Preserving 35mm slides

MediaFiler Participate in World Digital Preservation Day

Organised by the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) and supported by digital preservation networks across the globe, World Digital Preservation Day – 7th November 2019 – is open to participation from anyone interested in securing our digital legacy.

World Digital Preservation Day serves as a reminder to us here at The Digital Asset Lab to ensure our clients are aware of the need to preserve their digital assets. Naturally we trust their assets will be secure by using our own MediaFiler Media Asset Management software, but no matter, asset discovery, conversion and preservation to keep a record of heritage is vital.  So while it’s really Digital Preservation Day, to us it is also preservation day!

Last year we were horrified to discover, as we met with clients to issue Data Processing Agreements covering the new EU GDPR regulations (our post last year) that several were considering erasing all the drives containing past material which they now felt they had no lawful basis to hold or use without researching and contacting the subjects – the cost of which was considered prohibitive.

We may sell outstanding software but we are also keen archivists; we become absorbed in the historical research our clients record and store on MediaFiler.  The thought of anyone destroying digital photographic records because of GDPR is wrong, even if from a corporate point of view it is to protect the organisation.  We proposed various available options to retain the files and yet meet GDPR obligations.

One of our Nikon automated slide scanners. Having built a computer to accept SCSI we had the scanner professionaly checked and cleaned.

Back to preservation. The workroom bench this year saw thousands of 35mm slides which need preserving, particularly as many of them were fading – the colour dyes dying! 

These were slides from around the world which had not seen the light of day for 50 years.  Including slides of fields which are now home to cities.  We have to preserve historical images such as these.

How lucky we were that inside our cupboard of old computer equipment was a Kodak Carousel Slide Film Projector remote control, with a projector screen to boot – all working!

This year we’re going to start on our two Apricot Computers – no reason why they wouldn’t work – although they need a clean first! One had a 10MB hard drive and a floppy drive, and the other twin floppy disks drives for 720 KB floppy disks, not even the standard 1.44MB disks.  I think the first one cost £2500 and we had two monitors. One based in the office and one at home, and we lugged the Apricot between the two, to work over weekends. The keyboard was very advanced with keys under a digital display which changed depending on the program. Program on one disk, data on the other – how easy was that.  In those days you knew where your data was stored – it would now make GDPR a doddle!

Another discovery: we were handed a tin of Gold Star Monaco snacks, crammed full of black and white negatives, so now each one has to be scanned, assessed, identified and converted to a positive image. The side of the tin said snacks kept fresh in this airtight tin, so it did the job, all dry and well preserved. Looks like some negatives are from the 1940s.

Preservation by scanning is a labour intensive process, needs care and attention, but another service we offer our clients, assisting them in building their archive with MediaFiler.