Will Steger is one of the most revered polar explorers of our time. Among his many singular accomplishments, Steger led the first confirmed dogsled expedition – without re-supply – to the North Pole in 1986.
Happily, Steger has been careful to preserve the story of his life and times through photos, film, video and audio. That media archive is now being cataloged and digitized as part of a non-profit initiative called Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy.
Minneapolis-based Aldis Systems is overseeing the legacy archive project, with Saving Tape as their trusted partner in digitally scanning 8mm & 16mm home movies, many from Steger’s childhood in Minnesota. In Steger’s words,
Saving Tape’s first objective was to hand-clean the dozens of original film reels, adding leader, repairing sprockets and replacing tapes splices which had deteriorated over time. Next, the individual film frames were captured as high definition still images, using a non-destructive, sprocket-less film transport to pass the film over an LED backlight while being captured frame-by-frame with a 2K camera. Each frame was “over-scanned”, meaning that no part of the exposed frame was cropped during the scan.
The raw frame captures were output in codec free portfolios as sequential TIFF images. In addition, each reel was output as a frame-accurate reference Mp4 movie file, using the H.264 video codec.
Mark Abney, Aldis’ digital delivery specialist, interfaced with Saving Tape owner, Thor Anderson, throughout the process. In a recent correspondence, Mark shared “we really appreciate your attention to detail with this project”.
The final portfolio of digital assets will be officially housed at the University of St. Thomas, Steger’s alma mater, with full copies also available through the Steger Wilderness Center in Ely, Minnesota, and Steger’s nonprofit foundation, Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy, based in Minneapolis.