Good news, Jim.
Funding sources are the next (or simultaneous) step. That means a budget.
That means a stepwise approach has to be assembled.
Is this a "save our sound" big grant project?
It this to be done in a central location(s) or at each individual site?
Work would be required to go through each clump (archive, accumulation,
etc.) to get a count, figure out what problems exist, decide what other work
will be required (creation of ID, cataloging, metadata, etc.) to eventually
feed into a general data base and allow the holder to use his own
search-and-find system meanwhile. This should be done by roaming
professionals, not in-house guys who have been to a workshop. Perhaps a
team of one of us and one of them would also allow training of the next
generation of those comfortable with older stuff.
The "important to whom" question comes up. There are churches and
historical societies with cabinets full of cassettes, etc., with interviews
and recordings of local historical events. I've worked on many, and, at
least to me, they are often far more interesting and informative than a
routine broadcast of the Franck D minor Symphony.
The whole target media issue needs further exploration. Should there be a
central location with bouncing computers and backups to the backup
generators? I work immediately next door to a pathology company that tests
its two generators every Thursday afternoon. That's how I know it's
We must be prepared with lots of info before sitting down at the table with
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jim Lindner" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2007 6:32 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Mass Digitization / the gear DOES exist, what next??
> Let me provide some factual information here that may be helpful. Yes,
> and automated system to redo film splices has been made and does exist in
> prototype form. That effort was undertaken as part of the PrestoSpace
> project. It was designed for 16mm film and was designed to be tolerant
> enough to consider film that had a very substantial amount of shrinkage.
> The system was also designed to repair damaged sprocket holes as well
> because the splicing tape used was sprocketed - this is my recollection.
> I did not see the machine myself but I did see several presentations
> where it was shown. There were some issues. I can find out more detail if
> there is interest on the list.
> Our company has been working for some time on a new series of tape
> cleaners. These machines were under development for over 4 years. They
> are dramatically different then any other cleaner made for tape in many
> ways - one of which is that they were designed specifically for issues
> that relate to old tape. They use the familiar tissue wipe system
> although I will rather proudly say- that we have made some pretty good
> improvements on the basic concept which includes sensors that "look at"
> the tissue to tell when it is clean and change speed of transport as well
> as torque depending on the results of those sensors and others -
> including continuous monitoring of tape tension and motor current. This
> is not a sales plug - I just want you to know that this work as been
> done. The cleaners are in production and available for purchase. There
> are different models that vary by shell size - and have to. So there is
> one for the VHS FAMILY (which includes SVHS... .all the flavors)
> Betacam - includes betamax, digibeta... all the flavors, and Umatic....
> same story. They accommodate large and small cassettes in their
> respective families. These are state of the art devices with computer
> interfaces and we have written software to interface to them. They are
> being sold with our without software - so if you wanted to "roll your
> own" software to control your cleaning machine just the way you want to -
> we will give you the protocol and go to town. These are professional
> machines and we obviously are not making a huge amount of them. So they
> are not inexpensive - but they work and do a much better job then any
> other machine ever made to clean tapes.
> We are working on a machine for reel to reel tapes. We are using the
> successful design for the cassette devices and are using as many of the
> same design elements in these units as we can. We have also solicited
> outside design input from some people - a few are on this list. We are
> not done - but the cleaner will use the tissue cleaning system as well as
> our sensing system and will accomodate reels from 2" to 1/4".
> We have not done any work on an automated splicing system, but I believe
> that the work done on film system could likely be transported to a reel
> to reel device for audio tape.
> But - and here it would be very important to hear from you - the
> These devices are expensive. They are expensive to develop and expensive
> to manufacture. Since we are not making thousands of them - it is likely
> that they will continue to be expensive to produce - and there has to be
> a "market" for the devices - because there isnt much point in making them
> unless there is a real market with people with real money who are willing
> to pay for them to do mass digitization work. The machines are cost
> effective in an environment where many tapes need to be processed and
> time and quality are important factors - this means that this is not
> hobbyist gear.
> For years people in this field complained that there was no vendor who
> made the kind of equipment that was needed. Now there is - but what we
> need to know - is that now that we have done all of this work and spent
> all of the money - now that the possibility really exists to do the
> work - how many people are going to step up to the challenge and start
> doing it. We are having very good success in the Broadcast and Library
> sectors - what about the other sectors? In particular - the archive
> sector - which was the initial market we targeted in the first place.
> So - if we all agree that Mass Digitization is important - what I want to
> know is - how many of you are willing to step up to the challenge and
> start really working on it? The gear now exists. We are eager to hear
> about people willing to take out their checkbooks and start to work out
> THEIR strategies to make this all work. We offer the building blocks - no
> one has ever done that. No one ever made a TBC that was designed
> specifically for Archival tapes - now it exists - Broadcasters are
> buying, Libraries are buying, what about you - the restoration
> specialists???? I am eager to hear what you have to say.
> Jim Lindner
> Email: [log in to unmask]
> Media Matters LLC.
> SAMMA Systems LLC.
> 450 West 31st Street 4th Floor
> New York, N.Y. 10001
> eFax (646) 349-4475
> Mobile: (917) 945-2662
> Office: (212) 268-5528
> Media Matters LLC. is a technical consultancy specializing in archival
> audio and video material. We provide advice and analysis, to media
> archives that apply the beneficial advances in technology to collection
> SAMMA Systems provides tools and products that implement and optimize the
> advances in modern technology with established media preservation and
> access practices.
> On May 17, 2007, at 4:23 PM, Robert Hodge wrote:
>> Not even film can be spliced automatically due to the fact that it
>> and will not fit on a splicer fixture designed to accept non shrunken
>> As the shrinkage percentage can vary widely in both longitudinal and
>> horizontal planes, I suspect that any attempt to automate it will be
>> doomed to failure.
>> Yes, it takes a skilled preson to do it correctly ! Without Question
>> R. Hodge
>> Robert Hodge,
>> Senior Engineer
>> Belfer Audio Archive
>> Syracuse University
>> 222 Waverly Ave .
>> Syracuse N.Y. 13244-2010
>> 315-443- 7971
>>>>> [log in to unmask] 5/17/2007 3:53 PM >>>
>> Boy, if it were my company jewels (assets), I sure wouldn't trust a
>> robot to fix splices. That's a
>> real skill that takes a skilled person. Remember that film is
>> sproketed, so perhaps
>> splice-fix-automation is easier to design.
>> Also, why do you say "ALL" polyester tape needs baking? Where do you
>> get that? Only certain types of
>> know sticky-shed tapes from certain eras need baking.
>> Instead of taking the typical engineer road and trying to invent some
>> overblown gadget, companies
>> and institutions should realize the need to spend what it takes to get
>> skilled labor to do the job
>> right. Skilled labor can do a better job working with relatively simple
>> and non-costly setups. The
>> biggest threat to archiving is mass-inefficiency and duplicated labor
>> because of non-communication
>> and fiefdom/stovepipe mentalities. Again, better to invest in the
>> skilled personnel to run these
>> organizations correctly.
>> -- Tom Fine
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Steven Smolian" <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2007 3:29 PM
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Mass Digitization
>>> If we're going to discuss this a possible solution, we need to look
>> at the inevitable problems
>>> that will arise and figure out ways to deal with them beforehand.
>>> Splices have to be checked and remade, tape baked, etc., etc., etc.
>> That's real reel time. If
>>> that is not done, there will be a lot of crashing and (non disc)
>>> Have the film people come up with an automatic splicer (for pre
>> digital film?) If so, perhaps
>>> that technology could be applied to tape, at least, acetate based.
>> ALL polyester would have to be
>>> baked and quickly also run through the auto-resplicer, should one
>> exist, befor the tape becomes
>>> sticky again.
>>> There will surely be a need for pressure pad machines, with tape
>> candidates requiring their use
>>> having been selected by a human, since flatening curled tape
>> naturally is time consuming.
>>> We may have to live with out-of-phase stereo in first level storage
>> and correct it at playback.
>>> So let's look at this not as a problem but as a design issue.
>>> The sky will fall only if we let it.
>>> Steve Smolian
>>> ----- Original Message -----
>>> From: "Andes, Donald" <[log in to unmask]>
>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>> Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2007 2:59 PM
>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Mass Digitization
>>> Since we're mostly in agreement, I'll try keep my responses short.
>>> See below...
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
>>> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Karl Miller
>>> Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2007 8:21 AM
>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Mass Digitization
>>> "Andes, Donald" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>> ***It's most likely that our Archeologist friends are better than we
>>> developing cost effective plans to achieve their goal, which may be
>>> easier when justifying project costs against the collection of
>>> "priceless" artifacts. It is also very possible that we're comparing
>>> apples to oranges, as they most likely have very different funding
>>> **Over the years I have reviewed many grant applications for audio
>>> preservation projects. The content and methodology have ranged from
>>> considered to the absurd. The question really that comes to my mind
>>> the notion of cost effective. Grant funding is, by design, not
>>> predicated on notions of "cost effective." Also, very few proposals
>>> have read, address questions of efficiency. It is my thinking that
>>> effective means that it can pay for itself. I believe that the
>>> copyrights in the US, and the very functionalism of libraries (free
>>> the public) prevent libraries and archives from realizing
>>> financial return for their efforts.
>>> **I guess I don't see that we are comparing apple and oranges, unless
>>> choose to make such a differentiation. It seems to me that uncovering
>>> fragment of a clay pot, is not unlike reclaiming a bit of audio.
>>> the "artifact" has been recovered, there is then the question of
>>> cataloging it and its preservation.
>>> The apples to oranges retort come from the fact that nothing you'll
>>> uncover by digging in the ground comes with copyright, performance,
>>> estate issues. Also, most of what Archeoloigists are looking for
>>> wider appeal, since it connect dots in the greater fabric of our
>>> existence. Uncovering a audio masterpiece may help us understand a
>>> composers intent, or help resolve a dispute over chord progressions
>>> unresolved notes, but it's still a very niche area. Again scope
>>> into play here.
>>> ***2) The under appreciation/underpaying of Library and Archiving
>>> The world today (more than ever) comes down to profitability. Since
>>> libraries don't make profits, it falls in line that there not going
>>> be handling out high paying jobs working for a Library. High paying
>>> can easily be had in the Finance, Legal, and Medical worlds. This
>>> been true for years, but for librarians the cold hard facts haven't
>>> sunken in. Do I believe they should be paid more, of course I do. But
>>> I think they ever will, not in my lifetime.
>>> **I agree. I would also suggest that the available salaries for
>>> libraries will continue to decline due to the decline in use
>>> I believe it will be increasingly difficult for those charged with
>>> making budget decisions to justify library budgets. However, one
>>> to keep in mind that libraries and archives exist as "public
>>> of a sort. They are funded as we fund our fire departments. They are
>>> seen as serving a common good. Yet, indeed, as the funding of public
>>> utilities is being more subject to funding predicated on use, (toll
>>> roads being but one example) libraries are very likely to experience
>>> even more substantive reductions in public funding.
>>> **My thinking is that libraries seem to be trying to compete in
>>> where they have already lost. Libraries are trying to counter the
>>> defection to google and yahoo, by becoming movie theaters and snack
>>> **On the other hand, I believe that libraries need to refocus their
>>> remaining resources more to the preservation of our intellectual
>>> history...being museums of a different sort.
>>> Not to play the pessimist, but I find Libararies will be following
>>> records stores to their demise, and I question what can be done, so
>>> in the game to change the inevitable.
>>> Also, Police and Fire services can be seen as government protection
>>> against liabilities. Libraries do not offer this function to the
>>> government with it serves.
>>> ***The fact is that we have massive amounts of history from the
>>> in every field. Are we missing important stuff, sure we are. But the
>>> unfortunate fact is that not enough people care enough about what's
>>> missing. And more so, not enough profitability can be had from
>>> collecting what was lost, to make it a worthwhile endeavor.
>>> **Indeed, that is my question, what can we realistically hope to
>>> preserve. Also tied into that question is the criteria used to
>>> what we should preserve. Who has those skills? What sort of training
>>> I believe we COULD preserve it all, however, we (the archival
>>> need to start putting more time into large scale cohesive planning
>>> lobbying for funding to support it, instead of running around crying
>>> that the sky is falling.
>>> Just take a look at what Google books is doing. I'm not in 100%
>>> agreement with the plan or it's direction, but think of the scale.
>>> of what they set out to accomplish. Strange, how no one IN the
>>> thinks on this level.
>>> ***Think of it: That lost treasure of sound, that we thought the
>>> would never hear again. Suddenly found, in pristine condition....How
>>> many downloads, CD's excetera could you possibly sell? Unless it the
>>> Beatles or Elvis it's most likely a lot LESS than you would think.
>>> **Having my own record company and having issued historic
>>> I have some practical experience. I can find no rationale for what
>>> and what does not.
>>> **I am often reminded of the interest in the music of Mahler. While
>>> there were a few of the faithful around when he died...consider the
>>> notion that since he was not given much credit as a composer when he
>>> died, nobody preserved his manuscripts. We now have a market for
>>> It is difficult to second guess what product might find that
>>> point" and what might not. Thankfully, Mahler's music has been
>>> preserved. How do you know there is a market for a product unless
>>> have the product and make it available?
>>> Well that's what the business is all about. We do market research,
>>> artists, and take chances. We don't sign everyone we could, and we
>>> always sign artists that are profitable. Regardelss, it's highly
>>> unlikely that any "found" audio will reap large sums of money;
>>> especially in this market already inundated with catalog releases
>>> slipping CD sales.
>>> ***3) Metadata concerns:
>>> Here's the white elephant in the room. Everyone wants to
>>> preserve/transfer/digitize, but guess what??? If you don't have a
>>> complete and correct metadata standard in place, you'll probably do
>>> harm then good. Once things are transferred, the value of storing
>>> original drops (to the non archivist) and people assume that they'll
>>> never need to go back to it. That is until, we try to understand
>>> the heck the file is, since your metadata seems spotty, and possibly
>>> **Again, I agree completely. While great work is being done in Music
>>> Information Retrieval, as for the metadata, libraries are having a
>>> rough time these days. I consider the aborted attempts to revise the
>>> cataloging rules. I believe it is time for a complete overhaul of
>>> cataloging (metadata preparation, description, and cataloging
>>> methodology). It is my hope that some enterprising company will come
>>> with some highly efficient, less labor intensive, system for the
>>> creation of metadata, one that is so inexpensive that libraries will
>>> forced into making changes.
>>> **I believe it is irrational to expect libraries to do it on their
>>> To abandon MARC voluntarily seems not only unlikely, but
>>> irrational...there is too much money invested in the old
>>> Like Google books, I'm sure those outside the industry will figure
>>> all out for us, whether the solution is fool proof or not.
>>> it will just verify that our industry is lost and behind the times,
>>> our dismal salaries are in line with what they should be.
>>> ****4) Formatting/Migration issues:
>>> Yikes. This was hiding being the white elephant called metadata. And
>>> again, unless you figure this out UP FRONT, why bother digitizing?
>>> **I agree in part. While there are many valid points to be made to
>>> reformat recordings on stable media, I am a firm believer in
>>> the media which is chemically unstable.
>>> Obviously migrating to avoid permanemt loss is manditory, but
>>> analog reels in stable condition without connecting all the dots
>>> pointless to me, which is why I advocate against it.
>>> ****5) And finally to address your last statement:
>>> I think the archiving world has it's blinders on, and needs to pull
>>> back, rationalize a bit, and find it's place in the modern world of
>>> business, technology, culture, and government. It's not effort or
>>> that this industry lacks; it's scope, direction and rational.
>>> **Again, I agree.
>>> **I believe that the pressures from the private sector are forcing
>>> libraries and archives to reconsider their place in society. I would
>>> wager that many of us have plenty of good ideas as to how to
>>> significantly increase library productivity and perhaps even
>>> some cost recovery...and I am not taking about coffee bars...I wonder
>>> there is anything that can be done from within the profession, or if
>>> just need to sit back and wait for the changes to be forced from the
>>> private sector. I guess I just don't see libraries and archives
>>> the initiative to change...and sadly, I believe a great deal of our
>>> history stands to be lost in the process of waiting.
>>> **Sadly, I see libraries ignoring (I use the word ignore since such
>>> small percentage of ARL member's budgets is devoted to preservation)
>>> what I see to be their greatest resource, their unique holdings.
>>> **Yet, for me, the question remains, is there some way to
>>> realign priorities within libraries? It seems to me that the changes
>>> need to come from outside the preservation profession. The question
>>> what is the best marketing strategy and how do we go about mounting
>>> advertizing campaign.
>>> Marketing and PR are taken to be in opposition to public use and
>>> non-profit, but the two can actually work had and hand quite nicely.
>>> problem goes back to re-identifying what libraries and archives are,
>>> what they could be, and what they should be. When I was a kid,
>>> didn't have any direct competition beyond the local bookstore. But
>>> with Wal-Mart, Barnes and Noble, Blockbuster and Virgin Megastores
>>> competing in BOTH the brick and motar AND online space it's no
>>> the public isn't flocking to libraries. I myself haven't found the
>>> to go in years.
>>> **I used to wonder if part of the problem had to do with the way
>>> views the role of music. Our copyrights seem to deal with it as a
>>> consumable. Yet I then consider how we have such things as a "Museum
>>> Broadcasting." We seem to place some value on consumables. But do we
>>> place more value on "I Love Lucy" than we do on Perry Como...or
>>> "Omnibus" versus some of the more esoteric bits of our musical
>>> It would seem the answer is yes. Then the question comes to my mind,
>>> will Lucy be as valued 100 years from now as say an Omnibus program
>>> featuring Frank Lloyd Wright. I wonder...then, should the library
>>> archive world be more concerned with what is not economically viable
>>> leave that which has a potential for "cost recovery," to the private
>>> We all have to remember that the populous doesn't even scratch the
>>> surface beyond commercially availible music and film releases. I
>>> genres of music that have never had commercial success in this
>>> and most likely never will. I have literally thousands of records
>>> could vanish without anyone understanding their ramifications. But I
>>> understand, I'm in a niche, of a niche, of a niche. These recordings
>>> connect the dots for a few very low key genres but do not register
>>> the radar of the public scope.
>>> Question: If we could look back in great detail on the times of any
>>> ancient civilization, what would be more relivant: the tastes, and
>>> likings of the masses (aka the Mozarts, Michalangelos, and
>>> Shakespeares), or the concerns and pickings of the trivial ubergeeks
>>> like ourselves (obsure no name, short lived, fringe artists)?
>>> **Should an organization like EMI, donate (the objects and the
>>> whatever holdings it sees as having no revenue potential to the
>>> non-profit, public sector?
>>> EMI UK, does have a non-profit historic trust, and donates a wide
>>> variety of older reordings and technologies to it. I am currently
>>> to establish something here in the US along those lines, but cannot
>>> discuss it any more than that.
>>> Music from EMI
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