Celebrating “Hollywood North”: Yaletown Productions Inc. fonds

Since the late 1970s “Hollywood North” has been used to describe the film industry in Canada, specifically Vancouver. Until recently, we had very little in our holdings that reflected this important aspect of Vancouver’s past. A step toward changing that was taken with the recent acquisition of the records of Yaletown Productions Inc.In 2010, Michael Collier donated a large volume of moving image, audio, textual and digital records to the Archives. The fonds spans the more than forty years that Collier spent as a producer and director in the Vancouver film industry. Beginning with his first experimental films created while completing a degree in physics at SFU, as a member of Stan Fox’s Student Film Workshop in the late 1960s, the collection encompasses Collier’s film career up to early this century.

Sneak peek

To give you an idea of some of the moving image materials now in the Archives, we have put a few short clips on YouTube.  Here you can find excerpts from our November 6th screening.

Yaletown Productions Inc. won the contract to produce the internationally distributed commercials promoting Expo 86. Not only can you now find these commercials at the Archives, you can also view all of the raw footage shot to create the commercials. Here is a one-minute sample of the close to four hours of raw footage now preserved in the Archives’ holdings.

Over the years Collier produced and directed documentaries, television series, a feature film, educational films, commercials for local politicians as well as companies such as Ford and Ikea, and industrial films. In total, Collier donated over 300 moving image items to the Archives, which included many items in multiple formats and at various stages in the production process.

Digitization

Thanks to funding from Vancouver 125, we were able to digitize all of the moving image and audio content in the donation. The Archives has kept and preserved around 300 hours of audiovisual material including raw footage and completed productions. Video materials are preserved differently from the film.

Once digitized to Digital Betacam tapes as a high-quality access copy, the 16 and 35mm original films are preserved by being specially packaged and stored in the Archives’ freezer. Freezing at -18°C will allow the film to last for thousands of years. For more on preserving film, check out: Film Forever. When new access copies are required, the original can be thawed and copied again, with minimal threat to the film.

The equipment and expertise to play older videotape formats is becoming scarce, and once it is gone, we will not be able to play or copy the tapes. This is why we make preservation copies (rather than high-quality access copies) of videotape: we may only get one chance to copy it. Increasingly, the trend is towards digital preservation, and this is what the Archives has chosen to do. Access copies have been made in MP4 format and the preservation master is lossless FFV1 in a Matroska container.

If you would like to learn more about preserving video materials, this 10-minute video, sponsored by the Conservation Centre for Art and Historic Artefacts, featuring Sarah Stauderman, Preservation Manager at The Smithsonian Institution Archives, gives a nice overview of some of the challenges and solutions.

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