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

Entries in Moving Image (26)


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!


Celebrating World Day for Audiovisual Heritage 2011!

I'm celebrating World Day for Audiovisual Heritage by going through the audiovisual stacks and doing a quick sniff-test survey. While we keep our stacks at a comfortable temperature for the media, some of the material was in unstable conditions before coming to the archives and needs to be monitored. Because I don't have the time to perform in-depth preservation surveys on our collections (except when processing), I've found that the sniff test does a pretty good job at detecting problems in the majority of our collections. Just recently, I discovered that some of our School of Music reels were on bad stock and were degrading. In the past year, I discovered some film from one collection that smelled fine last year is now starting to degrade. The films come from the same collection of films from which I isolated and froze 50 reels this summer.

Archivists need to be more aware of audiovisual materials in their collections, and doing quick preservation surveys are a great way to be proactive about issues. While this survey only addresses one of the many issues surrounding audiovisual media, it's definitely a start. I recommend using World Day for Audiovisual Heritage as a reminder to survey collections!


How Things Have Changed...

I was prompted by my receipt of the ARSC Newsletter to look up recent developments in FADGI, the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative, and spent some "downtime" looking at the recent initiatives and resources on a "break" I needed to take from working on an NEH grant. While I knew that they had compiled many resources, this was the first time I reflected on these bibliographies, lists of standards, and articles, and really thought about how far the world of audiovisual digitization has come since I was in grad school.

Four years ago, I applied for an MLIS, and in August 2006, I started at Pitt. I wanted to make a dent in the world of audio digitization. I remember, naive as I was, that for my first paper, I wanted to compare prestigious audio archives/special collections and popular music archives/special collections, and differentiate between the styles, services, and procedures. After spending entirely too long researching, I discovered how little literature was available to make this distinction, let alone to write about audio archives in general. I actually ended up writing about the plight of audio materials in archives, discussing new technologies, and how they might be used. At least I discovered ARSC, IASA, and AES. Though most of their publications were our of my reach at the time of writing the paper, and out of my scope of understanding, I was able to plan ahead for research needed in future papers.

While I haven't made the dent I wanted to, yet, at least other people and organizations have. Looking at the bibliographies posted on the FADGI resources, and comparing them with my own working bibliography (that I hand out whenever I present for a class), I know we're on the right track. A/V preservation and digitization have made huge strides in the archival and library world to the point that there are more presentations at conferences (and people actually attending the presentations), and instead of fearing the media and burying it in on a dark shelf, colleagues start a dialogue with me about them. Last fall, I had two practicum students interested in photographic and moving image archival collections. In another four years, or even one year, I anxiously anticipate all the change that we can benefit from.


More in Metadata

This message was posted on the ARSC listserv and contains information and resources concerning the new audio and moving image metadata standards put forward by the Library of Congress:

The technical metadata schemas AudioMD (AMD) and VideoMD (VMD) were developed in 2002 at the Library of Congress for use in the LC Audiovisual Prototyping Project with METS. They have continued to be used since then because there has not been an alternative that has suited the needs of some cultural heritage institutions, particularly those using METS. They have now been updated. The two schemas describe audio and video and are likely to be interim schemas to the coming AES-X098B schema (see: ) as well as a video one under development as part of the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative (see: gttp://

The draft revised schemas are available at:

For AMD and VMD schemas there are some issues that we want to get feedback on:

Both schemas have their element names changed to camel case to harmonize with PREMIS and other standards. Previously underscore was used. Is this change desirable?

VMD has undergone a bigger update adding more elements to make it able to hold more information about video-files. An element <track> has been added. However to harmonize with AMD some more general elements are left in the schema so you can have a simpler description or you can use track to give more specific information. Should the two options be available in the VMD-schema?

VMD now allows for the repetition of elements that previously weren't repeatable. Are the added ones sufficient or do more elements need to be repeatable?

AMD has not changed the repeatability of elements. Are there elements that should be repeatable?

Does AMD need additional changes such as was done with the VMD schema?

Should the schemas be merged into one or should they be kept separated?

We will have a 3-week review; please send comments by Feb. 24, 2011.

Thanks to Karin Bredenberg (National Archives of Sweden) for revising the XML schemas.


Rebecca S. Guenther

Senior Networking & Standards Specialist Network Development & MARC Standards Office Library of Congress