On the Road with FADGI: Recent Conference Presentations Highlight Current Audio and Video Projects

One of the best things about the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative is that we are a community-oriented group. We work together to bring about solutions to real-world problems. Our efforts are focused on defining common guidelines, methods and practices for federal agencies digitizing historical content, and the impact of our projects and products often extends beyond the government sector into the wider audio and moving image preservation communities.

This fall, two of our FADGI Audio-Visual Working Group members hit the conference circuit to discuss some of our current efforts, and we couldn’t be more pleased by the positive responses.

The Interstitial Error is visible in the top row; the two rows should have the exact same waveform. To hear an Interstitial Error, check out the AV Artifact Atlas http://preservation.bavc.org/artifactatlas/index.php/Interstitial_Error Photo courtesy of AudioVisual Preservation Solutions from the FADGI Interstitial Error Study Volume I. The Study Report

The Interstitial Error is visible in the top row; the two rows would have the exact same waveform shape if there was no error. To hear an Interstitial Error, check out the AV Artifact Atlas.
Photo courtesy of AudioVisual Preservation Solutions from the FADGI Interstitial Error Study Volume I. The Study Report

In late October, FADGI’s work in audio preservation was highlighted at the Audio Engineering Society’s 135th International Convention in New York City. One of our expert consultants, Chris Lacinak of AudioVisual Preservation Solutions, included FADGI projects in his tutorial about audio performance systems testing. Part of the workshop covered the problem of Interstitial Errors (PDF), a term Chris coined to describe momentary artifacts caused by failure in a digital audio workstation’s writing of data to a storage medium which result in both lost content and a disruption in file integrity.

The workshop also illuminated the topic of analog-to-digital converter performance testing, highlighting the FADGI 2012 guideline on ADC metrics and testing, a document that built upon two foundational publications – the 2009 Guidelines on the Production and Preservation of Digital Audio Objects (TC04) from the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives and the Audio Engineering Society’s AES-17: AES standard method for digital audio engineering — Measurement of digital audio equipment.

The FADGI 2012 guideline (PDF) will also serve as the starting point for a formal standards project by the AES Working Group on Digital Audio Measurement Techniques (SC-02-01), a project that will address both the development of test methods and performance criteria for the ADCs used in audio preservation systems. The prospect of an official standards project focused on the topic of Interstitial Errors is currently under discussion within this same working group.

Courtney Egan presenting the reformatted video matrix at the AMIA Poster Session.  Photo by Kate Murray

Courtney Egan presenting the reformatted video matrix at the AMIA Poster Session.
Photo by Kate Murray

In early November, FADGI work was again on display at the Association of Moving Image Archivists Annual Conference in Richmond, Virginia. Courtney Egan from the National Archives and Records Administration’s Audio-Video Preservation Lab participated in a poster session about the eagerly anticipated and very-soon-to-be-released-for-public-comment matrix which compares target wrappers and encodings against a set list of criteria that come into play when reformatting analog videotapes.

As mentioned in a previous blog post, the evaluation attributes in the matrix include format sustainability, system implementation, cost and settings and capabilities. Some features specific to video are also evaluated, such as the ability to store multiple or discontinuous time codes and the ability to support different color spaces and bit depths. The Working Group hopes that the matrix will be a helpful tool for those faced with the challenging choice of what target format they should use when migrating their legacy videotapes.

So what does all this mean for the future of the FADGI Audio-Visual Working Group? Both presentations were extremely well received. Chris’ tutorial made front page news in the AES Show Daily newspaper and Courtney’s poster session was mobbed. We’re proud, of course, that our efforts are helpful for our federal agency constituents. But we are thrilled that our work is appreciated and embraced by the audio and moving image preservation communities at large. Our collaborative approach to solving shared problems through community-based solutions is working – for everyone – and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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