At BAVC Media Preservation, I gained experience in video conversion of older video formats. I learned the basics in how to maintain playback equipment and handle client’s tapes, document conversion progress on SalesForce, work with time based correctors to set audiovisual levels to maintain original video quality, and spot errors during quality control. While at BAVC Media, I always felt like I was working and walking among “living history,” at times flavored with some San Franciscan culture. Though the physical tapes and the equipment used to transfer them are still playable now, they are slowly moving towards their eventual obsolescence.
I recognize that I am very fortunate to see the collections that I saw being transferred, with the lesson that throughout all these processes, it is not an archiver’s position in this context to judge what is being recorded and saved, but rather how it is being saved, in staying true to the original content as much as possible. I brought an appreciation based on my developing Library and Information Science (LIS) background and my own experiences as a native San Franciscan into what I saw and did, especially in regards to some of the Preservation Access Project collections being transferred. Since BAVC Media is a non-profit and not a traditional library or archive which may have a particular focus on a specific topic to preserve and digitize, it was very interesting to see the wide variety of work that BAVC Media handles, sent in from corporate clients to amateur independent artists.
I know that I will not be able to fully grasp all the nuances of the preservation processes I observed, which require years of experience to understand the quirks of the playback equipment used and the physical media being transferred, as well as having an eye for spotting and naming a wide variety of errors. Yet from these experiences, I gained a unique kind of exposure to the world of preservation and archiving from the perspective of a non-profit organization that had me asking lots of questions and reflecting on what I saw and did. I was also very happy to help where I could, from tape packing to organizing client tapes and information on SalesForce. As a soon-to-be MLIS graduate, I have the potential to develop these skills in future archiving contexts, or at least engage in reflection that will help me consider the preservation-related considerations and implications in whatever I do next.
Preservation is a messy endeavor. There are a lot of ups and downs in the process, at the individual tape level (e.g., dirty, damaged tapes that require lots of packing and cleaning) and at the potentially department-wide equipment level (e.g., Blackmagic not working with a particular tape and the subsequent diverting of attention and resources to address the issue). Yet I gained a lot of exposure to audiovisual preservation from this BAVC Media internship experience. I am grateful in being able to have fun while learning a lot about the preservation field through the lens of BAVC Media’s workflows and ongoing projects.
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Update: Emmanuel Te is now working in BAVC Media’s Preservation Department as our QA Technician!