South Africa's film industry started decades ago, and is reputed to be the second oldest in the world. Television also has been around for a while, and commercials have been flighted since 1977. So what happens to all the footage shot and pictures recorded? Where does it end up, is it saved for posterity, and is there any use for ageing commercials?

It would seem that Gauteng and Tshwane house several archiving, storage and related facilities and organisations and that the demand for stock material, for access to historical footage and for compilation of comparative commercial reels is high.

September-logo01 The largest such organisation is The National Film, Video and Sound Archives, under  the Department of Arts & Culture in Pretoria. The NFV&S was established in April 1964, which makes it the longest established archive and storage centre in the country.

The NFV&S is truly an historical organisation, containing audio-visual material, both public and non-public, and related material made in or about South Africa.

The storage conditions are controlled, with film print masters stored in vaults in the Holdings Building, under controlled temperature conditions of 10-15 degrees Celsius and a relative humidity of 30-35%.

The archives go back - way back - to the Anglo Boer War period of 1899-1902. Titles of some of the more historical material include Adderly Street ' 1899, African Mirror newsreel starting in 1913, and including a collection running from 1919-1984; De Voortrekkers aka Winning a Continent produced by Harlold Shaw released in 1916;
South Africa's first full length feature film Sarie Marais, and Moedertjie released in 1931 and directed by Joseph Albrecht. Also archived are gramophone recordings including the Hertzog speech of 1906.

The NFV&S is currently finalising the commencement of building of additional archival premises in 2009, which will be completed in 2012.

The NFV&S is situated at 698 Church Street East, Arcadia Pretoria, telephone +27 12 343 9767. The contact people are:

- The Head of NFVSA:
- Film and Video Preservation Section:
- Legal Deposit and Cataloguing Section:  
- Sound Preservation Section: 
- Client Services and Outreach Section

Mr Dennis Maake
Ms Melisia Shinners
Mr Danie de Waal
Mr Nkwenkwezi Languza
Ms Brenda Kotze

E-mail: and website:


September-logo02 Another archiver of footage  albeit almost exclusively film -  is The Film Lab, located in the Sasani complex in Highlands North Johannesburg. The Film Lab was previously Irene Film Studios, which became Irene Film Laboratory when Killarney Film Studios merged its Laboratory way back in the 1960's. In 1996, The Video Lab bought Irene Film Laboratory and the name was changed to The Film Lab, and later became part of the Sasani group.

The Film Lab stores master negatives, both colour and black & white, safety masters, printing masters, sound tracks both optical and magnetic and some video masters. The storage and handling requirements for processed motion picture film differ from those of raw stock because the film is no longer photosensitive.  Processed film can be stored safely for very long periods, if proper attention is given.

The Film Lab has achieved "Imagecare" status from Kodak, which sets out conditions and standards that have to be adhered to.  This is very important with regard to temperature and humidity for stabilising the film.  The standard is maintained and checked annually by Kodak France.  The vaults also meet the "Standard and American National Practice for storage of Safety Photographic Film".

All film material coming into the vault is catalogued and bar coded before being put on a shelf.  Any material leaving the vaults is tracked through The Film Lab & the Video Lab on "Scantrack"   The vaults are made of concrete walls and ceiling, with all shelving made of metal.  Fire safety precautions are in place.

The oldest material held in the vaults is around 30 years old. The Film Lab Johannesburg is the only full-service film laboratory in Africa, offering production and post-production film processing facilities. They process colour and black & white negative film and, of course, 35 & 16mm Positive Film.

The Film Lab can be contacted via Tony Boyers on


September-logo03 Great Stock!, a Gauteng-based leader in archiving and storage, was initially founded in 1986 as a division of an award winning commercials production company.  It is now a fully-fledged independent company offering a broad spectrum of services related to stock imagery (footage and photography), specialist archiving and management of production elements, specialist research, rights and clearances, and Media Asset Management.

The company stores physical production elements (film, videotape and digital media  Raw footage and completed productions) as well as digital archiving of the same. The Film Store division has two separate vaults, built to SABS specifications, complete with sophisticated environmental controls (temperature and humidity), active fire retardant systems, and 24-hour security.

Great Stock! is an active archive offering licensable stock photography at and footage at (Soon to be merged under the Great Stock! name and a single website)

While this is a commercial archive, assets under storage date back several decades. Great Stock! is moving rapidly into the digital domain: the content currently available in analogue form will rapidly be offered on digital platforms as well.


September-logo04 Ornico Group (Pty) Ltd, T/A Ornico Media Information, was established in 1984 and has offices on Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town with the head office, Ornico House, situated at 1 Stan Road, corner Grayston Drive in Sandton.

Ornico store and archive television, radio, outdoor and print commercials. Advertisements from 1978 to 2000 are on tape, either u-matic or Betacam, and from the year 2000 onwards all commercials are stored on digital format (Mpeg1, Jpeg or mp3).

From a television point of view, Ornico's archives go back to the very first commercial that was flighted in South Africa, in radio from 1998, outdoor from 2004 and print from 2008. They also have records of press clippings, brand intelligence, media spend, advert verification and reputation analysis.

Ornico are moving into Africa, having signed deals with Nigeria and Namibia.

The contact person, Natalie Dell, can be contacted on +27 11 884 5041 or