Friday, October 7, 2011

Analog-to-digital video preservation and a site visit to a repair facility at the NASA Ames Research Center

Hello everyone, happy day of digital archives! I'm Lauren Sorensen, Preservation Specialist working at Bay Area Video Coalition, a technology non-profit devoted to inspiring social change by enabling the sharing of diverse stories through art, education and technology. Our preservation department specifically works to preserve and provide support to archives with film, video, and moving image and audio material in their collections. We are one of the only non-profit vendors for high-quality preservation of video and audio in the country.

My blog entry can be found on our home site blog here, and involves a site visit from earlier this year, when I met in person for the first time Ken Zin, who works on the NASA Ames Research Center campus (at the site of a former MacDonald's there!) repairing obsolete reel-to-reel videotape machines. His work is essential to us because he is one of the only experts left in the country doing this specialized type of work. Because these decks feature heads (the part of the machine that reads the magnetic waveforms on the tape) that are proprietary to the companies that made them in the 1970s and 1980s, it is a real challenge keeping them in proper working order for high quality preservation. Realignment and regular maintenance is important in maintaining a facility that is appropriate for preservation services; we maintain these decks as we would museum artifacts because they are some of the last working machinery that is available to transfer 1/2" open-reel machines; after these decks are no longer operational, any magnetic recordings held in archival collections will be lost.

Please enjoy the photos!

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