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IDMi on.... Microfilm.

Regular readers will know that IDMi's publishing heritage is based upon microfilm community newsletters stretching back to the late 1960's. Although both the world and the magazine have changed over the years, IDMi is always surprised at how resilient the microfilm industry is. 20 years ago, it [microfilm] was being hailed as a 'sunset industry with 'no future'. Admittedly the industry is much smaller and less prominent than it was in those days, and many big names have been consigned to history, but with new equipment and new consumable products such as master and duplication film STILL coming out at regular intervals--it is anything but a sunset industry.

IDMi Deputy Editor (John Baker) keeps referring to the 'Old Lady Microfilm' and reminds us all that microfilm has reinvented itself more times than Madonna. He is right--it has--but more importantly, microfilm now has the capability to not only be created on film direct from digital files, but to also be reconstituted from film back to digital files when required. This allows the scanned image content to be integrated with electronic document management systems.

Since the early 1980's, when microfilm was emerging as an important part of records management and everyday archiving, word on the street was that that the progression to colour microfilm imaging would be the natural progression. Agfa, Fuji, llford, and Kodak, all manufactured colour microfilm in that decade, but for reasons of cost, quality, demand, processing requirements, and the sheer technical ability required to manage the colour processes, first Agfa and then Kodak dropped out of the market. In the first decade of this century, llford persevered with its Cibachrome-based film technology, producing 16mm, 35mm and 105mm film stock. The company survived several changes of ownership, but within the last few years it ceased production of colour microfilm stock, and sadly is no more. (Note that the llford name persists in other market sectors such as monochrome camera film and printing papers, and very good they are too.) Fuji ceased colour microfilm production within the last few years too.)

More recently, innovations have evolved to overcome the lack of colour film stock. The industry reverting to an offset lithography colour printing channel separation technique, in order to produce multiple channel images representing Red, Green and Blue, (RGB,) which are then each stored on to monochrome film. Research on behalf of IDMi performed by their publisher and parent company, (intelligen Ltd,) found that this colour separation process was fraught with technical issues and prone to errors. Unless the entire process is both highly clinical and scientific in both approach and execution, and that maxim continues throughout the entire capture, processing, storage, and reconstitution process, the quality of the final re-constituted result from the three images forming the RGB channels, is much less than optimal.

To that end, IDMi are working with intelligen on a film-based singleframe, single-shot capture process, which does not rely on separations, is not registration or error prone, is colouraccurate, colour-fast, and archivally permanent in the same manner microfilm is, with 500 years permanence. IDMi


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Publication:IDMi (Information & Document Management International)
Date:Feb 1, 2018
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