Thursday 17 May 2012

Back To The Past And Future

Last night, Wednesday, we went cinema world wide in full HD, well not quite.  It was a six camera live screening of a performance and we were behind and alongside cameras and very likely nowhere to be seen.  This would have been a great relief to those who paid up front to see something colourful and interesting.

Which they did, it was of a very high standard and because I was able to detect what was going out live from the back of a camera ahead of me, all those out there across the globe will have had their money’s worth and got what they paid for.

Thinking about the other screened live or recorded programmes or events we have attended down the years and contrasting with the present is intriguing.  There have been quite a number, but the question was how many are still in the archives and what about all the events that were not filmed?

From time to time on TV there are programmes dealing with the past that rely on archive footage of amateur film making.  It is clear that, although very expensive, it was possible at an early stage to film in colour and also in black on white.  The problem was sound recording for the most part.

But this was not impossible to achieve.  By the 1960’s technical advances had made it all much easier and far less costly for ordinary people, let alone others with funds.  But a great many of leading events are often only recorded by accident, in heavily cut news reels or by people with no official standing.

Yet in the Arts generally, never mind other sport and activities, there was a general reluctance to resort to film productions or events.  When I think about all the plays, music, dance and other major events that might have been put on film, there has been a huge loss of both history and record in these fields.

There are some archives, notably the BBC one, but this is an intractable one to find anything and involves penal charging.  The BBC often seems almost resolute not to have its lovely archive material exposed to the view of common people.

The result is that in documentaries or the study of something there are only scraps at memories, fading partial memories and written only information.  Yet the chance was there to record, store, maintain and renew it from one time to another.

Perhaps there were some people arguing that something should be done to create, maintain and enable an archive or archives on film but it may be not.  Why did it not occur to some group of far sighted people that this could and should be done?  It would not have been too difficult or too costly at least to do a basic film of record so that a particular production or event could be remembered as it was.

One can understand all the querulous carping about copyright, who was to do what and why it was to be done and who would be responsible.  But the technology was and could have been made available. 

It is not just that we have lost a way of understanding and appreciating the past, in a way we have lost a part of what we are and will be.

1 comment:

  1. I suppose one problem with film archives is indexing. How do you look things up? No doubt with digital technology the indexing is possible, but who is to do it?

    Books have been indexed for centuries, but film indexing hardly seems to have got off the ground.