Scanning Film and TV History

by Pauline Lampert

At the WCFTR, we are committed to the preserving historic films and making them as broadly accessible as possible. For these reasons, our new ability to scan films in 4K has been nothing short of a game changer!

This short video details how the UW-Madison Department of Communication Arts and the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research are utilizing a new film scanner to help preserve their extensive collection movie and television media material.

In the video, Film archivist Amanda Smith explains some of the challenges of analog film preservation and why this push to scan older media formats is necessary. Then Media Technician Boyd Hillestad walks viewers through the digitizing process and the various types of film that the machine can scan.

You will also hear from the Director of the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research, Eric Hoyt who offers a compelling case for the significance of the larger project of film conservation. He details why Communication Arts and the WCFTR remain committed to preserving well-known canonical works of cinema, as well as smaller more diverse projects that are also of great historical interest and cultural import.

If you are interested in learning more about film digitization, or if you have some film you would like to have scanned, please contact our Film Archivist, Amanda Smith at

The WCFTR would like would like to thank the following people and organizations for their generosity and support:

CAPS (Communication Arts Partners)
College of Letters & Science
Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research & Graduate Education
UW Foundation
Wisconsin Historical Society

Kelley Conway
Maureen Mauk
Amy Sloper
Jeff Smith
Sean Hanish
Erik Hellum
Stephen P. Jarchow
Kelly & Kim Kahl
Dennis Doros
Amy Heller