Fascinating article from Variety sent to me by Karl Cohen. I recall when the controversy was about modern films done on cheaper 35mm Eastmancolor film stock needed to be rescued while classic Technicolor prints like 1939's Gone With the Wind suffered minimal deteriation. Thanks to Variety for the reproduction.

Digital proves problematic
Industry lacks method to store footage

By DAVID S. COHEN -- "Variety"

As far as movies are concerned, digital, like diamonds, was supposed to
be forever.

No more dyes to fade, no more film stocks to decay or catch fire. Just
pristine digital data, preserved for all time, and release prints as
clear and sharp as the images caught by the camera.

Just one problem: For long-term storage, digital is -- so far --
proving to be a time bomb, more permanent than sand painting but not much else.

Simply put, there's no generally accepted way to store digital
"footage" for more than a few months. After that the industry is using a hodgepodge
of improvised solutions, some rather costly, others not very reliable.

That looked like a small problem when digital filmmaking was limited to low-budget indies, animation houses and tech pioneers like James Cameron and George Lucas.

Now, though, that small problem is growing geometrically as the major
studios shift away from film to digital capture. Such recent releases
as "300," "Apocalypto," "Zodiac" and "Superman Returns" were shot on
digital. Their digital masters could be seriously degraded if the problem isn't
addressed quickly.

In fact, the problem is so severe that the Academy of Motion Picture
Arts & Sciences' Science and Technology Council warned in 2005 that within
just a few years films shot with digital cameras could be lost.

Two years on, digital is going mainstream, but "The problem is still
there," says Phil Feiner, chairman of the Acad Sci-Tech Council's archiving
committee. And those few years the council warned of are nearly up.

It's not that there's no way to store digital data. On the contrary,
there are dozens of ways to store it, most of which go obsolete in just a few
years. Remember 5" floppies and Zip disks?

And the disks that have stuck around? Not so reliable.

Data tapes are balky and can fall apart. Data DVDs and CDs have a history
of "rotting" and can't be counted on to last as long as their commercially
pressed cousins.

Plus there's no reason to expect that the computers of 20 years from
now -- never mind 100 -- will be able to plug in to today's hard disks.Some
private companies are jumping in as awareness of the problem grows, and
Feiner's committee will be launching several initiatives over the months to

But the amount of digital footage that needs to be archived is growing
faster than ever.

More than one tech expert, including the Academy's Sci-Tech Council
director Andy Maltz, told Variety they had found archival tapes unreadable just
18 months after they were made.

Feiner, the former longtime prexy of Pacific Title, says when he worked
on studio feature films he found missing frames or corrupted data on 40%
of the data tapes that came in from digital intermediate houses.

The tapes were only nine months old.

"On certain pictures we had to go into the DI negative and re-scan the
data," he says. "You couldn't retrieve it. Gone."

Milt Shefter, who is a team leader on Feiner's digital archiving
committee, warns that "Long term, it's possible that we're looking going back to
the early days of motion pictures, where films are made, put out for a week
or two, then thrown away."

With acetate or polyester film, the typical approach to archiving has
been summed up as "store and ignore."

Color film can be turned into black-and-white color separations on
polyester stock. Properly stored in cool vaults at low humidity, such film can
last centuries. But there's no way to "store and ignore" digital.

Instead, digital data has to be copied, or "migrated," to new storage
every few years.

Migration, however, takes computers, an IT staff, software and a lot of
labor. In short: money.

While indies may lack the funds to do regular migration, studios are
plunging in.

Sony's VP of asset management and film restoration, Grover Crisp, says
the studio has put in a program of migrating every two to three years.

"The motion pictures and original material, those are primary assets of
the company," says Crisp. "We all want to do whatever we can to protect
those assets."

Disney's VP of production technology Howard Lukk, says as the studios'
digital archives grow, migration becomes a bigger job.

"It's like painting the Golden Gate Bridge and it getting a foot longer
every year."

Not only are more films shot digitally now, but digital filmmaking
encourages directors to shoot more footage.

Mel Gibson told Variety, "Here's the horror. In the average film, it's
900,000 feet to 1.2 million to make a film, roundabout.

"('Apocalypto') was the equivalent of 3 million feet, so it's a lot of
stuff that you don't use but it's recorded."

"The technological issues here are not going to be solved by the
entertainment industry," says Shefter. "It's going to take big
business, big science and maybe big government."

In the meantime, the Academy is stepping in to make the motion picture
industry's voice heard in any big business initiative to solve the problem.

The digital archive project is the broadest initiative launched since
the Acad decided in 2003 to fund the current incarnation of the Science &
Technology Council.

Maltz expects a report that will pin down what the industry needs to do
to be released in a few months.

Meanwhile, private industry is attacking the problem of digital archiving, too, with
at least one announcement in the field planned for NAB.

At NAB, Elektrofilm Digital Studios and Sun Microsystems announced a
service to manage and archive the vast amounts of video from feature film

Many tech experts expect the studios to eventually outsource all their
archiving and migration to companies like Elektrofilm rather than try
to do it themselves. Feiner says what is happening is, in effect, the birth
of a new business: digital archiving.

He speaks from experience. Earlier this year, three companies received
Science & Technology Awards for their work on archiving. Feiner and his
Pacific Title team were among the winners.

Their solution takes the data from a digital intermediate and turns it
into three-color separation negatives.

In other words, they take the digital movie and turn it into good
old-fashioned film.

Read the full article at:

Birthdays: Emperor Hirohito, Duke Ellington , Duke Wellington, Sir Thomas Beacham, Zuben Mehta is 71, Tom Ewell, Rod McKuen, Fred Zinnemann, Jerry Seinfeld is 52, Michelle Pfeiffer is 49, Daniel Day Lewis is 50, Uma Thurman is 37

1749- In Philadelphia inventor Ben Franklin hosted a dinner party where he used his new battery to electrocute the turkeys to be roasted for the amusement of his guests. .

1771- Artist Benjamin West unveils his painting of the “Death of General Wolfe” at the Royal Academy in London. Wolfe was killed in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, which decided that Canada would be English. West’s portrayal of Wolfe in his actual uniform instead an idealized Grecian god was considered scandalously realistic and revolutionized painting.

1786- The day before his opera THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO was to premiere, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart sat down after dinner and wrote the famous overture. Friends said he liked to think while playing billiards.

1929- The film "All's Quiet on the Western Front" premiered. The world war one battlefield was constructed on a California ranch and dozens of veterans hired to be extras. When the antiwar film debuted in Germany Nazis agitators were sent out to Berlin theaters to release rats, skunks and snakes in the theaters to scare people away. The star of the movie Lew Ayres ruined his career when he declared himself a conscientious objector during World War Two.

1939- It’s strangely ironic that Adolf Hitler’s Government while murdering millions also waged campaigns against cancer and smoking. This day the Nazi Party officially banned smoking in all their offices because of health concerns. The rest of the world wouldn’t even begin to think of linking cancer with cigarette smoking until the 1960’s.

1944- Dancing Romeos, the last Our Gang comedy short was produced by MGM, which had bought the franchise in 1938 from Hal Roach.

1962- President John Kennedy hosted a dinner for a group of Nobel Prize winners at the White House. Kennedy said: “ I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

1992- THE GREAT LOS ANGELES RIOT- Los Angeleanos go berserk after an all white jury in Simi Valley acquitted the policemen who beat up drunk motorist Rodney King in the infamous videotape. 58 killed, 2500 businesses destroyed, $1.5 billion dollars in damage, 13,200 arrests and large sections of Los Angeles put under martial law. Even Rodney King, was moved to go on t.v. and proclaim: " Can't we all just get along ?" Part of the reason the disturbance spun out of control was the hotheaded police chief of the LAPD Darryl Gates was incommunicado for several hours at the beginning of the crisis. He was at a fundraising party in Bel Air to get money to fuel his quarrel with Mayor Tom Bradley -a former LAPD officer. Gates refused to answer the calls of his beleaguered precinct captains. Gates was eventually forced to retire and go on talk shows endlessly defending himself. One irony was the loot-crazed mob ran right past the L.A. County Art Museum to sack a department store on the next corner. I guess they felt that there was nothing of value in it, which is in agreement with many art critics. The Beverly Hills Police, a separate entity, announced they would keep the peace by merely arresting everyone they saw.

2001- Pioneer 10 was a space probe launched to the outer planets in 1972. After sending the first photos of Jupiter and Pluto in 1973 Pioneer 10 left our solar system and headed for deep space in 1997. It’s aimed for the Constellation Taurus. This day 7 billion miles away Pioneer 10 phoned home to say it was fine. It’s last message was received in 2003. I wonder if it asked if Richard Nixon was still president?

April 28, 2007 sat
April 28th, 2007

Birthdays: English King Edward IV (1442), President James Monroe, Lionel Barrymore, Carolyn Jones-aka Morticia Addams of the TV Addams Family, Ann Margaret is 66, Jay Leno is 57, Sadam Hussein, Jean Redpath, James Baker III, Penelope Cruz is 33, Jessica Alba is 28

1686- Sir Issac Newton published the first volume of his Principia Mathematica, outlining the Theory of Gravity. The earliest account of the apple story was in 1738. Voltaire writing about Newton claimed his niece told him the scientist had left Cambridge for the country during the Great Plague of 1666. "He observed an apple falling from a tree and fell into a deep meditation on what was this force that drew all objects in a straight line that until interrupted would continue to the center of the Earth."

1789-THE MUTINEY ON THE BOUNTY. The HMS Bounty had been sent around the world to bring back breadfruit samples to see if the plant could be a nutritional supplement for slave laborers in Jamaica and Bermuda. During the return voyage from Tahiti the crew led by first mate Fletcher Christian overpowered the Captain, William Bligh, and set him adrift in a rowboat to die. They then sail with their Tahitian families to settle permanently on an island. They choose Pitcairn Island because of it's remoteness. Squabbles arose among the British and natives and their leader Fletcher Christian was shot dead while tending his sweet potato patch. Today a majority of the islands inhabitants claim ancestry from the Bounty mutineers. One descendant was movie star Errol Flynn. Captain Bligh got to safety after navigating his little rowboat 1,500 miles to East Timor with almost no food, an unparalleled feat of seamanship. He was cleared by an Admiralty board and served with distinction in the Napoleonic Wars, although another ship mutineyed on him. On top of everything else, when Bligh got home he discovered his wife had been made pregnant by the nephew of the Duke of Wellington -'Wicked Willie' Wellesley. Like many 'famous' incidents this passed by it's time with little or no notice. What made the Mutiney on the Bounty world famous was a best selling novel written in the 1920's by two Americans, Charles Nordoff and James Norton Hall, who met when pilots in World War One's Lafayette Escadrille.

1925- T.S. Elliot landed a job at Faber & Fabers Publishing. His enabled the poet to quit his job as a bank teller at Lloyds and continue his literary career.

1937- Italy’s famed movie studio Cinecitta’ opened.

1954- Happy Birthday Godzilla!.The movie by Ichjiro Honda was inspired when a Japanese fishing boat was fatally exposed by radioactive fallout from a U.S. hydrogen bomb test. Godzilla is an Anglicized version of the Japanese Kohjira, which is a combination of Gorilla and Whale. The parallels to the Hiroshima experience reached eerie levels when the film has a long sequence of a funeral dirge sung to the dead of Tokyo as we survey the devastation. The famous roar was done by rubbing a resin-covered glove down some bass fiddle strings. The film was later released in the U.S. with American actor Raymond Burr (actually, Canadian actor..) acting in inserted scenes. The complete Japanese version of the film was not seen in North America until 2004.

April 27, 2007 friday
April 27th, 2007

Birthdays: Ulysses S. Grant, King Edward IV, Samuel Morse, Mary Wollenstonecraft, Edward Gibbon, Anouk Aimee, Sheena Easton, Sandy Dennis, Coretta Scott King, Walter Lantz, Jack Klugman

1667- Blind poet John Milton sold his masterpiece "Paradise Lost" to publisher Samuel Simmons for ten pounds. Ten years earlier under Oliver Cromwell’s patronage Milton was getting over a thousand pounds each for his poems

1884- The British government declared that Christopher Wrens 1675 observatory at Greenwich would be the central meridian point for calculating time zones. This would aid in calculation of longitudes which is crucial in navigating the worlds oceans. Starting at Greenwich they divided the world into 24 time zones each 15 longitudinal degrees apart.

1970- THE FIRST ATM- Automatic bank teller machine, opened at the Surety National Bank in downtown Los Angeles.

1981- Ringo Starr married Barbera Bach, his costar on the film 'Caveman'.UngaBunga!

1986- Investigative reporter Geraldo Rivera completed his transition from serious journalist to tabloid sillyness by hosting a primetime TV special in an old Chicago Hotel that was once a headquarters for gangster Al Capone. After wasting an hour speculating on finding buried treasure or dead mobsters, they broke into a sealed room sized vault. All they found in the empty room was some old bottles.

April 26, 2007 thurs
April 26th, 2007

Some images from the VanEaton/CTN Book Look last week.

Steve Gordon, Sito and Dean Yeagle. Thanks to CTN for the snaps.
Birthdays: Roman Emperor-philosopher Marcus Aurelius, Queen Marie De Medicis, John James Audubon, Frederick Law Olmstead, Eugene Delacroix, Dr. Lee DeForrest, John Grierson founder of the National Film Board of Canada, Rudolf Hess, Bobby Rydell, Anita Loos, I.M.Pei, Carol Burnett, Eyvind Earle, Alan Arkin, Amos Otis, Joan Chen, Koo Stark, Saxophone and Clarinet Player Jimmy Giuffre, 87, Rocker Duane Eddy- 67, Jet Li

1478-LONG LIVE THE BALLS! THE PAZZI CONSPIRACY- Pope Sixtus planed to take over Florence by arranging a hit on Duke Lorenzo de Medici "The Magnificent". Francesco Pazzi and Bernardo Bandini attacked the Duke in church just as the consecrated Host was being raised. Lorenzo escaped harm but his brother Giuliano was killed. Furious Florentines fell on the felons (repeat three times fast) and nailed their smoking hearts to the door of the cathedral. People blamed Archbishop Salviati for being part of the plot. The mob chased the archbishop up the bell tower, wrapped the bell chords around his neck and tossed him out to ring the bells for awhile. The people shouted "Long Live the Balls!" for the six gold balls that were the heraldic emblem of the Medici Family Bank. This emblem of three gold balls has come down to us as the universal sign for pawnbrokers. Michelangelo created a beautiful tomb for murdered Giuliano de Medici. Duke Lorenzo ordered artists to paint the portraits of the murderers corpses. Giuliano’s illegitimate son became Pope Clement VII.
Leonardo Da Vinci's sketch of a hanged assassin.

1607-FOUR HUNDRED YEARS AGO- THE ENGLISH LAND AT JAMESTOWN....The good ship Susan Constant and two small pinnaces land 150 men . These men were mostly professional adventurers and gentlemen. Capt. Martin and Capt.Archer served with Sir Francis Drake . Of the 150 only 12 men actually could do a trade other than fighting. Their actual purpose was to find Aztec Empires like the Spaniards found in Mexico and send gold back home. They didn’t bring a geologist so they sent barrels full of dirt that looked kinda yellow back to England thinking it was gold. They built their first fort in a swamp because it was a good defensive position. In a years time most of them would be dead from fever and cholera. Oh yeah, there was that John Smith guy too. He wouldn’t meet Pocahontas until Christmas. But where is Meeko?
Powhatan, it's the white men! Hmm-big boat lookum like CGI with a Toon Render and After Effects mist. Ugh!

1928- Los Angeles City Hall dedicated.

1933 The Nazi government forms an internal police force called the Gehime Staatspolitzei- the Gestapo. Ve haff ways of making you talk!

1937- GUERNICA- In Spain the Stuka bombers of the German Condor Legion ,
Nazi freelancers for Franco, bomb an innocent basque village provoking an international outcry and a painting by Picasso. Attacking at the height of the market time for three straight hours the bombers bombed the helpless civilians with no military target in sight. As many as 5,000 may have died.

1941-An organ is played for the first time at a baseball game in Chicago.

1965-Fred Smith, a student at Yale, got his economics paper back with a "c'" and a note stating the idea he espoused was impractical. The idea was an overnight air-freight service which he founded six years later as Federal Express.

1969- PAUL IS DEAD. The height of a strange rumor that excited the rock & roll world that Paul McCartney of the Beatles had died and the news was being kept a secret. Evidence was presented in the cryptic lyrics of "I am the Walrus", songs played backwards and the record album photo where Paul is the only figure with his back to the camera. A t.v. special hosted by famed attorney F. Lee Bailey explored the controversy. Finally this day Paul and Linda McCartney held a news conference and declared he was very much alive and what on Earth was everyone on about.

1986- Arnold Schwarzenegger aka Conan the Republican, married Maria Shriver, the niece of John F. Kennedy and candidate for a tray of lasagna.

1993- NBC announced former Simpsons and Saturday Night Live comedy writer Conan O’Brien would take David Letterman’s old Late Show spot.


The FJORG! SIGGRAPH 2007 submission site is now live and accepting submissions through May 15.
FJORG is an Iron-Chef like contest played out at SIGGRAPH 2007 this Summer in San Diego. 16 Teams will have 36 hours to create a winning CG film without taking a shower or sleep. I have agreed to be one of the judges.

Please spread the word far and wide about the greatest live animation contest on earth . . . DreamWorks is the major sponsor. Here is the link-


Birthdays: Roman emperor Otho -32ad, English King Edward II-1284, Oliver Cromwell-1599, Guiseppi Marconi, Edward R. Murrow, Ella Fitzgerald, Al Pacino is 67, Meadowlark Lemon, Talia Shire, Paul Mazursky, Hank Azaria, Rene Zellwellger is 38

TODAY is the feast of the Roman god ROBIGUS, dread god of Rust and Mildew.

1865- Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Grant left Joe Johnston commanding the second largest army of Southern troops, still facing Sherman in North Carolina. After several meetings and confused negotiations this day Confederate President Jefferson Davis ordered General Johnston to resume fighting and fall back towards Texas. Johnston like Lee felt any further bloodshed was now pointless. He chose to ignore his President and accept Sherman’s surrender terms. Joe Johnston’s modern descendent Joe Johnston IV is a Hollywood film director who made "Honey I Shrank the Kids" and "Jurassic Park III".

1886- The New York Times attacks the outcry among American union workers for an 8-hour workday (the norm then was 12) as: A Seditious, riotous notion that would collapse the American economy and lead to sloth, drunkenness and debauchery. It was probably the work of foreign extremists." The eight-hour day doesn’t become a norm in America until 1913 (in animation until 1941) and is still under attack in animation studios today.

1953- Watson and Crick announced the DNA Molecular Construction Theory and the world sees for the first time the twisted ladder model. Watson went down to his local pub and told the barkeep:" Set up a round of lager, for I just discovered the Secret of Life!"

1956- Elvis Presley’s song Heartbreak Hotel goes to #1 in the pop charts.

1970- Policeman Frank Serpico’s story of rampant corruption in the NYPD explodes on the pages of the New York Times. The practices of decades of graft are exposed by the Knapp Commission and the police commissioner and several captains resign in disgrace. Serpico’s story was made into a famous film starring Al Pacino.

1972- Witty, urbane actor George Sanders ( All About Eve, Samson & Delilah, Sher Khan in Jungle Book) had turned age 65. He complained he had been famous and rich and was not looking forward to old age and having a nurse wipe his bottom. So he committed suicide and left a witty, urbane note. "Dear World: I am leaving because I am bored. Adieu, I leave you with your worries in this sweet cesspool."

1981- Dixie, the oldest living mouse died at age 6 1/2.