Despite being vital to the understanding and preservation of the image, the condition of the film itself is largely ignored in current film preservation technology. To create a true model of the carrier, we must take all physical abnormalities into account – shrinkage, tearing, failed splices, as they provide an indispensable historical record for future preservation. Most techniques routinely employed, such as wet gate printing, cover up or obscure damage as opposed to documenting and preserving it. Distortion caused by shrinkage of the old film is often overlooked, with current preservation technologies capturing only the distorted image itself and forsaking important dimensional information that would allow for a mathematical reconstruction without distortion. Lastly, inspecting film assets for damage, improper repair, and other physical imperfections is time intensive, requires specialized training, and ultimately provides little information that is usable beyond the repair and restoration process.


CINEQUAL is a software tool that makes use of machine vision technology to help gather information and parse it into usable metadata, as well as gather a full record of carrier condition as part of the extensible data model proposed by FILMIC. By using calibrated optics, pixel-based measurements can be accurately translated to real-world units. Using perforations and edges as landmarks, edge damage, torn perforations, tears, and improper splices can all be identified. Shrinkage can also be measured at multiple points in each frame, to indicate warping or location-specific damage. Any deviations to the technical standard are logged as metadata tied to a specific frame, and a raw image is exported for later use.


In conjunction with the multispectral imaging techniques, the data collected using these means extend the data model to fully represent the carrier in a digital format. This automated condition analysis also helps inform and guide current efforts, by providing quantitative figures to prioritize preservation, measure deterioration over time, and the ability to integrate data about environmental conditions and film chemistry to mitigate the risk of loss. Since all calibration parameters are saved along with the raw image, specific characteristics can be searched for and additional processing can be done without access to the physical copy. The database is built in SQL and provides for an extendable schema, allowing integration of other datasets or export to an asset management system.