Professor Receives NSF Grant to Explore Ways to Preserve Old Negatives

Photo of Dr. George Landon

An Eastern Kentucky University professor has received a grant to explore digitization and virtual restoration of deteriorating photographic negatives.

Dr. George Landon, an assistant professor of computer science, was awarded a $100,330 grant from the National Science Foundation for the 18-month project.

“A majority of all photographs taken in the first half of the 20th century used various forms of safety acetate film. However,” Landon explained, “it was later discovered that exposure to even small amounts of humidity would cause the photographic negatives to severely and irreversibly degrade.

“Using techniques similar to those required to realistically render computer graphics for Hollywood films and modern video games, we are attempting to scan and virtually restore these photographic negatives. There are likely millions of these negatives in existence today and for many of them it is impossible to produce image. While it is possible to physically separate the various layers of the film, it is time- and cost-prohibitive. Therefore, we will work to separate these layers using only our software.”

Landon said the project, housed in the University’s Computer Science Research and Consulting Center, will utilize a team of undergraduate computer science students to research and develop solutions to the problem.

The Center was established to develop partnerships with organizations to solve complex technical problems and promote new research in the many areas of computer science.

Published on August 18, 2010