Archiving Film at MNHS

Enjoy this behind-the-scenes showcase of the Minnesota Historical Society's film digitization process, made collaboratively with local production company Wheel•House. MNHS film archivists believe in the importance of preserving Minnesota's audiovisual legacy, and as stewards of the past who preserve these stories, they're pleased to give viewers an intimate look at their work.

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April Rodriguez: Film preservation is important I think because it's all about preserving the story.

I think storytelling is, is very magical, um, just like with books, you know, they're windows and doors to other people's worlds and perspective and you're, you're entertained, you're educated. People pass down their history and their culture through storytelling and so I've never been one to be the person in front of a camera but I've always, you know, want to be somehow involved and and right now I'm doing it as an archivist and trying to preserve these stories and also make them accessible, you know, where I can.

So our process essentially begins with pulling the film from our media vault which is a cold vault. We take the film into our film room, let it sit there for a day to go from the cold temperature to the room temperature. I'll then get the film, go to the film bench, put it on a reel take it up on another reel and inspect the film. I'm inspecting the film to check out the integrity of it, to make sure that I can have it play back on the, on our scanner. I'll do some small repairs which might include fixing a splice, and that's just where film connects to the, another piece of the film and it's taped together usually or cemented in and then I will run through the entire reel of film. I'll then go through again and clean it. I'll add some leader on to it as well and then I'll bring it to our digitization room. Once I'm in the room I then load it up onto our scanner and then I'll thread the film through our scanner and go to the computer, load in the presets. We then run the film in real time and it scans and then we have a digital file.

I never know what people are going to interpret from seeing or reading or holding or looking at something. You know it's kind of like we preserved it and it's, it's there for you to come check out.