Film media technicians work in archive departments for organisations such as museums, universities, media companies and local authorities. Their job is to preserve, store and copy archive film footage and images, so that it can be used by businesses, members of the public and on the internet.
They are also known as archive technicians or film lab technicians.
You could be:
converting archive films to digital master or video format files using specialist equipment and computer software
preparing copies of film for use by broadcasting companies or private clients
using digital asset management including company software and hardware systems
looking after and restoring old nitrate or acetate film stock, such as mending tears or removing dirt
preparing film to be sent for copying to media laboratories, making sure they are returned in the same condition
using computer graphics software to remove blemishes, such as dust and scratches, or adjust colour on digital film copies
doing routine tasks such as editing batches of clips for online use or copying and labelling DVDs and tapes
writing reports on repairs carried out, maintaining databases and filing records.
You might work in one of 5 areas; national and regional collections, heritage and museums, broadcasting, private collections or specialist stock footage libraries.
The figures below are only a guide. Salaries may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
Starting salaries tend to be in the range of £15,000 to £18,000 a year. With experience this can rise to around £23,000 to £25,000 a year. Salaries in senior positions can be around £35,000 a year.
You would be based in an office or lab, working regular office hours, but may have to work overtime to meet project deadlines.
You might work with a wide range of tools and equipment, such as film splicers, razor blades, hot soldering irons or moving machinery and electrical equipment.
Some of the work is repetitive.
You might work with chemicals, or sometimes be exposed to hazards such as mould. You would have to wear protective equipment such as facemask, goggles and gloves.
You may have to carry heavy cans of film weighing up to 10kgs.
You would not normally enter this job directly from school.
There are no set entry qualifications. Employers will expect a group of good passes at National 4 or 5, including English, Maths and preferably a technological subject.
Many entrants have a Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Higher National Diploma (HND) that includes media or technological subjects. Entry to HNC and HND courses usually requires 1-2 Highers, with Maths and Physics preferred.
You could start out as a trainee technician or archives assistant.
Computer skills are very important. Knowledge of some graphics and video editing software may be essential.
You will need good eyesight and normal colour vision.
Some knowledge of the media arts sector would be useful.
Experience in film, video, audio or photographic handling would be an advantage.
a responsible attitude – you may be handling sharp tools and very old or fragile materials
a good eye for detail
a patient, methodical approach
awareness of health and safety procedures.
You would receive on the job training from an experienced technician.
Your employer would send you on special training courses about digital preservation or film archiving techniques.
You could study for an HNC or HND in part time day release or evenings if you do not already have a formal qualification.
You will need to keep up to date with developments in the film footage and content industry.
Some technicians study for a degree in film studies, giving them in-depth knowledge about film processing and editing skills. Entry requirements for courses in Scotland are normally 4 Highers. Grades required depend on the institution.
Although archives hire permanent staff, many posts are on a fixed term or temporary contract attached to specific project funding. Most job opportunities are in England.
Opportunities for promotion are few since people tend to stay in their jobs for a long time. You may have to move to a different area.
You could progress to manager, running your own archive department and overseeing various archiving projects.
You could move into film and television research, perhaps on a freelance basis.
The Moving Image Archive (part of the National Library of Scotland) preserves over 100 years of Scottish history on film and video. This includes documentaries, newsreels, educational productions, television and public information films, as well as industrial, advertising and promotional material.
BBC Scotland runs an apprenticeship scheme for people aged 18 and above who are keen to get into a career in the media industry. The closing date for applications is usually sometime in April or May. The one-year apprenticeship is based in Glasgow and pays £9,000 a year. Training takes place at Glasgow Kelvin College, BBC Scotland at Pacific Quay and on the job in various departments. It will lead to a Level 3 Diploma in Creative and Digital Media. There are no formal entry qualifications but applicants must have good basic maths, English and IT skills. There are usually only around ten places available, so entry is very competitive. The selection process includes an assessment day and tests in English and maths. If you would like to find out more or check on application deadline dates visit BBC Scotland Apprenticeships.
Creative Skillset run a Media Archive Traineeship scheme in partnership with Film London and Focal International. The offer 10 places each year with top archive UK companies, lasting for 24 weeks. Check their website for details.