Previously unseen footage from the documentary series, Eyes on the Prize is now available, thanks to a grant from the NHPRC, and a collaboration between the Washington University Libraries Film & Media Archive and Crawford Media Services. The footage had been practically inaccessible since the original elements were in a raw, unfinished state. The project involved digitization and reassembly of 128 interviews from the acclaimed series.
One of the strengths of Crawford’s LIFT service is the ability to scale to meet the demands of the project. For the Eyes digitization, Washington University provided nearly 200,000 feet of film and over 200 sound elements. To facilitate and maintain the timeline of the project, Crawford instituted a workflow that maximized both labor and equipment. Upon arrival of the Eyes assets, Crawford’s team cross-checked inventory with the elements received. Once accessioning was confirmed, the film assets were transferred to the film lab for preparation. Using a LaserGraphics Scan Station, migration operators digitized the 393 reels of 16mm film.
Utilizing DaVinci Resolve, Crawford’s colorists worked the base files back to the finished color look. Washington University’s specified deliverable was 10-bit Uncompressed HD QuickTime v210. All audio sources were transferred to 96kHz/24 bit wave files at a 59.94 Hz as the reference frequency to sync with the picture files.
As is the case in many archival projects, there were a few reels that required engineering intervention. On some of the NAGRA reels, the pilot tone on the tape was at or very low levels or there was bleed through from the audio. In these instances, the NAGRA deck was locked to a timecode generator at a timecode rate believed to be correct rate as originally recorded. This proved to be successful. Quality control operators ensured the completeness and correctness of all files before writing to drives.
Upon receipt of the assets, Washington University reassembled the interviews by synching the video and audio files and reincorporating portions of the interviews that were omitted from the final programs. The 128 completed interviews, over 77 hours of run time, are now accessible, along with other resources, through the University’s digital gateway as part of the Henry Hampton Collection housed at the Film and Media Archive.