The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Web/Tech
- On New Years Day 2015, the 44,000 works of art in the Smithsonian’s Freer | Sackler collection will be available online. [via WAMU]
- Dumpster diving! The National Museum of American History added a copy of the E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Atari 2600 game found in a landfill to their collection. [via O Say Can You See, National Museum of American History]
- The grand re-opening of the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum included “Maria Kalman Selects,” an exhibit put together by the Tel Aviv-born, Bronx-raised designer and illustrator. Her only criteria? That the objects give her a "gasp of delight." [via Cool Hunting]
- The American Association for State and Local History weighs in on the importance of documenting controversial histories. [via AASLH blog]
- The basics of copyright distilled into a comic book? I’m in! Available as images, a flash book browser, a print book, and free downloadable PDF. [via PetaPixel]
- The George Eastman House has released 6 new videos on historic photographic processes including this one on cyanotypes. All 12 are available here. [via PetaPixel]
The Smithsonian Channel produces award-winning television programming that engages viewers much in the same way as the Smithsonian's museums and galleries do throughout the United States with their visitors. Just as the Smithsonian is working to digitize its collections for greater access and preservation, the Smithsonian Channel and the Smithsonian Institution Archives are also undertaking various efforts to ensure the digital preservation of these television programs.
The reformatting workflow for this project has been dynamic, and it should be. During earlier accessions of Smithsonian Channel programming, the progams were transferred on DVDs, numbering in the hundreds. In order to preserve the files digitally and prepare them for ingest into the Smithsonian's Digital Asset Management System (DAMS), the DVDs undertook a lengthy workflow process to ensure the highest level of playability and playback quality.
As part of the project's workflow, and best practices at the Archives, each disc is individually scanned using virus detection software. While this process is lengthy, it is critical to ensuring the security of the Archives' IT infrastructure. The next step in the workflow is to individually create .ISO images of each disc, which retains each program's DVD menu functionality. After creation of the .ISOs, the individual .vobs are extracted and converted to a single .vob using a command prompt script. This single .vob is then converted to an .mpeg, also using command prompt, to ensure the greatest playability across multiple software programs. This process is individually repeated for every DVD within the collection and can take months to complete.
After creation of the mpegs, the associated metadata must be created for each individual file in preparation for ingest into the DAMs. The metadata is applied to each file using Adobe Bridge; however, the metadata cannot be embedded into the actual video files, thus creating a sidecar .xmp file is necessary to hold the associated video file's metadata. Once this process is complete, the .ISO, .mpg, and .xmp files are entered simultaneously into the DAMs to ensure to proper parent (.iso)/child (.mpg and .xmp) relationships are maintained.
Throughout the entire workflow, upon initial receipt, after each conversion, and after upload to the DAMs, each file has been viewed for quality assurance, furthering adding time to an already lengthy workflow. In total, processing the collection of 136 DVDs within the accession took roughly 300 hours to complete.
In an effort to simplify the workflow, archivists from the Smithsonian Channel and the Archives met to develop a plan to achieve maximum efficiency with the preservation of Smithsonian Channel's programming. During the meeting, it was decided to test a pilot program wherein the Smithsonian Channel would send a number of .mov files through a secure server to the Archives to develop a new workflow based solely on the digital transfer of the Smithsonian Channel's programs. While not eliminating the original DVD transfer yet, this process significantly decreased the workflow and time involved in the entire preservation process.
With the transfer of the .mov files, the conversion process was removed entirely from the workflow. Further, the metadata can be directly embedded into the file header of the .mov files, eliminating the need to create a separate file for the metadata. For DAMs ingest, only the .mov file is needed, as opposed to the .ISO, .mpg, and the .xmp file. In essence, what used to take nearly 300 hours to complete could essentially be completed in as little as a day for a collection of programming.
By making the process of preserving the Smithsonian Channel programs simpler and easier, programs can be preserved more quickly and with less files to work with and a more straightforward workflow there is less likelihood for errors to be made. The collaborative effort between the Smithsonian Channel and the Archives is a prime example of two institutions working together in the effort of digital preservation.
- What are You Watching?, The Bigger Picture blog, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- And Action: The Ins and Outs of DVD Video Preservation, The Bigger Picture blog, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Digital Video Preservation: Further Challenges for Preserving Digital Video and Beyond, The Bigger Picture blog, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Smithsonian Channel records at the Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Awesome news - NARA has a new, updated National Archives Catalog, to help make it easier for people to search and find records in their collections. [via NARAtions blog, NARA]
- The Digital Einstein Papers launched last week, making available the collected papers of Albert Einstein, including a letter he wrote to Marie Curie supporting her and giving counsel on how to deal with her critics. [via Open Culture]
- The last of the Hidden Collections awards were given out by the Council on Library and Information Resources. The awards were created in 2008 and is supported by ongoing funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The program has awarded 129 grants totaling about $27.3 million and has allowed repositoties to process and make available collections that were previously hidden. [via InfoDocket]
- The report is out - The FADGI (Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative Audio-Visual Working Group) report on "Creating and Archiving Born Digital Video" was released this week, and the Archives was one of the contributors. [via The Signal: Digital Preservation, LOC]
- Science lesson for the week - Five major advances in scientific knowledge that have occurred since the National Museum of Natural History opened in 1910. [via Unearthed blog, NMNH]
- Available now - Two new online exhibitions from the Biodiversity Heritage Library - Early Women in Science and Latino Natural History. [via Field Book Project blog, NMNH and SIA]
- Watch as paleontologists discover Sue, who at 42 feet long and weighing nearly 4,000 pounds, is the largest, most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever found. [via Underwire, Wired]
- Last week we had Abraham Lincoln's life mask 3D scanned, this week it is President Obama's turn to be scanned. [via Smithsonian Science]
- Check it out - Woman's Work: How Rosalind Franklin's 'Photo 51' Told Us the Truth about Ourselves, by the Archives' Research Fellow, Marcel Chotkowski LaFollette. [via Hillman Photography Initiative, Carnegie Museum of Art]
- Thanks H.R. 1233! - President Barack Obama signed into law H.R. 1233, the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014 that among other things modernizes records management by focusing more directly on electronic records. [via InfoDocket]
- Voices forgotten to the past are heard again thanks to IRENE, a high-tech turntable that spins records while a 3D camera takes high-resolution pictures of the microscopic scratches etched into the record's grooves. [via WBUR]
- What It Means to Be American - The National Museum of American History and Zócalo Public Square embark on a three-year long project to delve into American identity. [via O Say Can You See? blog, NMAH]
- For the AV archivists out there - Comparing formats for video digitization. [via The Signal: Digital Preservation, LOC]
- It takes a village - What it takes to get Edouard Manet's painting Spring (Jeanne Demarsy) from delivery to being on exhibit at the J. Paul Getty Museum. [via The Getty Iris]
- A stark transformation - 3D scans of the life masks of President Lincoln from before and after the Civil War. [via face to face blog, NPG]
- Creative Commons released their "State of the Commons" report which found that there are 882 million CC-licensed works on the net, up from 400 million in 2010. [via InfoDocket]
- Now available - 16,000 pages of Charles Darwin's writing on evolution has been digitized and is available online. [via Open Culture]
- Arthur Greenhall, a Snake Hunter and recorder of animal sounds. [via Smithsonian Collections Blog]
- Tools of the trade in the field - For conservators, one such tool is the USB digital microscope. [via The Getty Iris]
- How ENIAC, the world's first computer, was saved from being scraped. [via Wired]
- Discussions on collecting and preserving digital art with Jon Ippolito, Professor of New Media at the University of Maine, and Richard Rinehart, Director of the Samek Art Museum at Bucknell University. [via The Signal: Digital Preservation, LOC]
- Now for your viewing pleasure - A new monthly video series: Shelf Life, puts a spotlight on the 33 million artifacts at the American Museum of Natural History. [via Open Culture]
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