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Musings of a librarian, former archivist, musician, bibliophile, and tech-obsessed.

Entries in Film (20)


Long Overdue Helpful Resources

Over the past month, I've received a few emails asking me about resources for various audiovisual digitization standards and workflows. Below is my response to the latest email, based on the research I have been performing to draft the UMD Libraries standards and guidelines over the past four months.

There are developing national standards for archiving audio and moving image media. A lot of the work in this area is being done at the Library of Congress, and I urge you to check out the standards that FADGI is developing:

You may also want to check out the huge project that the Indiana University Bloomington is undertaking on their campus: This is a follow-up to their involvement in the Sound Directions project, which does address a lot of difficulties that institutions (primarily large academic libraries) encounter in their audio archives (though it is applicable to other institutions on a much smaller scale:

The International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives has also addressed audio digitization and archiving from a technical level in addressed audio digitization and archiving from a technical level in IASA-TC 04:

The Audio Engineering Society (AES) and The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers have also put forward standards, though these are usually highly technical and difficult to translate into a non-production environment.

If you need a less technical site to understand formats, I highly recommend NDIIPP's Sustainability of Digital Formats site: The Technical Committees of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections and the Association of Moving Image Archivists have also put forward some helpful compilations of resources.

These resources primarily cover digitization and digital file standards, though Sound Directions and the newest publication from IUB, Meeting the Challenge of Media Preservation, do touch on metadata. FADGI has some drafts of metadata standards, and is supposed to be putting forward standards this year.

NARA is working on in-depth technical metadata standards for moving image media: The Library of Congress has had theirs for a while:

One thing to keep in mind is how video and audio metadata has been developed. PBCore was developed around Dublin Core metadata and is compatible with that schema. AMD and VMD from LC were designed around MODS and METS. The schema that you decide on should complement the metadata schema you already have in place, to prevent unnecessary metadata confusion and mapping.

Digital audio standards have been established between AES, ARSC, and IASA, and are now being improved upon, so we are fortunate in that.

As for capturing born-digital moving image materials, there is less publicly accessible documentation, but FADGI does have some resources. A new document was recently released concerning what is an archival format of video formats: Again, this is a draft, and most institutions may not be able to support the MXF/J2K format as well as .avi or .mov, but the document does give an idea as to the specifications and guidelines one should follow when creating, converting, or digitizing moving image. From my experience with records creators, establishing creation standards is essential so you don't have the favorite format and standard of whatever engineer you have on staff at the time, which is why what is in archives always varies greatly.

Lastly, I recommend checking out the Advanced Media Workflow Association for ideas about workflows: Their documents are especially helpful:

I am modeling our efforts on IUB's project, using many of the LC (NDIIPP and FADGI) standards. I would suggest starting there.


Film Events in DC

Over the last two weeks, I was able to attend two film events in DC after work. The first was at the National Academy of Sciences in the Keck Center, and was a double feature of silent films, Reward of Courage (1921) and Lucky Stars (1925), both accompanied by the Snark Ensemble. The first film was an educational film made by the predecessor of the American Cancer Society, and was about early detection of cancer. The second film was a comedy about quack doctors.

The second event was a Marilyn Monroe film, The Misfits, shown at the National Theater, in their second floor mezzanine. Both were free and open to the public!

The great news is that I found out that the National Theater usually has free screenings of old films most Monday nights! They haven't posted their December schedule yet, but I'm looking forward to more free films!


Freezer Procedures

On Monday, the consortial Preservation Advisory Committee met and among other things, we discussed the freezer procedures I have been working on. The procedures include preliminary steps to survey collection to identify what should be frozen, supply lists, packing steps, and removal procedures. The committee had a few revisions and ask for clarifications to some of the guidelines I created, but for the most part, the procedures are done!

It feels very good to put this project to bed, almost three years after the films were discovered, and to have created procedures that all member libraries can take advantage of the research and guidelines I created.


Freezing Films

Over the last year, I have been working with the WRLC Preservation Advisory Committee to develop standards and procedures to use our new shared freezers for deteriorating acetate film, negatives, and slides. As the only university with an a/v specialist, I agreed that CUA would be the experiment. I chose a collection of 50 films to be frozen, mainly because we do not have enough money to preserve them and digitize them; the films, while interesting, do not have enough national significance to merit pursuing a grant for their preservation and digitization; and they have been shelved on our receiving shelves taking up a considerable amount of room for new accessions because this is the only place I was able to separate them from other acetate collections.

In addition to working with staff at the off-site storage facility, I had to collaborate with CUA cataloging staff since we had to create a bibliographic record in our OPAC with separate item records to track the 50 films.

Last week, I took two students with me to the off-site storage facility to pack films, in accordance with the National Park Service instructional series (and the National Film Preservation Foundation guide). I hope to complete the project with a student tomorrow. Taping the bags around the round film canisters is very tedious and takes a considerable amount of time.

These films are part of a larger audiovisual series for which I will have a practicum student complete a full finding aid this fall. Once the finding aid is posted, we will try to generate interest so that potential researchers who are interested in the content can elect to pay for the preservation and digitization for us. Only the films with the most historical merit will be saved this way, and the others can remain in the freezer.


Point 360

I saw a notice on the AMIA listserv today from Point 360, a film company, offering free film preservation surveys. Does anyone have experience with this? Does anyone know if we have to agree to preservation services after the survey?