ETERNA-RDS wins the Scientific and Engineering Award at the 84th Academy Awards®
The Fujifilm development team's three award recipients who attended the Scientific and Engineering Awards ceremony in Hollywood on February 11, 2012 as part of the Academy Awards® agreed that what makes them most proud about receiving this award for ETERNA-RDS (Type 4791) is that it recognizes Fujifilm's significant contribution to the industry of motion pictures. Behind this idea lies a challenge that the motion picture industry is confronting in the face of technological advances.
To record digital images on black and white film, the images are first separated into red, green, and blue signal data, which are then exposed and recorded onto three separate films. In other words, one digital master is saved onto three black and white films. The full-color images can be easily and precisely reproduced to the exact standards as the originals by scanning and digitally compositing the separate images or optically exposing them directly onto film.
ETERNA-RDS delivers superior photo performance that faithfully expresses high-definition digital images with outstanding sharpness and granularity, and can be preserved for a long period. The film also allows for outstanding stability in the development process, with no loss in color tonality regardless of changes in processing conditions. Particularly in terms of stability, ETERNA-RDS achieves a superior level of processing stability for black and white negatives (D96) as well as black and white positives (D97), which require different processing condition and a shorter development time.
The Academy Award® recognizes the contribution of ETERNA-RDS's outstanding performance for creating archives from digital masters, and the technology represents a major step in preserving the heritage of the motion picture industry.
The method of separating digital images into three colors and saving them on black and white films was widely used in Hollywood before ETERNA-RDS's debut. In fact, budgets for many Hollywood movies are prepared from the production phase with the assumption that a film-based archive will be made. Conventional films intended for archival preservation, however, require significant expertise, labor and time to achieve a satisfactory finish due to many drawbacks. For example, exposure conditions can become unstable when using a laser exposure system, and post-development finish may not be uniform. Unlike regular motion picture prints that are rushed into production to meet upcoming release dates, film archiving is not so pressed by time, which means there has been little incentive to improve archival technologies. As a result, archive work sites have been forced to deal with these tough tasks.
Fujifilm staff often heard problems about this issue during technical support visits to processing labs. Since motion picture masterpieces are archived to pass on important expressions of human cultural heritage to future generations, we thought that improving the efficiency and quality of this work would significantly benefit the motion picture industry and culture. We would absolutely love to provide the highest quality archival preservation film to help production site engineers fully demonstrate their skills with little or no extra burden. And so Fujifilm engineers set off on an arduous path to create ETERNA-RDS.
At the time, as Fujifilm did not have know-how for digital archival film, we talked with engineers at leading manufacturers of motion picture equipment while considering equipment specifications and performance standards, and we dived into developing specifications that would be easy for users to apply. Fortunately, Fujifilm possessed proven technologies for producing film that is optimized for laser exposure in its ETERNA-RDI, a digital intermediate recording film that also won an Academy Scientific and Engineering Award two years ago. We focused on making a film with outstanding image quality that could be stored for many years as well as superior processing stability, and our main target was Hollywood. We proceeded with the cooperation of equipment manufacturers and several processing labs in the United States. We brought prototype films for testing and made improvements after listening to feedback from engineers, and our efforts to create top quality continued right up to the formal announcement of the product's release.
As a result of so many people's efforts, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. and many other studios, have already chosen ETERNA RDS, and we are looking to other companies to promote this film.
In the archival motion picture film field, where technological innovation has been slow, most motion picture production companies have used the same systems year after year. Converting to a new product from a film that they are familiar with means applying a completely new workflow, which requires a great deal of certainty and determination. That's why cooperation among processing labs has proven to be a conclusive factor for choosing to adopt ETERNA-RDS. These labs responded to the infectious enthusiasm of Fujifilm developers for meeting the needs of production site engineers and wholeheartedly approved of ETERNA-RDS' outstanding quality. They even stood with Fujifilm staff in encouraging motion picture production companies to use the film.
Sales of ETERNA-RDS in the United States are now soaring and several leading motion picture production companies are now testing the product. With ETERNA-RDS gaining the approval of people who deeply understand the value of motion pictures, we expect this film will become the new standard in archiving motion pictures.
Fujifilm's ETERNA-RDS black and white recording film for digital separation received a Scientific and Engineering Award at the 84th Academy AwardsR in February 2012. We interviewed the film's developers to discover how it achieves both outstanding image quality and storage reliability.
As digital shooting has been increasing, there was always a question how long digital data can be preserved? We knew that film could save data for a longer period. The Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences published a report entitled The Digital Dilemma(2007). The report described the difficulties facing long-term storage of motion pictures due to digital media deterioration and changes in standards as the digitalization of motion pictures advances. It also stated that film-based archiving offered the most advantages for archiving motion pictures from the perspective of cost and storage reliability. Fujifilm, however, did not manufacture archival film at that time, and in fact, film optimized for digital archiving did not exist anywhere in the world. Although the industry had already used a method for separating digital color data into three black and white images corresponding to red, green and blue data for archiving motion pictures, the conventional films were not up to handling high-resolution digital images. Our relentless striving to contribute to the motion picture industry and its culture led us to develop a digital archival film.
To create a completely new product, we needed to understand in detail the conditions and environment in which it would be used. We began by visiting and collecting information from a leading film recorder manufacturer and laboratories. In the course of pursuing long-term storage reliability and high image quality performance with superior sharpness and granularity, we discovered that compatibility with laser film recorders and stable processing in any lab are critical. Reaching the desired quality, however, would require overcoming many technical hurdles. In general, image quality is improved when finer the silver-halide grains are used in a film. The issue is that silver image becomes increasingly deformed and unstable when silver-halide grains are too small, and image storage performance deteriorates. This major incongruity impeded the progress of the project.
We adopted a different mindset than the conventional approach to developing film. By changing the density of the gelatin that binds silver-halide grains in the film during development, the minute particles performed stably. We developed a gelatin coating that maintains high density even in the developing solution. This allowed the silver grains to maintain their spherical form, which is impervious to deterioration over time. We also successfully enhanced the stability of the development process by controlling the lifespan of photoelectrons generated during exposure and by improving activity of the latent image. As a result, just one year after producing the first prototype, we were able to bring the final prototype, completed through trial and error, to the film recorder manufacturer for testing. We were ecstatic to hear their subsequent words of praise, "Congratulations — it's outstanding! You did it!"