Preservation Education

Expanding Audiovisual Preservation Education

The archival community is in agreement that the threat that obsolescence and degradation pose to at-risk media collections cannot be overstated. Even tapes kept in the most ideal storage conditions suffer from deterioration as they age. Additionally, the playback of tape-based media is dependent on specialized equipment that is no longer manufactured, and in most cases no longer supported by the original manufacturers (if those manufacturers are even still in business). Audiovisual preservation requires expensive equipment and specialized technical expertise which creates barriers for organizations to digitize their own collections. The result is that only a handful of organizations, often vendors and universities, have access to the equipment, knowledge and skills to perform successful operations. While universities and vendors with community-oriented missions contribute white papers and conference presentations to share their knowledge, there is a significant absence of training opportunities for those passionate custodians who have the responsibility of preserving material and making it available to the world at large.

With generous funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, BAVC Media is developing a series of tools and a curriculum related to furthering education and equity in the field of audiovisual preservation. To address both the urgency of preserving higher volumes of audiovisual content, and for broadening the field of preservationists to make it more diverse and inclusive, our Community-Based Preservation Education and Training plan proposes to offer the following:

  • Online instructional videos
  • Hybrid online and hands-on training with preservation equipment
  • A year-long fellowship to a post-graduate preservationist at BAVC Media

BAVC Media plans to use this opportunity to develop a more diverse pipeline of preservationists – from beginner to advanced levels of training. Our experience in the field of training and supporting media makers has taught us the importance of inclusion, from the “ground up”. It’s essential for media makers and preservationists to reflect or have experience with the stories, cultures and artistic practices that they are engaged with.

Hands-On Training

Are you interested in getting hands-on experience with tapes and analog playback equipment? You’re in luck! In late 2021 BAVC Media will be sending Video Preservation Education Kits to folks interested in receiving training on how to properly care for and preserve analog tape materials. If this sounds like something you’d like to do sign up here and you’ll be alerted when the applications for the program are open!

  • Program details
    • Participants will be shipped a Video Preservation Education Kit, which includes the equipment and materials needed to learn the basics of video tape preservation
    • The program will consist of 6 mini-courses taught over 8 weeks.
    • Participants will watch pre-recorded videos and then have the chance to schedule in-person training with instructors to complete the tasks of each mioni course
    • By the end of the of the course participants will be able to
      • Inspect and handle video cassette tapes
      • Repair and splice damaged video tape
      • Properly cable a digitization workstation
      • Calibrate a CRT monitor
      • Read video levels on a waveform monitor
      • Identify and inspect portions of a video signal on a waveform monitor
      • Clean and maintain a video tape deck
      • Make minor adjustments to a video tape deck
      • Remove a stuck tape from a deck
      • Utilize and understand the features of a video framesync and processing amplifier
  • Why are we doing this?
    • Video equipment is becoming harder to find and maintain every day, meanwhile archives across the nation have un-preserved tapes in their collections that will soon be lost to time if they aren’t addressed immediately. 
    • Hands-on training is hard to come by, even in most MLIS programs. We want to increase equity in the training in the field by providing the opportunity to people who cannot afford to go to an expensive graduate program that provides hands-on training
    • We want to mail equipment to people because it provides longer-term access to the equipment than flying them out for a weekend
  • Target audience
    • People working in archives, libraries, museums, galleries, the humanities
    • People who work with or near audiovisual materials
    • People whose jobs or careers would be improved by having or improving these skills
    • People from underrepresented or under-resourced communities and identities.
  • What makes this special
    • Participants will get hands-on experience with equipment that is difficult to find
    • Participants will get to keep some of the equipment as a souvenir (splicing kit)
    • Participants will get to meet and collaborate with other people in the archival field
    • BAVC Media is working to make this program as accessible as possible. If you are interested but cannot have the kit hosted in your living space we will find a local partner to host the kit for you in a way that is safe and accessible

On-Demand Workshops

DPS-575 Workshop: Understanding the device, how to use it, and creating audio terminal blocks

During this workshop, participants will go over some of the main features and quirks of the unit, and then focus on one of the biggest hurdles to using the unit: The audio terminal blocks. Rather than having typical audio connectors like XLR or RCA, these units use audio terminal blocks. That means that in order to hook up the audio you’ll need to strip wires and customize-build your own connectors. With the correct tools and some patience anyone can do it, and we are holding this workshop to give you what you need to utilize these units in your own preservation lab!

Intro To Soldering and Troubleshooting for AV Archivists

Replacing electronic components and tinkering with mechanical parts can be a tricky task, but if you have the tools, training, and some practice it can be done by almost anyone! As usual, the best way to get good at something is to do it with some guidance. BAVC Media has partnered with Memory Lab at the DC Public Library to create this video workshop to walk through the process of soldering a simple PCB kit. The kit we used is a “xr2206 function generator” that can be purchased for under $15 from various online vendors. During this workshop you’ll learn how to solder and remove electrical components, how to test electrical components, and the basics of using an oscilloscope.