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National Film Archive of Japan Uses Cintel Scanner for Streaming Film Archives

Blackmagic Design has announced that the National Film Archive of Japan has used Cintel Scanner for digitising films from the institution’s valuable collections, some of which are then made available via dedicated streaming websites.

The National Film Archive of Japan is a center for the promotion of film culture through the preservation, research and exhibition of films. It is engaged in the collection, preservation, and restoration of films and film related materials, as well as academic research and studies related to film. It also screens films in its theater area and shows film related materials in exhibition areas.

The organisation is divided into a main building in Kyobashi, Tokyo, which screens films and exhibits film related materials, as well as a branch building in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, which mainly stores and inspects films. The Sagamihara Conservation Center, where the Cintel Scanner is installed, currently has about 85,000 films in storage.

“These are the films that have already been inspected, and there are many more that have not yet been inspected yet. And since each film is made up of several rolls, the number of rolls is even more enormous,” said Kazuki Miura, Associate Curator of the National Film Archive of Japan.

“We believe that film is the most suitable preservation medium for moving images, so we use digital scanning for utilization purposes. We outsource film scanning while doing it in house in parallel. For in house scanning, we scan print films mainly for these streaming projects using the Cintel Scanner,” said Miura.

The National Film Archive of Japan decided to introduce the Cintel Scanner to train its staff on digital technology, and to meet the increased demand for scanning due to the streaming of its collections. Currently, about 10 films a month are being scanned using the Cintel Scanner.

“Until now, installing a scanner required an investment in the entire system, such as a high speed network and storage. The Cintel Scanner, on the other hand, is reasonably priced and can be connected with a single cable, just like an external device attached to a PC. We were also concerned about maintenance costs. Generally, we would be under pressure to pay maintenance costs every year after the scanner is installed. But with the Cintel Scanner, we can update the software by ourselves and only have to pay for repairs if there is a problem, so this was another factor that encouraged us to install the scanner,” Miura explained.

Currently, the National Film Archive of Japan operates three websites: Japanese Animated Film Classics, which shows early Japanese animations; Meiji Period on Film, which showcases Japanese films shot in the Meiji era; and Films of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. This September will be the centennial of the Great Kanto Earthquake, and they plan to keep adding new titles to the site regularly, aiming to have more than 20 titles available by then.

After scanning, footage is sent to the National Film Archive of Japan’s main building in Kyobashi for editing and grading and other processing, using DaVinci Resolve Studio with DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel. Once post production is completed, the footage is posted to one of the dedicated websites.

“In order to pass on film and its technology, film archives need to move forward together with the film industry. I hope that the Cintel Scanner, with its ability to make film scanning easier and more available to a wide range of projects, encourages more creators to use film in Japan and revitalize the film industry,” Miura concluded.

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