Preservation of digital cinema

Policy and legislation

Policy objectives

The 2005 European Parliament and Council Recommendation on film heritage recommended Member States to ensure preservation of cinematographic works. The fourth application report on this recommendation, published on 3 October 2014, shows that very few Member States are implementing digital workflows to preserve digital or digitised cinema. Those that have done it have used diverging standards.

EC perspective and progress report

The film heritage sector would benefit from European standards that describe the most efficient digital workflows and data formats for preservation of digital films. The resulting standards for digital preservation of films could also be of interest for digital preservation of other type of documents in public administrations. Some Member States, as Germany and France, are planning to adopt national standards.


Requested actions

Action 1: SDOs to develop and adopt a European standard and the related guidelines on preservation of digital films, based on existing standardisation activities at national and international level.

Action 2: SDOS to promote awareness and implementation of the European standard among relevant stakeholders (e.g. European film heritage institutions). Relevant stakeholders are invited to participate in the development of standards within CEN/TC 457 'Digital preservation of cinematographic works'. CEN/TC 457 will ensure a proper information exchange between stakeholders and will actively seek cooperation.

Activities and additional information 

Related standardisation activities


CEN/TC 457 'Digital preservation of cinematographic works' has been created late 2017. The scope of the TC includes the definition and standardisation of digital long-term archive formats for cinematographic works. The work on the standard has been started.

This Standard defines a Preservation Package to facilitate the digital preservation of cinematographic works. It defines methods to describe the relationship of components of the cinematographic work and delivers the syntax to describe the package content. The standard itself defines the structure of the package and specifies the constraints that are necessary to enable compliance and interoperability.

Versions of the content using different encoding format can be preserved in a layered structure where the lowest level is describing the physical file. The files can carry data representing moving images, sound, metadata or ancillary information like QC protocols or film posters.

The Preservation Package contains also hash values on different levels to ensure data integrity and version control. The syntax for this description and the methods for the hash value generation are defined in the standard. Various types of content coding are described as reference for concrete implementations.

The Preservation Package is well suited to serve as a Submission Information Package (SIP) in an OAIS compliant preservation system and as a self-contained exchange format between media archives.

In 2020 a draft standard will be published for Enquiry.


OAIS (Open Archive Information System) — ISO 14721:2012  


Germany has started standardisation activities at national level to produce one technical report on digitalization of analogue films (DIN SPEC 15587 “Guidelines for digitization of cinematographic film”). It gives guidelines for the digitalization to make a digital preservation possible. The Draft has been out for Enquiry and will be published shortly. It will be revised according to the results of CEN/TC 457’s work.


CST/Fraunhofer started a new "Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers" (SMPTE) activity for a mezzanine file format of digitised movies based on the interoperable master format (IMF) which can be extended to a preservation format of digital films


ITU-T Study Group 16 on multimedia services and applications. Developed with ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC29/WG1 Recommendation T.802 (Motion JPEG-2000) that is used for digital cinema. Additionally, SG16 is developing studies on cultural heritage under its Question 21/16 “Multimedia framework, applications and services”.