What does the Film Archive do

Films are collected, catalogued and safeguarded for the benefit of today and future audiences at the Film Archive. Find all the information you need about the Film Archive's activities below.

1. Receiving films

The DFI Film Archive receives films via legal deposit. This means all new Danish films that have been publicly screened. We receive analogue 35mm films as well as digital films as files or on videotape (HD-SR).

We also receive various collections from individuals, other public institutions, movements and associations, corporations, estates, embassies and people in the film industry.

When a feature film is no longer shown at cinemas, the Film Archive in many cases receives the used print. The Film Archive has amassed a large collection of both Danish features and international features with Danish subtitles. The introduction of digital cinemas is now putting an end to that practice and no agreement has yet been made regarding deposit of DCPs (Digital Cinema Packages).

2. Cataloguing

When a film arrives at the Film Archive, it is catalogued in our database, repacked, if necessary, and placed on a shelf in our climate-controlled archive. Prior to archiving, legally deposited films are carefully checked for scratches, blemishes or omissions.

Cataloguing the existing collection is also an ongoing task. The entire nitrate film collection has now been surveyed, that is, the collection of the oldest films from before 1950, which are kept in a remote depository, the Nitrate Archive near Hillerød, north of Copenhagen. We have also surveyed most of our collection of screening prints and are currently (2012) busy cataloguing the various collections that have been donated to the Archive.

Most Danish features, as well as selected Danish documentaries, can be searched in the National Filmography. If you do not find what you are looking for, please contact the Film Archive.

3. Readying

The readying process checks films for any damage, such as cracks or tears on the edges of the film, poor splices and other damage that may have occurred since the film was last screened. Perhaps new leaders need to be attached, cue marks made (small marks in the upper right-hand corner of the film telling the projectionist that it’s time to change the reel) or perhaps the film needs to be cleaned.

The Film Archive readies films for the following purposes:

Readying museum prints for cinemas

The reel-room staff readies films for screening in cinemas in Denmark and abroad. The Cinematheque, film-related educations and international festivals are the primary borrowers of films from the Film Archive.

Readying basis material for a production company or other rights holder

If, say, a production company wants to produce a DVD of an older Danish feature, and the Film Archive has the negatives, etc., for the film, these will be checked for damage before the film is sent to a scanning lab, where they are scanned as digital information that can be transferred to DVD.

Readying film clips

TV stations, journalists, scholars, directors and others at times want access to old film clips, often of documentary or historical interest. The Film Archive researches the collection and can assist in digitising film clips.

4. Securing the collection

Analogue security

Analogue security means that the Film Archive has new material (either prints or negatives) produced for selected Danish film titles. If the existing film material is assessed to be unsuitable for long-term storage, new material is made on archival film, most often 35mm polyester film.

These security efforts are based in part on two lists of approx. 100 features and approx. 100 documentaries. The task of securing the 100 selected features has now been completed and we are currently (Jan. 2012) busy securing the remaining half of the 100 documentaries.

See lists of films secured since 2003.

"Unsuitable for long-term storage" applies to material that is either physically deteriorated or whose technology or format could be a problem in terms of future playback. For many years, the top priority was on securing disintegrating and flammable nitrate films. But the spotlight is now on more recent technologies, such as A+B tapes and a number of obsolete tape formats, including U-matic.

Museum director Thomas Christensen has overall responsibility for securing the collection.

Digital security

In 2010, the Danish Film Institute was awarded 6 million kroner (approx. 800,000 euros), via the so-called UMTS funds, to digitise Denmark’s cultural heritage. This project will concentrate on the video collection of shorts and documentaries from 1975 to 1990. Many shorts and documentaries in this period were recorded on video formats that today are obsolete. Some tapes deteriorate, making playback impossible. In other cases, the problem is playback devices that are hard to have repaired and for which spare parts are hard to find.
As a first step, U-matic tapes and 1”C tapes will be transferred to new digital media.

5. Digitising

The Film Archives digitises many of the analogue 16mm and 35mm films on our shelves in connection with projects or on commission from clients. At present no comprehensive digitising of Danish films from A-Z has been initiated (apart from the UMTS project, mentioned under Digital security). So, even though we are continually digitising films, only a fraction of the collection has so far been converted into pixels.

Films are digitised to different qualities:

HD quality:

High-resolution digitising (High Definition quality, 1920×1080 pixels) is done on a scanner at a professional scanning lab. The scanner (Spirit DataCine) scans the reel line by line and the finished scan of the film is transferred to an HD-SR that is stored in the archive and considered a digital master. When a film is scanned, the digital information from the tape is saved to a file (most often in the Apple ProRes SD or HD format) that is stored for a period on a server and is then stored long-term on two LTO tapes placed at two different locations. LTO is short for Linear Tape Open. LTO-5 has a capacity of 1.5 TB.

SD quality:

Before HD quality became common, a lot of films were digitised in SD quality (Standard Definition, 768×576 pixels). These scans exist on Digibetacam tape. These are also considered master tapes, that is, for storage, if a HD-quality scan of the film is not available.

Low resolution:

The Film Archive itself performs analogue copying of 16mm and 35 mm films to file and/or DVD. These copies are exclusively for research purposes, i.e., they are considered usage and educational copies, not storage copies.

Practically all recent, digitised films from the Film Archive can be viewed at the DFI Videotheque


DFI Film Archive
Danish Film Institute 
Naverland 13-15 
2600 Glostrup 
Tel. +45 3374 3620

Mikael Braae 
Film Historian – Feature films
Tel. +45 3374 3629

Katrine Madsbjerg
Historian – Short & documentary films

Tel. +45 3374 3631

Marianne Jerris
Booking Manager & Secretary

Tel. +45 3374 3620

Det Danske Filminstitut

Danish Film Institute /
Det Danske Filminstitut

EAN-nr: 5798000794085
CVR-nr: 56858318

Gothersgade 55
1123 København K

Tel. +45 3374 3400
Fax +45 3374 3401
E-mail: dfi@dfi.dk

TEL. +45 3374 3412