Digitized Cases

In this page, the MobiReel partners present an array of distinct film digitization cases. Each case encapsulates a unique narrative of technological strategies from using professional equipment for movie digitization to the usage of creative low-cost solutions, showcasing the diverse challenges encountered in the digitization process of films varying from fragile archival footage to more cinematic reels.


Cases digitized by: Kinoteka na Republika Severna Makedonija

TITLE: RUSALIA CUSTOMS IN GEVGELIJA

Documentary film, Macedonia, 1957, 22 min., black and white, bluray

Director: Blagoja Drnkov, Screenplay: Vera Klichkova

It is a documentary film dedicated to the Rusalians, one of the male ritual groups that operate in the winter period between Christmas and Epiphany during the so-called unchristen days. They are distinguished from other groups in that period by their “purity”, and the white clothes they wear is associated with the fairies who rule in these days and need to defeat them. By playing dances and waving swords, they chase away evil forces or heal.

This film was shot on 16mm film. It was scanned at the Cinematheque in 2022 on a Blackmagic Cintel scanner and Davinci Resolve software. Basic digital restoration and color correction was done. After finishing the processes, digital master copies were taken out in DPX, ProRes 4444.

TITLE: SREDBA

Amateur short feature film, Macedonia, 2003, 9.24 minutes, color

Directed by: Petre Chapovski

Screenplay: Petre Chapovski

Editing: Kire Peshevski

The film is about a girl who walks in nature, enters a house and goes to sleep. She dreams of meeting her grandmother. Both dress in folk costumes. Then they go through the village, carrying bread and pitcher in their hands. They arrive at a large cross. Grain fields stretch everywhere. When the girl wakes up, she sees a photo of her grandmother on the table in the room, the bread and the pitcher, which were not there before she fell asleep.
The film was digitized with a video tape digitization system, i.e. by transferring the analog signal with a Blackmagic video card and the Blackmagic media express digitization program into a digital file with a resolution of 720×576 pixels.


Cases digitized by: Stichting De Domijnen – The Netherlands

We recently received a large collection of old movies from the photographer Paulissen, which we’ve filed under 768 – Film- en fotocollectie Jan Paulissen (‘Film and photo collection Jan Paulissen’). Most of these films are 16mm, but there are some 8mm films, and since we have a Reflecta 8mm scanner, we have made a selection of 8mm films to digitize. We don’t want to wait too long to digitize these films, because at least one of the bigger films has some traces of vinegar syndrome, and these films have been stored together for several years before we received them.

TITLE: 768_film01 (Lourdes)

One problem we encountered was that there is barely any information about the films: we can visually inspect the film, but there are (almost) no descriptions or dates on the films, so we had to randomly pick one film to digitize. We first chose a Normal8 film which was inside a closed (cardboard) box and where we could (on first inspection) see no damages, dust, or decay such as the vinegar syndrome: we hoped it would be a relatively easy film to start with.

The digitization went without any problems, it scanned the complete film from beginning to end without any mishaps. We then loaded the file on a computer and checked it, and it looked all right.

When we were finished, we rewound the film and put it back inside the box – this time accompanied by a description so if we have the film in our hands a next time (even though it is digitized, so we don’t expect this to be anytime soon, if at all), we actually know what it is. After we know more of the collection, we will make an inventory, and then we can assign it a number so we can easily find both the physical and the digitized film easily in the future. This name will start with 768 and will be followed by an underscore and the inventory number. We now have a temporary name, so we can always identify the collection it belongs to.

Regarding the contents of the film, we have found out that it is a black-and-white film and that it was filmed in Lourdes, we guess somewhere in the late fifties or in the sixties, because it also features a Renault Dauphine. Lourdes was, and still is, a pilgrimage site in France.

TITLE: 768_film02 (Fruitoogstfeesten)

The next film we chose to digitize was one of the few with a bit of a description: on the case, it read “J.P. St-Gertruide”. J.P. probably means Jan Paulissen – the maker of the film. St-Gertruide is the Belgian city Sint-Truiden. We could not see any damages, and we were able to digitize this film without any problems. In the film we see a banner with “Fruitoogstfeesten” (fruit harvest celebrations) and the mention of a year (1964). We can also see the societies, which form a big part of our culture. Each village and each city here probably has (or otherwise had) several different societies, many of them keeping our traditions alive, such as the ones regarding carnaval or traditional militia.

TITLE: Oogstdankfeesten

After hearing about the MobiReel project, we got an offer to digitize a VHS tape about Oogstdankfeesten in Berg aan de Maas, a village near Sittard. These Oogstdankfeesten (‘harvest thanksgiving festivals’) are held each year in Berg aan de Maas and were originally held to thank God for the harvest. These were held since 1948 and thus exist this year, in 2023, for 75 years. We thought this was a great opportunity to digitize this VHS tape this year.

To digitize this VHS tape, a Sharp VC-M24GM was used, and the programme Cyberlink PowerDirector 12.

This VHS tape of the Oogstdankfeesten was made in 1984, which was the first year with a Harvest Queen. The parade was filmed by Twan Könings. We luckily didn’t encounter any damages or problems with the tape while digitizing.

TITLE: Overstroming Berg aan de Maas

On the same VHS tape, Twan Könings also recorded video about floodings of the river Maas (Meuse) in the same village, Berg aan de Maas. Because the video of the Oogstdankfeesten was being digitized, it was only logical to also digitize the floodings of Berg aan de Maas. Floodings unfortunately aren’t unique (the oldest photos we have of floodings are from 1926), and this isn’t the first video material we have about floodings, but it’s the first video material we have of floodings from Berg aan de Maas. This is very relevant material, because two years ago, in summer, we had floodings again, which had a big impact on our region.


Cases digitized by: Student Computer Art Society (SCAS)

TITLE: Reenactment of traditional Bulgarian rituals

Film source: Simeonka Cholmazova, Plamen Pavlov and Stoyanka Stoyanova

Community center “Know yourself – 1895 г.”.

The film shows traditional Bulgarian rituals reenactment.

The 16 mm film was digitized via a low cost approach using a digital camera, a camera stand and a 16 mm vintage film projector arranged in a dark room.

This method was used, because a 16 mm digitizer was not available and comes at a too high cost. The result is not perfect, but it’s appropriate for low-budget digitization. After digitization, color adjustments were applied via software to enhance the end result.


Cases digitized by: Zeutschel GmbH

TITLE: THE WAGNER FAMILY

Those videos are just a very small part of the collection of reels and clips made by the Wagner family between 1950’s and 1970’s in Europe. The family has a Mittel European background, growing during the Asburgic Empire in Austria (Vienna) and then moved to the city of Trieste (Italy) after the second world war. 

The video has been made to remember happy family moments across Europe and Israel.

The short reels and videos have been made between 1960’s and 1970’s using a Bentley super 8 video camera, a Chinon 8mm and a Bolex H-16 mm video camera.

The videos have been digitized using a Reflecta Super 8mm digitization system and a Retro-8 / 16 mm film to HD solution.

The Blackmagic software has been used to edit and optimize the digitized work which has been saved in mpeg 4 uncompressed file format.

To manage the file and being searchable by the database indexing system, some keywords and metadata have been already pre-defined.

Data Crown free open source has been used to classify the content. TMS Gallery System commercial solution and Preservica long term preservation content management system have been considered by the Wagner dynasty to preserve and retrieve their memories.

A corpus of microfilms are also available in the family’s archive and they have been digitized using the Zeutschel OM 1700.

In order to keep the fragile material in good shape, temperature and humidity control system have been applied to the entire storage vintage archive which is currently preserved by the Vera and Carlo Wagner in the Jewish Museum in the city of Trieste. https://www.museoebraicotrieste.it/en/


Cases digitized by: Petko R. Slaveykov Regional Library, Veliko Tarnovo – Bulgaria

In Bulgaria, as in most European countries, the shooting of home and non-professional films with 8mm and Super 8mm hand-held cameras was widely practiced in the second half of the 20th century until the mass introduction of VHS and VHS-C video formats.

Many people still keep their reels as a sentimental memento because they record weddings, sightseeing trips, various celebrations and celebrations.

The team of the Regional Library in Veliko Tarnovo conducted a survey among the public and as a result, citizens provided their films for digitization and research.

The presented film fragments illustrate moments of the daily life of Bulgarian citizens – either in a private or public aspect.

TITLE: Fragments.wmv

Communist parade with joint participation of Bulgarian, Soviet and Czech delegations, 1970s; Typical moments of the average employee’s summer vacation – camping on the coast, staying in small private accommodations or large state hotels.

TITLE: Auto-fair

A business trip to visit a car show (fair) in a large central European city, most likely Prague (now Czechia, then Czechoslovakia).

Non-professional records on a Super 8mm film.

Author – unknown (random collection).

The films were digitized by Kodak Reels Film Digitizer in 2023, as part of practical experiments and self-study of the library team. Digital copies adjustments have not been made.

The typical imperfections of a film shot by a non-professional cinematographer are obvious: lack of a well-developed plot idea, insufficient experience in working with the camera, which leads to choppy and wandering movement of the frame, incorrect focusing, framing, etc. In addition, cases of inaccurate judgment of light and temperature conditions, too long (weeks, months) leaving undeveloped film loaded in the camera, or failure to follow technological procedures when developing the film are not uncommon. This leads to color distortions, some of which cannot be sufficiently compensated even with modern video editing software packages.

The additional photos and videos show moments of the process of pre-preparation and actual digitization of the available reels. Attention has been paid to the most typical and common problems – incorrect storage of tape rolls, which over time leads to progressive irreversible damage, as well as careless operation with projection devices, which caused a partial rupture of the perforation and, as a result, a very difficult process of digitization.