Craig Dingwall visits DuArt Film and Video in New York as part of the NFSA’s George Eastman House exchange program.
George Eastman House exchange
BY CRAIG DINGWALL
I had a really interesting meeting at DuArt with Joe Mange (head of video) and Maurice Schechter (chief engineer). They were only aware of the National Archives of Australia, but I soon set them straight and loaded them up with pamphlets about the NFSA. DuArt has been in operation since 1922 and is housed in a hundred-year-old building. They have six levels of facilities which provide post-production services for filmmakers as well as restoration and preservation services for museums, film/video archives and broadcasters.
They also had photochemical services in the building, but wound down that operation last September because of the lack of demand. After the initial chat, Maurice took me for a full tour of the building.
Their services include telecine transfers via two suites, one of which houses a Cintel Y-front with DaVinci 888 colour correction system. Maurice showed me their retro-fitted 8mm gates with magnetic head. I mentioned that we had made some of our own. The gates Maurice had adapted were old Rank Mark III gates, which are perfectly compatible with the Y-front. The second suite was a bit more upmarket and housed a Spirit telecine and a full DaVinci 2K suite. I had the pleasure of meeting colourist Bill Stokes, who has worked on many high profile jobs at DuArt. I watched him work for a while and we swapped a few colourist anecdotes.
DuArt also offers digital film restoration services. They own three film scanners and two Arri Lasers. Once the film is scanned, digital restoration can take place. They utilize the MTI digital restoration software, of which I was lucky enough to get a demonstration. I was shown a before and after version of a film that had a large amount of sparkle. Maurice mentioned that they chose this system because it didn’t affect the look of the film’s grain and maintained its original look, while taking care of film artefacts. I mentioned that we have Diamant software at the archive that had similar functionality.
We moved on to the video preservation side of the business. They maintain machines which cover just about every video format available. They also have the full range of PAL machines, just in case clients require this service. Maurice went into great detail about a project they are doing for the Museum of Modern Art. He has made a large number of modifications to a U-matic machine for the project and I have requested documentation regarding this.
Maurice has a vast knowledge of film, digital and video preservation and restoration. Maurice commented that it’s important for organisations that work in the business of audiovisual preservation to help each other out and share information. I feel that this was a very important meeting in terms of forming a contact with a private organisation which does very similar work to the NFSA. Maurice has also offered spare parts for our own equipment if we ever need them. A very successful day.