be the long, proven "lifespan" of film stock compared to magnetic or optical digital media. If a digital pattern of data were recorded optically into film stock, future generations of engineers could invent new mechanisms to "read" the data, even if the original machines became worn-out or lost.

I'm guessing the digital data would be "scribed" onto film using a laser, perhaps mounted in a helical drum assembly, similar to the way today's magnetic video head assemblies work?

Anyway, my apologies if this is old news (and is already in everyday use) or has been discussed previously -- but if not, I'm just curious if this idea has any merit.

All the best,

- Peter DeCrescenzo
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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 19 June 2005 - 04:00 PM

Hi,

I don't think it's a new idea, but yeah, sounds reasonable. If bloody expensive; it'd have all the downsides of both formats as well as their upsides.

Also, this "film as an archival medium" propaganda isn't entirely accurate; film only lasts more than a few decades if it is stored extremely carefully. I'm sure it'd be possible to make a CD-ROM or similar optical disc last just as long if you didn't let the metal layer corrode.

Phil
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#3 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 20 June 2005 - 02:24 PM

Certainly, there is precedent for recording digital data on film, starting with Kodak's Cinema Digital Sound (CDS), and currently with Dolby Digital and Sony SDDS soundtracks:

http://members.aol.c...s3570/dcomp.jpg

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http://members.aol.c...3570/specs.html

CDS Specifications

FORMAT SPECIFICATIONS

Columns of Data: 180
Rows of data per second: 32,494
Track Width 0.102 in (2.59 mm)
Bit size, 35mm (height x width) 14 x 14 microns (0.00055 x 0.00055 in.)
Bit size, 70 mm (height x width) 17.5 x 14 microns (0.00069 x 0.00055 in.)


http://members.aol.c...ds3570/cds.html

At present, digital masters (Digital Intermediates) of feature films are recorded out to film, either as a master positive or duplicate negatives (often on very stable polyester base). Long term preservation strategy usually included storing these color elements in cold and dry storage conditions recommended for long term storage (SMPTE Recommended Practice RP131), and making and "proofing" B&W silver image separations stored in a separate long term storage vault.

There are many nitrate films well over 50 years old that are still in very good condition. Polyester film base has a very good record of keeping stability, based on widescale use for almost 50 years.
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