Saturday, April 21, 2007

Digital filmmaking's fight against entropy

A sobering read from Variety, especially for folks like me who are into digital filmmaking: the problem of archiving digital footage. Think that tape and recordable DVDs can store the products of our work forever? Nah-uh! The problem is two-fold: life expectancy of storage media, and current methods of storage being unable to be read by future technology. The current best solution is to "migrate" older material to new media every so often, but for the time being there is no reliable long-term storage.

What this is going to inevitably mean is that the work of a lot of people is going to be lost forever, eventually. Especially for the "indie" filmmakers and other artists. Which is especially horrifying to me because I've always thought that every person's creative work has merit. Whether we actually like it or not is a whole 'nother thing, but we should at least be appreciative of others for following through on a vision from their own unique perspective. But now, unless adequate and economical solutions to the storage problem are found, it will be as if a lot of those people's work never existed at all.

So far as filmmaking goes, the other alternative is to work with real film... but that's hideously expensive. And film can fade over time, just as tape will.

Isn't thermodynamics a wonderful thing? /sarcasm

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