Physical Media to Digital Storage: Migrating Audiovisual Files in Museum Collections

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    • Non-member - $89
    • Member - $89
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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
PresenterAnnie 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: $89


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

Digital Archivist

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

Digital Archivist

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.

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  • Greg Hunter

    Thanks so much for a great course, everyone - lots of useful info. Good luck to all with your migration projects!!

    Reply
  • JB

    Hello everyone,

    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

    julia

    Reply
  • MJ

    Hi Julia,

    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...

    Mona

    Reply
  • JB

    Thank you Mona, very kind from you. I will check these links.

  • KM

    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...

    Reply
  • CG

    Hello all,

    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.

    Reply
  • KC

    Caroline, 

    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.

     Best, Ken. 

    Reply
  • MJ

    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.

    Reply
  • KC

    Mona,

    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...)

    Cheers, Ken

    Reply
  • KC

    Thanks Mona!

    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.

    Thanks!

    Ken

    Reply
  • KC

    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.

    Ken

    Reply
  • KC

    Hi Mona,

    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!

    My best,

    Ken Campbell

    National Gallery of Canada

    Reply
  • KC

    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" :)

    Ken.

    Reply
  • KC

    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.

  • MJ

    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.

  • MJ

    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. 

  • AA

    Hi Elena,

    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. 

    ~Ana-Elisa

    Reply
  • EC

    Hi Ana-Elisa,

    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!

    Elena

    Reply
  • AA

    Thanks for the clarification.  My assumptions were correct.  ~a

  • KC

    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.

    Thanks!

    Ken

    Reply
  • EC

    Hi Ken,

    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.

    Elena

    Reply
  • KM

    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. 

  • KC

    Thank you Elena!

    Ken

  • RB

    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!

    -Robin

    Reply
  • AS

    Hello!  Thanks for posting the recordings.  But will they be closed-captioned or a transcript released afterwards?  

    Best,

    Amy

    Reply
  • RB

    Hi Amy-

    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. 

    Reply
  • Greg Hunter

    Hi team,

    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?

    Best wishes,

    Greg

    Reply
  • RB

    Hi Greg! 

    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 
    c2cc@culturalheritage.org

    Reply
  • Greg Hunter

    Great, thanks Robin! :)

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Webinar 1: Digital Media Carriers and Their Properties
Select the "View On-Demand Recording" button to begin.
Select the "View On-Demand Recording" button to begin. This first webinar session will provide an introduction to common digital media carriers used for storing moving images, sound, and multimedia. We’ll also identify risks inherent to all media carriers, as well as those associated with specific types of carriers. The type of carrier is important, but the ultimate goal is to transfer the content off the carrier, so the session will also look at strategies for inventorying and what information to gather for establishing priorities.
Webinar 1: Digital Media Carriers and Their Properties Powerpoint and Transcript
Open to download resource.
Open to download resource. Powerpoint presentation and notes from the webinar Digital Media Carriers presented by Elena Colón-Marrero on October 12, 2020.
Webinar 2: Examining Media Carriers
Select the "View On-Demand Recording" button to begin.
Select the "View On-Demand Recording" button to begin. After learning about different media carriers in the first webinar, this second session will walk through how to safely access further metadata about carriers and the content they store. We’ll discuss the type of equipment, like write-blockers and external devices, that may be needed to access carriers on computer platforms. This session will introduce the command line (Terminal on Mac and Command Prompt on PCs) and highlight some built in tools, like Get Info or Disk Utility, that can be used to learn more about the carrier.
Webinar 2: Examining Media Carriers Presentation and Transcript
Open to download resource.
Open to download resource. Powerpoint presentation and notes from the webinar Examining Media Carriers presented by Lorena Ramírez López on October 22, 2020.
Webinar 3: Examining Media Files
Select the "View On-Demand Recording" button to begin.
Select the "View On-Demand Recording" button to begin. In this next webinar, we will dive into the files stored on media carriers. We will cover how to identify file formats and introduce tools, like Mediainfo and Exiftool, which can be used to examine file metadata. The value of the content will be determined by your institutional priorities, so we will also discuss what software may be required to view or listen to files. This webinar will also introduce the concept of fixity, ensuring a file remains unchanged throughout its life cycle. Finally, we’ll continue our inventory process and discuss the benefits of a file-level inventory, and how the data gathered informs migration and preservation planning.
Webinar 3: Examining Media Files Presentation and Transcript
Open to download resource.
Open to download resource. Powerpoint presentation and notes from the webinar Examining Media Files presented by Caroline Gil Rodríguez on October 29, 2020
Webinar 4: Creating a Migration Plan
Select the "View On-Demand Recording" button to begin.
Select the "View On-Demand Recording" button to begin. Creating a plan for migrating content off media carriers is informed by the value of the content, the risks to carriers and file format identified in the inventory process, and by institutional priorities and readiness. While this session won’t cover establishing a long-term digital preservation plan, you will learn how to evaluate your institutional readiness for digital storage. We will also walk through the steps of safely transferring content from digital media carriers, with examples from different types of carriers, and how to validate the transfers and confirm the content transferred successfully.
Webinar 4: Creating a Migration Plan Presentation
Open to download resource.
Open to download resource. Powerpoint presentation and notes from the webinar Creating a Migration Plan presented by Annie Schweikert on November 5, 2020.
Webinar 5: Media Migration Case Studies
Select the "View On-Demand Recording" button to begin.
Select the "View On-Demand Recording" button to begin. By this time, you will be familiar with the tools and terminology related to developing a migration plan for your media. In this final session, one or more of the instructors will return to share case studies of one or more migration projects they undertook.
Webinar 5: Media Migration Case Studies Presentation and Transcription
Open to download resource.
Open to download resource. Powerpoint presentation and notes from the webinar Media Migration Case Studies presented by Elena Colón-Marrero & Caroline Gil Rodríguez on November 12, 2020.