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Western Cine collection

Identifier: COU:1688

Scope and Contents

This collection is arranged in three series: 1. Working files (1978-2003), 2. Administrative files (1959-2005), and 3. Microfilm (1982-2000). Most files are arranged by client name/project or by file type, as originally identified and stored by Western Cine.

Working files refer to everyday working documents from various departments of Western Cine. They include work orders, invoices, inspection and screening reports, printing logs, shipping logs, and purchase orders. Administrative files refer to corporate, financial, and employee files, as well as files from the offices of company presidents John Newell and Robert David. Microfilm files include a mix of both everyday working files and administration files, as stored by Western Cine on 16mm microfilm. See the Scope/Content note for each series for more information.


  • 1959 - 2005
  • Majority of material found within 1982 - 2002

Conditions Governing Access

Digital materials are available in Series 1: Working files, 1978 - 2003, b. Files by type, Unsorted working files, 1985 - 2000.

For digital materials not available for download directly, access can be arranged upon request. Send requests for remote access to Once a request has been made, please allow 7 days before download access.

Access to digital materials is also available on-site in the Reading Room. Requests to access born-digital materials must be made at least 7 days in advance at Once a request has been made, please confirm viewing arrangements with Archives staff.

This collection contains or may contain private and personally identifiable information (PPII). Researchers must sign the University Libraries’ Private and Personally Identifiable Information Agreement in advance of access to collection materials. Contact for more information.

Copyright Statement

The University Libraries may not own the copyright to all materials in this collection. Researchers are responsible for contacting the copyright holder(s) for this material and obtaining permission to publish or broadcast. The University Libraries will not grant permission to publish or broadcast this material and are not responsible for copyright violations resulting from such use.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers may not make notes, reproductions (including photographs), or other record of any private and personally identifiable information (PPII) located in this collection and may not publish, publicize, or disclose that PPII to any other party for any purpose. Exclusions may apply to researchers who have obtained authorization from the University of Colorado Institutional Review Board to produce human subject research records in de-identified form. All researchers must sign the University Libraries’ Private and Personally Identifiable Information Agreement indicating their understanding of the use restrictions for PPII found in this collection. Contact

Biographical / Historical

Western Cine Film Laboratory was founded in Denver, Colorado in 1952 by John Newell. The lab began by processing footage from local sports teams and nearby television stations and quickly developed into a full service motion picture laboratory, offering post-production film and video services and film preservation work for filmmakers, distributors, students, libraries, and archives around the country. Western Cine had a considerable presence in American independent and avant-garde filmmaking since the 1960s, including close relationships with the Boulder-based experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage and documentarian Marty Stouffer of the PBS series, “Wild America.”

Western Cine Film Laboratory offered processing and printing of 35mm and 16mm black-and-white and color film. A sound studio was added in the 1970s, equipped for stereo mixing, noise reduction, audio transfers, voice recording, and dialogue replacement. By 1982, they began to offer video services and transfers in addition to motion picture film services, as well as optical special effects, motion graphics, and titling.

In the 1980s, the department for film preservation was founded, eventually preserving over 500 reels of film, providing new masters and printing negatives from early nitrate film and original camera negatives. Clients included Columbia Pictures (later Sony Entertainment), Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, and the Archives of the City of New York, among other archival institutions and government agencies. In order to handle delicate archival film, Western Cine engineers acquired and fabricated specialized equipment, including a wet contact printer for film shrunken up to 4%. Other services included ultrasonic cleaning, bench repair, color timing, digital sound rejuvenation, and printing old Technicolor three-strip separation masters (RGB) and separation negatives (YCM) to new color positives.

The founder, president, and CEO of Western Cine, John Newell, was a three-term governor of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), a member of the board of directors of the Association of Cinema and Video Laboratories, and a member of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA). He served as president and CEO of the company from 1952 until his death in February 2003. While struggling financially, Western Cine was sold to Robert David and Dan Clark in 2002 and renamed CinemaLab. This collection was donated to the University of Colorado Boulder Archives by Robert David of CinemaLab in 2011.


27 linear feet (62 boxes, 205 16mm microfilm reels, 1 3.5" floppy disk)

Language of Materials



For fifty years, Western Cine Film Laboratory of Denver, Colorado, was a nationally-known motion picture processing lab, offering film, video, audio, and graphics services to independent producers and other clients. In the 1980s and 1990s, they were extremely active in motion picture film preservation and restoration, working closely with with Columbia Pictures (later Sony Entertainment), Universal Pictures, The International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, and the Archives of the City of New York, among others. This collection contains working and administrative files from the company from 1952 until 2005, though the bulk of the material is from 1982 until 2002.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was received from CinemaLab in Englewood, Colorado in 2011.

Processing Information

Published materials were removed from this collection and can be found by searching the University of Colorado Boulder library catalog. Copies of the SMPTE Journal (Society of Motion PIcture and Television Engineers, 1998-2001) and Indepedent Film and Video Monthly (Foundation for Independent Film and Video, 1995) were deaccessioned from the collection in 2022, due to their wide availability from other sources; both publications can be found by searching the University of Colorado Boulder library catalog.

Only a representative sample of "Inspection log" files were retained in the collection by processing archivist Brad Arnold in 2005. The remainder were deaccessioned.

Throughout the collection, some personal identifying information, including bank account numbers and social security numbers, have been redacted by the processing archivist, Jamie Marie Wagner, February 2019, in keeping with the processing guidelines of the University of Colorado Boulder Archives.

Processed by Brad Arnold, 2005, and Jamie Marie Wagner, 2019. Finding Aid by Jamie Marie Wagner, 2019.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States