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The Film Preservation Studies focuses on the theoretical and practical training  in the identification, classification, restoration and preservation of our cinematic and audio-visual heritage

The course poses the (theoretical, technical and ethical) dilemmas for students that cinema raises as a material and immaterial heritage. As well as tackling all those aspects related to identifying images and sounds on photochemical, magnetic and digital media, the speciality provides the tools for managing existing collections and creating new ones. The course also provides access to protocols and procedures for revising and restoring materials, using both mechanical and digital tools, which offers genuine practical experience in the laboratory.

Film Preservation studies are carried out in constant interaction with the work at the Basque Film Archive, which provides students with a real-life experience with a film archive officially certified by the FIAF.

Clara Sánchez-Dehesa
Coordinator of the Department of Film Preservation Studies

Clara Sánchez-Dehesa Galán is a specialist in the conservation and restoration of audio-visual material after studying at the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation, New York, where she received The Hague Film scholarship 2011, and in audio-visual heritage through a Master’s degree from the Complutense University in Madrid. She has carried out her work as a conservator in various projects in both Spain and in Bolivia, the USA and Mexico and has taken an active part in the development of the Home Movie Network, an association that she is currently the president of, where her current projects to restore and disseminate home movies and amateur cinema are included.


“Film materials are not just a mere medium. Their relationship with the work is much closer than what current digitalisation policies show. Understanding this relationship and learning about the materials and their wear and tear in depth is vital to be able to make decisions about their conservation. The technical skills and the correct use of technologies linked with each type of medium are vital for working with our audio-visual heritage.

In the FIlm Preservation area we are going to develop all these qualities through theory, practice and the experience of professionals. The ultimate aim is to ensure that students are able to face up to the dilemmas raised by audio-visual conservation using well-founded criteria”.

 

Clara Sánchez-Dehesa

Restoration and preservation of our cinematic and audio-visual heritage

 

  Module 1 Module 2 Module 3 Module 4 Module 5

Core subjects

The map of the (three) archives History of the materiality of cinema The filmmaker's thinking: practice and theory The sound point of view The spectator-filmmaker

Module details

Basic concepts for an insight into audiovisual conservation. Materiality of cinema Cinema
conservation
and
preservation
Processes of
investigation
and restoration
procedures
Procedures for
accessing
audiovisual archives

Main subjects

Introduction to cinematographic heritage: philosophy, concepts and dilemmas  Photochemical Lab Deterioration and
conservation of
photochemical material
Management and
treatment of Complex
Media

Restoration of sound

  Identification and
management of video
and audio collections
Identification,
inspection &
description of
photochemical material
Deterioration and
conservation of
magnetic material
Digitisation processes.
Digital treatment of
images

Conservation and
storage of audiovisual
collections

    Materiality of images Documentation and
Cataloguing
 

Film restoration

  

Digital preservation

Meeting, optative subjects and other events

Histories of cinema 

 

Critique and analysis
sessions

Histories of cinema 

  

Critique and analysis
sessions

Histories of cinema 

  

Critique and analysis
sessions

Histories of cinema 

  

Critique and analysis
sessions

Histories of cinema 

  

Critique and analysis
sessions

Tabakalera programme          

 

Common Subjects

  • Film Hypothesis

    The theme of the first of the core subjects is the school itself, viewed as an aesthetic project rather than just an educational centre. The result is poetics, that is to say, an action plan, an ethic, a unitary vision of film, a shared life experience and a notion of collective co-responsibility that affects all members of the school. It is the EQZE as poetics, as Raúl Ruiz might say, or as ars poetica (the art of poetry), to borrow Horace’s term. A Single History/ Just a Story [Una sola historia/ Solo una historia] shows the EQZE’s place in the context of other legendary film education experiences, carrying out an iconological, flexible, cross-cutting and non-diachronic analysis of film in order to engender a reflection on the unity of film which lies at the heart of the EQZE teaching project.

  • History of the materiality of cinema

    There are as many cinemas as (not only optical but also haptic) materialities of cinema. This subject proposes an approach to the filmmaker based on his/her materiality to unravel not only the most relevant technological milestones, but also the ways in which the materiality of the image has contributed to generate specific artistic discourses. The subject will focus initially on the materiality (resolution, texture, colour) of the sensitive photochemical material and then progressively look at other magnetic and digital types of audio-visual media.

  • The filmmaker's thinking

    An approach to the theory of creation by filmmakers before or after their films: as a film project or as a reflection on the work itself. In all cases, the theory of filmmakers seeks an approach to the fundamental aesthetic dilemmas of the medium and a reading of cinematographic thinking away from traditional methodologies. Accordingly, the subject also looks at purely intuitive and non-reflective approaches, contrary to the rationalization of creation.

  • The sound point of view

    Analysis of sound in cinema, looking for connections with other contemporary manifestations of sound, such as music and art, but also with the sound dimension of everyday life.

  • Aesthetics of reception

    Thinking about cinema from reception does not imply doing so based on the box office results of a film or its audience, but rather on the role played by viewers in the complete meaning of any film. Their active or passive role, the place given to them in the film, the processes of identification and distance, the generation of estrangement and the mechanisms of emotion and empathy are all essential components of cinematographic creation examined in the subject. The subject questions all these matters because, in short, to think cinema from the point of view of reception means to assume that there is no filmmaker who is not, first and foremost, an active viewer.

  • The map of the (three) archives

    This subject offers EQZE students the opportunity of taking on an exploratory role (creative, researcher, curator) within archive-related film and audio-visual practice, bearing the three tenses of cinema in mind: the past, linked to memory; the present, linked to action; and the future, linked to planning and foresight. This philosophical proposal aims to prompt students to think about historical and contemporary cultural and political problems from the perspective of the conceptual framework offered by the concepts of profanation (Giorgio Agamben) and the creative act (Gilles Deleuze).

  • Basque film: a cinematography with tradition, an emerging cinematography

    This course suggests an approach to Basque film. Beginning with an historical contextualization in order to provide the background of the birth and development of Basque film up to the present time, it will carry out a chronological and thematic review of the history of Basque film and will present the most notable Basque filmmakers from its origins to the present day, with particularly close attention to the three (or more) generations of Basque filmmakers who are currently active.

  • Inside filmmaker’s studio

    The sixth module begins in mid-August and is only partly classroom-based. This is a time for students to apply the knowledge they have gained, both through their work experience and in their individual or group end-of-course assignments.

Itinerary subjects

  • Introduction to audio-visual heritage and its history

    Due to the industrial nature of the audiovisual world, technological breakthroughs in this field have caused major disruptions throughout its history. The move from the 'cinema of attractions' to narrative, the standardisation of feature films as the cornerstone of all programmes, the sudden, large-scale spread of sound, colour and the wide screen format, the moving away from cellulose nitrate as a photochemical medium, and the use of electronic mediums and digital technology in the creation, dissemination and commercialisation of images, have all triggered their corresponding linguistic revolutions over the past 120 years, along with successive bouts of widespread distribution of materials, prompting some private individuals and administrations to create film archives. These five classes aim to present a theoretical basis regarding the reproducibility of audiovisual works and their different manifestations, as well as the various processes used by the industry (and therefore present in film archives) during three main periods: 1896-1930, 1930-1980 and 1980-2010. With the participation of Santiago Aguilar, Luciano Berriatua, Alfonso del Amo and Nere Pagola.

  • Identification and management of video materials

    Investigation into the history of video formats, their technical characteristics and use, risk factors, and principles and tasks for collection management. The course will cover both analog and digital materials stored on magnetic tape, ranging from professional and broadcast formats to those used for independent production and home videos. Collection management topics include identification and inspection, the creation of inventories, standards for collection care and handling, and conservation/preservation planning.

  • The photochemical image. 16 mm Laboratory (I)

    The subject offers a basic introduction to the procedures involved in developing black-and-white film by hand. Through theory and practice in developing different types of film and processes, the subject looks at the photochemical material during processing in the dark room. Students will learn about the chemical treatments and the alterations suffered by this type of material, in order to understand its qualities, its physical and aesthetic performance and its deterioration, as well as its creative possibilities. We will process material shot in the school.

  • Identification of film material

    Researching the history of audio-visual technologies in order to identify film heritage. Technical characteristics and use of materials. Design of tools and methodologies for identification, inspection, inventory and assessment of film collections.

  • Digital observatory

    A space for examining the tools of the digital image and data management from a technical perspective, from filming all the way through to postproduction.

  • Identification and inspection of digital files

    General understanding of digital documents: from outside (file system level) to inside (formats, codecs, encoding, etc). Focus is on audio-visual use cases. Students will learn how to find, understand and even manipulate technical properties of media files and how to apply this for quality tuning and long-term preservation. It also includes an introduction to quality-control of media files and should enable them to comprehend and handle capture- and export-options of any digital media application.

  • The photochemical image. 16 mm Laboratory (II)

    Second part of the subject, centring on the developing of colour film.

  • On the Materiality of Audio-Visual Heritage

    How has sound and image been recorded and reproduced? We will explore the various approaches that have been undertaken during the one a half past centuries and discuss why some succeeded and others did not. Understanding the original processes is the foundation for successful modern restorations. This class is a technical history of both the sound and the moving image record and their reproduction. The acoustic, electrical, magnetic and digital era are considered for sound; the photographic, magnetic and digital era for moving images. Not only the current archival media (radio, film, television and video) are explored, but also computers, video games and even… space exploration.

  • Documentation and cataloging

    Since film was first invented at the close of the 19th century, right up until the emergence of video at the beginning of the nineteen-seventies, all audio-visual works were shot on photochemical format and it was on the basis of this same format that audio-visual production, distribution and conservation developed and evolved. Digital technologies offer new ways of creating, storing and accessing works, but technological changes have destroyed some materials and rendered others inaccessible due to the obsolete nature of the devices required to reproduce and conserve them. From this perspective, the definition of new standards poses unprecedented challenges for conservation, while at the same time facilitating documentation and cataloguing processes, which are an indispensable requirement for guaranteeing access to audio-visual works.

  • The other film camera

    A theoretical reflection and practical exercise in forms of projection. Learning to project, exploring the vision and experience of projectors, from the magic lantern to the DCP.

  • Permanent film sound observatory

    The Observatory is involved throughout the academic year, providing a space for training, practice and research in sound. In addition to pre-established themes, it can also adapt to the specific needs of group members at any time, linking into practical work and projects under development, in the areas of sound recording and postproduction. Throughout the year, the observatory also builds links between the area of sound and other subjects, to form an ongoing echo chamber.

  • Digitisation processes. Digital treatment of images

    Study of the digitisation of material on photochemical supports. This is a well-established process nowadays, although workflows vary considerably from one institution to another. Students will learn the basics of digitisation and the objectives sought in the case of archives. When the image has been digitised, they will have treatment practicals to adjust optical qualities to the requirements of each project.

  • Video digitisation

    Material stored on magnetic media is at imminent risk of destruction. By the end of the next decade, we will have lost much of the content stored in this format. The only means of ensuring that valuable contents survive is to transfer them to digital media. This course centres on the assessment and digitisation of magnetically stored video material. We will examine the physical and chemical description of the material in order to understand and mitigate the effects of deterioration and the best way of treating it, with particular stress on digitisation processes. Students will learn how to assess deterioration in magnetic media, plan for digitisation and to understand the conservation requirements. By the end of the course, they will know how to digitise magnetically stored video material using the rack in the laboratory.

  • Digital processing of images

    The aim of this course is to help students understand and become familiar with film restoration tools using the DaVinci Resolve 15 software package. It also aims to teach them, using real examples, how to apply techniques for facilitating the restoration of cinematographic materials, as well as how to resolve any technical doubts that may arise.

  • Deterioration and preservation of film material

    Research on specificity of photochemical material and its relation to the work. Basic physical properties, colour systems, material deterioration and common types of damage. Planning for preservation and restoration.

  • Sound restoration

    This course deals with the dilemmas and solutions which crop up when working with soundtracks for audio-visual projects, and focuses on the procedures required for identification, restoration and long-term conservation.   

  • Film restoration

    This will address the complex world of film restoration, entailing a combination of knowledge and work over a wide range of disciplines in connection with audiovisual conservation. Students will learn how items to be restored are chosen, and the long process of a restoration project from the point of view of investigation. They will also study the range of market options nowadays to create the components of access and conservation.

  • Digital preservation

    Analysis of digital documents and the infrastructure needed to lay down a digital preservation strategy. Students will learn the theories and modern practices, and the access and conservation policies operated by various institutions.

  • The photochemical image. 16 mm Laboratory (III)

    Delving deeper into laboratory processes, this subject offers practical experience with professional equipment. Students will develop, copy and print film in a continuous processor and contact printer, with an analogue colour correction system. Following an introduction to the theory, we will carry out a number of different tests and trials of copying and final development on films created by the students. Development and copying are a technical part of the picture-building process. We will establish a creative line to show the extended possibilities available when these processes are carried out directly by the filmmakers themselves.

  • Management of audio-visual collections

    The environmental conditions that surround any type of material are crucial for their long-term preservation. Audio-visual documents use a wide variety of materials as formats. Knowledge of the needs of each material and the management of storage conditions are essential for extending the life of collections. This course discusses standards and debates on the handling of audio-visual material in all its complexity, and analyses various case studies that consider the heterogeneity of such material in terms of context and budget, comparing work with collections held privately, domestically and at historical associations. It seeks to provide key points to help students adapt to different circumstances in the work of archiving and learn how to set up and use a strategic plan for the conservation of audio-visual collections.

  • Management of Complex Media

    Audio-visual documents are not exclusive to film libraries or film archives. Audio-visual work is a format or medium of expression that is extensively used in other fields such as art. Contemporary art museums contain audio-visual collections that combine a wide variety of formats and technologies, which require specific handling and management.

  • Open source digital tools for Audio-visual archives

    The class begins with an introduction on file formats. Building on this the students will practically explore free and open-source software, such as FFmpeg (for in-depth file transformation), QCTools (for quality control), AEO-Light (sound extraction from optical tracks) and DCP-o-matic (DCP encoding), as well as various media players. Resources on infrastructure and workflows for film and video digitisation will be presented and discussed, taking account especially of solutions which can be implemented in difficult environments at little expense. An overview on data preservation and migration, as well as disaster planning and recovery, will round off this class.