Sunday, December 23, 2007

Back to the Future

Ah, the search for permanence has been a goal for mankind since the Egyptians made embalming an art form for the afterlife over 5000 years ago. The same applies for film as digital film makers are finding it to be an evasive, expensive thing to do in preserving "film" for future generations. "To store a digital master record of a movie costs about $12,514 a year, versus the $1,059 it costs to keep a conventional film master.

Much worse, to keep the enormous swarm of data produced when a picture is “born digital” — that is, produced using all-electronic processes, rather than relying wholly or partially on film — pushes the cost of preservation to $208,569 a year, vastly higher than the $486 it costs to toss the equivalent camera negatives, audio recordings, on-set photographs and annotated scripts of an all-film production into the cold-storage vault.

All of this may seem counterintuitive. After all, digital magic is supposed to make information of all kinds more available, not less. But ubiquity, it turns out, is not the same as permanence."

The issue of digital permanence has been discussed before in BRT in The Long Now but, as stated in the article, solutions are coming that will eliminate the storage problem for Hollywood once and for all. When that time comes, the question to ask is...Should Batman & Robin be preserved or should it be allowed to die a digital death, thus sparing future generations the pain of watching the Governator mangle the role of Dr. Freeze or seeing George Clooney turn Batman into Hollywood stud muffin No. 1.

"No one knows, do one?" - Fats Waller
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