By now, you’ve seen many examples of our work with still images –whether it’s our fantastic photo restorations or the gorgeous slides from more than 70 years ago. Today, we want to spotlight another service we provide: The preservation and digitization of films.
Before there were VCRS, camcorders and smartphones, folks preserved life in motion with film cameras: First 16mm, then 8mm and finally with Super 8.
These home movies are vibrant time capsules of the way life life moved 50 or more years ago. Although most of the home movies we convert are of family gatherings, vacations and other routine events, occasionally we come across some-
thing extraordinary. In most cases the film reels had been passed down to our clients by parents or grandparents who didn't disclose what treasures they contained. Among the films we have converted:
A color movie of the 1941 FDR
presidential inauguration parade,
a 1960 Red Wings game with Gordie Howe & Maurice “Rocket” Richard,
and the opening ceremonies of the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo.
Then, there’s this event, which occurred exactly 50 years ago on July 30, 1966:
Barbra Streisand at rehearsals and in performance at Festival Field in Newport, RI
Barbra was preparing for the inaugural performance in a short three-city tour; it began as Streisand was on her way to becoming the superstar she is today. It was two years after her Broadway star turn in “Funny Girl” (but two years before her Academy Award winning performance in the film). Streisand was already on the upswing. Ticket sales for the performance easily topped her previous all-time record. (You can read more about the concert and the songs she performed at Matt Howe’s excellent blog.
There was only one problem: When the Streisand folks arrived in Rhode Island, they realized they had forgotten all their film equipment to record the event. In desperation, they asked for assistance from Elliot Hoffman, the attorney for the Newport Jazz Festival.
Unfortunately, Hoffman had only a silent Super 8 camera (sound versions would not be available to consumers until about a decade later). So we never get to hear Barbra sing; but we see her rehearsing, performing, taking to people and carrying her French poodle, Sadie. And no, it is not your imagination: Ms. Streisand was, in fact, four-months pregnant. She was carrying Jason Gould, her first child with then-husband Elliot Gould. You may remember Jason played Streisand’s son (big stretch) in the 1991 film version of The Prince of Tides.
One more thing: That man in the sunglasses talking to Barbra early in the reel? That’s Jazz Fest attorney, Hoffman, who served as the film's primary cameraman. Like Barbra, Hoffman graduated from Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, NY. If you've ever stopped by the Priceless Preservation office on Main Street in Ann Arbor, you might notice how he bears quite a resemblance to Rob Hoffman, our founder. That's because Elliot Hoffman, the film's creator, is Rob's father. Rob happened upon the extraordinary footage of Barbra while he was digitizing his own family film collection.
Sadly for all of us, Elliot died at the age of 86 this past July 29th, one day short of the film's 50th anniversary. Rest in peace, Pops. We sure miss you. And thank you for the truly wonderful memories you captured for us on film.