Reportage from the 2014 Annual Conference in Savannah!

Guest post by Lindy Leong of the AMIA Conference Committee.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

As a current member of the Conference Committee and a long-time advocate of the work of the Education Committee to strengthen ties between AMIA and its student and new professional members, I wanted to first thank all those who contributed over the years to this ongoing community building within and outside of the professional organization and our profession at large. Most of us volunteer our time willingly and wholeheartedly when the call presents itself. I wanted to acknowledge these individuals, too numerous to name here, for their contributions. You know who you are. Thank you for your vigilance and care!

As my cohorts, Carol Radovich and Regina Longo, have already pointed out, this year’s annual conference’s return to beautiful, historical Savannah ushers in a period of ongoing transformations in the field of moving image archiving and preservation while, at the same time, reveals stalwart commitments to deeper reflections regarding the perpetual debate of the digital divide. While being “mindful to historical and legacy media,” and “cautiously optimistic about new avenues for access and preservation,” AMIA embraces new perspectives and voices in the field.

Students and new professionals represent the future of the field. They bring fresh ideas and the latest knowledge and skill sets but most of all, an ardent passion to work and participate in their chosen field. As a young professional organization in a specialized field as ours, AMIA needs these folks within their rank and file. Their enthusiasm and energy fuel our continuation and help reinforce and build the foundation of our profession as it innovates and continues to re/define itself.

So, with a balance of old and new in mind, this year’s conference retains its key events (e.g. Awards & Archival Screening Night, Annual Membership Meeting, Vendor Cafe, Trivia Throwdown) and structure but mixes it up by experimenting with three curated streams: “Open Source Digital Preservation and Access” (#OSDPA), “Film in Transition” (#FiT), and “Global Exchange” (#GE) of panels and sessions programmed thematically during a chosen day of the conference.

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amia 14_02AMIA at the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport.

Our conference hotel (Hyatt Regency Savannah) situated at the riverfront, afforded conference attendees broad access to the famed Historic District, where one could indulge your inner American history buff geekiness at one’s leisure. Many did and then some. The many ghost tour options alone warranted a few more days’ stay.

 Arriving on Tuesday, October 7th to Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, I saw our presence made known when I spied the video wall at the information center where our conference was being promoted to all passengers and guests using the airport through the duration of the conference.

As my arrival fell during business hours, I was able to catch the CAT (Chatnam Area Transit) Airport Express to Downtown Savannah. The Historic District was well-served by the Savannah DOT, a free trolley service that circumvent the entire area, but with its public square grid-like topography, well-preserved historical architecture, and modern amenities to boot, walking was the greatest pleasure activity to be had in town .

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I got to do just a bit of that after I dropped into the first day of the pre-conference workshops, “Small Gauge Projection and the the Art of Projector Maintenance and Repair” and “AMIA Cataloging and Metadata Committee Workshop [Day I]” where I found, in media res, eager “students” from different walks of life and the profession engaged in hands-on learning and in many instances, “brushing up” their skill sets. In the small gauge workshop, I observed two workstations set up. At the first, Liz Coffey (Harvard Film Archive), Siobhan Hagan (University of Baltimore Langsdale Library), and Ben Moskowitz (New York University) supervised participants and demonstrated the anatomy of the VHS tape and accompanying playback equipment while at the other end of the room, Skip Elsheimer (A/V Geeks) and Dino Everett (USC SCA Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive) ran what looks to be a form of 16mm film projection mini-boot camp with every student doing hands-on loading, threading, and operating of this once-staple educational media tool in the post-war classroom. Taylor McBride (Smithsonian Institution) and Erika Titkemeyer (UNC-CH) monitored the action and aided in getting everyone on track.

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Small Gauge Projection and the Art of Projector Maintenance and Repair workshop, station 2

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Small Gauge Projection and the Art of Projector Maintenance and Repair workshop, station 1

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AMIA Cataloging and Metadata Committee Workshop

In the adjacent room, I found the cataloging and metadata folks plugging away through their presenters’ roster like there was no tomorrow. When I dropped by, Meredith Reese (HBO) spoke on what they were up to in their cataloging practices over at the premium cable channel. Organized by a dedicated and talented team of experienced catalogers and metadata specialists: Thelma Ross (Academy Film Archive), Randal Luckow (HBO), Andrea Leigh (Library of Congress), Rebecca Guenther (LoC/NYU MIAP), Linda Tadic (Audiovisual Archive Network), Meghan Fitzgerald (HBO), and Ms. Reese, this first day of a two full day workshop, a staple of AMIA’s conference workshop line-up, packed a wallop as a full-on “boot camp” for working catalogers and more professional development for even the most experienced ones. All in all, these workshops offered value and proved rewarding learning opportunities for those who were able to attend.

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Moon River Brewing Company

After canvassing the conference hotel spaces and settling in, I made my way across Bay Street to the famed Moon River Brewing Company where I spent a lovely evening with many of the NYU MIAP program attendees and a revolving cast of young professionals and students who were among those who arrived early to Savannah. #amia 14 #AVArchiving

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I began the day with breakfast on the run, checked in with AMIA staff for photo ops I needed to cover for the conference (I would end up making my rounds to nearly every event, panel, or session due mainly to wanting a real panorama view of the conference slate and partially due to overzealousness), and proceeded to document the start of the show.

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AMIA check in

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AMIA check in

A heady slate of workshops, The Reel Thing, and AMIA/DLF Hack Day kicked the conference into high gear for those already there and for those arriving throughout the day. Besides the highly useful, well-attended half day workshops, “AV Preservation Tech Basics for Non-Engineers” and “Preserving Your Audio and Video Assets: The Essentials” and the second day of the cataloging and metadata workshop, I divided my time doing coverage of “Community Archiving,” “AMIA/DLF Hack Day,” and “The Reel Thing.” Another beloved conference offering, the community archiving workshop took place at the Georgia Historical Society, the premier archival repository of local histories and artifacts housed in a beautiful, well-preserved building in its own right,  where participants, alongside local youth from AWOL (All Walks of Life), a local non-profit for at-risk kids, spent the day identifying and inventorying audiovisual objects and ephemera from their collections.

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Community Archiving workshop at the Georgia Historical Society

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Community Archiving workshop at the Georgia Historical Society

In its second year, the AMIA/DLF Hack Day (#AVHack14), organized by the dynamo team of Kara Van Malssen (AVPreserve), Steven Villereal (UVA), and Lauren Sorensen (LoC), has attracted wide interest and grown in number of projects since its start last year. A collaboration with the Digital Library Federation, attendees spent the day discussing, strategizing, and creating DIY practical and innovative programming solutions for AV archiving issues and concerns. Archivists, collection managers, and technologists pulled together their knowledge and shared their various skill sets in executing an on-site group project with real world applications.

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Finally, no annual conference can take place without The Reel Thing (#TRTxxxiv), the technically oriented series of presentations on gamechanging restoration and preservation projects happening in the field. Organized every year by Grover Crisp and Michael Friend, this year’s slate unveiled itself at the Lucas Theatre for the Arts, Savannah’s classic repertory venue.

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The Reel Thing XXXIV, Defective Pixels in Digital Camera Sensors with Kevin Manbeck

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The Reel Thing XXXIV, Rebuilding, Restoring, and Preserving the International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Film Collection with Adrian Wood

After hours, the Newcomer’s Mixer and Opening Cocktails in the scenic Harborside end of the hotel welcomed first-time attendees and the returning faithful to a casual, conversation-driven gathering over drinks and hors d’oeuvres. For those who lingered into the evening, AMIA trivia throwdown, presided by board member Colleen Simpson, got folks’ competitive edge out in full force as participants broke up in teams to engage in a gladiatorial battle of the film preservation geeks, all in the name of scholarship funding.

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Newcomer’s Mixer and Opening Cocktails

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Newcomer’s Mixer and Opening Cocktails

Others took advantage of the Historic District’s multiple offerings of local food and drink before the official start of the conference the next day. I was one of these souls and finally got out of conference spaces to explore, albeit briefly, the unique character of Savannah’s legacy. #amia14 #AVArchiving

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I [whale] Savannah, GA

To Be Continued…

For more images of this year’s conference and other AV archiving initiatives of interest, please follow us on Instagram: AMIARCHIVISTS and of course, our Facebook and Twitter.


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