Magazine article Journal of Film Preservation

Joint Technical Symposium, 3-5 May 1990 Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa

Magazine article Journal of Film Preservation

Joint Technical Symposium, 3-5 May 1990 Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa

Article excerpt


This Symposium, organised by the Co-ordinating Committee for the Technical Commissions of the International Associations for Audio, Film and Television Archives (known as the TCC) on behalf of FIAF, fiat, IASA, ICA and IFLA, was the second of three conferences held in April and May 1990 in Ottawa, Canada.

The first conference was held at and organised by the National Archives of Canada. The conference was entitled «Documents that Move and Speak; Managing Moving Images and Recorded Sound Documents in Archives» and was intended to give an overview of the problems facing traditional paper archives as they begin to collect modern audiovisual materials.

The third event was the IASA Annual Conference which was organised by and held jointly with the Association of Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC), the North American affiliate of IASA. This was held at the Museum of Civilization and attracted delegates from 20 countries.

Joint Technical Symposium (JTS)

Bridging the gap between these two events was the Joint Technical Symposium. This was entitled «Archiving the Audio-Visual Heritage» and looked at the problems of the various carriers of information used by audiovisual archives and the machinery required to gain access to the information. There were 29 papers presented by speakers from 13 countries, including St. Lucia, Kenya, Japan, Thailand, Australia, Czechoslovakia and Brazil as well as North America and Western Europe. The Joint Technical Symposium was attended by over 120 people from some 30 countries.

Thanks to the generous help of UNESCO several speakers and delegates who would not otherwise have been able to attend were helped with air transport and accomodation.

The JTS opened with a series of short reports about the condition of audiovisual archives in countries with an adverse climate. Many of these countries also suffer from a lack of resources to provide the air-conditioning necessary to combat the high humidity and/or high temperatures. This highlighted problems that, at present, are only rarely encountered in the more temperate areas of the world.

The second session concentrated on the chemical reactions at work in the carriers. Speakers from a number of research centres talked about the current state of research into the decay of still photographs and of the films, tapes and optical and mechanical discs to store moving pictures and sound. Particularly important in this session were the papers presented by the speakers from the Centre for Archival Polymeric Materials at Manchester Polytechnic, England. This is the only centre carrying out independent research into the chemical decay of the plastics used for audiovisual recordings. The basic message that they gave the conference was that all the polymers used to store information are breaking down. We may delay this breakdown but we cannot stop it. They are currently trying to devise non-destructive tests to give an indication of the remaining safe life of carriers so that archivists can organise copying programs for recordings that are to be preserved for posterity.

The second day started with a group of papers examining new recording systems from an archivist's viewpoint. The life expectancy of both the machine and the carrier must be examined when considering new formats for archival storage capability. It is the question of the life expectancy of the machinery rather than the quality of the recording or the life of the discs and tapes carrying the signal that has caused the Audio Engineering Society Standards Sub-Committee on Preservation and Restoration of Audio to declare that, at present, they cannot recommend any digital format for long-term storage of audio. …

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