Physical Media to Digital Storage: Migrating Audiovisual Files in Museum Collections
- Non-member - Free!
- Member - Free!
Do you have collections of obsolete and vulnerable removable media (optical media, hard drives, flash drives, etc.) but no backup of the files (the content) to safe and secure storage? This course, created for collections care staff at small and mid-sized institutions, takes you through the steps to identify, prioritize, describe, verify, and to safely transfer the files.
At the end of the course, participants will be equipped to plan and carry out their own migration plans of these critically endangered materials. The emphasis will be on moving image, sound and multimedia content, but the course will be applicable to the shared concerns about other materials such as photos and text. A sample Excel template will be provided listing the key information necessary for management of the carriers and files.
Please note this is a self-study course originally offered in a live webinar format between October 13 and November 12, 2020.
Webinar 1: Digital Media Carriers and Their Properties
Presenter: Elena Colón-Marrero, Digital Archivist, Computer History Museum
In the first webinar, participants will learn to distinguish media carriers and their variations, as well as their relative risks, thus providing data for priority-setting.
Webinar 2: Examining Media Carriers
Presenter: Lorena Ramirez López, Full Stack Developer / Media Preservation Specialist
In the second webinar, participants will be introduced to the “what and why” of a basic migration workflow using write blockers and will learn various ways to gather information about the carrier’s key attributes.
Webinar 3: Examining Media Files
Presenter: Caroline Gil (she/her), Media Conservation Fellow, MoMA/Metropolitan Museum of Art
In the third webinar, participants will be presented with techniques for evaluating moving image and sound files in terms of their historical use, technical specifications, and sustainability, and will learn how to use computer-based tools to capture and organize available metadata.
Webinar 4: Creating a Migration Plan
Presenter: Annie Schweikert, Digital Archivist, Stanford University Library Special Collections
In the fourth webinar, file transfer will be demonstrated after a discussion of the principles of digital storage and the practical preparatory steps necessary to begin migration.
Webinar 5: Media Migration Case Studies
Presenters: Caroline Gil (she/her), Media Conservation Fellow, MoMA/Metropolitan Museum of Art and Elena Colón-Marrero, Digital Archivist, Computer History Museum
The fifth webinar will present one or more case studies where a museum or archive has implemented a migration plan.
By end of course, the participants will have the skills and knowledge to:
- Identify and understand the risks of common removable media carriers (optical media, hard drives, flash drives, etc.) used to store moving images, sound and multimedia files
- Examine and analyze the carriers by such attributes as type, formatting, connector type, and capacity
- Examine and analyze the files contained on the media by such attributes as type, format, codec (encoding), size, interdependencies and sustainability
- Describe and document the carrier and the files using digital tools and inventories to capture information used for discovery, planning and prioritization, and monitoring for sustainability
- Analyze the state of the organization’s digital storage against community standards, and understand how to plan for, prepare, and arrange the digital storage pre-transfer of the files
- Transfer files to the storage using workflows (including write blocking and checksums) that maintain the integrity of the files and their arrangement and retain associated metadata
- Create a plan that reflects community standards for the migration of files and care of the media carriers, considering organization’s needs and resources
Registration Fee: Free!
Our Course Coordinators are Kristin MacDonough (she/her), Assistant Conservator of Media, Art Institute of Chicago and Mona Jimenez (she/her), Media Arts Consultant, Materia Media
Connecting to Collections Care courses are made possible in part by generous support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Annie Schweikert is a Digital Archivist at Stanford University Libraries, where she reformats, processes, and makes accessible born-digital archival materials. Previously, she worked as an audiovisual archivist at the Human Studies Film Archives (part of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History) and the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. She has a master’s in Moving Image Archiving and Preservation from New York University.
Mona Jimenez (Moderator)
Mona Jimenez specializes in conservation/preservation of independent media and media art collections in libraries, archives and museums. From 2003-2017 she was on the faculty of the Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program (MIAP) at New York University and led curriculum development in areas of video preservation, collection management, and media art conservation. Jimenez is dedicated to collaborative and cross-disciplinary models for media archiving and preservation, founding NYU-MIAP’s international program Audiovisual Preservation Exchange and initiating the Community Archiving Workshop model.
Elena Colón-Marrero is the Digital Archivist at the Computer History Museum. She has been at the museum since 2016 where she manages the museum’s digital collections and historic software collection. Previously, Colón-Marrero served as the 2015 John Foster and Janet Avery Dulles Archival Fellow at the Mudd Manuscript Library at Princeton University where she conducted a survey of born-digital media within the collections. She has her Master of Science in Information from the University of Michigan with concentrations in Archives and Records Management and Digital Preservation.
Kristin MacDonough (Moderator)
Assistant Media Conservator
Kristin MacDonough works as the Assistant Media Conservator at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she collaborates with colleagues throughout the museum to implement guidelines and procedures for acquiring, assessing, exhibiting, and conserving time-based media artworks. She also co-leads the TBM Forum and oversees the development of digital storage for artworks. Prior to this role, Kristin held the position of Digitization Specialist at the Video Data Bank where she migrated much of the analog video collection. A member of the Chicago Area Archivists, she also coordinates the Audiovisual Materials Interest Group and organizes video preservation workshops. She serves as the 2020-2022 Chair for the Electronic Media Group, part of the American Institute for Conservation. Kristin is a founding member of XFR Collective and a 2013 graduate of the Moving Image Archiving and Preservation program at New York University.
Caroline Gil Rodríguez
Media Art Conservator and Archivist
Caroline Gil Rodríguez is a media art conservator, archivist and writer from Puerto Rico. She is currently an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in Media Conservation, completing a third year placement at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and prior to that working for two years at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). At both institutions, she collaboratively works with the media conservation team in the acquisition, exhibition, treatment, and research of the collection’s audio, film, video, performance and software-based works. Her areas of interest include media art technologies, the circulation of time-based media art in Latin America and the Caribbean, low-cost open-source solutions for digital preservation and collectivism.
Lorena Ramírez López
Full Stack Developer
Lorena Ramírez-López is a full stack software developer from the Flatiron program. An alum from the National Digital Stewardship Residency of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting, a graduate from the Moving Image Archiving and Preservation program at New York University, member of XFR Collective, and consultant at Myriad, she has been a moving image specialist for the past 5 years. In that time she has focused on the preservation, conservation, and restoration of digital collections, specifically the installation and storage of time-based media art. A native New Yorker from Queens, Lorena believes in access and sharing resources which is why she participates and volunteers in open-source projects, hackathons, and the Audiovisual Preservation Exchange from NYU.
Hello from Madrid,
I wish you all are fine,I am searching for any advice ,paper or somebody here who is familiar with a 3D animation digital art movie.<The extension is .mov, and the created software is cinema 4.
The file is in a pendrive,.... but there are 2 hard disk copies.Nothing else.
Any help will be more than welcome
Thanks so much for a great course, everyone - lots of useful info. Good luck to all with your migration projects!!
My name is Julia Betancor, art conservator base in Madrid, Spain, Head of Art conservation for Coleccion Solo a private contemporary collection with some technological artworks. (the main reason why I am here).
I am more than happy to have the chance to see, read review all the lessons material in our CEST , thanks for this coherent system.
Please I am wondering if somebody can help me with some technical words translations in spanish. for example, even here everybody says TMBA conservation because sounds better, we need to find a way to translate it properly, Physical Media will be "medios físicos" en "almacenamiento digital",There is any ad-hoc glossary/dictionary?
thanks in advance
I would check in with RIPDASA since they are doing a lot of training. https://twitter.com/RIPDASA2
A close colleague Pamela Vizner Oyarce is very involved with RIPDASA. She may be aware of some developing bilingual glossaries https://www.weareavp.com/peopl...
Thank you Mona, very kind from you. I will check these links.
Additional Links from webinar 5:
Warren Collection Case Study notes: https://docs.google.com/docume...
Elena's blog post for Computer History Museum on Vote America project: https://computerhistory.org/bl...
Time estimation for processing born-digital collections: https://hangingtogether.org/?p...
Interactive Digital Media Art Survey (Cornell): https://dcaps.library.cornell....
Paper co-written by Caroline: Towards Best practices in disk imaging (included in AIC's Electronic Media Review): http://resources.culturalherit...
Agreed that this would be a fascinating panel to have on an upcoming EMG session ;). I would also love to do a collective deep-dive on chroma-subsampling!
Chiming in to say that currently at MoMA we are NOT using the 'normalizing' function in Archivematica. In my view, if you are getting Apple ProRes 444/422 from an artist I would not (at this moment in time) transcode that to a 'preservation format' because ProRes is so ubiquitous, present in nearly all TBM collections, can be viewed on most playback software, still broadly used in the video editing industry. I would certainly monitor the plausible obsolescence of ProRes and keep checking in with other similar institutions, possibly draft a plan for a future migration but I agree that normalizing at this point in time seems to me like overkill.
Awesome! Thank you for that info. You and Mona have such refreshingly pragmatic and practical approaches, something a lot of papers, studies and best practices on preservation formats seem to be missing. Many, many thanks.
Some organizations have the practice of creating an lossless uncompressed version of an artist's master. This process eliminates the risk of errors in the process of compression and decompression. Depending on the source, this is typically 8 or 10 bit using the v210 codec. As I understand the process, it just puts the bits into a different container. Others feel this is overkill and a waste of space. A good place to hear some opinions on this would be to pose a question on the listserv of the Electronic Media Interest Group of AIC. I wish someone would hold a panel on this subject! And one on how to take info about an artist's production process and give good advice!
The language around normalization probably comes from digital preservation. Museums have been used to dealing with artworks one by one, and are not used to using automated processes affecting numerous artworks at once. Also, conservators and curators are generally loathe to dictate the formats for artist's masters. However, museums will need to institute digital preservation practices eventually (sooner rather than later), where one will need identify and take actions on groups of files that have similar traits. (This is why deep and searchable metadata is so helpful) In other words, once Apple ProRes 422 is obsolete, to migrate all instances in a batch. Digital repositories use normalization to limit the types of files they will accept, to make the transformations more manageable. Sorry, no easy answers! But getting the files off the physical media means they are protected while policies get worked out.
Thank you so much for all that information. It's been very immensely valuable to read your thoughts on all this. I too would love to see a panel or workshop on this. And closely related, a technical deep dive into chroma-subsampling from a digital preservation standpoint (especially when transcoding or digitizing between formats that use different chroma-subsampling...)
Maybe I've misunderstood, but I thought it was considered best practice to transcode an artist's master to a preservation format for archiving, not to obtain a higher quality (as you rightly point out), but to generate a more accessible copy that has less reliance on a proprietary or patent encumbered format making it more likely to be accessed or migrated forward.
Caroline, perhaps you can correct me, but I thought MoMA's automated workflow (using Archivematica) performed automatic transcodes on ingest of moving images to uncompressed 10-bit? I can't remember for certain, but I think Ben had mentioned or written that somewhere.
Sorry, I had meant to write "preservation format for archiving along with the artist's master", not instead of.
I realize this is not the most efficient way to to have a conversation about this topic. I will reach out to Caroline directly.
I'm going to get a tattoo of "Transformation Creates Risk" ;) But I'm curious how that reconciles with creating preservation masters from artist masters. Do automated Q/C tools assist with this?
We receive mostly ProRes 422, HQ and 4444 artist masters, and we're just updating our workflow for creating preservation masters, so I want to make sure I'm minimizing that risk.
Thank you! And thank you to Caroline, I picked up some amazing new tools today thanks to you!
National Gallery of Canada
Just to clarify my own question, I'm not asking how to transcode to lossless preservation formats, I'm interested in best practices to validate and verify the newly minted preservation copy against the artist master. The rule I learned was "The Eyes Lie" :)
I think I've been using the wrong terminology. Matters in Media Art calls it a "normalized master":
"Generation of normalized masters where necessary. A normalized master is a preservation copy of a file in a standardized format. There is some debate regarding when the creation of normalized copies is advisable."
That's what I was asking about, generating normalized masters and archiving them along side the artist masters.
Re: the comparisons, this sound like a longer discussion about how you have defined 'artist's master' and 'preservation master.' In any case a good first step is to run media info on both files and check the technical metadata to see if they match in terms of duration, resolution, and frame rate. Before you ever get to viewing the files, you can tell if you have been sent various versions of the same work. Obviously duration is very important. For video, the resolution and frame rate should not change as resolution is important to the quality of the image, and the frame rate ensures the correct playback speed. There are other factors, but these are the basics.
Good one, Ken. I should have said transcoding, but most people don't know what that means! When a file is created it is created using a specific encoding or codec, as Caroline mentioned, using a specific algorithm. Transcoding (like one format to another) is a change in the encoding, in other words in the way the code is represented, and thus how all the info Caroline described is represented. Going through that change in the the encoding - re-arranging the bits - creates more risk of error. (Well, really, even staying in the same encoding and making files smaller or larger is risky. We have all had the occasional corrupted file for no apparent reason, right? Frame drops, flipped bits.) So, generally speaking, any time a file is modified, there are changes in the structure and there are there is danger of errors occurring. Also most software (and hardware did this with analog signals) uses error correction in the background. So the file might have already seen repair just through the process of transcoding, but it is not apparent. Running QC Tools will catch some errors. As Caroline said, understanding production history lets you know what transformations the files have already been through. We can sometimes catch an unwise decision like "I shot and edited everything in ProRes 422 but I exported in ProRes 444." There is no benefit to the "upgrade" and just creates risk.
My question is related to sample-digital-media-inventory.accdb shared in the last webinar. There is a field named "Media Label" only refer to the factory label or the annotated label or "title" inscribed by the donor? There is also a "Media markings" which I interpreted as physical condition descriptions.
The institution I got this from used the "Media Label" field for the manufacturer label and "Media Markings" to the annotated label or title of the item. Condition notes go into the "Notes" column. However, you are more than welcome to change the uses and add/remove fields as you see fit!
Thanks for the clarification. My assumptions were correct. ~a
I'd never heard or seen the term "physical media carrier" before this presentation. Neither has Google's it seems :) Is this the preferred term in contemporary digital preservation over simply "physical media"? Just want to make sure I'm using the correct terminology in my reports.
Depending on the person terms can be used interchangeable. You'll most likely encounter "physical media" out in the wild, but may also encounter "storage media", "storage medium", "physical storage media", etc. Whatever term you choose to use in your reports just needs to be consistent and geared towards your audience. "Physical media" is best understood by a wider number of people.
Hi Ken, I second Elena's point that consistency is the most important part and the term used should be defined for your audience as early as possible. We use 'media carriers' at my organization to reference any physical item that holds or stores audiovisual or digital content.
Thank you Elena!
That's a good question Ken and I'm new to the term as well. I'll make sure our course coordinators see your comment and get their comments as well!
Hello! Thanks for posting the recordings. But will they be closed-captioned or a transcript released afterwards?
We do have a transcript from a service we are trying out call Rev. It's not the most complete doc but will give you some info. I'll see about posting it in the next day or so.
Looking forward to this course! A quick question, if I may - will recordings of the webinars be available to participants for review after they are screened live?
Thanks for submitting this question. We do plan on recording all of the webinars and, as an official registrant, you'll be able to access the recordings as soon as they are posted. If you have any other questions feel free to reach out and thanks!
Robin Bauer Kilgo
Connecting to Collections Care Coordinator
foundation for advancement in conservation
Protecting Cultural Heritage
Great, thanks Robin! :)