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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 Galán is the coordinator of the Film Preservation Studies Department. She 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.



Common Subjects

  • History of the materiality of cinema

    Módule: 2

    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 audiovisual media.

  • The filmmaker's thinking

    Módule: 3

    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.

  • Reflections on painting and film

    Módule: 4

    This course is an exploration of the dialogue which exists between fixed and moving images, based on a specific analysis of certain films by Alfred Hitchcock and Michelangelo Antonioni. Optical research is one of the most important contributions of the incipient art of film, which by definition establishes a dialogue between old and new visual devices. The imaginary crime and the imaginary of crime constitute its first contribution.

  • The Film Archive: Current Debates and Novel Perspectives

    Módule: 5

    During this course, EQZE students will be confronted with various aspects of film archival theory and practice. We will compare a number of Collection Policies to understand the institutional and discursive backgrounds they are built upon. We will discuss recent restoration case studies and reflect on the different perspectives (or theoretical frameworks) that inform the practical and ethical choices made during the restoration process. We will also talk about re-use through the analysis of a number of projects (e.g. found footage films, installations and programs) that repurpose archival films. Throughout the seminar, we will look at some current debates within the film archival field (e.g. analog/digital; material turn; questions regarding selection and who decides what ‘film heritage’ is) and we will identify emerging trends that bring together researchers and archivists.

  • The map of the (three) archives

    Módule: 5

    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).

  • Inside filmmaker’s studio

    Módule: 5

    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. En 2018 el responsable del taller fue José Luis Torres Leiva, en 2019 Camilo Restrepo.

  • Historie(s) of cinema

    Módules: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

    What would a permanent history of cinema be like that revisited its sources again and again to continually rewrite itself? This question in the form of a piece of flash fiction by Borges gives rise to this subject-cycle that we launched first academic year. For the third year, Santos Zunzunegui will draw up his own personal selection of films from the history of cinema, in order to establish a meeting point where we can continue to reflect on the possible and impossible histories of cinemas, based on this (more or less canonical, more or less personal, more or less vast, more or less chronological) list of films.

Itinerary subjects

  • The photochemical image. 16 mm Laboratory

    Módules: 1, 2

    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.

  • On the Materiality of Audio-Visual Heritage

    Módule: 1

    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.

  • Identifying and researching of film materials

    Módule: 2

    A journey through the history of cinematographic technology and its relationship with the identification of film documents in an archive. Characteristics, techniques, uses and discourses. Design of tools and methodologies for inspecting, inventorying and assessing collections.

  • Identification and management of video materials

    Módule: 2

    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.

  • Identification and inspection of digital files

    Módule: 2

    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.

  • Introduction to a photochemical film lab (I). Film processor

    Módule: 3

    The school has a film developer for black and white processing. Using a machine to develop film material enables more standard processing which is more easily reproducible than when a manual developing tank is used. In this workshop, students learn to use a film processor and to understand how it works.

  • From the grain to the pixel. Digitisation processes

    Módule: 3

    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.

  • Digital processing of images I: Da Vinci

    Módule: 3

    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.

  • Video digitisation

    Módule: 3

    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.

  • Management of audio-visual collections

    Módule: 4

    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.

  • Documentation and cataloging

    Módule: 4

    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.

  • Introduction to a photochemical film lab (II). Contact copier

    Módule: 4

    Contact copiers or contact printers are basic tools in film production and enable duplicates to be made for screening. Delving deeper into different lab processes, this workshop enables students to practice using different pieces of professional equipment, developing, copying and making film positives using analogue colour correction systems. After a theoretical introduction, different copying and final developing tests will be carried out with the films created by the students themselves. Given that developing and copying are technical parts of the image construction process, the creative side of things will also be explored, since when these processes are carried out directly by filmmakers themselves, the possibilities are much broader. 

  • The colour of film

    Módule: 5

    Reproducing colour in film is and always has been the subject of intense research and experimentation. The search for realistic colour has resulted in highly diverse, and sometimes even iconic, colour palette systems. Let's take a walk through the science and technology that has made colour reproduction possible, going right back to its origins and, through case studies, learning how directors of photography have used these systems as another subjective tool in their creative arsenal.

  • Conservation of film materials: deterioration and restoration

    Módule: 5

    Research into the material specificity of film documents and their relationship with the work in question. Exploration of their basic physical properties, deterioration and common problems. Design of conservation and restoration plans for documents.

  • Digital preservation

    Módule: 5

    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.

  • Film restoration

    Módule: 6

    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.

  • Sound restoration

    Módule: 6

    The classes will try to present the basics concepts of the conservation and restoration of sound elements in a film archive, representing the best practices and common strategies applied to film collections.

Free choice subjects

  • Introduction to audio-visual heritage and its history

    Módule: 1

    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 Laura Cortés Selva.

  • The art of Primitive Emulsions

    Módule: 1

    This workshop takes a look at the production of home-made photochemical emulsions. Although it is based on film archaeology, it explores many contemporary creative questions. It is a workshop for those interested in the history of materiality, although it will also appeal to filmmakers curious about film not just as a means of storing their ideas, images and soundtracks, but rather as a material that actively forms and distorts these ideas, images and sounds.

  • Artists’ Moving Image and the Documentary Turn

    Módule: 1

    This course will examine how and why a strong documentary impulse has emerged contemporary moving image practice, with special attention to films that seek to challenge traditional assumptions about the documentary form and its association with objectivity, authenticity, and immediacy. We will explore how artist-filmmakers have interrogated the complex relationships between reality and representation in ways that extend, expand, and contest cinema’s long documentary tradition in light of today’s social, geopolitical, and technological conditions.

  • Cloud dramaturgy

    Módule: 1

    A brief tour of the representation of clouds in the history of painting. The basic tools for observing the heavens are sought and the importance of clouds in cinema is reflected. A way to approach "the screen of the sky", a space of representation and projection of images that connects the history of painting with that of cinema.

  • The sound of dreaming

    Módule: 1

    On very few occasions, if ever, do we associate the processes of dreaming with hearing. There is probably a simple biological reason for this: while we dream, although we temporarily switch off our sight so that we can enjoy other virtual images, our hearing always remains alert, always ready to make up for the sacrifice that rest imposes on our sight. As a result, although it sounds strange, there are no sound dreams. Every sound that we dream is irremediably linked to an image, whether this is abstract or figurative. This event offers an exercise based on sleepy listening (elusive, unfocussed..), in a kind of sound siesta, or perhaps more fittingly, a drowsy concert-listening session. In short, an entire long relaxing night, with a suitable soundtrack provided by pieces of radio art, in which the audience can sleep while listening or listen while sleeping. Cinema without light, without dialogue and without seats. The nuances and differences depend on each dream, we’ll let the comments be heard during breakfast.

  • Film in space

    Módules: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

    Tabakalera commissioned Berlin based film curator, artist and publisher Florian Wüst to curate two large-scale film exhibitions dealing with the history of experimental film, computer and video art up to the present day. The first edition, Zin Ex. From Abstraction to Algorithm, opens at the end of 2020, and runs for four months, including a program of screening and performance events. It shall function as a "classroom" for this course in order to evaluate together the specific curatorial approach of creating non-canonical connections between films, archive materials and other artistic media. The joint reflection also concerns the presentation of historical film works in our contemporary context of digital culture. After this initial phase the main proposal of the course unfolds: the active participation in the curatorial research and realization of the second Zin Ex edition in 2021.

  • Festival under construction

    Módules: 1, 4, 5

    Subject directed by the San Sebastián International Film Festival (SSIFF) articulated around the past, present and future of film festivals.  The sessions focusing on the past will compare the histories of different international festivals, and chart that of the San Sebastián Festival in particular. Those focusing on the present will take the form of long conversations between students and the SSIFF team, while those focusing on the future will be exclusively dedicated to selection and programming, and will feature guest lecturers from different fields of cinema who will help students imagine the future of festivals. 

  • Permanent film sound observatory

    Módules: 2, 3, 4, 5

    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.

  • The other film camera

    Módule: 2

    In the origins of film, the cameras used to record images were also used to project them. The operator who worked the crank to capture the moment was also the person in charge of making the gear turn so that, once developed, the images could be projected onto a screen. At what point did these two functions (and these two cameras) separate? And, above all, what were the consequences of this? Why is it that the profession of projectionist is now (and has been practically since the mechanisation of the reel drive and the creation of distribution circuits) so far removed from that of camera operator? The statement made by Henri Langlois, founder of Cinématèque Française, that his film camera was his projection camera, highlights the importance of reclaiming the art of projecting. This subject aims to recover this ancient, primitive unit, working from a twofold approach comprising both a brief theoretical-conceptual analysis and an almost genealogical exploration of projection (on light and shadow cones) in human culture, and a more extensive and strictly technical-practical section aimed at teaching students this ancient, forgotten, yet quintessentially cinematographic profession: that of the projectionist. With Carlos Muguiro and Asier Armental.

  • Film and video in the space of contemporary art

    Módule: 2

    An in-depth look at the funding of contemporary films at home and abroad. The subject avails itself of a detailed analysis of sources of funds to draw up a map of alternative resources: festivals, forums, foundations, sponsorship, subsidies, internships, competitions, self-funding and patronages. It draws comparisons between the financing of films and the financing of audiovisual art, in a bid to find connections and cooperation to help depict the economic panorama in which films are emerging in the 21st century.

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

    Módule: 3

    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.

  • Subtitling workshop

    Módule: 3

    In this introductory workshop, students will be given a brief yet thorough overview of all the phases which make up the subtitling process. The course will focus more on illustrating the technical and practical aspects of subtitling than on the specific details of audiovisual translation, which is more an area of expertise for translation students than for film students. After completing the workshop, students will be able to create and work with different types of subtitle files for their own audiovisual creations.

  • Introduction to video-essay

    Módule: 3

    This course addresses the generation of thought on the basis of writing with images. Particular emphasis will be laid on audio-visual essays, in a bid to produce critical thought generated using the film industry’s own media.

  • What music thinks

    Módule: 3

    What can music theory teach filmmakers? This subject introduces students to the concepts of musical composition and structure and, by extension, to other art disciplines, in order to help them interrogate and explore these two aesthetic tools in the context of cinema.

  • Film, body and performance

    Módule: 4

    Based on the age-old link between film, sculpture and dance, the conditions for the emergence and enunciation of the cinematographic image are transformed.  Underscoring the presence of the film apparatus, spectators and projectionist, we explore the prolonged association between expanded film and the presence of bodies, the immediacy of the here and now and the primacy of the direct experience of space and the spatial conditions of film in its plastic, geometrical, physical, community and social dimensions. We explore celluloid as a material, film as an a-disciplinary art form and projection as a site and duration-specific process. The aim is to generate a place for performative experimentation that covers everything from choreographic approaches to the art of action and specific interventions to talking films–always based on an expanded idea of film and its resonance in space.

  • Management of Complex Media

    Módule: 4

    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.

  • Construction of audio universes

    Módule: 4

    This subject specifically addresses all phases of the design and construction of audio universes: ideation, work criteria, relations with images, gestation of projects based on sound, mixing etc. The multisensory power of images and sound. The synaesthetic sensory stimulation of images and sounds and the articulation of their paradoxical power in film.

  • Digital to film

    Módule: 4

    Digital to film recording has become a key tool for digital artists and filmmakers who need to present their projects in film format.  This technique not only consists of transferring digital images in order to make them look like film, it also enables the inclusion of digital elements in projects originally filmed in the traditional manner, along with special effects. This workshop explores all the creative possibilities offered by this technique.

  • Open source digital tools for Audio-visual archives

    Módule: 5

    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.

  • Publications and film: paper, screen, text and moving images

    Módule: 5

    An analysis of the relationships which exist between the two mediums, based on a series of publications and exhibitions selected from among the teachers' own professional experiences. The aim is to adopt a subjective perspective that is not centred solely on results, but rather contemplates the process also, including difficulties and failures. Based on specific examples, we will analyse diverse key references from the field of artistic and film creation (authors, works and theoretical concepts) through the course's additional documentation.

  • Tint workshop

    Módule: 5

    Right from the very beginning, cinema has always been a colour medium and many different processes have been developed to add a touch of colour to black and white images. From chemical tints and tones to manual painting, the development of Technicolor and modern emulsions, film has always used colour as a means of artistic expression. In this workshop we explore the original colour of film and the aesthetic possibilities that these techniques offer to filmmakers and artists.

  • Optical printer: a tiny time machine

    Módule: 5

    Used to make duplicates of a positive, transform the size of the original material and create special effects in films, optical printing pre-dates the appearance of different digital post-production techniques. In this process, the image of a frame is printed and can be copied or modified. This workshop explores the creative and aesthetic possibilities offered by the device.

  • Digital processing of images II: Diamant

    Módule: 6

    The Diamant film restoration software is a professional solution for film restoration, cleaning and repair. The workshop, which is run by the digital manager of the Catalonia Film Library, teaches students how to optimise their workflow in the digital restoration process.