Film & Television Archives’ Preservation

A very sad and disheartening fact is that a major portion of our film heritage has been irretrievably lost—forever! More than 50% of all films produced in the U.S. prior to 1950 have already disappeared and 90% of classic film prints in the U.S. are currently in very poor condition. Similarly, much of the historic television now exists only on obsolete and deteriorating tape formats.

In general, the term preservation refers to the process of gathering the best surviving materials from a film or television program and transferring them to the most stable format possible. Likewise, restoration usually refers to even more time-consuming and complicated projects in which altered or missing material is restored to the film, bringing it as close as possible to its initial release form.


Until 1950, films were produced using nitrate cellulose film stock, a chemically unstable and highly flammable material that inevitably deteriorates and turns to dust. Film preservation historically referred to the transfer of nitrate films to more stable acetate (or safety) film stock. However, acetate film stock also deteriorates, giving rise to a condition called “the vinegar syndrome”; and many of the color films made since 1950 are also subject to irreversible color fading. Many of the Archives’ preservation and restoration projects deal with these post-1950 titles. The Archives are relying increasingly on a new polyester film stock, which appears to be much more stable, if kept in optimal storage conditions.



The preservation and restoration done is the result of hours of painstakingly difficult work, in collaboration with commercial film laboratories specializing in preservation. Computers and digital means are increasingly used to improve image and sound quality during the preservation process. Efforts have centered on the preservation of programs originally produced on 2-inch videotape from the late 1950s through the 1970s, as well as early color programs. One such series is “Psychic Phenomena – The World Beyond,” hosted by Damian Simpson which encompasses 150 one-hour programs, with guests that include Buckminster Fuller, J. Allen Hynek, John and Tony Lilly, Ingo Swan, Uri Gellar, Richard Bach, Dennis Weaver, Timothy Leary, and Thelma Moss, to name just a few. Recently, Cairngorm restored a few episodes, one segment of which was used for James Fox’s “Out of the Blue” documentary containing over two hours of interviews with J. Allen Hynek, which are timeless.

The problem we face is that the tapes are in the 2-inch format and need to be transferred for broadcast to a new digital format master. Because it takes a significant amount of money to restore them, we need our investors’ help with preserving these and other programs (such as “Psychic Phenomena – The World Beyond”) for the generations yet to come. Otherwise, they may be lost forever. 

To discuss this opportunity or learn about additional ways to get involved with Cairngorm Studios, please contact:

Paul Ramirez 

Cairngorm Studios 

848 North Rainbow Blvd #324 

Las Vegas, NV  89107

(702) 421-5144 



Thank you; we look forward to talking with you soon.