Pictured are some items you might spot in the film processing area of the SFU Archives: 16 mm film, Moviscop, rewinds, and a guillotine splicer.


Archival Film Flashes Back to 70s Student Life

June 05, 2015

By Michelle Curran

Film aficionados will be interested to know that SFU Archives houses approximately 1200 reels of 8, 16, and 35 mm films.

This is Simon Fraser University is one film in that treasure trove. The original film was produced by the SFU Resources Office in 1971 on acetate-based, 16 mm color film with a magnetic sound track.

The film sketches various aspects of SFU activities, from student registration and library services to academic classes and athletics. Current research, issues of the day, and various departments are revealed through original lecture audio and impressions of SFU by students and staff in interview-style discussion, overlaying thoughtfully shot footage. Interspersed are artistically shot scenes of a sunny campus set to the gentle strum of a guitar in the background.

Like This is SFU, many original films in the Archives cannot be projected due to their fragile condition and uniqueness. In order to provide access for viewing, the film must be preserved through reproduction. The archival standard for preserving moving images is to create two copies: preservation and access (viewing). Films must be sent to a trusted lab that has the expertise to handle deteriorated or shrunken film, and that has specialized equipment for transfer and digitization.

Unfortunately, transfer and conversion of film to digital formats can be quite expensive. Thanks to a one-time special event fund awarded to the Archives for SFU's Open House in 2012, the Archives was able to reproduce and create both preservation and access copies of This is SFU, along with four other films about early SFU. The original film reels have now been sealed and placed in frozen storage.

Moving images are part of our most cherished but also fleeting cultural heritage. As well as capturing time and place, memory and history, they can be used to support the teaching and research activities of the university.

Link to digitized records in SFU AtoM

Recommended fonds/collections
For a list of SFU student film productions at the SFU Archives, see the archival description in SFU AtoM for the School of Contemporary Arts fonds (F-109).

For a list of audio visual materials made or received by SFU Recreational Services and Athletics in the course of its activities and programs, see the archival description for the Recreational Services and Athletics fonds (F-80). The majority of the films relate to the games and practices of the SFU football team, with some additional material relating to the SFU basketball team.