ARRI's second Archive Workshop a success

On May 31 and June 1, ARRI hosted its second Archive Workshop at the company's headquarters in Munich, Germany. More than 150 attendees gathered from countries all over Europe, as well as India, Africa and New Zealand, making it a truly international get-together. Professionals representing various national film archives, post-houses, broadcasters and manufacturers mingled in a non-competitive environment, sharing their experience and knowledge of film archive and restoration. 

Speaking at the event, Stephan Schenk, General Manager of ARRI's Camera & DI Systems Business Unit, explained that the first Archive Workshop last year had been a huge success. It was therefore clear that there was scope to host a second, larger event this year, providing a uniquely informative overview of the industry. "The archiving business allows for many different methods and approaches," said Schenk. "There is no right or wrong; every approach has its merits."

The ARRI Archive Workshop is an excellent event for sharing ideas and experiences.

Patrick von Sychowski of Reliance MediaWorks - one of the workshop lecturers - commented, "ARRI is doing the industry a great service by providing this sort of forum. I think it is a sign of a very effectual company that they can invite even so-called competitors and show that we are all really colleagues, and can learn from each other; I am proud to be part of it."


Another guest at the Archive Workshop was Anant Roongta, Director of Famous Studios Ltd. in Mumbai, India. "For us, as a leading restoration studio in India, this event was a wonderful occasion because we are relatively new to the profession. It was important to come here in order to understand the market and find out what is going on."


A selected exhibition of commercially available archive and restoration tools gave an engineering overview, while more than a dozen seminars addressed theoretical and practical issues such as the contrast between conventional handcraft and modern digital workflows. Daniela Curro and Ulrich Ruedel of Haghefilm Conservation BV in the Netherlands gave a presentation titled 'Digital Restoration of Stencil Color.' By referring to historical examples (such as WHEN FLOWERS BLOOM, 1929, USA) Curro and Ruedel demonstrated the different results in preserving the stencil colors of silent films when using analog and digital workflows. 

Silvester Stoeger and Fumiko Tsuneishi from the Austrian Film Archive discussed 'Pragmatic Solutions for Problematic Sources' - focusing on the conservation of early film materials. Both archivists try to avoid digital tools as much as possible in order not to influence the original image; for them, a wetgate is the only valid method to remove scratches, as it does not influence the image digitally. "Normally I am working in the archival milieu and don't have the opportunity to meet people from postproduction or the laboratories," said Tsuneishi. "It's interesting to look at digital film from a different angle and - vice versa - I hope that our presentation was also interesting for colleagues from other parts of the business."

Representing the British Film Institute, Kieron Webb of the BFI National Archive outlined an ambitious plan to restore the nine surviving silent movies directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The archive's aim is to preserve the films while also making them accessible to the broadest possible audience; each title will therefore be released in several formats (film, data, DCP and HD master). Another stunning presentation of internationally important material was made by Marc Rance, director of London-based specialist Watchmaker Films, who revealed the complex restoration processes employed for F.W. Murnau's silent screen classic NOSFERATU (1921). 

Travelling to Munich from literally the other side of the globe, Nicholas Booth of New Zealand's renowned facility Weta Digital showed the restored WWII propaganda short movie COUNTRY LADS  -  the first production of the New Zealand National Film Unit in 1941. Commissioned by the Archives New Zealand, Weta undertook a 4k digital intermediate restoration, together with Park Road Post Production. 

Other presentations covered technical questions, restoration possibilities and archiving methods. ARRI's own restoration specialist Thilo Gottschling (of ARRI Film & TV) and also Paul Collard from Deluxe 142 - one of London's biggest postproduction facilities  -  illustrated the difficulties in workflow management on large restoration projects, as well as some innovative solutions.

The event wrapped up with appropriate proof of the importance of saving the collective cultural heritage that is gathered in archives all over the world: Patrick von Sychowski and Robin Melhuish (both of Reliance MediaWorks) screened their restored documentary footage of the 1969 Moon landing. Jonathan Ashley-Norman, from the British company Freewheel Film and Media, commented, "There is a remarkable repository in archives throughout the world to really make people understand the richness of our history."

Exploring and exposing the various methods and tools for safely preserving this rich history was the goal of the workshop. "The ARRI Archive Workshop is an excellent event for sharing ideas and experiences," concluded Nicholas Booth of Weta Digital. "The wide range of topics reflects the breadth of challenges facing the archiving community. Coming from the feature film business, it is fascinating to meet people with such broad and varied archiving approaches."

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