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The Preservation of the Movies of Alden B. Dow

The Preservation of the Movies of Alden B. Dow

Alden B. Dow loved to make movies. Whether it was showing the construction of the Midland Center for the Arts, capturing the changing seasons around his Home and Studio, documenting his time as a Taliesin Fellow, or recording his children growing up and having children of their own, he always seemed to have his movie camera handy.


Mr. Dow’s earliest movies are from the 1920s, and he made approximately 300 movies over the course of his life. He had a suite of equipment to edit his movies and to add music. He clearly enjoyed playing with the medium: in one movie, he even made it appear as if the Queen Mary was floating in Higgins Lake.

Dow owned a wide array of 16mm movie cameras and gadgets, and enjoyed experimenting with color filters, prism lenses, double exposures, and other special effects. Of all the movies he made, around 80 were filmed either entirely or partially using a wide angle lens. Unfortunately, showing a movie shot with a wide angle lens through the projection equipment currently available in the Home and Studio results in a compressed or distorted image on the screen.

This distortion can be corrected by digitally converting those movies (or movie segments) to widescreen format, a process that was undertaken by Ken Crim of iKen Video Production Services in Clio, Michigan. Because he was working with the original 16mm films during the conversion, he noticed that many of the color films had faded and had an overall red or magenta tint. He was able to restore the proper color balance, as shown in the before and after screenshots.

Before color correction
After restoring the proper color balance

Another benefit was that the process of converting the movies to a digital, high definition format greatly improved the sharpness and resolution of the image. Each converted movie is stored on its own flash drive, along with two preservation copies on DVD. More recently, the movies shot by Mr. Dow at Taliesin and Taliesin West were scanned and converted to digital HD format. With the expertise of Ken Crim and his in-house production services, all of Mr. Dow’s original 16mm movies can be preserved and enjoyed well into the future.

More about iKen Video…
Founded in 2009 by Ken and Jennifer Crim, iKen Video Production Services scans and transfers old home movies (8mm, Super8, 16mm), videotapes, 35mm slides, and audiotapes to digital format. Everything is handled with care at their facility in Clio, never outsourced. Since 2009 they have served over 10,000 customers all across Michigan, from Detroit to Traverse City. They convert over a hundred thousand feet of movie film a year, thousands of tapes, slides and negatives, even old reel-to-reel tapes. For more information, contact Ken at info@ikenvideo.com or (810) 640-8130.

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