Introduction to AV Preservation

$200.00

Dates: January 3 - January 30

Credits: 1.5 CEUs or 15 PDHs

This course introduces audiovisual media formats and outlines best practices for their long-term care, preservation, and digitization. Students will gain a practical overview of handling and physical assessment, documentation, digitization workflows, and storage recommendations for audiovisual recorded sound and moving image collections. We will explore the lifecycle of media like VHS tapes, audio cassettes, optical DVD discs, and home movie film reels as they graduate from dusty shelves to digital repositories. Real-world scenarios from students and the course instructor will guide shared learning and media archaeology, and course graduates will grasp the core principles to care for analog and digital audiovisual collections, alike.

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Course Information

Session

Credits

1.5 CEUs or 15 PDHs

Registration dates

We accept registrations through the first week of classes, unless enrollment is full, and unless the class was canceled before it started due to low enrollment.

Course Description

This course introduces audiovisual media formats and outlines best practices for their long-term care, preservation, and digitization. Students will gain a practical overview of handling and physical assessment, documentation, digitization workflows, and storage recommendations for audiovisual recorded sound and moving image collections. We will explore the lifecycle of media like VHS tapes, audio cassettes, optical DVD discs, and home movie film reels as they graduate from dusty shelves to digital repositories. Real-world scenarios from students and the course instructor will guide shared learning and media archaeology, and course graduates will grasp the core principles to care for analog and digital audiovisual collections, alike.

Course Objectives and Goals:

  • To inspire capability and empower professionals working with film, video, and sound collections;
  • To convey understanding of the history and technical lineages of audiovisual media formats and their distinctive approaches to recording sound and image;
  • To familiarize students with the range of specific audiovisual media formats and their technical characteristics, specifically: recorded sound discs, magnetic tape, motion picture film, and digital video;
  • To introduce core conservation principles and their relevant application in signal migrations from physical analog carriers to digital file-based mediums;
  • To overview physical handling and inspection best practices for analog formats;
  • To practically demonstrate contemporary audiovisual digitization and open source digital preservation workflows, tools, and software;
  • To impart knowledge of relevant professional networks and learning resources for further education and participation in the audiovisual preservation field.

Week 1: Signals

We introduce core concepts about audiovisual recordings, forming a foundation by which we can understand all subsequent audiovisual recording formats regardless of medium. Using examples from popular culture, we consider: encoding and decoding, format specificity, calibration, analog representations, digital conversions, noise and interference, fragility and degralescence, human perception, time and death, being and existence. To orient ourselves with the range of audiovisual formats, we look at a handful of specific historical case studies to tease out the core concepts we’ve learned.

Week 2: Recorded Sound

We trace sound recordings from experiments by a French bookseller in the 1850s, through Edison’s multifarious grooved discs, to top-secret machinery stolen from the Nazis by Bing Crosby, all the way to Billie Eilish on your smartphone. Topics include: a primer on acoustics, fidelity, amplitude and waveforms, auditory perception, sampling, and compression. We consider how core qualities of sound signals are affected across varying format recordings thereof, and learn about contemporary workflows for preserving digital audio files and embedding metadata. Our grasp on magnetic media formats will segue into Week 3’s discussion of analog and digital videotape.

Week 3: Moving Images

We traverse the simultaneously parallel yet entwined “paths” of moving image recordings as films and as videos. Horse-racing, television soap-operas, moon landings, and Beyoncé are illustrative sights on a journey that considers how media recordings capture time. We overview basic equipment and set-ups for working with moving image formats. We demonstrate basic characteristics and handling of 16 mm on a film bench, and physically assess both analog and digital videotapes for typical signs of damage and deterioration (on physical carriers and upon playback). Topics include: visual acuity, resolution and “high-definition,” aspect ratio, frame rate, interlacing, display, deterioration metrics, storage climates, colorspace, codecs, compression, bit-rates, cables, hardware, and machine maintenance. We conclude with demonstrations of digitization workflows for motion picture film (telecine vs. frame-discrete DPX scans), and for analog videotape (using AMIA’s open-source vrecord software).

Week 4: Audiovisual Digitality and Long-Term Preservation

Broadly navigating digital technology since the late-twentieth century, we consider how digitality has homogenized recorded audiovisual signals (and, how it hasn’t always done so), with a focus on digital video. Core audiovisual digital preservation topics include: fixity and characterization, embedded metadata, transcoding and derivative-making, and command-line media micro-services. We consider pros and cons of digitization reformatting audiovisual media in-house versus with a third-party vendor service, and look at several RFP resources. We look at web-based video streaming and access workflows.

Walter Forsberg

Walter ForsbergWalter Forsberg is an Adjunct Professor at New York University, and works as a media conservator and filmmaker. He holds a B.A. in History and Critical Theory from McGill University, and an M.A. in Moving Image Archiving and Preservation (MIAP) from NYU. Walter has preserved audiovisual collections for the Museo Jumex, the Kramlich Collection/New Art Trust, and the Smithsonian Institution, where he founded the Media Conservation and Digitization unit at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Audiovisual digitization initiatives designed and led by Walter have twice been awarded the National Digital Stewardship Alliance’s “Innovative Project” award (2014’s XFR STN and 2019’s Great Migration Home Movie Project). He is an active member of the Laboratorio Experimental de Cine in Mexico City, and a Member-at-Large of XFR Collective.

How to Register

To enroll yourself or other participants in a class, use the “Register” button that follows the description of each course. If the “Register” button does not show up, try loading the page in a different web browser. Contact us if you have technical difficulties using our shopping cart system or would like to pay for an enrollment using another method. On the payment page in the shopping cart system, there is a place to add notes, such as the names and email addresses of participants you wish to enroll. We will contact you to request this information in response to your processed payment if you do not include it in the “notes” field. Prior to the start of the workshop, we will send participants their login instructions.

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Special Session

Please contact us to arrange a special session of this class for a group of seven or more, with a negotiable discount, or to be notified when it is next scheduled.

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