Federal German Archives (Bundesarchiv) invests in latest technology from DFT

Germany’s National Film Archive, Bundesarchiv, has recently commissioned and installed a state-of-the-art film digitization facility at its Film Archive in Berlin-Hoppegarten.

by Michael Schneider

 2023-12-12 (Link to article as PDF)

Reading Time: 5 mins read

At the centre of the workflow in the new facility are six film scanners from Digital Film Technology (DFT), which work in combination with processes supporting film restoration, color-correction and storage, to digitize the Bundesarchive’s large historical original inventory.

The installation includes three Scanity HDR scanners and three DFT POLAR HQ scanners, all equipped with DFT’s WetGate technology – making this the largest installation of DFT technology in the world.

DFT Scanity HDR film scanners are the industry standard for fast and high-quality digitization. Scanning at 4K, the industry standard, and using patented HDR technology, these scanners work at a very high speed, capturing data from dense black and white materials and color film stocks.

Alongside Scanity HDR, DFT POLAR HQ film scanners also address the specific needs of film archives, they have been developed specifically for archives and facilities handling delicate or damaged film materials for digitization at resolutions in excess of the industry norm. Using DFT POLAR HQ, Bundesarchiv becomes the first archive in Europe to have the ability to digitize very fragile 16mm and 35mm films up to 8K resolution.

DFT Film Scanner at Bundesarchiv


The facility also benefits from DFT’s ‘WetGate’ system, a fluid tank which the film passes through, filling any surface imperfections such as scratches with fluid at the point of scan, and can be used for film formats from 8mm up to 35mm. DFT has also customized a Central Supply Unit for the supply of the liquids to the six scanner from a central storage location for this project for Bundesarchiv. DFT’s WetGate Technology saves a significant amount of time and efforts in the restoration stage.

Bundesarchiv houses the central German film archive and is one of the largest film archives in the world, storing over 1.1 million film rolls and around 210,000 film titles. The archive includes German films of all genres including newsreels, animated films, documentaries and feature films – including the oldest publicly performed film from 1895, but also the current winners of the German Film Prize. Titles from the years 1930 to 1945, cinema newsreels ‘Kinowochenschau’ (post-1945) and films from the GDR are hold.

With the new digitization facility, Bundesarchiv can restore and digitize motion picture film up to 8K resolution and it is estimated that around four petabytes per year can now be saved digitally, corresponding to around 2,300 film titles per year.

Michael Hollmann, President of the Federal Archives, said: “Like no other medium, film depicts contemporary stories and thus contemporary history. Protecting them and making them available for use requires special efforts because of the often fragile and difficult-to-access media. We are now addressing this and taking film digitization to the latest technical level. In this way, we set standards for the protection of this valuable cultural heritage.”

Marlo Boelens, Head of department AT3, which manages the entire Film archive, states: “Digitizing such a valuable, precious, large and complex film archive, requires an optimal workflow that is strictly defined and organized using standards. We have ensured that the entire process chain takes all the concerns of each individual title into account and have incorporated our experiences into an efficient process. All devices are connected to the central server room via fiber optic cable and can send and retrieve data in real time.”

Marlo Boelens, Bundesarchiv


Michael Schneider, Chief Sales Officer at DFT, comments: “We feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to be part of this prestigious project. The technical requirements described by Bundesarchiv were challenging, but they enabled us to ‘raise the bar’, setting new high standards in film scanning and workflow for film digitization. DFT’s scanners and the installed storage area network make the system at Bundesarchiv one of the most efficient and powerful installations in the world.”

Michael Schneider, DFT


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About DFT GmbH

DFT has been at the forefront of film scanning technology for over 75 years. It has been providing solutions for film postproduction, archives and restoration with a range of highquality, leading-edge products and services. DFT is headquartered in Darmstadt, Germany.

For more information, visit: https://dft-film.com/

DFT Media Contact:

Digital Film Technology GmbH
Kate Kilpatrick