Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Report about the British Library Audiovisual Archiving Training Workshop at the SABC

The British Library has received support from the World Collections Programme to run a course on sound and audiovisual archiving in South Africa. Participants for the programme were drawn from the SABC Regional branches and from broadcast archives in other southern African countries.
                    - (Dr Janet Topp Fargion, Lead Curator, World and Traditional Music of the British Library)

Report by Elizabeth Mate, Archivist, SABC Radio Archives, who had the privilege to attend the workshop.

The British Library Audiovisual Archiving Training Workshop started from the 28th 0f March to the 1st of April 2011, in the M5 studio of the SABC. 

The first two days was with Will Prentice (Head of Technical Services, Sound and Vision) where we focused on the brief history of analogue audio and a few processes of digitization. He spoke about the qualities of audio (mav, mp3, vma) whereby he advised us, as archivists to always consider the original. In this case it will be wav, for it is not compressed like mp3 which throws out a lot of data.  We were showed how to clean the tape and cassette machines and how to demagnetize the machines. He said it was a standard thing for every archivist before recording and cataloguing material every day.  We spoke about the actual storage areas of audio. It was agreed that space is a very huge problem for all archives.  We spoke about things which can be of great damage to our work such as air conditioning and water.  We also spoke about LP’s, CD’s reel-to-reel tapes and different types of analogue carriers.  We were shown how to adjust the pitch of sound on the cassette play back.

The last session was with Andrew Pearson (Maintenance Repair & Design Engineer, Sound and Vision), who did the introduction to video archiving. He showed us how many times a film move for us to see one picture. We focused on the qualities of video/film; and how colour was added to the black and white films.  He showed us how to adjust the video recorder to get the right colour of different colours on the bars of the TV monitor. We also spoke about sound adjustment; high light means brightness, and other distorting pitches. We dealt with video cassettes, their durability, and the processes it takes when bringing it to digitization. We were even taught how to open a video tape and fix the tape. We also touched on the use of Wavelab. It is a very important tool when it comes to transferring audio from both analogue audio carriers and digital ones.

During the Workshop, we were also advised that technicians from the Technical departments must not just phase away or throw away broadcasting equipment. They must work together with archivists to know what type of audio carriers still needed to be used.

We were advised that materials or audio which are on analogue carriers must be converted or transferred to digital carriers before equipments using these carriers are phased out.  The equipment is being phased out because it is no longer being manufactured.

I think the SABC is on the right track by introducing digitization in its audio and audiovisual archives.

Related post:
British Library Audiovisual Archiving Training Workshop

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