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For the past four years, the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision in Hilversum has been organizing the Winter School for Audiovisual Archiving where professionals from different international organizations get together to develop and exchange knowledge. Thanks to a Digital Preservation Coalition scholarship, I was able to join this fourth edition of the Winter School, which took place between 15 and 18 of January 2019.

Sebastiaan ter Burg, CC BY 2.0

For four days Kara van Malsen, Peter Bubestinger-Steindl and Erwin Verbruggen navigated the Winter School participants through the OAIS reference model applied to audiovisual collection, from pre-ingest to access and from SIP to DIP. The first three days consisted of several lectures, debates and exercises, which covered themes such as risks to longevity, ingest policies, fixity checks, archival storage and preservation planning and policies, migration, metadata management and much more. In addition, Sound and Vision showed the participants around their archival storage facilities, where we had a more in-depth explanation of how an archival storage system functions.

We have all discussed some of our specific interests such as audiovisual formats and the use of open source resources and normalisation of collections and its pros and cons. We have approached the subject of the archivist influencing the producer on how to deliver their materials which is a topic that I find particularly interesting given that I’m an art conservator: should conservators influence the artistic practices and normalise their collections. 

Sebastiaan ter Burg, CC BY 2.0

On the final day we were guided through hands-on sessions where we looked into different tools to analyse, transcode and transfer media files making sure their integrity is still preserved, such as MediaInfo, MediaConch, Exactly and FFmpeg.

Because we are all in the same boat, in the two dedicated sessions as students we were encouraged to exchange our experiences and challenges in digital preservation when dealing with the collections we work with and their significant properties. Furthermore, also part of the programme, three guest speakers from different organizations  presented their case studies. On the first day Kevin Lutz discussed his experience when developing a digital strategy for the Austrian Film Museum. Merle Friedrich from The National Library of Science and Technology (TIB) in Germany shared the film migration workflow and some insights on format decision, tools used, quality control, and work with vendors. Finally on the third day a Winter School alumni, Alessandra Luciano, from the Centre National de l’ Audiovisuel (CNA) in Luxembourg spoke about her experience when working in a project with the mission to standardize her institute’s three different collections with different policies and procedures.

Sebastiaan ter Burg, CC BY 2.0

The Winter School was an amazing opportunity to consolidate concepts and understand an overall approach to digital preservation of audiovisual collections when for instance we are first faced with choosing the best storage solutions bearing in mind the very specific needs of our assets.

The different sessions, experiences and case studies exchanged during the course were extremely inspiring and I’m eager to share with my colleagues new tools and methodologies learnt. I am sure I will now contribute to my organization and department’s mission with more confidence.