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Spanish Film Archive

Preservation and conservation of the film archive

Cinematographic registries are carried out for materials and systems with a variety of technical characteristics and requirements for conservation.

Conservation requirements for original negatives, for operating and preservation copies as well as screening copies are different, and in some cases even divergent. In-depth knowledge of the technical and industrial characteristics of each type of material used in the production of a film is therefore compulsory for the conservation of the titles.

Cinematographic materials were not designed for cultural conservation, but rather for industrial conservation, which is determined by the timeframes of expected profits, varying for each film, each period in the history of cinema or film company.

Whereas the problems brought about by industrial conservation of cinematographic materials have been mostly solved, cultural conservation long-term preservation of original characteristics-- is a substantially more complex issue and must be applied to materials that were not designed for indefinite conservation, and which in many cases arrived in the archives after having completed their normal cycle of industrial operation in a state of damage or deterioration due to the very use they were created for.

Conservation of the original supports, which for cultural and economic reasons is a necessity, does not guarantee the preservation of film work.

Cinematographic preservation makes it necessary for the archives to acquire in-depth knowledge of the physical and chemical characteristics of the materials to be conserved and to define the necessary conditions for the storage of each type of material. However, it also requires the creation of the necessary tools for the reproduction of each material, as well as the reproduction of the materials on new supports while preserving all of their characteristics.

Acting based on the knowledge of the evolution of the materials being used in the industry, and going beyond the necessary conservation of these materials, cinematographic conservation requires maintaining the ability to reproduce films with all of their original characteristics, for the coming generations of spectators.

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