Ahead of the upcoming Arctic Winter Games (AWG) taking place between Jan. 29 and Feb. 4. in Wood Buffalo, Alberta, the National Film Board (NFB) of Canada has digitized and published the first four editions of the games from 1970 to 1976.
One of the editions is the second AWG, which was held in Whitehorse in 1972. The film, which was shot by Dennis Sawyer, is now available for streaming at no cost on the board’s website.
The film captures competitors from all over the Arctic, including Alaska, and observers from the Soviet Union.
The NFB’s collection curator, Camilo Martín-Flórez, said the idea behind the digitization is to make films available to all Canadians.
Martín-Flórez said films from the NFB in Ontario and Quebec have been digitized and made available to the public for a long period of time.
“The idea is to open up the box a little bit and we have been finding a lot of movies that are extremely valuable,” he said. “This winter games film is very unique and there is no other recording of the games.”
The digitization process is a bit complex, Martín-Flórez said. The first step is to dig and find the particular movie from the archives. This follows the scanning of the film with a digital machine that scans every frame of the film. The scanning could take a week to complete for one film. Then the digital file is given to another person whose job is to correct the image – removing dust from the film to make it brighter and also working on the colour. The next step is taking the film through image correction and sound synchronization. After this, the film gets a digital master copy that is secured in a digital vault at the NFB.
Martín-Flórez said the last step is to receive the film and check for rights issues that need to be cleared before it is hosted or published on their website.
Since 1939, the board has produced about 19,000 films. Martín-Flórez said more than 6,000 have been digitized and published on their website.
“We will continue digitizing them for the next 10 or 20 years until we manage to get all the collections out,” he said. “The goal is to continue to interpret Canada to Canadians and non-Canadians which is the main reason for establishing the NFB.”
This year’s AWG is the 26th edition which will host approximately 2,100 participants from the Northwest Territories, Yukon, Nunavut, Alaska, Greenland, Nunavik in Northern Quebec, and northern Alberta, as well as Sámi athletes from Norway, Sweden and Finland.
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