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Voices from the World of Video Archiving

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The following is a guest post by Carl Fleischhauer, a Digital Initiatives Project Manager in NDIIPP.

The German National Library (DNB)
The German National Library (DNB). Photo credit: Carl Fleischhauer

I am attending the annual conference of the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) in Frankfurt, Germany, hosted by the Hessischer Rundfunk (the public broadcasting unit for the German state of Hesse), the German public broadcasting archive, and the German National Library.  The meeting proper runs from September 3-8, 2011.

Although relatively small–IASA has four hundred members, about half institutional and half individual–the organization has been influential.

On the one hand, IASA has published important technical guideline documents pertaining to the preservation of audiovisual content (more below) and on the other, it has been involved directly and indirectly in outreach to audiovisual archives throughout the world, sometimes via UNESCO connections like the Memory of the World.

Hessischer Rundfunk
The Hessischer Rundfunk. Photo credit: Carl Fleischhauer

IASA’s international reach is nicely represented by the turnout and presentations at this meeting.  Among the one hundred and fifty registrants, we see the following nationalities: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam.

This week’s presentations include several from representatives from broadcast organizations and broadcast archives from the four corners of the world.  For example, there are talks on the use of social media by a film and television archive in Calcutta, a new sound archive for Radio the Voice of Vietnam, planning for archive improvements at Radio Nepal and the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, and a talk about the PrestoCenter in the Netherlands, an outgrowth of the three Presto (from preservation technology) projects carried out by European public broadcasters beginning in 2000.

International activities also figure in presentations like projects from the UN in Sudan (exit interviews with departing UN staff), the National Digital Archives of Taiwan, and the Fonoteca Nacional de Mexico.

IASA Technical Committee Meeting. Photo credit: Carl Fleischhauer

I participated in a general technical meeting on Friday, September 2, and a more focused meeting on Saturday, September 3. The Friday meeting launched an effort to draft a preservation guidelines document for video, intended to counterpoint the important Guidelines on the Production and Preservation of Digital Audio Objects (better known as TC-04).

Kevin Bradley
Kevin Bradley of the National Library of Australia. Photo credit: Carl Fleischhauer

During the next year or two, the video guideline effort (TC-06) will bring together the work of a dozen or so contributors.  Kevin Bradley, the outgoing president of IASA, leads the effort.  Kevin’s day jobs at the National Library of Australia are Curator, Oral History and Folklore, and Director, Sound Preservation.

The video guideline activity meshes in an excellent way with the ongoing work of the Audio-Visual Working Group within the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative, which I coordinate.  At the meeting in Frankfurt, I heard strong endorsement for our Working Group activity to draft a specification for the use of the MXF format, tailored to serve digital video preservation (“could you hurry it up, please!”).  Members of the TC-06 team expressed a willingness to contribute ideas to our work, even as we contribute to theirs.

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