Are you going to the ARC’s Duration and Dimension Conference?

We are chuffed to be part of the Australian Registrars Committee 2018 conference, Duration and Dimension, being held in Melbourne. The conference focuses on challenges associated with the increasing prevalence of time-based and born-digital media acquired in GLAM sector organisations.

Andrew Martin, our Operations Manager, will be talking about the challenges that physical time-based media collections are facing and why now is the time to act to preserve this content.

Andrew’s presentation is titled, The Dying Art of Physical Audiovisual Media in a Digital World. For a taste of what the talk will address, below is the presentation abstract.

Imagine if your institution could no longer access its audiovisual content . . . it’s a scary thought.

Picture this . . . You are preparing an audiovisual installation for an important exhibition; you need to include some footage from a videotape that makes up part of the installation, but when you put the tape into the VTR, it chews up the master tape. There is no one in the organisation with the skills to help you recover the tape or get the VTR working again. You go online to buy a new playback machine, but you have trouble finding anywhere that sells them, and the handful of machines that you do eventually find are so expensive that it is just not an option. You are left holding what was once a great artwork, oral history or heritage item that has now been lost, as there is no longer any way to play it. You can’t use the content within the four walls of your institution, and you definitely can’t share the content outside of those four walls.

Does this seem a bit far fetched? Sadly, you don’t have to look too far into the future for this scenario to be a reality. We are almost there. As the world goes digital, the management of physical AV media is a dying art.

The NFSA has put 2025 as the line the sand for the point at which digitisation of magnetic AV media will no longer be viable. That is only 7 years until the ability to play videotape and audiotape will be near impossible.

The fact is, no manufacturer produces VTRs or audio playback equipment anymore. The head that reads the information on the tape has a finite life and manufacturers of these heads have also almost disappeared. Similarly, the skills to operate and maintain the legacy technology of videotape is disappearing as fast as the machines. Combine this with the challenge of physical media degradation and you can soon see why saving your audiovisual collection has become a matter of urgency.

In this presentation, we will look back at the history of magnetic media audiovisual media. We delve into the issues of technology obsolescence and media degradation and explore how this is impeding access to content. Finally, we will share with you some insights on what you can do about this pressing issue and how you can prepare your organisation as you move your content from the physical world to the digital domain.

If you are heading along, enjoy the conference and be sure to find Andrew and say hello.