My two cents are that storage costs have dramatically gone down in general over the past decade, and that trend will continue. Any time a new storage format or process is adopted, the initial costs are considerable, but I can't believe (as with music) that the storage costs for video/visual products in the mid-to long-term will do anything but go down. I haven't read the documents referred to in the NY Times article, but I really have trouble with some of the numbers they're throwing around for costs per film on a yearly basis.
In regards to the Everest albums, specifically, as I've told Tom separately in the past, when we received them from Vanguard (right after Seymour Solomon died in 2002), the Everest 35mm tapes were in what I believe were the original tins in which they had been stored after the recording sessions. They were rusty and bent, and the tapes were obviously suffering (that may sound odd, but I was certainly feeling for them at the time!!). We immediately did everything we could do at the time to retard the deterioration they were obviously already experiencing, and even today we're in the bidding process for building a separate room, with even more stringent temperature and humidity conditions, for them-even though they've been in climate-controlled conditions for the past 10 years or so-that will separate them from our other tapes, as the vinegaring process may be having a deleterious effect on our other tapes in the archives (they do continue to "bleed", even though the process has been slowed down considerably). If you go to the iTunes classical page this week, you'll see the feature for the first 48 titles we've just reissued from the original tapes on the Mastered for iTunes section. With the exception of dealing with some of the wow and flutter issues from Bernie Grundman's Classic Records mastering, everything else has come-recently-from the tapes. Even with what has happened to them, and the years in which they must have been in less than adequate storage conditions, having the benefit of such a "generous" format as 35mm has kept them from becoming unusable. We've got about 30 more albums worth to go, and even though there are a few missing (for which we mostly have ½" safeties/copies), it's probably the first (and hopefully not the last) time that these have been able to appear in a comprehensive group-with over 80 albums (eventually) in the most pristine incarnations possible. We have tried not to focus on what we may have lost from the past years, but providing the best possible results as they were originally recorded.
By the way, all of these are in the process of being released on HDtracks (though they're a little behind), as well as Amazon Disc on Demand (within the week or so, I think), and we're in the planning stages for limited vinyl and SACD releases of at least SOME of these titles. We're spending more money on these than anything else we've ever done from our catalogues, because we do recognize the importance of having a variety of methods/formats for the different types of consumer available, as well as documenting, in as many varieties as reasonable (not necessarily profitable!!) the best versions for the novice, as well as the collector, to encounter.
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Tom Fine
Sent: July-23-13 2:38 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] NYT film archiving article
I'm not sure what you mean by this:
> Certainly the Mercury/Everest experience with 35mm audio should be
> evidence enough to support my criticism that the comparison is
> severely flawed. What do the rest of you think?
In the case of Mercury's 35mm magnetic film masters, whatever wasn't digitized in the 1990s (when all of the existing films were playable, as demonstrated by the sound quality of the 1990s CD
remasters) didn't EXIST anymore. It's not a matter of "things not being transferred." Inept management at Polygram/Philips in the 1970s and perhaps the 1980s ordered some 35mm destroyed, and other appear to have been forever lost (assumed destroyed) by the contracted warehouse-storage companies. During the CD remastering project's 10-year span, exhaustive and never-ending efforts were made by Polygram vault/library personnel all over the world to find any and all Mercury Living Presence tapes. Under early Universal-era management, all of those tapes were assembled at the vault operations of Berliner Studios in Hanover Germany. That vault has since been outsourced to a unit of BMG, and I think it is at a different physical location in Germany now. I do not know if every single cache to former Polygram tapes in the world is now assembled in Germany, but I do think that every Mercury tape or film that existed in the 1990s did end up in one place.
The ineptitude of former Polygram management to order the destruction of films and tapes (presumably to save on storage costs, likely on stern orders from the bean-counters in Holland), is worth a whole other discussion. But, it occured before the possibility of digital backup, so it is irrelevant to the topics of the NYT article.
As for Everest, Mark Jenkins may choose to comment on that. As I understand it, the Everest films were damaged from poor warehouse storage conditions, long before the era of digital audio.
Furthermore, despite the damage, many or all of the films survived to be successfully transferred to high-rez digital in recent years.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Randy Lane" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 1:35 PM
Subject: [ARSCLIST] NYT film archiving article
> This NYT article pointing out a very high cost of digital storage vs.
> traditional/legacy/non-digital storage has become the subject of discussion
> on another forum:
> From reading the article though, I don't see any evidence that the "cost"
> of traditional/legacy/non-digital storage includes the cost of maintaining
> the proper playback equipment. As we well know studios don't typically make
> that attempt. But given that the cost of digital storage as profile in the
> article includes migration to replacement storage media when existing
> media/drives/systems/etc.. reach their end-of-life and the potential access
> problems as digital formats evolve, including the cost of maintaining
> equipment to support full retrieval of traditional/legacy/non-digital
> archives seems like a no-brainer.
> Certainly the Mercury/Everest experience with 35mm audio should be evidence
> enough to support my criticism that the comparison is severely flawed. What
> do the rest of you think?