Why do film/video sources degrade over time?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jackson Catts, Oct 21, 2002.

  1. Jackson Catts

    Jackson Catts Auditioning

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    Seeing films from the Silent Era to the present, I noticed that blurriness, grain, and other negative elements appear on them. The same even goes for video sources. The question is: why do film/video sources, even those recorded from camcorders degrade over time? What about digital film/video sources?
     
  2. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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  3. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Just to add to what Jeff said, there is also the fact that the physical storage media used to create film and video degrade over time. Old newspapers turn yellow, and much-read books fall apart for much the same reason - physical wear and tear. The magnetic layer of videotape comes in contact with the read and write heads of your VCR every time you play or record something - which physically wears it out. The tape itself stretches, is affected by temperature, humidity and chemicals. (And all of this is as true of the new digital HD-VHS tapes as of the most modest first generation video recorder.) Film is similarly affected by environment, and by passing repeatedly through mechanical projectors. The dyes that make up the image on prints are gradually burned away by repeated exposure to extremely bright projector bulbs, and so on.
    DVD gets around some of this because the images and sounds are stored digitally, on a much tougher medium, but DVD doesn't come close to the resolution of film, and DVDs are vulnerable to abuse, and to manufacturing defect, if not quite to "wear and tear".
    In other words visual media degrade for the same reason that washing machines wear out and cars break down. I believe the short answer to your question is "entropy". [​IMG]
    Regards,
    Joe
     
  4. Jackson Catts

    Jackson Catts Auditioning

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    I assume that even if a film or video was never been played, it will degrade regardless?
     
  5. Richard_D_Ramirez

    Richard_D_Ramirez Second Unit

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  6. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Yes, the physical tape medium will break down over time

    Most pros recommend that you duplicate your Masters every 5 years for videotape
     
  7. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    I thought Turkey Knapp caused film degredation?
     
  8. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Did you know...

    The original nitrate CAMERA negative to 1903's The Great Train Robbery exists in complete, pristine form?

    Did you know...

    The negative to 1972's The Godfather is in poor condition?

    It's weird, yes, but it shows that preservation and restoration make films last. When they're overprinted and thrown around, you get lost films.
     

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