Nitrate’s Still Waiting


Contribution to “Dossier: Perspectives on Failure”


The Velvet Light Trap, no. 64 (Fall 2009), pp. 86-87.


This short piece was an invited contribution for a “Perspectives on Failure” dossier (i.e. a compilation of short articles by researchers and practitioners), covering a range of moving image technologies that now have a generally negative reputation.  I argue that in the case of nitrate film, that reputation is unfair and an oversimplification, noting that it has proven to be one of the most stable audio-visual storage media ever invented (if – and, obviously, a big if – stored in appropriate atmospheric conditions), and during its lifetime as a mainstream production and distribution medium, generally cost-efficient and reliable.


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