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IPI Contributions to Film Preservation

IPI Contributions to Film PreservationDuring three decades, IPI has gathered and developed unique knowledge in the field of film preservation. IPI has conducted extensive laboratory research, contributed to the development of ISO standards, published and disseminated research findings, developed a diagnostic tool for assessing acetate-based collections, and conducted numerous surveys for large institutions including the Library of Congress and the National Archives & Records Administration.

Investigations were prompted by the fact that film’s inherent instability posed a serious threat for collections of motion-picture film, sheet-film, microfilm, X-ray film, and aerial film across the country and around the world. IPI set about examining the decay of acetate film as influenced by heat and humidity. With the objective of developing an overall strategy for preserving film materials, IPI quantified the impact of the storage environment, and investigated the role of enclosures, the use of micro-environments, and the effect of changing temperature and humidity conditions on acetate film base stability.

History of Film-Based Research Projects – funded primarily by NEH and IMLS

1985: Decomposition of Cellulose Acetate Plastic Film Supports

1986: Adhesive Testing, Color Fading and Cold Storage of Film

1988: A New Approach to Safety Film Preservation

1991: Image Stability Tests for Microfilm and Photographic Prints

1992: Polysulfide Treatment of Existing Microfilm

1994: Environment and Enclosures in Film Preservation

1997:  IPI’s A-D Strips®, a tool for early detection of vinegar syndrome in acetate film, received a Technical Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences

1998: Effect of Changing Temperature and RH Levels on Library and Archive Materials

1998:  Dr. Peter Adelstein of IPI won the Fuji Photo Film Gold Medal for his acetate preservation research

2003: Preservation of Magnetic Tape Collections

2013: Preserving Film Collections for the Future

IPI’s research established the relationship between storage conditions and acetate base chemical stability and made possible the quantification of the benefits of lowering temperature and humidity levels to acetate life span.  The role of enclosures, the effectiveness of various housing situations, the use of micro-environments in film preservation, and the value of control of the macro-environment were studied. Data on the relationship between temperature, relative humidity, and film moisture content were investigated, ultimately leading to the development of safe handling practices for film housed in cold storage.

Publications and Tools Developed for the Management of Film and Media Collections

1993: IPI Storage Guide for Acetate Film

1995-2002:  Five-part series of contributions in the Journal of the Society of Motion-Picture and Television Engineers (JSMPTE)

1995:  A-D Strips® - Film Base Deterioration Monitors

1998:  Storage Guide for Color Photographic Materials: Caring for Color Slides, Prints, Negatives and Movie Films

2004:  Media Storage Quick Reference (MSQR) - addresses the issue of storage for films, photographic prints, audio and video tapes, CDs, and DVDs

2010:  Knowing and Protecting Motion Picture Film poster