Kartemquin announces further investment in archival preservation

Collected from almost 50 years of documentary filmmaking, Kartemquin's production archives contain over 19,000 elements, comprising film reels, video tapes, hard drives, and more. Thanks to a new grant from the Reva and David Logan Foundation, we are now paying special attention to the latest works from the digital era: ensuring the preservation of an estimated 400TB (terabytes) of unique data on the drives that are spread throughout our building.

We determined that the best method for ensuring long-term, reliable preservation was to transfer our existing drives to a Linear Tape-Open (LTO) storage format. LTO is an industry standard, tape based archival format used by institutions such as the Smithsonian. It works by writing data to magnetic tape with a guaranteed 30 year life span, a significant improvement over the 3 year life expectancy of hard drives. The technology is open source, allowing for constant improvements from all over the industry.

"LTO is ever evolving and the technology has recently reached a place that met our longterm storage and budgetary needs. New innovative product developments allow us to work with LTO on a relatively small scale." said Ryan Gleeson.

Kartemquin's hard drive archiving needs encompass everything from Avid media or camera originals to outtakes and alternative cuts of films made from 2004 to today, from The New Americans to our newest projects.

Said Justine Nagan: "This generous grant from the Logan Foundation has allowed us to take the steps necessary to create an LTO system that fits into our existing infrastructure, bridging the gap between the existing KTQ Archive and our Post-Production workflow."

We estimate the project will finish in time for Kartemquin's 50th anniversary in 2016, ensuring our filmmaking legacy survives for the decades ahead.

This work will allow us to continue preservation efforts that began in earnest in 2012, enabled by a Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation grant. That project allowed us to complete an inventory of our archive. Our initial estimates were about 8,000 elements. It turns out we have 19,000 film and video elements. We are also in the early stages of evaluating long term storage and a plan to inventory the paper/ephemera/business elements that compose Kartemquin’s history.

Please find Please email postteam@kartemquin.com if you have questions, or please consider donating to support our work.

(Photo: Endangered hard drives at KTQ HQ).