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Industry Pros Sound Alarm on Possible Decay of Digital Movie, TV Show Files

Photo from The Maker Jess via Unsplash

Industry Pros Sound Alarm on Possible Decay of Digital Movie, TV Show Files

By Movieguide® Contributor

Hollywood has an emerging crisis as digital movies and TV show files may become unusable.

While the news of specific films is under wraps due to NDAs, industry leaders are talking behind closed doors about the possibility of corrupted files, improperly transferred data and failing hard drives causing digital content to vanish.

“It’s a silent fire,” said Linda Tadic, CEO of Digital Bedrock. “We find issues with every single show or film that we try to preserve.” As for what content is missing, “I could tell you stories — but I can’t, because of confidentiality.”

The most vulnerable are indie filmmakers with less financial backing, and preservationists are concerned that Hollywood may have a repeat of the lost silent movies from a bygone era.

“You have an entire era of cinema that’s in severe danger of being lost,” said Larry Karaszewski, a board member of the National Film Preservation Foundation. Leonard Maltin, another board member, pointed out that current films may meet the same fate as midcentury silent pictures. “Those films were not attended to at the time — not archived properly because they weren’t the products of major studios,” he said.

One aspect that puts indie films at risk is the lack of storage safeguards. “They’re worried about getting the project picked up and getting it out there; proper preservation isn’t thought about so much,” added Gregory Lukow, chief of the Library of Congress’s National Audio-Visual Conservation Center, which now digitizes physical media.

With the rise of unscripted materials, there has been a boon of extra footage and scenes that didn’t make the theatrical cut but could be useful in understanding the project’s development. The preservation community believes it saves time and money to have protocols for digital content storage upfront.

“It’s a different budget and a different model when it’s done later on,” said Lance Podell, senior VP at Iron Mountain Media & Archive Services. “To go back and make something searchable, retrievable, locatable is a more expensive and time-consuming process than if you’d done it out of the gate. And there’s the loss of institutional memory because the people involved in making the work are often no longer around.”

Hollywood insiders have taken extra steps to protect digital content by developing the Academy Color Encoding System, which communicates color and other pertinent information.

Andrea Kalas, Paramount’s senior VP of asset management, told The Hollywood Reporter that “the best practice for preserving a film that was shot digitally is to ‘have a copy of that final film in the best possible resolution, in the widest color gamut, so you have the most original materials associated with that film.'”

“If you are moving your files to an infrastructure of some sort, whether that’s a data center or a set of clouds, people are thinking about storage policies like keeping multiple copies. There are also people that choose to store things offline like on LTOs,” she added.

Andy Maltz, the principal at the consultancy General Intelligence, believes digital preservation efforts must be continuous.

“The data that you are protecting needs consistent migration. You really can never take your eye off the digital ball. That [is] why you have backups, it can happen at any time. The odds are pretty low [of losing a film] — but there are still odds,” he said.

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Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.

Movieguide® is a 501c3 and all donations are tax deductible.


4000+ Faith Based Articles and Movie Reviews – Will you Support Us?

Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.

Movieguide® is a 501c3 and all donations are tax deductible.