In 2001, Mikko Kuutti was poached from the emerging digital post production industry in Helsinki to head the collections of the Finnish Film Archive as Deputy Director. There was in place an on-going project to copy nitrate films to new carriers, and nitrate prints were regularly projected at the archive cinema. There was nothing but analogue in sight but “digital” was recognised to be the future and the new guy the man to take the lead.
Some twenty years later, the man holds the same position in an institution with a new name where the use of film has changed radically. Very little film is deposited at the archive, and commercial film projection in Finland has stopped ten years ago. There is no film lab in the country. Everything is digital. Somewhere along the way, Mikko stopped thinking of himself as a film archiving neophyte.
The Digital Services Unit established by him at the National Audiovisual Institute in 2011 is a leading actor in the field, producing a steady stream of archive feature film DCP releases, all in 4K.
Although preservation work now is by necessity digital, the majority of cinémathèque screenings are still film projections. The majority of cinemas in film can’t project film, but as digitisation goes on steadily, more and more Finnish film titles can again be seen on the big screen, as digital facsimiles, and at home as DVD and Blu-ray editions, or more recently, streamed at high quality from KAVI’s acclaimed Elonet portal.
Mikko Kuutti is an architect by education, specialised in building conservation and restoration. He has researched film cold storage in his master’s thesis, and finds the chemistry and technology of celluloid fascinating. He is Deputy Director of Kansallinen audiovisuaalinen instituutti / National Audiovisual Institute (KAVI) which was founded in 1957 as The Finnish Film Archive.