Motion Picture Department

George Eastman House Exchange
 Darren Weinert

Today I visited the Motion Picture Department at George Eastman House (GEH) which is run by the delightful team of Nancy Kauffman and Dianna Ford.

This department is responsible for the digitisation of photographic stills, posters and paper documents, all relating to Motion Pictures. One could say they are the sister department to Still Image services at the NFSA, where I am based. I found many similarities between the two sections. One issue we both have is the ongoing battle of scanning collection material at as high a resolution as possible but keeping in mind the limited space available for the storage of the digital files.

Nancy Kauffman (l) and Dianna Ford (r) of the Motion Picture Department, Stills Posters and Paper Collections.

The material held in this collection is many and varied, from movie posters to journals, from Hollywood portraits to 35mm film, all requiring digitisation and post scanning work.

The collection also includes Phenakistoscope cards, the word of the day. These beautifully produced cards are used by a Phenakistoscope, invented in 1832, and is an early animation device. GEH has an amazing collection of pre-film material and I recommend viewing some of the collection at the GEH pre-cinema site.
Joe Struble of the Photography Department holding a print of Julia Margaret Cameron’s portrait of Sir John Herschel (1867).

I also had the pleasure of viewing and hearing about the GEH Photography Collection with Joe Struble of the Photography Department. The GEH collection consists of 400,000 photographs and has examples in all photographic genres including experimental, medical, snapshots and fine art. Joe touched on some of GEH’s largest collections including the GEH’s first collection, obtained in 1939, the Gabriel Cromer Collection. I will be taking a closer look at the photograph collection on Friday when Joe takes me on a tour of the Photography Collection storage vault.