Launching the American Archive of Public Broadcasting Wiki

The residency period of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) National Digital Stewardship Residency (NDSR) project has now ended, but we’re very proud to launch the final project created by our AAPB NDSR residents: The American Archive of Public Broadcasting Wiki, a technical preservation resource guide for public media organizations.

Selena Chau, Eddy Colloton, Adam Lott, Kate McManus, Lorena Ramírez-López, and Andrew Weaver have highlighted their collaboration and shared their resources, workflows, and documents used for managing audiovisual assets in all their possible formats and environments.  The resulting Wiki encompasses everything from the first stages of the planning process to exit strategies from a storage or database solution.

AAPB staff and the residents hope that this Wiki will be an evolving resource. Editing capabilities will be locked on the Wiki for one week following launch, to allow time for the creation of a web archive of the resource in its original form that the residents may use in their portfolios; after this period, we will open up account creation to the audiovisual archiving and public broadcasting communities. We welcome your participation and contributions!

THIRTEEN’s American Masters Celebrates 30th Anniversary with Launch of Digital Video Archive and Podcast

The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB), a collaboration between WGBH and the Library of Congress, is delighted to preserve for posterity more than 800 previously unreleased full-length interviews that were originally filmed for the iconic documentary PBS series American Masters, produced by New York public television station THIRTEEN for WNET. The interviews, digitized for In Their Own Words: The American Masters Digital Archive and the American Masters Podcast, will be archived for long-term storage at the Library of Congress to ensure their survival for future generations.

For 30 years, American Masters has consistently produced high-quality, award-winning documentaries showcasing the pantheon of artistic and cultural figures in American history. This collection will be an amazing addition to the AAPB.

As a central web portal for researchers to discover historic public media content, the AAPB provides information on more than 2.5 million public television and radio programs stored at stations and archives across the nation. Users searching American Masters interviews in the AAPB catalog at americanarchive.org will be directed to the In Their Own Words: The American Masters Digital Archive website to view the material.

Read more about this new American Masters project below:

THIRTEEN’s American Masters Celebrates 30th Anniversary with Launch of Digital Video Archive and Podcast at pbs.org/americanmasters

Features previously unreleased interviews with David Bowie, Gloria Steinem, Herbie Hancock, Bernadette Peters, Mike Nichols and others from the series’ award-winning documentary films

(NEW YORK – June 23, 2016) On this day in 1986, THIRTEEN’s American Masters made its series debut on PBS with Private Conversations: On the Set of “Death of a Salesman, a cinéma vérité documentary about the making of Arthur Miller’s masterpiece for network television, and its stars Dustin Hoffman and John Malkovich.

Today, American Masters celebrates its 30th anniversary with the launch of In Their Own Words: The American Masters Digital Archive and the American Masters Podcast, featuring previously unreleased interviews filmed for the documentary series: 2,156 tapes, approximately 1,388 digitized hours, 800-plus interviews and counting.

A selection of short-form videos showcasing interviews with David Bowie, Gloria Steinem, Herbie Hancock, Bernadette Peters, Mike Nichols and other luminaries discussing America’s most enduring artistic and cultural giants are available now on the American Masters website (http://pbs.org/americanmasters). New videos will be released on an ongoing basis as the archive is digitized.

The American Masters Podcast, hosted by series executive producer Michael Kantor, will feature long-form interviews from In Their Own Words. The first season, “Women on Women, presents interviews with influential women discussing women cultural icons. Episode one features Gloria Steinem in conversation with the late, multiple Emmy-winning filmmaker Gail Levin taking a critical look at the life and career of Marilyn Monroe from 2006’s American Masters – Marilyn: Still Life. New episodes will be released biweekly on the American Masters website, iTunes, Soundcloud and Stitcher.

All full-length, digitized interviews will be archived by the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB), a collaboration between WGBH and the Library of Congress to preserve and make accessible significant historical content created by public media.

“I’m thrilled that the National Endowment for the Arts has provided major funding to get this project off the ground so we can finally share gems from the cutting room floor with the public,” said Michael Kantor, executive producer of American Masters. “Series creator Susan Lacy built a rich library of more than 200 documentary films, which is a treasure trove of American arts, culture and intellect, and the amazing interviews that informed these films are largely unseen. While we are still seeking funds to create a comprehensive, interactive digital archive website, we are confident that In Their Own Words and the American Masters Podcast will inspire and entertain a broad audience both today and in the future.”

Pending funding, the In Their Own Words: The American Masters Digital Archive dedicated website will eventually house all full-length, digitized interviews and be a public research-and-learning tool with an emphasis on usability, discoverability and comprehensive indexing to make American Masters interviews easily accessible and available to all.

To further explore the lives and works of masters past and present, the American Masters website currently offers streaming video of select films, outtakes, filmmaker interviews, photos, educational resources and more. American Masters has earned 28 Emmy Awards — including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special — 12 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards and many other honors. The series is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET and also seen on the WORLD channel.

In Their Own Words: The American Masters Digital Archive and the American Masters Podcast is produced by Joe Skinner. Michael Kantor is executive producer.

Major funding for In Their Own Words: The American Masters Digital Archive is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. Funding for American Masters is provided by The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rosalind P. Walter, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Judith and Burton Resnick, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Vital Projects Fund, Ellen and James S. Marcus, Lenore Hecht Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, and public television viewers.

About WNET
WNET is America’s flagship PBS station and parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21. WNET also operates NJTV, the statewide public media network in New Jersey. Through its broadcast channels, three cable services (KidsThirteen, Create and World) and online streaming sites, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than five million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings. WNET’s groundbreaking series for children and young adults include Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase as well as Mission US, the award-winning interactive history game. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus, the daily multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. In addition, WNET produces online-only programming including the award-winning series about gender identity, First Person, and an intergenerational look at tech and pop culture, The Chatterbox with Kevin and Grandma Lill. In 2015, THIRTEEN launched Passport, an online streaming service which allows members to see new and archival THIRTEEN and PBS programming anytime, anywhere: www.thirteen.org/passport.

About the American Archive of Public Broadcasting
The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) is a collaboration between the Library of Congress and the WGBH Educational Foundation to preserve at-risk public media and provide a central web portal for access to the unique programming that public stations have aired over the past 60 years. To date, over 40,000 hours of television and radio programming contributed by more than 100 public media organizations and archives across the United States have been digitized. The entire collection is available on location at WGBH and the Library of Congress, and more than 13,000 programs are available online at americanarchive.org.

 

 

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PBS NewsHour Digitization Project Update

NewsHour_Project_LogosIn January 2016, the Council on Library and Information Resources awarded WGBH, the Library of Congress, WETA, and NewsHour Productions, LLC a grant to digitize, preserve, and make publicly accessible on the AAPB website 32 years of NewsHour predecessor programs, from October 1975 to December 2007, that currently exist on obsolete analog formats. Described by co-creator Robert MacNeil as “a place where the news is allowed to breathe, where we can calmly, intelligently look at what has happened, what it means and why it is important,” the NewsHour has consistently provided a forum for newsmakers and experts in many fields to present their views at length in a format intended to achieve clarity and balance, rather than brevity and ratings. A Gallup Poll found the NewsHour America’s “most believed” program. We are honored to preserve this monumental series and include it in AAPB.

Last week, our contract archivist Alexander (AJ) Lawrence completed the inventory of 7,320 NewsHour tapes stored in 523 boxes located in WETA’s storage units in Arlington, Virginia, comprising the bulk of the collection. (Additional content is located at two other locations.)

“I was so excited to receive Casey’s initial email asking about my interest in the NewsHour project. I’ve been a life long watcher of the program and the chance to be involved in the preservation of such a valuable resource for historical research seemed like a wonderful opportunity.

The process of inventorying the entire collection seemed pretty daunting on my first day when I got my first in-person look at the storage units housing the estimated 7,500 tapes. However, the process has gone quite smoothly overall and we’ve now surpassed the halfway point. Generally, the tapes have little more than a date to identify them, but it’s been especially interesting to come across the tapes for significant historical events over the past 40+ years. These tapes in particular offered me a chance to reflect on some major cultural milestones I’ve witnessed, often through coverage by the NewsHour team. That said, it was also fun to come across the broadcast that aired on the day I was born, as well as the very first broadcast of The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.

Thankfully, I haven’t been tackling the entire inventory alone. I need to offer a special thanks to Matthew Graylin, a desk assistant with the NewsHour who’s been tasked with assisting me with the work. Needless to say, conducting an archival inventory is well beyond the normal duties of a broadcast news assistant, but Matthew has dived in with gusto. We still have a few weeks together, so hopefully I can convert him into a future audiovisual archivist in that time.”

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We have also selected a digitization vendor for the project and are looking to begin pilot tests for digitization within the next month. Meanwhile, the Library has instituted quality control procedures to ensure that all digitized files will be properly preserved for present and future generations.

We can’t wait to get started with digitization and look forward to making this monumental series accessible as part of the AAPB collection. In the meantime, we’re pleased to share this clip reel sampling of content that will be digitized, courtesy of NewsHour Productions.

 

Meet Lily Troia, AAPB Cataloging Intern & Public Media Junkie

The following is a guest post by Lily Troia, AAPB Cataloging Intern.

Exploring the WGBH Vault!
Exploring the WGBH Vault!

Hi. My name is Lily Troia and I am a public media junkie. I will admit, it is a bit of a problem. The first thing I do when traveling to any new town is find the local radio affiliate for my fix of daily news. I frequently cry along to This American Life, sit in my parked car laughing hysterically to Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me’s antics, and I am certain Antiques Roadshow curtailed more than one family fight over the remote during my childhood.

I blame my mom and dad, ultimately, for a northern Wisconsin upbringing entrenched in public media. In the expanse of the rural Northwoods, commercial radio and static occupied most of the airwaves, with one local NPR-affiliate, WOJB, broadcast off a nearby Ojibwe reservation, serving as a beacon of independent thought and music for our small community. Cable was a luxury not yet accessible to remote country residents in the 1980s, and since my back-to-the-lander family couldn’t entertain the idea of a satellite dish, our viewing options included only NBC and PBS, with the occasional blurry-screened ABC when snowmobile traffic was reduced (seriously). Thus, I was the kid carrying my parents’ Wisconsin Public Television member tote bag to the summer pool, raised on a diet of Sesame Street, Square One, and 3-2-1 Contact in an era of Nickelodeon.

Decades later I found myself collaborating professionally with Minnesota Public Radio and Twin Cities Public Television on a regular basis. A classical music performer throughout my youth, I studied ethnomusicology at Northwestern University, yet felt disconnected from the cloistered world of academia, and eventually turned my musical interests to the business world. While running my own music management firm in Minneapolis, I produced numerous live and recorded projects, and frequently contributed content to MPR as a music and arts culture commentator. These experiences further solidified my lifelong love of and dedication to public media. Now back in school, pursuing a Masters in Library and Information Science at Simmons College, I have the unique opportunity to apply my music and humanities background in the arena of preservation and access, synthesizing my passion for scholarship and public service.

Life occasionally delivers instances of perfect serendipity; joining the American Archive of Public Broadcasting feels like such an instance. It truly is a professional dream to work on such a socially vital, dynamic project. Already in my brief time cataloging archival content from member stations across the country, I have learned about an influx of Mexican immigrants to Wyoming in the 1990s, listened to a decades-old KUT broadcast featuring Eliza Gilkyson, and discovered that Oregon hipster culture began long before Portlandia, in the form of a 1985 municipally-sponsored beard-growing contest. In a time when public media is forced to fight for basic funding–my Wisconsin stations are currently facing potential demise–ensuring the longevity and availability of this immeasurably valuable, cultural material has never been more important. What an inspiration to be at an organization like WGBH, committed to protecting and providing access to these historical gems that document our diverse American stories.

Crawford finishes AAPB digitization of 40,000 hours!

The following is a guest post by Emily Halevy, Director of Media Management Sales at Crawford Media Services. In this blog post, Emily records her interview with Chip Stephenson, Crawford Project Manager, and David Braught, Crawford Logistics Coordinator. Crawford and the AAPB Project Team recently completed the American Archive of Public Broadcasting Digitization Project, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Crawford’s role in the project was the coordination and digitization of approximately 40,000 hours of public broadcasting video and audio archival content, as well as the transcoding of approximately 20,000 born-digital files, contributed by more than 100 stations and organizations nationwide!

Now that the digitization is complete, the files will be preserved and made accessible as much as possible through the American Archive of Public Broadcasting, and the AAPB Project Team at WGBH and the Library of Congress is excited to begin working on these efforts. Continue reading below for an account of Crawford’s experience throughout the AAPB digitization project.


Happy New Year, Everyone! I’m delighted to be a guest blogger for the American Archive of Public Broadcasting, once again! As we come to the end of this migration project, I thought this time it would be fun to sit down with Chip Stephenson and David Braught and discuss some of the successes and challenges this project brought. It’s also a great time to reflect on the importance and value of the project as a whole.

The AAPB digitization team at Crawford Media Services
The AAPB digitization team at Crawford Media Services

Emily: What’s the first thing that comes to mind now that the project is over?

Chip: It’s over? What? We’ve been living it for over three years!

David: It’s hard to believe it’s over.

Chip: Well, it’s not quite over yet. We’re still wrapping- the engineers are finalizing data, project management is compiling spreadsheets and financials. But we’re almost there.

David: I’ve never worked on anything like this before- the logistics- everything.

Chip: Logistics of shipping, receiving, and accounting for all of the content. And then the amount of data, file configurations, bags, copying files for the individual stations. Over 125 different spreadsheets- audio, video, born digital, plus over 100 stations, which sometimes had multiple spreadsheets. It was more like 100 individual projects than one big project.

David: And every station had its own set of quirks to deal with.

Chip: Every station required multiple phone calls and emails to set things up. It’s an amazing project. The stations were all great to work with and they all had an amazing amount of work to do to make it happen. Some like New Jersey Network and University of Maryland had an incredible amount of content.

David: I’m sure the stations wanted to kill me with the number of emails about checking their files so we could delete them from our system.

Chip: Our engineers were amazing.

David: I can’t say enough good things about our engineers. Guy (Boyd) was able to adapt and push through data, JP (Lesperance) handling all of the born digital, Nathan (Lewis) re-transcoding every single proxy to meet the requirements for the Library of Congress, Herve (Bergeron) and Dr. Dave (Wolaver) switching out and repairing decks.

Chip: And don’t forget the thousands of tapes baked and repaired by Dr. Dave as well.

David: It really was a tremendous team effort.

Emily: We really do have a great team, don’t we? And we can’t leave out the migrators.

Chip: At the peak we had 3 audio migrators running 5 days a week, 24 hours a day. We had 5 video migrators digitizing content, with one pod running 5 days a week, 16 hours a day, and the other pod running 24 hours, 5 days a week. There were even many months running 7 days a week. There were also others just doing QC. And others handling born digital content, copying files into working storage, and then checking to be sure they worked and renaming and creation of the proxy file.

David: Haha! So what was the question again?

Emily: The question was “What’s the first thing that comes to mind now that’s it is over?”

David: Evidently everything! Haha!

Chip: You never understand the true complexity of the project until you look back and have time to reflect. Before the project even started, during a visit by Stephanie (Sapienza) and Caitlin (Hammer) from CPB, we were reviewing the process and we all started to realize how complex the overall project was going to be. Caitlin kept asking me, “How are you going to do this?” And my answer was “One station at a time.” Thinking about all of it at once was just overwhelming. So David and I sat down and thought about how we wanted to parse this project out. How do we want to think about this on a daily and weekly basis? So we came up with an operational spreadsheet, which then became two spreadsheets, which then became multiple spreadsheets. And there were times over the past year when we just took a deep breath and said, “Ok. 40 stations down, 60 to go.”

David: It was a constant balancing act. Nothing ended up being accurate in terms of tape counts. More audio, less video, double ¾”, which is more time consuming. We had to rearrange our thinking and the pods on a regular basis. And adjust accordingly.

Chip: But working with CPB, then the transfer of the host to WGBH went incredibly smooth. We had some discussions about what they thought and what we thought, but it was very easy moving through issues and problems as they came up.

David: And we always got great support from CPB and then WGBH.

Emily: What turned out to be the most challenging aspect of the project? (If you could name one thing.)

Chip: For me-

David: Oh! Born digital.

Chip: For me it was the born digital for a couple of reasons…

David: Well you take the issues we had with receiving the physical assets and multiply that times a million.

Emily: The born digital was one of the “orphan items” that wasn’t completely fleshed out when we got started.

Chip: We started the born digital about 8 months later than we’d hope and there were many more individual steps dealing with the stations and how they’d build their drive and name their files and create their spreadsheets. So we had to develop ways to review the file names and correct them to make them legal- spaces had to be replaced with underscores, no illegal characters, they all must have file extensions, etc. Then we had to combine GUIDs for the project with the individual station’s file name. When you do this with thousands and thousands and thousands of files, it becomes complex. And then we had to create proxy files for all of them. And the process you use to create a proxy of one file type might be different from another file type. And then all of the files needed to be QC’d and compared to the master file. Some stations, when they built their initial hard drives, had a large amount of bad files. Sometime up to 50% of the files were bad. And we had to give the stations time to rebuild. Remember the whole purpose of this project was to migrate, capture and acquire as many of these files as possible. Migrate as much as we could within the time frame we had to work with and that time frame was closing in on us.

Emily: Again- another area where we got great support from Casey and the American Archive team.

Were there any hurdles that turned out to be no big deal?

David: Just getting the content here.

Chip: In the beginning, logistics were slow. We were still trying to figure out the most efficient way to get stuff here.

David: And at the start the stations didn’t really know what they were getting into, but honestly, it went smooth.

Chip: We started to realize- let’s not worry about having too many tapes here, let’s worry about not having enough.

David: KQED for instance, they were ready to ship immediately. So we told Robert (Chehoski), “Alright, let’s bring it on!”

Chip: At one point, we had the equivalent of 65 pallets of assets in our crypt. And of course it was interesting shipping things from Alaska. But every single station helped us find a way to get their assets to us. And every single station, despite issues (time of year, reduction of staff, etc.) they all worked their butts off. They all worked really hard to pull, barcode, pack and ship their tapes to us and make this a success. Between dozens of Fed Ex shipments, three semi-truck runs across the country and an airline delivery, we managed to get everything here and under budget!

Emily: What did you learn from the project?

Chip: Efficiency. Efficiency. Efficiency. Rethink everything you do and realize there might be a better way to do something. And if it sounds like there might be, try it. When David and I sat down and put a plan together we realized quickly we were too rigid. We needed to be flexible. We had to find compromises throughout the project. There were many times we’d get off the phone with a station and say to each other, “How is this going to work?” We could not be afraid to come up with new solutions for the stations. We had to be receptive to their ideas, especially when it came to timing.

David: It didn’t do any good to stick to a timeline that wouldn’t work for them.

Chip: Initially, our idea was to do all the beta tapes together, then all the DVCPro tapes together, but we ended up digitizing several formats simultaneously.

David: Sometimes even 6 video tape formats simultaneously.

Chip: We had a few stations that had only one or two formats, but most of them had a little of everything.

David: Halfway through the project we realized we were dealing with 20 stations at one time- shipping tapes, migrating, moving data, shipping delivery drives, bagging and backing up file data, literally tracking upwards of 30 stations in a given period.

Chip: So being as flexible as possible was important, because no matter how well you thought you had it figured out, it changed on you. And, honestly, at first we fought it, but then we realized that it just wasn’t going to work. So stop fighting it. We had to maintain the flow of tapes required in order to meet the deadline, and being rigid was not going to get us there.

David: I don’t know if a day went by without asking Dr. Dave to switch out tape decks to accommodate our revised workflows.

Emily: What was your favorite “found” item from the project?

David: For me, it was the famous Akira Kurosawa footage. One of our migrators found that the tape label didn’t match the content. It was labeled as a cooking show, but turned out to be an interview with Kurosawa and George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola. I was like, “Give me that tape!” It turned out to be a program that was thought lost for many years at the station.

Chip: For me, at one point it was all hands on deck, so I had to QC several hundred files. The content just happened to be all the history of New York City and Boston and The Revolutionary War. WNET had a whole series on the history of Manhattan dating back to the revolution. Growing up in that area, I knew a lot of the city’s history, but I never really knew the intricate history of Manhattan and the Bronx and Queens. I didn’t know that Wall Street really was a wall. I learned there’s a fence in Bowling Green Park, which still exists to this day, that was erected in 1770 to protect a statue of George III. The history in this collection is amazing. Meanwhile, I was supposed to be spending 2-3 minutes QC’ing these files and 20 minutes later I had to stop myself and get back to work!

David: That happened all the time!

Chip: The programming is so great! From arts and symphonies to theatricals, history- everything you can think of from all across the country.

Emily: Hence the “American Archive” project!

Chip: Now that the project is coming to an end, I’m just dealing with the data and the files. We did massive shipments out in October and November. It was amazing. The last truck run went up in first week of December. Right now we’re just pulling the little tidbits and reviewing everything and making sure we crossed all of our Ts and dotted all of our Is. We’re shipping out LTO tapes to the Library of Congress. And I’m a little sad it’s come to an end. On the other side, it’s a great sense of accomplishment. A year of planning and discussions. Two years of migration. Then changing all of the planning several times throughout. It all comes back to flexibility. Understanding you can’t be rigid.

Every Picture Tells a Story

The following is a guest post by Producer/Writer Elizabeth Deane.

Every Picture Tells a Story had its premiere in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress in February, 2014, at the launch of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB).

Sound and images from six decades of public media filled that stately space, giving the audience a six-minute tip-of-the-iceberg glimpse at some of the treasures that will be part of the AAPB collection.

We’d made the film drawing mostly on media that had already been digitized by the AAPB — the first wave of stories that I had come to think of as locked away, imprisoned on ¾” videotape, VHS and Betacam tapes, ¼” audio tape, DVCPRO and more —the dreaded “obsolete formats” that can be such a barrier to access.

Few stations maintain playback machines for them any more, and the few in existence can be tricky to maintain and possibly risky to use; if they’re not working properly they can damage the footage, sometimes irrevocably.

Worse, as Every Picture points out, old videotapes can deteriorate, and the images are lost forever.

I found it heartening to know that even as the launch ceremony unfolded on that wintery day in Washington, trucks containing thousands of video and audio tapes from public stations all over the country were rolling towards Atlanta, where Crawford Media Services would create multiple digital versions of each tape — television and radio shows, raw footage, even outtakes and experiments — in science, natural history, drama, children’s programs, arts, education, history, local lore, news, and more — the entire broad and inspiring realm of public media programming.

Master copies will be kept safe for future generations at the Library of Congress, with access copies going to WGBH to be added to the growing AAPB database, and made available on a forthcoming website, when rights permit, to a national audience – researchers and scholars, filmmakers, educators, students, and kids of all ages. In addition, all of the digitized materials will be made available to researchers who visit WGBH and the Library’s Moving Image and Recorded Sound Research Centers.

The film is a celebration of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting at its moment of birth, just beginning to tap into its vast collection. “As of this posting close to a year later, all of it has been digitized,” says AAPB Project Manager Casey Davis. “But much of it came with only a brief description. Now we have the pleasure of watching and listening, so we can improve our records and make this remarkable collection more discoverable for all.”

Watch for the new AAPB website, set to launch with the first batch of records in April 2015, with video and audio to follow in October.

Elizabeth Deane
Producer/Writer