Today’s guest post is from Kate Murray, Digital Projects Coordinator in Digital Collections Management and Services and Charles Hosale at American Folklife Center, both from the Library of Congress.
I have said more than once that ‘FADGI’, pronounced ‘fah-gee’ and short for the Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative, is a terrible acronym (Charles quips “Hey, at least it has vowels!”) for a great group of people and institutions doing good work. And FADGI did not disappoint during our recent Audiovisual Working Group meeting on April 12th, 2023. This was the first full working group meeting in about 18 months (we had lots of smaller subgroup meetings on specific projects as described below) as well as the first meeting in over three years with the option to attend in person. Clearly, we had a lot of catching up to do!
Hybrid meetings are nothing new to FADGI – we’ve had the remote option since FADGI’s founding in 2007, before video conferencing, back when all we had was a speaker phone and loud voices – but it was great to see faces IRL and on screen. Participants at the recent meeting ran the gamut from across the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, Government Publications Office, Architect of the Capitol, National Library of Medicine, Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, Library and Archives, OCIO, the brand-new Audiovisual Media Preservation Initiative (AVMPI) and more. These FADGI institutional members were joined by Friends of FADGI participants such as the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) and others working on specific projects such as AVP, Medex Forensics and MediaArea. It was a packed house and spirits were high with lots of enthusiasm for continued and new work. There were so many project updates to talk about. Here’s a high-level recap of what we covered and it was A LOT to squeeze into two action-packed hours but we did it and had a fun time in the process. In short, it was great to get the FADGI band back together. Join us for a tour of our greatest hits and new work.
embARC now supports MXF files with FFV1 content
First up on the agenda was Bert Lyons from Medex Forensics on behalf of AVP with an update about new functionality in embARC. embARC, short for “metadata embedded for archival content,” is a free, open source software application that enables users to audit and correct embedded metadata to comply with FADGI guidelines for DPX (Guidelines for Embedded Metadata within DPX File Headers for Digitized Motion Picture Film) and MXF (SMPTE RDD 48: MXF Archive and Preservation Format) files. A recent addition in 2022 was support for FFV1 in MXF as supported by the SMPTE RDD 48 Amendment 1: Mapping FFV1 to MXF as covered in a previous blog post, FADGI’s embARC Now Supports FFV1!.
Other recent updates to embARC include validation for required embedded metadata and the manifest as well as the ability to export text and binary data in generic stream partitions.
Accessibility subgroup update – definitions, survey results, upcoming work with WebVTT
The Smithsonian Institution’s Crystal Sanchez (OCIO) and Blake McDowell (NMAAHC) were up next to discuss FADGI’s recently established Audiovisual Accessibility Subgroup, which is focusing on developing and documenting guidelines and processes for federal cultural heritage institutions to address accessibility needs such as captions, subtitles, audio description and transcriptions, for archival audiovisual collections content acquired through collections development scope and policies.
To date, the group has produced two well-received deliverables:
- Definitions for Key Accessibility Features for Digital Audiovisual Collections Content (v1.0 September 2, 2022) which provides technical information, definitions and resources for accessibility features for born digital or digitized audiovisual collections content and their online delivery in US federal agencies.
- Survey Results: The Current State of Accessibility Features for Audiovisual Collections Content in Five FADGI Institutions (October 4, 2022) which reports the results of a survey to FADGI members to gather information about accessibility compliance in federal cultural heritage institutions for archival audiovisual collections content acquired through collections development scope and policies.
The subgroup’s upcoming tasks include developing a lightweight embedded metadata structure for WebVTT files used for captions and subtitles.
Open Source Digital Preservation Software Accessibility Research Project
Chris Lacinak from AVP introduced a new research project recently kicked off to further support FADGI’s work with accessibility. The goal of this work is to provide broadly applicable recommendations to FADGI and the digital preservation community on accessibility best practices for open-source desktop software and update embARC so it exemplifies those best practices. Upcoming deliverables include a literature review, accessibility testing and analysis of selected digital preservation applications (embARC, BWF MetaEdit and Handbrake) and a final report with community recommendations and draft guidelines. Much more on this project including a blog post in the coming weeks.
Guidelines for Imaged Audio
News about another new project was shared by collaborator Julia Hawkins from NEDCC to high level FADGI specifications and guidelines for imaged audio content. This project will primarily focus on IRENE (Image, Reconstruct, Erase Noise, Etc.) technology, which involves non-contact optical scanning of original artifacts such as wax cylinders and lacquer discs. The output of this digitization process is a complex package of potentially changeable content which may include high-resolution 2D or 3D image files of the audio carrier, primary and access audio files, log and data files about processing and system settings as well as other files. This package allows researchers to listen and discover audio content without damaging the original physical artifacts. Stay tuned on this one as well! We hope to have something to share by the end of the year. We’ll also be presenting on this work at the upcoming AES International Conference on Audio Archiving, Preservation & Restoration meeting in June 2023.
What’s new with BWF MetaEdit? More Lossless: managing ancillary data in audiovisual processing
Dave Rice and Jérôme Martinez from MediaArea brought us up to speed about FADGI’s continued support for the popular open source BWF MetaEdit application including issues identified and resolved though the GitHub Issue Tracker and new feature support for the cue chunk implementation (as described in That’s Our Cue! Updates for the FADGI Embedded Metadata Guidelines and BWF MetaEdit for the Cue Chunk in Broadcast Wave Files). Additional work includes updates for text encoding options (as such in non-English-speaking environments, where umlauts or other accent marks are needed) and the ability to select different rules for data conformance.
A new area of interest for FADGI is FFmpeg support to add SMPTE RDD48 amendment 1 (which maps FFV1 in MXF), which in turn makes the support spread to open-source players. There’s also complex work with transmuxing captions and timecodes. More details on this to come.
Smithsonian Institution’s Audiovisual Media Preservation Initiative
Our final presentation came from Siobhan Hagan and Dan Hockstein to introduce the Smithsonian’s new Audiovisual Media Preservation Initiative (AVMPI) which supports the preservation needs of Smithsonian audiovisual collections through an innovative, pan-institutional approach. Check out their promotional video for an overview of what’s in store. FADGI is thrilled to welcome AVMPI and looks forward to collaboration (and inviting ourselves over for a visit for a future FADGI meeting…)
Phew – that is a lot
Yes. Yes it is. But my co-host/co-organizer extraordinaire, Charles Hosale, summed it up best: “I always feel inspired and energized after a FADGI meeting.” Me too! FADGI holds a special place in my heart. We talk about how we can collaborate across federal agencies, engage with the wider community, and generally work together on shared areas of concern. And we generally have a good time in the mix. Lots more updates to come. In the meantime, #fadgi4eva.
Wow — what an impressive array of projects and outcomes! We can see that lots of cooking went on during the 18-month, um, work session. Great to see.