Cinema Studies
For Students:
Fall 2005 - Tuesdays 6-10pm, Rm 651

Introduction to Moving Image Archiving and Preservation H72.1800

Syllabus 1.6
(also see Fall 2004 or  Fall 2003 syllabus)

(latest version of syllabus always at )

Instructors: Howard Besser; Ann Harris -, 212-998-1606

IMPORTANT NOTE to non-MIAP students:

Several items related to the class will be covered with the MIAP students during orientation.  Here is a summary of them:
  • You have assignments due the first class; look below under "Sept 6"
  • Assignments for the 2nd class (due Sept 13) are more extensive, and you may want to get started on them early
  • On Sept 13 we will meet at 6:10 in Alan Berliner's Tribecca studio.  Make sure that you show up there rather than in our regular classroom.  And take a look at his website  beforehand to get an idea of the kinds of films he makes.
  • We have scheduled 3 visits during non-class hours this semester.  Please try to arrange to have about 90 minutes of availability on the following dates:
    • Fri Oct 21, 11 AM, Cineric Film Labs
    • NOTE new time: Fri Oct 28, 1 PM, Vidipax Video Labs
    • Museum of Television and Radio, probably Oct 14 late AM
  • Look over the notes from a Talk that the MIAP students will be given on MIAP and other similar academic programs

Sept 6 Introduction to Entire Class (HB, AH)

Assignments due before class:
Topics covered:
  • What is this class about?  (non-MIAP students should pay more attention to both the "Professional Organizations" reading above, and should read notes on academic programs; MIAP students will get more details on these in Internship class and in Orientation)
  • Films/Videos/DVD clips on the act of moving image preservation, as well as how preserved material is reused and represented in different ways
  • Review of Readings
  • Materiality and Deterioration of Film/Video 
  • Examination of recording devices
  • Why is conservation and preservation important?
  • Who has taken on the responsibility for moving image and sound preservation?
  • What are the issues involved in making visual materials persist over time? How do we decide which materials should persist over time?
  • What are some of the organizations that hold moving image and sound material? (Film Studios, TV stations, large public film & television archives, media preservation depts. w/i larger collecting institutions, small non-profits preserving their own media, ...)
  • What are some of the Professional Organizations that Moving Image Archivists belong to? And at what conferences can one learn about professional issues? (AMIA, FIAF, FIAT, AIC, AAM, MCN, SMPTE, ALA, Orphans, SCMS)
  • What are basic functions? (identification, selection [of both "content" and equipment], appraisal, ...)
  • What are the various professional practices that moving image archiving and preservation professionals draw from? (cataloging, reference, exhibition, fundraising, budgeting, management, ...)
  • What are the various roles or tasks we are responsible for?
  • What are the structures like of film and other moving image works?

Sept 13 Modes & Artifacts of Moving Image Production: General Discussion & Film (AH)

Assignments due before class:
Topics covered:
  • Guest speaker:  Filmmaker Alan Berliner 
  • Exercise in identification of Film
  • What artifacts exist as a result of the production? What gets saved and what gets lost? Knowing production process can aid identification. Detective work and how ancillary materials are both cultural artifacts and clues. Sources for gauges & types of moving image material.
  • Introduction of the Case Study of Production History assignment
  • Technical Handout
  • Begin discussion of identification of different formats and gages of video and film, as well as when they evolved.  Who makes/has made moving image and sound material? Different eras, modes of production have different artifacts. Role of manufacturers and information industries.
  • Explain Case Studies Assignment
This Week:
  • International Federation of Television Archives (FIAT) meeting at Parker Meridien Hotel Fri Sep 16-Tu Sep 20

Sept 20 Modes and Artifacts of Moving Image Production: Video and New Media; Issues of Risk Assessment with all forms of Moving Image Works (AH)

Assignments due before class:
Topics covered:
  • Discussion of FIAT meeting
  • Exercise in identification of Video, Audio, and New Media
  • Who makes/has made new media? What artifacts exist as a result of the production? What gets saved and is lost?
  • Knowing more about film/video/sound/new media artifacts, what does that tell you about risks to the materials? What about their needs for description and care?
  • New Media

Sept 27  Perspectives on Collecting, Conservation & Preservation (AH)

Assignments due before class:
Topics covered:
  • What are the basic guiding principles of conservation/preservation coming from different professions and/or communities? How were they shaped?
  • How have they been utilized and/or affected by moving image and recorded sound materials, through such factors as multiple copies, "born digital" formats, and changing definitions of appropriate archival mediums?
  • Discussion Panel including professionals from different organizations and fields
  • What are some of the issues that the archive, conservation, library and independent preservation communities are addressing with regard to moving image and sound preservation?
  • What are the role(s) of a moving image specialist in relation to other professionals caring for moving images and sound collections?
  • Ray Edmundson, in Audiovisual archiving: Philosophy and Principles, proposes that moving image archiving is evolving as a synthesis of other archiving and preservation practices. What are the pros and cons of such an approach? What would be aspects of this synthesis from various professions?
  • What are ethical considerations are fundamental to our work as moving image archiving and preservation specialists?
  • Where do "de facto" archives - those organizations with important materials but untrained as preservationists - fit?
  • What is the role of producers in preservation practice?
  • Discuss visit to Museum of Television and Radio
  • Panel discussion with:
    • Jon Gartenberg, independent preservation consultant
    • Carol Stringari, Senior Conservator, Contemporary Art, Guggenheim Museum
    • Duane Watson, retired Head of Conservation, New York Public Library
    • Barbara Mathe, Senior Special Collections Librarian,American Museum of Natural History

Oct 4*   Collections Management: Issues and Approaches (AH)

Assignments due before class:
  • Prepare for in-class presentation of Case Study of Production History assignment.
  • Read:
    • Position Paper On Conservation & Preservation In Collecting Institutions
    • Whitson, Helene and Gerry Yeager, "Arrangement and Description" in Steven Davidson and Gregory Lukow, The Administration of Television Newsfilm and Videotape Collections: A Curatorial Manual, Los Angeles: American Film Institute (1997), p. 127 - 148.
    • Annette Melville, ed., "Film Handling", The Film Preservation Guide, San Francisco: The Film Preservation Foundation, 2004, pp 19-33.
    • Newborg, Gerald G., "A Case Study: Newsfilm Preservation Project at The State Historical Society of North Dakota" in Steven Davidson and Gregory Lukow, The Administration of Television Newsfilm and Videotape Collections: A Curatorial Manual, Los Angeles: American Film Institute (1997), p. 59 - 68.
  • Further Readings
Topics covered:
  • Guest:  Linda Tadic, ArtSTOR Director of Operations, Instructor for our Collections Mgmt class, and Chair of AMIA's Digital Initiatives Committee
  • Appraisal, selection, description, sorting, organizing
  • Continue with Risk Management discussion
  • Intro to cataloging and value of description (EAD, MARC, DBs, ...)
  • Film Inspection
  • Projection basics
  • Examining uncataloged boxes of media in Bobst and filling out cataloging templates
  • What is the impact of appraisal and selection (or the lack thereof) on what gets preserved?
  • What are practices for tracking information about moving images?
  • What are other typical tasks in collection management of archival collections?
  • How might they differ for moving image/sound materials and other materials such as paper or photographs?

Oct 11  Collecting in Context: Theoretical Underpinnings (HB)

Assignments due before class:
  • Read:
    • Anne J. Gilliland-Swetland. Enduring Paradigm, New Opportunities: The Value of the Archival Perspective in the Digital Environment , Council on Library & Information Resources, pub89, pp 1-16 [document pages 1-16, not Acrobat pages 1-16]
    • Belk, Russell W. "A Brief History of Collecting," in Collecting in Consumer Society. New York: Routledge, 1995, pages 22-64
    • Benjamin, Walter. "Unpacking My Library: A Talk about Book Collecting." Illuminations. Ed. and intro. by Hannah Arendt. Trans. Harry Zohn. New York: Schocken Books, 1969, pp 59-67
    • Pearce, Susan M. "Collecting Processes," in On Collecting: An Investigation into collecting in the European tradition . New York: Routledge, 1995, pages 3-35
    • Jean Baudrillardís "The System of Collecting." In John Elsner and Roger Cardinal, eds., Cultures of Collecting, pp. 7-24. London: Reaktion, 1994, translated by Roger Cardinal.
    • Further Readings
      • Pierre Bourdieu, The field of cultural production: essays on art and literature, Cambridge: Polity, 1993
      • Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright in Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture (Oxford University Press, 2001)
      • Buckland, Michael. (1997) What is a Document?", Journal of the American Society for Information Science 48 (9), pp. 804-809
      • Harrison, Helen P. (ed.). Audiovisual Archives. A practical reader for the AV Archivists. 1997
      • Benjamin, Walter. "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" Illuminations. Ed. and intro. by Hannah Arendt. Trans. Harry Zohn. New York: Schocken Books, 1969, pp 217-251
      • John Berger. Ways of Seeing , New York: Viking, 1972
      • Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett "Objects of Ethnography" in Ivan Karp and Steven Lavine (eds.) Exhibiting Cultures:  The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display, Washington: Smithsonian Press, 1991, pp 386-443
      • Pearce, Susan M. "Collecting in Time" in On Collecting: An Investigation into collecting in the European tradition. New York: Routledge, 1995 pages 235-254
      • Drucker, Johanna. "The Codex and Its Variations." The Century of Artists' Books. New York: Granary Books, 1997. 121-59
Topics covered:
  • Collection Management (continued)
    • Archival Arrangement--maintaining original order, context, relationships
    • Metadata Standards (EAD, Dublin Core, MARC)
  • In-class presentations of case studies
  • Appointments for Film Handling
  • Introduction to Orphans Assignment
  • Discussion of Final Projects
  • Why do we collect?
  • Extensive questions to ponder
    • Issues of evidence and authenticity
    • Issues of representation
    • Who collects what? for whom? and why?  How do collections define their collectors?  How have museums influenced colonialism, nationalism, and taxonomies (categories) of knowledge?  What kinds of interdependence exists between institutions of collecting and certain methodological goals of art history and anthropology?  How can we learn to read exhibits critically?  What is a ërhetoricí or ëpoeticsí of display?  Why do people keep personal collections of objects?  How do ethnicities and genders appear--or disappear--in museum contexts?  How do museums also function to support a local community memory and history?  How do artists view museums as social institutions?  How can we imagine collecting practices and museums in the future? How can the history of collecting be read as an interdisciplinary intellectual practice?
    • Why do we need museums?  What should  they look like? Why do we collect things? What kinds of museums and collections  might we have in the future?  What role might electronic media play in the  rethinking of the museum?  Would changes in museum practice necessitate changes  in the disciplines of art history and anthropology?
    • How are moving images and sound part of the larger visual culture and ways of looking and seeing? How does our understanding of visual culture impact our role in moving image archiving and preservation?
    • How do reformatting and multiple formats of the same work change how we look at a work? (e.g., are videos the same as films? Are digital photographs the same as analog photos?)
    • Is there a social context to viewing an object? (is viewing a video at home the same as viewing a film in a theater? Is viewing a mural on a screen the same as viewing it in-situ?)
    • Who attributes value to a work, and under what circumstances? How does one deal with the different values that different communities may have towards any particular set of works?
    • Are there ethical considerations in format conversions (e.g., film colorization, pan-and-scan?)
For Next Week

Oct 18 Collecting Institutions: History and Culture of Museums, Archives, and other Repositories (HB)

Assignments due before class
  • Have final project topic approved
  • Read:
    • Mann, Sarah Ziebell. "The Evolution of American Moving Image Preservation: Defining the Preservation Landscape (1967-1977)", The Moving Image 1:2 (Fall 2001), pp 1-20
    • Magliozzi, Ronald. "Film Archiving as a Profession: An Interview with Eileen Bowser", The Moving Image 3:1 (Spring 2003), pp 132-146
    • Edmondson, Ray. "You Only Live Once: On Being a Troublemaking Professional", The Moving Image 2:1 (Spring 2002), pp 175-183
    • International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) Code of Ethics
    • Jorge Luis Borges, The Library of Babel from Labyrinths (or The Book of Sand) (see review  )
    • Besser, Howard (1997). The Changing Role of Photographic Collections with the Advent of Digitization , in Katherine Jones-Garmil (ed.), The Wired Museum, Washington: American Association of Museums, pages 115-127.
    • Further Readings:
    • "Why Ethics?" in Marie Malaro, Museum Governance: Mission, Ethics, Policy, pages 16-21
    • "Controlled Collecting: Drafting a Collection Management Policy" in Marie Malaro, Museum Governance: Mission, Ethics, Policy , pages 43-49
    • O'Toole, James. (1990) "The History of the Archives Profession." In Understanding Archives and Manuscripts. Chicago: Society of American Archivists., pp. 27-47
    • Douglas, Mary. (1986) "Institutions Cannot Have Minds of Their Own." In How Institutions Think. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, pp 9-19
    • Jane R. Glaser with Artemis A. Zenetou, "Museum Professional Positions: Qualifications, Duties, and Responsibilities," Museums: A Place to Work: Planning Museum Careers (London; New York: Routledge, 1996), 65-125
    • Libbie Rifkin, "Association/Value: Creative Collaborations in the Library ", RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage, 2:2
Topics covered:
  • Discussion of Final Projects
  • Show video from Film Technology
  • How do the mission, goals, history, other activities, etc., of various repositories affect how moving images and sound are preserved and accessed?
  • What are the roles of different professionals in each type of institution?
  • What type of Professionalism is associated with each type of role & each institution
  • How has the role of collecting institutions changed as more and more people have started taking photographs of everyday life? How might changes in popular attitude towards this media effect expectations on collecting institutions? How will collecting institutions handle personal archives that no longer are only paper? And how will this all change even more as the number of home video cameras and digital editing vastly increases?
  • How do politics affect cultural heritage institutions as they strive to serve new audiences? (the Enola Gay incident?)
For next week:
  • Take Tour of Cineric -- Fri Oct 21, 11:00 AM

Oct 25 Film Preservation Issues (AH)

Assignments due before class
  • Tour of Cineric -- Fri Oct 21, 11:00 AM
  • Read:
    • Gracy, Karen. "Documenting the Process of Film Preservation", The Moving Image 3:1 (Spring 2003), pp 1-41
    • Read, Paul and Mark-Paul Meyer. "Introduction to the Restoration of Motion Picture Film" and "Menschen am Sonntag--a Reconstruction and Documentation Case Study", Restoration of Motion Picture Film, Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2000, pp 1-5 and pp 231-241
    • Gartenberg, Jon, "The Fragile Emulsion", The Moving Image 2:2 (Fall 2002), pp 142-152
    • Frye, Brian. "The Accidental Preservationist: An Interview with Bill Brand", Film History 15:2 (2003), p 214
  • Recommended
Topics covered:
  • How Film Projectors Work...Inside a 16mm projector and a Tour of the Projection Booth
  • Guest Speaker??
  • Knowing more about film artifacts, what does that tell you about risks to the material? What about its needs for description and care?
  • What are some of the major issues with film preservation?
For next week:
  • Take Tour of Vidipax -- Fri Oct 28, 1 PM, Long Island City Business Center, 300-00 47th Avenue, Suite 600 (this is Queens, not Manhattan!)

Nov 1 Video & Audio Preservation Issues (HB, AH)

Assignments due before class
Topics covered:
  • Orphans presentations
  • Sound
  • Tape Cleaning
  • "Playback" DVD
  • What are some of the major issues with video and sound preservation?
  • What are typical approaches to caring for and preserving video and sound?
  • What is the effect of digital formats and digitization on media preservation?
  • Knowing more about video/sound artifacts, what does that tell you about risks to the material? What about its needs for description and care?

Nov 8 New Media & Digital Preservation Issues (HB)

Assignments due before class:
Topics covered:
  • Guest:  Melitte Buchman, Digital Conversion Specialist, NYU Digital Library
  • Visit to Bobst Video/Audio reformatting Lab
  • NYU Cataloging Templete
  • Introduction NYU/Public Television preservation project
  • Knowing more about digital media artifacts, what does that tell you about risks to the material? What about its needs for description and care?
  • What are some of the major issues with new media preservation?
  • What are the major issues facing moving image and sound archivists in the "digital age"?
  • What are some of the practicalities that preservationists must address?
  • What theories and predictions are being advanced?
  • Does this evidential value change when materials are reformatted?What are the advantages and disadvantages of keeping different versions of materials?
  • What is different between the preservation needs of material that is "born digital" and that which has been digitized?
  • Is it possible to preserve digital materials unchanged?
  • What are the strengths and limitations of the various proposed methods of digital preservation for different uses of cultural materials?
  • As the digital world moves toward multiple uses and viewing works from different angles, how does this affect notions of context and its preservation?
  • How do digital objects challenge traditional archival notions of evidence?  Can ways be found to authenticate digital works, and track provenance and versioning?
  • Documentaries, Actuality Footage, media art, installation art, performance art
  • Documentation, treatment

Nov 15  Access, Curating & Programming (HB)

Assignments due before class:
  • Look over the website of MIC-Moving Image Collections, and prepare questions and comments for our guest, Jane Johnson
  • Read:
    • Each student should read one article from The Moving Image 4:1, Spring 2004, pages 1-88, and be prepared to present a short (5 min) summary  to the rest of the class
    • Atkinson, Jane. AGCS Occupational Profile: Programme Researcher: Broadcasting/film/video
    • At least 3 of the papers from the March 2003 Toronto Conference  Terms of Address: The Pedagogy and Politics of Film and Video Programming and Curating
    • In Focus: a guide to using films / by Linda Blakaby, Dan Georgakas and Barbara Margolis. NY: Cine Information, 1980.
    • American Film Distribution: the changing marketplace / by Suzanne Mary Donahue. MI: UMI Research Press, 1987
    • Noriega, Chon A. "On curating," Wide Angle Vol XVII nr 1-4 (1995); p 292-304
    • Gilmore, Geoff. "Sundance's agenda," Scenario Vol II nr 3 (Fall 1996); p 4-5
    • Peary, Gerald. "Season of the hunt; On the practice of film festival programming," American Film Vol XVI nr 10 (Nov-Dec 1991); p 20
    • PaÔni, Dominique. "Comme dans un musee" Journal of Film Preservation no 53 (Nov 1996); p 8-11 (Argues that programming in archives should be directed at building collections. Explores current explosion in film restorations within the context of archival programming.)
    • MacDonald, Scott. "Avant-garde at the Flaherty," Wide Angle Vol XVII nr 1-4 (1995); p 256-267
    • Besser, Howard (1998). The Shape of the 21st Century Library, in Milton Wolf et. al. (eds.), Information Imagineering: Meeting at the Interface , Chicago: American Library Association, pages 133-146
    • Moving Image Collections (MIC) General Information
    • Schiller, Daniel. (1988) "How to think about information." In. V. Mosco and J. Wasko (eds.), The Political Economy of Information (pp. 27-43). Madison, WI : University of Wisonsin Press. 1988
    • Lievrouw, L.A. (1994) "Information Resources and Democracy: Understanding the Paradox." Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 45(6), July, pp. 350-357
    • AMIA Compendium of Moving Image Cataloging Practice, edited by Abigail Leab Martin and compiled by Jane D. Johnson, Linda Tadic, Linda Elkins, Christine Lee, and Amy Wood. Society of American Archivists & AMIA, 2001. ca. 275 pp.
    • Archival Moving Image Materials: A Cataloging Manual (AMIM2) . 2nd ed. revised by the AMIM Revision Committee, Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division.Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, Cataloging Distribution Service, 2000. 1 v. ISBN 0-8444-1008-X
    • Harrison, Harriet W. (comp. and ed.), for the Cataloging Commission of the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF). The FIAF Cataloging Rules for Film Archives. Film-Television-Sound Archive Series: Volume 1. München; London; New York; Paris: K.G. Saur, 1991
Topics covered:
  • Guest:  Jane Johnson, MIC Project Director
  • Presenting and contextualizing historical material
  • Programming a series
  • Repurposing
  • Issues of access
  • Obtaining moving image materials:
  • How does one find moving image collections? (Moving Image Gateway Project)
  • What are sources for clips? For ancillary materials?
  • What do you need to do research? General reference and resources (Pam Bloom?)
  • Types of resources (biographical, film indexes, union catalogs, almanacs, periodical indexes, trades, dictionaries, encyclopedias, review compilations)
  • What are issues for historical research and reconstruction?
  • How are moving images and sound part of the larger visual culture and ways of looking and seeing? How does our understanding of visual culture impact our role in moving image archiving and preservation?
  • Discussion of Pamela Bloom's workshop earlier in the semester

Nov 22  Thanksgiving Holiday (no class)

Nov 29 Copyright, Legal Issues, & Policy (HB)

Assignments due before class:
Topics covered:
  • Issues of term, territory, and market
  • What are some of the practices with regard to copyright, ownership, licensing, and the use of "talent" or footage that are part of the history of a particular form of production or genre of work?
  • What are some of the recent or anticipated changes in the legal arena that affect moving image/sound preservation or use?
  • Effects of copyright on preservation and programming
  • Avoidance of intellectual property issues
  • Fair Use guidelines
  • How do intellectual property issues affect preservation, access, and use of visual materials ? (e.g., the implications of the digital millennium copyright act?
  • Complexity of underlying rights
  • Other legal issues
  • Policy issues

Dec 6 Final Classroom Presentations (AH, HB)

Assignments due before class:
  • Present your final project to the rest of the class.  (Arrive promptly and be prepared to stay late so that everyone can present.)
Topics covered:
  • Final Individual presentations

Major Assignments

Examples of student work from 2003-2004 

Group Project -- Case Study of Production History : In this assignment, groups of 3 to 4 students will collaborate to create a case study that will be instructive in the identification and selection of moving image and sound material. Each group will conduct 2 case studies that, through text and image, demonstrate the production process for a particular project or mode of production including:

  • time period and brief description of the mode of production, the final product, and its intended use or audience
  • the steps to production
  • the people involved and their roles
  • film and/or recorded media that is produced at each stage, its format and purpose
  • documentation or ancillary materials that are produced at each stage (print, electronic), and their purpose
  • any identification clues or special tips when sorting
  • the relative value of the film, media and documentation, and to whom it may have value
  • typical disposition of the materials at the end of a production process
  • recommendations for materials to be archived and the rationale for why they should be considered for long-term preservation (and because we haven't yet had a chance to discuss this in detail, don't dwell on the preservation treatments that should be done)
Imagine the audience for the case study is moving image and archiving professionals who will utilize the information as they begin sorting and processing a collection. The case study should be concise and easy to read, but with sufficient detail for the task. Visual aids such as for key formats, special labeling, examples of documentation, database screenshots, etc., will also be helpful.

To gain the necessary knowledge, the groups must conduct an audio or video interview of one person per case study. In some cases, print and electronic resources may be available or helpful.

  • Due date---Oct 11
Orphans Assignment
-- Research Context of Historical news clips: In groups of 3 or 4, you will be given a 4-15 minute VHS clip of nonfiction footage from the late 1920s or early 1930s from the collection of the NewsFilm Library at the University of South Carolina. You will also have access to a temporary cataloging record for the clip by searching the catalog of the NewsFilm Library. Your assignment is to research the context of this clip.  All these clips are in the process of being restored, and the restored versions will be screened at the Orphans Film Symposium in early 2006. What you find out about the clip will likely be presented there as well, as was much of last year's student work.  You will need to turn in both a written paper (both the paper and word-processed version) and a Powerpoint presentation (which you will present in class and hand in the file to Alicia).
  • Due date--- Nov 1
Individual Final Project -- student choice, but must be related to something covered during the semester: A major term project.  Topic must be approved by one of the instructors by Oct 14. Must be presented in class during the last class sessions, and a written component must be turned in. Below are a few examples:
  • Do research for a film or video that needs to be restored. This might include a combination of the following: locate existing prints, identify differences btwn prints, do interviews or historical research about the shooting and editing, create a fundraising plan for restoration, compare plusses and minuses of different restoration processes, ...
  • Write a paper comparing and contrasting the differences btwn 2 types of institutions (eg. A public library and a state Historical Archive), and how institutional differences affect moving image archival practice (acquisition, cataloging, access, restoration, ...)
  • Plan an exhibition series for historic moving image material. Select the works to show, check print and date availability, write program notes, plan a publicity campaign, coordinate with tie-in activities or events, ...
  • list of other possibilities
  • Due dates -- Nov 30 (before AMIA); present in class Dec 6