British film archivists have a new problem on their hands. Films stored in damp conditions prove to be good eating for microbes. Fungus can use the gelatin on the surface of the film as cinematic agar, happily munching away one-of-a-kind images. While only a small number of the films housed at major film archives are affected by the problem, officials said the problem was growing. Literally.
Cinematographic film has a layer of gelatin on its surface. This emulsion layer is where the image is formed but also provides ideal food for fungi like Aspergillus and Penicillium. If the fungus forms a layer of mould on a film it produces enzymes which allow it to use the film as food and to grow.
So the damage it can cause is irreversible as the mould "eats" the image stored on the film's surface... "It's a kind of newish thing. I've been [at the North WestFilm Archive] for 23 years. This has really only taken up over the last eight to ten years. What might have been perfect six years ago has now been affected by mould."
Read the full story at BBC.