1. 16:59 11th Dec 2012  by kellishay

    Notes: 1

    Tags: U-MaticArchivesLibraries

    Conference attendees at AMIA 2012 were lured to our presentation table by our free posters.  Nashville represent!  From left to right:  Neale Stokes, David Rice, Moriah Ulinskas, Lauren Sorenson. 

    Conference attendees at AMIA 2012 were lured to our presentation table by our free posters.  Nashville represent!  From left to right:  Neale Stokes, David Rice, Moriah Ulinskas, Lauren Sorenson. 

     
  2. 16:52 3rd Dec 2012  by cantstoplovingumatic

    Notes: 2

    Tags: U-MaticArchivesLibraries

    image: Download

    They’re here! Here’s Ryan from Kangaroo Press holding one of our beautiful U-matic posters. These were designed by Nashville artist Sam Smith, and screenprinted by hand in a very limited edition—numbered and signed by the artist. We’ll have forty of these to give away at AMIA 2012. They’ll be free, but once they’re gone, they’re gone. See you in Seattle!

    They’re here! Here’s Ryan from Kangaroo Press holding one of our beautiful U-matic posters. These were designed by Nashville artist Sam Smith, and screenprinted by hand in a very limited edition—numbered and signed by the artist. We’ll have forty of these to give away at AMIA 2012. They’ll be free, but once they’re gone, they’re gone. See you in Seattle!

     
  3. 12:09 20th Nov 2012  by kellishay

    Notes: 1

    Tags: U-MaticArchivesLibraries

    Seattle-ward!

    We’re looking forward to attending this year’s Association of Moving Image Archivists Conference in beautiful Seattle, WA during the first week of December.  If you’re there, you can find Neale and me in the poster presentation room where we will be ready to engage in conversation about the challenges and triumphs of the U-matic project.

    In order to best illustrate the project, we’ve hired the amazing artist/designer, Samsmyth, to create a unique poster for the AMIA presentation.  Each poster will be silkscreened by hand here in Nashville, and a few will be available as give-aways at the conference.  

    I’m not letting out the visual details yet, however… Sam has created something really special once again, and we’re all excited to see the finished product.  We’ll be posting the graphic (and possibly some behind-the-scenes outtake versions) on the blog after the conference.  

    Send us your recommendations for things to do in Seattle in our off-hours!

     
  4. Most of our cataloging at this stage of the project is done without actually viewing content the tapes.  The tapes and the equipment are delicate, so, as much as the tapes tantalize us, we have to be choosey about which are played and which continue to rest until they can be cleaned and digitized.  

    When a tape does meet our criteria (based on visual inspection and a need to confirm a tape’s contents when the label is misleading or suspicious), we gingerly give it a try.  We’ve now previewed hundreds of tapes from the U-matic collection. Sometimes they play without issue, and sometimes a tape will shed particles so quickly as to shut down playback in under a minute.  Why does this happen?

    This shedding of particles is loosely referred to as sticky-shed syndrome or binder decay.    As the tapes age, the binder that holds iron oxide particles to the plastic tape base begins to chemically degrade.  Bits of the binder and the oxide shed onto the moving parts of the playback deck, which is bad news for the quality of the tape, and bad news for the deck. Tapes in the worst condition can coat the surfaces of the deck parts within seconds. This adds friction to the tape path and slows the tape’s movement through the deck. A telltale sign that this is happening is a sickening screech from the deck as the friction builds up. The deck can detect the change in tension on the tape, and will shut down tape movement to prevent damage to the tape or deck. The error message pictured above is the result. These tapes are removed, the issue is noted for use during the future digitization stage, and the tapes go back in their cases until that day.

    If a tape sheds, the solution is a patient cleaning of the equipment.  There are about a half dozen spots internally in the deck that we wipe clean with isopropyl alcohol. Above is a cloth we’ve used to clean some particularly dirty heads—the black line is oxide particles left by the tape. A thorough cleaning solves most of the problems that we encounter with the machine.

    The contrast is striking between the “good” and “bad” tapes—some tapes will play completely through with no problems, while others will immediately jam up the deck. A visual inspection can tell us a good deal, but no complete prediction about a tape’s condition is possible at this stage.  Several options for tape check and cleaning machines exist, and we are exploring those options for the next stage of our project.

     
  5. 12:25 29th Oct 2012  by cantstoplovingumatic

    Tags: U-MaticArchivesLibraries

    The saga of migrating our cataloging data, continued from our last post.

    At first, it seemed simple to move our cataloging data from Excel to PastPerfect. PastPerfect allows for the bulk import of records using a number of file formats, including Excel. But when we tried importing records from our spreadsheet, fields that exceeded 254 characters were truncated. Several fields, such as Scope and Content, routinely exceeded this length. If we imported directly from Excel, we’d have to later manually copy and paste every field longer than 254 characters into PastPerfect. 

    Fortunately, we developed a better solution than copy/paste.  This solution is a multi-step migration and data clean-up process using several available programs. If you love data and experience similar challenges, read on!

    PastPerfect also accepts .DBF, or “dBase,” as a file format for import. .DBF files make use of a seperate .DBT file to store memo fields (fields that exceed 254 characters). So we tried a number of methods to move our cataloging data into a .DBF format. What we settled on was a cheap and relatively simple method, albeit with a couple of steps. 

    Once we have a set of records ready for import, we spend some time performing quality control, data normalization, and data transformation using Google Refine. I’ll write about why and how we use Refine in another post. Once we’re done in Refine, we move the records back into an excel format, and then import this data into a Microsoft Access database. Then we export from Access into .DBF. This export creates the dual .DBF/.DBT file structure that we need to import into PastPerfect. Once we have the .DBF and .DBT files prepared, we can import the records into PastPerfect. 

    While this all sounds a little awkward, it’s turned out to be a consistent and relatively quick process that can be performed on a regular basis once you get the hang of it. It makes creative use of software that we already own. And it allows us to continue our cataloging in Excel, while avoiding any cumbersome manual entry when we move records to PastPerfect. Best of all, no copy and paste.

     
  6. 10:59 24th Oct 2012  by cantstoplovingumatic

    Tags: U-MaticArchivesLibraries

    A few posts ago, I mentioned our slightly complicated cataloging and data migration process and pledged more detail.  That day has arrived.

    Since 2007, CMHFM has cataloged the moving image collection at item level using the collection management software, Past Perfect. For this cataloging project, we decided to take a different approach and catalog straight into an Excel spreadsheet which would later be migrated into Past Perfect.  There are two reasons for this method:

    1. A spreadsheet makes it easy to browse, organize and draw conclusions from our data. In other words, a spreadsheet does well what Past Perfect can’t do well: cleanly organize and sort large amounts of information. For example, if we want to sort the collection to find all tapes with oxide buildup, a spreadsheet can pull up a neat and tidy list of those items.  The ability to easily sort for such indicators will aid us in prioritizing the collection for preservation and in grouping the collection by content.
    2. The long-term goal of the archive calls for the digital preservation of appropriate videos in the collection, as well as the eventual adoption of a digital asset management system. That means that neither the spreadsheet nor Past Perfect is the final resting place of our metadata.  In order to make sure that data we create now is clean enough to migrate into an unknown future system, we chose to conform closely to the audio/visual metadata schema,  PBcore. We achieved close conformity in our spreadsheet by creating columns which correspond (tightly or loosely) to an element of the PBcore schema.  

    But there’s a catch to our method.  By cataloging outside of our central database, Past Perfect, we have created a temporary rogue database inaccessible to the rest of our staff.  Ach!  The solution:  Perform periodic migrations during the project from Excel to Past Perfect. 

    In an upcoming post, I’ll detail this process, some problems we encountered, and how we worked around these problems.

     
  7. 12:56 15th Oct 2012  by cantstoplovingumatic

    Notes: 1

    Tags: U-MaticArchivesLibraries

    image: Download

    Remember: under no circumstances should a U-matic cassette be simultaneously exposed to a miniature rainstorm, a defective space heater, and magnetic lightning bolts.

    Remember: under no circumstances should a U-matic cassette be simultaneously exposed to a miniature rainstorm, a defective space heater, and magnetic lightning bolts.

     
  8. While we’ve been cataloging U-matic tapes for a while now, this week we finally got a chance to do some badly-needed physical rearrangement of the collection. Now not only are our tapes are in chronological order according to their location number, they’re vertical (much better for videotape than horizontal storage), and they’re shelved with separators between each row, so that a tape can be pulled without causing a cave-in. 

    We went from this: 

    to this:

    As you can see, I heartily approve. 

     
  9. image: Download

    1978 CMA Awards

    1978 CMA Awards

     
  10. 12:15 26th Sep 2012  by kellishay

    Notes: 2

    Tags: U-MaticArchivesLibraries

    Today we took an archives field trip to local institution Prince’s Hot Chicken, to celebrate the arrival of our new intern, Sarah Sundbeck. Sarah started last week and will be helping us catalog U-matic tapes until next spring. I’ll let her introduce herself: 

I’m so excited to be the new Media Cataloging Intern at the Country Music Hall Of Fame. In August I finished my MSIS degree from the University of Texas at Austin and was so happy to have such an interesting project to work on here in Nashville. In Austin I interned with Texas Archive of the Moving Image in film digitization and cataloging. TAMI offers free film and video digitization for any Texas related film or home movie and retains a digital version for their collection. 
 A few of my favorites - Knife Throwing Family, Goliad, the Flying Pancake and Hall-of-Famer Marty Robbins in El Paso.  Most collections I worked on at TAMI were 8mm or Super 8 home movies, so I am very excited to gain some experience with U-matic video! 

Welcome, Sarah! Glad you liked the chicken. 

    Today we took an archives field trip to local institution Prince’s Hot Chicken, to celebrate the arrival of our new intern, Sarah Sundbeck. Sarah started last week and will be helping us catalog U-matic tapes until next spring. I’ll let her introduce herself: 

    I’m so excited to be the new Media Cataloging Intern at the Country Music Hall Of Fame. In August I finished my MSIS degree from the University of Texas at Austin and was so happy to have such an interesting project to work on here in Nashville. In Austin I interned with Texas Archive of the Moving Image in film digitization and cataloging. TAMI offers free film and video digitization for any Texas related film or home movie and retains a digital version for their collection. 

    A few of my favorites - Knife Throwing Family, Goliad, the Flying Pancake and Hall-of-Famer Marty Robbins in El Paso.

    Most collections I worked on at TAMI were 8mm or Super 8 home movies, so I am very excited to gain some experience with U-matic video! 

    Welcome, Sarah! Glad you liked the chicken.