Gathering and protection (acquisition and preservation) of film /today of also other audiovisual / materials, has been a part of the National Film Archive work since the establishment of this institution. The main task of technical department is taking care of the film materials, putting the materials into particular collections, depositing materials into the depositories and the provision of dispatch services for the authorized borrowers.
The department is divided into these workplaces:
- Film materials accruals
- Agenda related to other audiovisual carriers
- Obligatory supply agenda (ensuing from the law)
- Restoration and protection of film materials (the editing room)
- The editing room for scanning
- Dispatch services
- Depositories for nitrate materials
- Depositories for safe materials
After the establishment of the Film Archive (1943), in particular series from private producers and distributors were acquired for the collections, whereby a high percentage of silent both feature and non-feature films and almost the entire sound feature and non-feature work could be saved.
In the period of the state monopoly (1945 – 1993), all reproduction and other film materials of Czech films were transferred to the Archive’s collection based on the valid ÚŘ ČSF (Film Institution) valid directives and regulations. Because of this, almost 100% of Czech production from this time period was gathered.
The changes in the society after 1989 meant among others an unprecedented increase of acquisitions, as a result of changes or cancelling of some Czech Film companies and institutions, NFA has taken over their film materials into its collections. Just an example: Filmexport, Krátký film a.s., Czechoslovakian Army Film, Film Ateliers Gottwaldov, FAMU Archive, CR representation offices.
The other acquisition activity is so called obligatory supply. Under Act No.273/1993, every Czech producer of audiovisual work is obliged to offer NFA two new copies for a permanent deposition. This obligation is adjusted by the Act 249/2006. NFA has the possibility to get a duplication copy and one copy of Czech audiovisual work and written and promotional materials to the work.
NFA gets series of permanent archival value also from private persons and film amateurs, as a gift or by purchase.
The department keeps the accruals agenda under the Archival Act. The technical conditions are checked in every film material designed to be archived before being deposited.
The surface areas conditions (mechanical damage, the state of the splicing, the occurrence of impurities, mould, decomposition),the state of perforation, the length of particular parts is measured, the format and kind of the base, the kind of sound record, the kind of colored material, the initial and dialogue subtitles and versions are determined.
Based on this information, an identification form – a birth certificate of every particular copy or reproduction materials is made. The form further includes the data about the name of the film, the original name (in case of foreign films), the makers, production, year of production etc. Every new material is recorded into the particular book of accruals.
The technical department maintains these books of accruals:
- Feature films copies and duplication copies
- Non-feature films copies and duplication copies
- Feature films negatives
- Non-feature films negatives
- Non-film audiovisual records acquired based on the legal producers´ obligatory supply
- Audiovisual carriers BETA, DVD, VHS s TC a VHS
This is followed by printing of identification tags to identify the boxes, writing of dispatch cards (in order to record the movement of the film materials) and a basic entry to the NFA computer database.
The film materials are put into archival boxes, identified by the tags and deposited in the depositories. Colored distinction allows an easy orientation – the copies are in green boxes, the negatives of picture in red boxes, negatives of sound in yellow boxes and duplication copies in blue boxes.
The audiovisual materials are deposited continually in the air-conditioned depositories, being periodically checked as well.
The films on flammable nitrate base are placed in a special depot from safety reasons, which is, of course, also air-conditioned.
One of the main and most important tasks of NFA is protecting and maintaining materials that could be irreversibly lost due to the natural decomposition of highly flammable nitrate base. From this reason, the films are copied onto a material with a safe non-flammable base, either acetate or polyester.
Securing the particular titles has been done with cooperation with Zlín Film Laboratories (Ateliéry Bonton Zlín a.s.) and Barrandov Film Laboratories. The materials with flammable nitrate base (used approximately until 1960) are processed preferentially. In the recent years, about 100 000 m of new materials have been copied per year.
The materials designed for copying are being prepared in the editing rooms where the following activities take place:
- Check of technical conditions of the original material
- Synchronizing negative of picture with negative of sound
- Comparing two and more materials
- Adding (additional copying) the missing parts to the original material
- Adding the missing subtitles and subtitles
Difficult reconstructions, repairs and completions of particular film materials are made in cooperation with film historians.
All newly made copies are checked in film projection.
Large financial means are spend on the production of new copies or reproduction materials.
It is a professionally, technically and financially highly demanding activity requiring keeping of precise rules for restoration of films, with high demands on the professional knowledge of the particular workers.
At first, all preserved film materials are gathered. Many times one manages to get parts of series also in foreign archives or from private persons. The attempt is to get the most complete picture possible about the original film work. Therefore also written documentation is used – the contemporary censorship lists, subtitles lists, sometimes /in the adaptation of literature/ it is suitable to study the master. Comparing and placing properly the scenes that were not put together originally, found for instance in many small discs is a painstaking work.
Thus, this is a method having nothing to do with retouching of picture in particular frames but it is an integrated process being conducted in close cooperation with the technical department workers and the particular film historian.
Photographs from individual film frames are made in digital way for the needs of the NFA, database but also for customers. A lot of them were used in the catalogue “Czech feature film“ and other publications published by NFA.