Roll Film/Cue Tape: the Legacy of Moving Image Formats

Thursday, February 20, 2014 - 5:00pm to Friday, May 30, 2014 - 5:00pm

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The collective history of the moving image, from motion pictures, to television, to home movies, is inseparable from the physical media utilized to present, project, and collect those images. While commercial and personal modes of moving media production and delivery continue to evolve firmly towards the digital realm, long-utilized, as well as some long-forgotten celluloid and tape formats can continue to provide important insights into how professional and amateur films and TV programs were created, distributed, and received. As media theorist Marshall McLuhan famously noted, “the medium is the message."

While current news headlines herald Hollywood’s abandonment of 35mm film distribution in favor of an all-digital production and delivery chain, movie buffs and archivists alike lament the loss of the aesthetic pleasures of celluloid as well as the relative stability of film and magnetic tape. Stored correctly in a temperature and humidity controlled environment, 35mm celluloid elements can last hundreds, if not thousands of years. Although considerably less stable, if stored properly, many magnetic media formats prove robust long beyond their projected life expectancy. Conversely, a recently produced born-digital film can be difficult if not impossible to retrieve if any of its microscopic bits or bytes become corrupted.

To celebrate the ongoing legacy of moving image carriers, the Arts Library and UCLA Film & Television Archive present an eclectic display sample of various film gauges, magnetic tape formats and related odds and ends, contextualized with related reference books, catalogs, and ephemera.


Arts Library