New film-preservation technology puts classic movies in deep-freeze vaults

Amy Powell Image
Thursday, August 17, 2017
Film-preservation tech puts movies in freeze
An ambitious new project is preserving Hollywood films by putting them in a deep freeze.

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (KABC) -- An ambitious new project is preserving Hollywood films by putting them in a deep freeze.

Paramount Pictures has placed many of its previous films in a vault in Thousand Oaks.

While some of the classic stories may stand the test of time, it takes a lot of work to prevent Tinseltown's oldest movies from disappearing.

Film decays over the years if it is not stored properly. For decades the industry has been storing films in vaults at cool temperatures. But now there's a way to put them in a deep freeze.

PRO-TEK Vaults, an LAC Group company, has built the first frozen commercial vault for Paramount. The facility is kept at 35 percent relative humidity and a frigid 29 degrees Fahrenheit.

The conditions are "ideal to store film in perpetuity because the natural degradation of film - that takes place over its life - gets essentially stopped by freezing," said Timothy Knapp, PRO-TEK's vice president of client engagement.

The vault was built over the course of a year, according to the company, and managing the temperature inside is no easy task. Many of the thousands of films that will be stored in Paramount's facility were made in the 1950s.

Although digitizing has become a popular way of preserving classic movies, freezing enables producers to keep films precisely as they originally were made.

"There's nothing yet that replaces going back to that original film element, for quality and highest resolution for the content," Knapp said.

Paramount's vault is designed to hold 500,000 of the studio's most treasured films and television shows.