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Collection Theodore Roosevelt: His Life and Times on Film

Digitizing the Collection

Motion Pictures

The motion pictures chosen for digitization are all black-and-white and silent.

The films taken from the Theodore Roosevelt Association Collection were portions of newsreels and other actuality footage taken from 1898 to 1921. (For more information about the collection itself, see About the Collection.) Some of this footage was compiled by the Association into documentary films between1919 and 1928. Often, several different versions of a documentary were made, all essentially the same except for minor editing differences or the exclusion of a few scenes. In cases such as this, the copy with the best editing and footage was selected.

The films taken from the Library's Paper Print Collection were deposited for copyright from 1894 to 1912. These films were printed on paper as positive pictures frame by frame. In recent years, in order to serve the goals of access and preservation, the Library of Congress has copied the paper rolls onto 35mm motion-picture negative film. A positive film print is made from the 35mm negative and this is transferred to Betacam SP videotape to produce the master for digitization. In order to present an authentic record of the paper prints as artifacts, some of the edging and perforations evident on the originals have been left in the digital frame. Likewise, original labels, titles, and other tagging documentation have been retained, as well as other imperfections from the original.

The films were taken to Roland House in Arlington, Virginia, where they were copied to Betacam SP videotape. The original motion pictures were shot at varying frame rates; therefore, in the video mastering process, the playback speeds were adjusted to present the appearance of natural motion to the greatest degree possible. Some of the films contained intertitle frames that were too short to be read; in these cases the intertitles were extended by several frames during the videotape editing process in order make them readable. Main title frames for each film were added during the editing process as well.

During the editing process a few errors present in two of the original film reels were corrected. In King Edward's Funeral, 1910 [2], black matting was added to the top and bottom of the frame for the initial portion of the film to mask out-of-frame printing errors on the top and bottom in the original. In Last Known Home of Czar Nicholas, the film contained frames at the end which were upside down, which the video editing process corrected.

MPEG, Quick Time, and MP4 digital versions of the films are available for download. The MPEG and Quick Time versions of titles with running times greater than four minutes have been divided into segments to reduce the file sizes to 40MB or less. A typical 28.8 Internet connection achieves a theoretical maximum download rate of approximately 3.5 KB/sec (210 K/min) under ideal conditions. Therefore, a file of 40 MB would take approximately 190 minutes (3 hours, 10 minutes) in optimal conditions and possibly much longer than that (up to two to three times longer depending on Internet traffic load).

Sound Recordings

The four sound recordings included in this presentation were originally made as cylinder recordings. These recordings were copied to 1/4-inch analog tape, and then, for the purposes of this presentation, to Digital Audio Tape (DAT) to produce a master source for digitization. (The transfer to DAT was performed by the M/B/RS Recording Laboratory.) The recordings originally belonged to the Theodore Roosevelt Association and were given to the Library of Congress. Some surface noise and scratching may be apparent on the recordings since they have not been enhanced or altered in any way from their original state. RealAudio and wav versions have been supplied for each recording.

Due to the limited audio quality (bandwidth capability) of the cylinders and discs, the wav files were created from the DAT tape at 22Khz, 16-bits, and a single mono channel. The RealAudio files were derived from the wav files through means of digital processing and were created for users with at least a 14.4 modem. All digitization for the sound recordings was performed at the Library by National Digital Library Program staff.