Los Angeles Public Hearing: Volume 2
Report of the Librarian of Congress
Table of Contents
The Library of Congress panel met, pursuant to notice, at 1:07 p.m., at the Hotel Sofitel Ma Maison, Opus Ball Room, 8555 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA to conduct its first public hearing on the current state of American television and video preservation. Winston Tabb, Associate Librarian for Library Services, Library of Congress, presiding as Panel Moderator.
Library of Congress Panel
- Winston Tabb
- Associate Librarian for Library Services, Library of Congress
MR. TABB: I would appreciate it if the first panelists would come to the table. Thank you very much. And would the other members of the audience please come as far forward as possible, so that we don't feel like we are lost in this large room.
Good afternoon. I am Winston Tabb, the Associate Librarian of Congress, and I am very pleased to welcome all of you to the Library of Congress's Hearing on "The Current State of American Television and Video Preservation."
I want to remind everyone to please sign the guest register, which is just outside the back of the room, so that we have a record not only of those who are speaking today but of those who are attending, as well.
The purpose of this hearing is to get specific suggestions for the Library of Congress to consider in preparing a comprehensive national program on American television and video preservation for the United States Congress.
Important issues include: What should be saved? Who is doing it? And who should do it? What are the technical preservation standards and problems? How do we ensure that they are addressed? And most important, perhaps, how do we fund all of the above? What funding models seem most promising?
This hearing is held in accordance with the law which directed the Librarian of Congress to establish and maintain in the Library of Congress a library to be known as "The American Television and Radio Archives." The purpose of the archives shall be to preserve a permanent record of the television and radio programs which are the heritage of the people of the United States and to provide access to such programs to historians and scholars, without encouraging or causing copyright infringement.
We are pleased to have on our panel today the person responsible by law for accomplishing this objective, the Librarian of Congress, Dr. James Billington, whom I now invite to make an introductory statement. DR. BILLINGTON: Thank you. We appreciate everyone coming today for this hearing on "The Current State of American Television and Video Preservation."
I gave testimony just yesterday before the Congressional Appropriations Committee, and I am very happy to be on the other side of the room, facing the witnesses and the audience this time.
Today's hearing may not carry the same legal and fiscal implications of a Congressional appropriations hearing, but it is an important event, we feel, for the Library of Congress, for the archival and educational communities, for the television and cable industries, and really for everyone who shares our concern about the preservation of our television and video legacy.
This is the first of three public hearings the Library of Congress will conduct this month in response to this act of Congress which Mr. Tabb has just mentioned.
These hearings are intended to help develop a report on the current state of American television and video preservation and a plan with specific recommendations. Both the report and the plan will be published later this year as a single document.
This activity is authorized, as I have indicated, by the American Television and Radio Act of 1976 and is being pursued in response to a recommendation from the National Film Preservation Board, whose distinguished chairperson is sitting at the end of the table, Fay Kanin, known to us all and much appreciated for the work which that board does and for the special leadership she gives to it. So, it is being pursued in response to their recommendation and from the many groups and individuals who helped draft "Redefining Film Preservation," a national plan which the Library published in 1994.
These hearings and the report parallel our earlier film preservation study in several important ways:
First, we seek the same goals. That is, to preserve the American television and video heritage and make it more accessible for educational use.
Second, we wish to obtain a wide range of views and opinions, representative of the diverse interests that exist in the creation, preservation and research use of moving images in all of its aspects, including arts and entertainment, news and documentary, public affairs, video art, community video, just to name a few.
Third, we wish to encourage other archives and libraries to work with the Library of Congress to accomplish the very difficult task of preserving television and video and making them available.
Fourth, we wish to address the problem of funding moving image preservation programs, both in public archives and in industry. It is no easy task at a time when resources are scarce relative to the preservation workload that is ahead. Some kind of public/private partnership will be essential; perhaps some variety of such arrangements. But during the course of these hearings, we hope to receive your recommendations on how this work can be advanced, how these kinds of partnerships can be established.
The Library of Congress, I should say, through the Copyright Office and through a fairly active program of taping, as well as gifts, has accumulated a very large archive in this area, and we need to have a clear rationale for what we collect in the future, how we preserve and make accessible existing collections.
This is the same process through which the Library of Congress has gone for 200 years, in essence. A new media or a new form of preserving the American creative record tends to appear and to proliferate and to develop before a clear pattern of preservation is made.
We are a kind of a "throw-away" society in many respects. We are enormously creative, but much of the creativity--and most of it, in fact--is on fragile or perishable base and tends to vanish for a variety of reasons because of the relentless onrush of our society to ever new things. And we have a special designated responsibility to preserve, but you can't preserve everything, so the rationale for what it is you do usually comes only after we have accumulated a very large amount of what we are going to then determine policy for. And as it was in movies earlier, so it is the case with television.
There are other parallels with the Film Preservation Report worth mentioning. Like American film, much of the early history of television, as I am sure most people here know, has already been lost. Broadcasts were live and kinescope or film recordings were used selectively. Ampex introduced videotape recording technology in 1956, and since then, the industry has manufactured or adopted numerous incompatible video formats, making technological obsolescence a major archival issue. Like nitro-cellulose, the tape staple of the film industry until 1951, videotape has proven to be both a blessing and a curse. We have entrusted our historical and cultural images to videotape, and yet, it is vulnerable to degradation and destruction.
Like film, everything associated with video preservation is expensive, including specialized storage facilities, electronic equipment, a skilled technical staff and reformatting costs. The very notion of reformatting large collections of videotape is a daunting one because their volume already exceeds the means of most organizations. Yet the reward for safeguarding and preserving our television and video heritage are immeasurable and, like most such rewards, you could only anticipate a few of the eventual benefits at the time you begin to embark on it.
No one can fully understand, I think, who we are as a people and what we have become as a society without having access to the recordings created by television and video production during the last 50 years. Historians, sociologists and other scholars, even politicians and parents, debate the causal relationship of television to society at large, and in the future, such debates will be fruitless if the historical evidence isn't there on which to base and advance the argument and the discussion.
So, there is a moral necessity to preserve our memory and to share it. We have a program creating a national digital library at the Library of Congress, cooperatively with 15 other major repositories, to get the core of our five million digitized items from our Americana Collection out through the Internet. We are already processing a million electronic transactions a day. So, we feel we have a responsibility to share, as well as to accumulate and to gather in, but in this area, so much of the memory of the last half century is in this media, so it is a moral necessity to preserve it.
It is a political necessity for understanding our system. We are particularly conscious of that because the constituency to which we report, the Congress of the United States, is largely--or, to a very considerable extent--dependent on television for their election or their de-election and extraordinarily interested in it as a medium with which they practically all have rather intimate familiarity and a growing familiarity.
And of course, beyond the moral and political necessities and the intellectual necessity of preserving this record, there is the practical need to find some pattern of funding and support, which is something we haven't altogether solved for film, and now we have to deal with it in television.
I should say just one final word about the Library of Congress. We are not going to be intruding on our institutional concerns. By and large the Library of Congress doesn't get into anything if anybody else can do it better. We tend to be the place which does things which only the Library of Congress can do. But one of the things that we have to do is to preserve the record which the Congress, in particular, and the Government of the United States, in general, may need in the future.
So, we have a special responsibility in that regard, because as the National Library of the United States, we must preserve the things which the government may ultimately need and that, to a large extent, we think is what scholars also are going to want to have. But at the same time, it is going to have to be a cooperative effort, as we have recognized in the film case. So, all of this we want to sort out.
And in conclusion, let me just say that the Library of Congress encourages all of you in the audience to send us your opinions and recommendations, which we will collect through April 29th. There won't be time to hear everything that everyone has to say, so we would welcome written comments and opinions.
This afternoon we will hear from a number of distinguished individuals, some professionals in the field, others representing important organizations that share our goal of preserving American television and video, and finally, those who use this material to educate, in the broadest sense of the word, because education is not simply in schools, but social awareness is part of the business that we are all concerned about.
So, it is a great pleasure to welcome you here, and I turn things back to Mr. Tabb.
MR. TABB: Thank you, Dr. Billington.
Before we begin, I want to thank David Francis and Steve Leggett, of the Library's Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, for their work on this project, and especially to recognize Bill Murphy, who is sitting in the front row here, who is on loan to us from the National Archives and Records Administration and serving as the project coordinator.
I will also now introduce the distinguished group of panelists. First, Fay Kanin, referred to already as the Chair of our National Film Preservation Board, since its inception in 1988. Next to her, Raymond Fielding, who is Dean of the School of Film and Television, at Florida State University. Dr. Billington, of course, and David Francis.
Then, on my right, Betsy McLane, the Executive Director of the International Documentary Association, and an alternate member of the Film Board, representing the University Film and Video Association. Next to her, Edward Richmond, Curator at the UCLA Film and Television Archive, who did an excellent job testifying on film preservation at the Congressional hearing last June in Pasadena. Finally, at the end, Robert Heiber, President of Chace Productions, Incorporated.
Now, for some of the ground rules. We are very pleased that 27 people asked to testify today. But given our time constraints, we must ask that everyone making remarks do so in 10 minutes or less, and I will focus on the less. Particularly, we would like you, if possible, to focus on suggestions and specific recommendations. We will add into the statement of the hearing any other kind of descriptive and narrative material that you would like to have added. But it would be especially helpful to us if we could have more time and focus on the suggestions.
I will have to be ruthless in wielding the gavel, to be sure that panelists who are scheduled for the end of the day are not short-changed.
We have organized the speakers into panels relating to different focuses of our study. I will ask each panel to come to the speaker's table together, as our first has already done, and then ask each speaker to present testimony in the order listed in the program that we distributed in the lobby.
We at this table will hold questions until the end of each panel, unless there is an urgent need for clarification of some point that is being made as we go along. After all the speakers on the panel have given their prepared statements, I will invite colleagues here on the dais to ask follow-up questions during the balance of time allotted to the group.
All written comments and the transcript of the proceedings today will be printed and available to the public, as an appendix, when we publish the report and submit it to Congress later this year.
We invite the speakers, observers and anyone else who has a strong interest in this matter to submit written comments to Steve Leggett, of the Library of Congress's Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, by April 29th. The hearing record will remain open until that time.
More information about how to submit comments is in the Federal Register Notice, of which we have copies on the table at the back of the room.
So, now let us begin. We have our first panelists here. We are very happy to see Edie Adams and James Loper. If Mr. Stevens joins us, we will ask him to come up to the table, as well. If he comes later, we will try to fit him in.
So, the table is yours now, Ms. Adams. Thank you.
Presentation by Edie Adams
MS. ADAMS: The first time I was made aware of the willful destruction of videotapes was in 1962, after the sudden death of my husband, Ernie Kovacs. He had been working on two shows for ABC here in Hollywood.
The first was a quiz show called Take a Good Look, which Ernie decided to make a peg for comedy. He used comedic blackouts as "clues." And God help you as a panelist if you inadvertently guessed the right answer, and he had some funny blackouts left.
The second was a series of oddball specials, including the remake of the Silent Show. I have a short three-minute clip here. I will keep the seven minutes. It will be up to 10. (A three-minute video was shown.)
MS. ADAMS: Thank you.
Ernie liked to take his time. You couldn't force him into doing those quick sound-byte kind of humor and things that were in Laugh-In later on. However, I can't get off on those things.
None of these shows would exist today if it hadn't been for the caring and foresight of his co-workers on both of these wacky shows.
Ernie's bravura genius for putting unusual images on the small screen did not carry over to the mundane daily management of money. When he died, he owed a lot of it, to a lot of people. Mainly, the IRS--we were in the 91% bracket; nine cents of every dollar belonged to us; but that's another story--a few gambling buddies and the ABC Television Network.
Three months after his death, several members of his ABC crew came to see me at home and asked if I couldn't do something about the fact that ABC was using the wall of Kovacs's master tapes as used tape to tape over the news, the weather, public service blurbs, or anything, to recoup some of the moneys owed to them by Ernie.
So, I called up my lawyer and told him to use the modest insurance policy to pay them off and buy back the 12-foot wall of Kovacs's tapes they were "saving money" by using. In all, about 40 hours was there, and by the time it was transferred to my storage facility, only 15 hours of it showed up.
When I first started to work on daily TV in the early '50's, there was no tape and kinescopes were expensive. They were only made once or twice a month by advertising agencies to sell commercial spots on the shows. At first, on the daily show in Philadelphia, I had only my songs recorded by Radio Recorders, a professional recording studio who would put songs on acetate. We called them "air checks." By the time we moved up to CBS, in New York, for our daily show--that's in 1952-53--I had Radio Recorders record the whole show. I knew even then that what Ernie was doing was special, and I wanted a permanent record of it kept for posterity. Maybe it was my Juilliard training, with its endless discussions of "What is art?" I just knew I had never seen anyone on TV or live who did the things that Ernie did.
The next network we were on was Dumont, Channel 5. That was in 1954 and 1955. I ordered daily "air checks" of the hour long late night show.
We never had a regular hour on any network for any length of time, as did Milton Berle or Ed Sullivan, at 8 p.m. Tuesday and Sunday, but if you were a fan, you could find us daily on all three networks throughout the '50's. He would comment on everything that was going on in New York on those daily shows.
By the time we got to NBC, we graduated to a big time daily show, full network, with the early NBC staff, Tonight Show Band. So, this one, I ordered on daily kinescope, something unheard of in those days. Finally, a daily visual record.
A network spokesman says that it is the only record of the early '50's TV that remains anywhere, and it is on mostly audio. About four years of audio only and 18 months of intermittent kinescopes.
After I bought and put away, in a controlled temperature facility, the ABC shows in the early '60's, I started to search out anything I could find from the other networks. I bought back whatever was available from NBC and put them in storage in the late '60's. I also tried to track down the CBS shows and the Dumont shows. I was told that they were unavailable.
I don't know what happened to the CBS shows, but have recently learned what happened to the Dumont shows. That's the early Jackie Gleason Shows, including the original Honeymooners, Captain Midnight, and the Kovacs Specials. Well, they were taken care of in a most unique and swift fashion.
In the earlier '70's, the Dumont network was being bought by another company, and the lawyers were in heavy negotiation as to who would be responsible for the library of the Dumont shows currently being stored at the facility, who would bear the expense of storing them in a temperature controlled facility, take care of the copyright renewal, et cetera. One of the lawyers doing the bargaining said that he could "take care of it" in a "fair manner," and he did take care of it. At 2 a.m., the next morning, he had three huge semis back up to the loading dock at ABC, filled them all with stored kinescopes and 2" videotapes, drove them to a waiting barge in New Jersey, took them out on the water, made a right at the Statue of Liberty and dumped them in the Upper New York Bay. Very neat. No problem.
The audio discs, many hundreds of them, I did manage to save, and they have been housed at the UCLA Film and TV Archive, on Cahuenga, along with some 800 daily TV scripts that match them, on campus at UCLA's Special Collections Department. A few were damaged. A few of these--they were 16" radio transcriptions, very, very fragile--were damaged in the '94 earthquake. However, we would like to have these fragile 16" transcriptions digitized before the next one, even if it is not the big one.
After listening to the audiotapes of the earlier TV shows and seeing the movie Toy Story, I believe that in addition to using the "V" chip on our TV, we might think about using the "K" chip, some of the space age, bachelor pad, cocktail music and odes to silliness that defined the mellow fifties and the Kovacs mystique. I think of them as representing a kinder, gentler time, with a new life of their own, done for computer animated series, with the music and voiceovers already done by Ernie himself. I have always heard that if we don't spend time on our own history, we tend to repeat it. Was that 10 minutes?
MR. TABB: That was exactly on time. Thank you very much. We appreciate that. Mr. Loper. Presentation by James Loper, Executive Director Academy of Television Arts and Sciences
MR. LOPER: Thank you very much.
Mr. Chairman, Dr. Billington and members of the panel, my name is Jim Loper. I am the Executive Director of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
The Academy is the largest professional association for those individuals involved in national television production and distribution. There are some 8300 members representing 25 different peer groups within the industry. And while the Academy is best known for producing the prime time Emmy Awards, it has a great many other activities, primarily for the good and education of its members. Among these are seminars, workshops, any magazine and anti-substance abuse programs, including Cartoon All Stars to the Rescue, which aired simultaneously on four major networks and reached the largest children's audience in the history of television.
The Academy also has an extensive educational program, including student internships, which has been named one of the 10 best internships in the United States. And this weekend we will honor the winners of our College Television Awards--fortunately, Mr. Fielding's students have won two of those--from institutions throughout the United States.
We consider the Academy to be one of the most vital organizations in the television medium. Two years ago we staged the "Information Superhighway Summit," and this fall we will gather major forces and individuals in a top level meeting on television violence, which is being underwritten by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
The Academy strongly supports current and future efforts to preserve television programming. This year we celebrate our 50th anniversary. And for over 25 of those years, we have had a partnership with the Film and Television Archives at UCLA. In fact, the Academy has a designated collection within the larger context of the archives. It helps to support the activity with a yearly $30,000 grant, under contract with the UC Regents.
We have tried to leave no stone unturned in finding collections of early television shows and seeing them placed within the safe confines of the archive.
To this end, we believe there is a major difference between an archive and a museum or library. To us, an archive is an exhaustive repository of everything connected with a program or series of programs. Rather than collecting a sample of one or two programs as representative of a series, the archive should contain the complete series, if possible, together with the ancillary visual materials.
Because it is a professional society, the Academy tries to keep the needs of its members uppermost in its objectives. It is far more useful for the professionals to have access to the totality of a series, rather than a few programs. The serious scholar needs as much as possible to judge the evolution of a program from beginning to end, to note the subtle changes in story line and character development, as well as other artistic elements.
For these reasons, the Academy wholeheartedly supports the funding of archival activities for television. Aside from studying television as an art form, watching old programs can be good fun.
Last year, the Academy, in cooperation with the UCLA Archives, began a series of historical viewing evenings for members and the general public. Our first offering, the television work of Gene Kelly, was fortuitous because of his untimely passing. We had well over our theater capacity of 600 people show up. So many, in fact, that we added a second evening. And we have done the same with other programs, from the United States Steel Hour, to the work of George Burns, and timely holiday programming. All have been exceptionally well attended.
As a complement to the cooperation with UCLA, the Academy has maintained a library of printed materials, photographs and manuscripts with the Film and Television Library of the University of Southern California.
The ultimate research tools would not be to have only the original programs available for viewing, but to have the original scripts, shooting notes, casting sheets and publicity materials also available. We much do as much as possible to preserve and maintain our history.
Finally, let me briefly describe a new Academy project which is just being formulated. This has its inspiration in the preservation of Holocaust survivor memories, as underwritten by Steven Spielberg. The President of Walt Disney Network Television and Animation, Dean Valentine, who is also a member of our Foundation Board, has had the concept of interviewing on tape living survivors of early television about the medium's development.
Because television is 50 years old, it is important that the project begin as soon as possible. The Academy is funding a pilot to interview five television pioneers in the hope of finding funding to extend the recorded record of these people into the thousands. There then, hopefully, would be cross- referencing of these interviews, so that complete stories of individual programs and series can be told through the actual participants.
I thank you for allowing me to testify today. It has been a pleasure.
MR. TABB: Thank you very much, Mr. Loper. Now, a time for questions.
MS. McLANE: I have a question. Mr. Loper, what is the relationship of the Television Academy to, say, local television stations and local Emmys in terms of preserving their materials?
MR. LOPER: We have a separate branch within our Academy, called the "Los Angeles Area Television Group," and we do, in fact, stage the local area Emmy Awards for the stations in town. All of the entries into the Emmy Awards, whether they be national, daytime, local and so forth, are turned over, after they have been viewed and judged, to the Television Archives at UCLA.
MS. McLANE: But is there a relationship of the Television Academy to other local stations?
MR. LOPER: Yes. Oh, yes.
MS. McLANE: They all come here, then?
MR. LOPER: Yes, that's correct.
MS. McLANE: Thank you.
MR. RICHMOND: I have a couple of questions.
Jim, I don't mean to put you on the spot here, but you know, it is a friendly group. We are very appreciative of the relationship that ATAS has had with UCLA. I think it works very well, and we have done a lot of good work together.
One of the things that has always occurred to me is that in terms of the Emmy collection that is at UCLA, it is an excellent collection for research and study purposes because the tapes that are submitted for consideration in the nominating process are usually 3/4". Now, sometimes 1/2". And I was wondering whether you saw any possibility of ATAS working with UCLA, or even a group of archives working together, to start to try to go back to develop a program within ATAS that could be used for ensuring the preservation of those Emmy winners on more than just the reference cassettes that you now get.
I realize that ATAS doesn't own the programming, but being the Academy of the industry, is there any way that such an activity could start to take shape?
MR. LOPER: Well, we certainly would be interested in doing this, because I think the preservation of the materials really lies ultimately in transferring them to some digitalized process, rather than leaving them on videotape or even, in the early programs, on kinescope. So, yes, we would be most interested in this kind of activity.
MR. RICHMOND: I guess the other question I had is for both of you. I think what will come out of this hearing, because it is kind of self-evident, is that any kind of a national preservation program or plan involves a whole range of constituents working together, the archives, the industry, educators and the talent, the artists and the crafts people within the industry.
Speaking maybe--since I think you both can--as involved with being the talent people in the industry and representing an academy of those people, is there anything we can do in this plan to appeal more directly to the people, the individuals, that make up the television industry to help preserve their own programs, to work with archives to ensure that those programs are preserved? Is there something we are not doing now to reach out to that important part of the constituency that will make up this national program?
MS. ADAMS: Well, everything that I have ever done for UCLA has been just wonderful. I haven't had that same experience in other places, which shall be nameless. Everything that is there is preserved, and it is there. I have no complaints. And I am always telling people to save them.
I am trying to get people--in order to transfer those great big transcriptions, you know, they start from the inside out. It was hard to even take them out to find a place that had a 78 to play them, and every time you play them, they are reduced in quality just a little bit. They should be done and digitized at the same time. I pulled a few out just to see what the quality was. And I am trying to talk the fellow up in the Valley into--he is sort of getting out of the 78's--into donating this little studio to UCLA, so at least you can pull those off. But that shouldn't go off onto anything except digital, because every time it loses a generation.
MR. LOPER: I think that we need to continue a program which we have carried on for a number of years of cleaning out people's garages in the industry. There are, I am convinced, still many, many programs that are filed away under probably the worst circumstances possible.
And I think that one of the things we can promise is that the Academy, through its contacts with its members, would try to continue to enlist support in finding those private collections, because I just have the feeling that there are jewels out there that are deteriorating slowly at this point and that we need to find.
And we would be very happy to work with you, Edie, on that.
MS. KANIN: In terms of public and industry awareness, have you ever, on the Emmy Awards Show, given the preservation message? I mean, these are messages that could be carried to both the public and the industry of the need for the recognition of preservation for television. That linkage is very important. And maybe even--and it is a dramatic thing--a plea for looking in garages and things like that. But have you ever done it? Perhaps you have. I don't know.
MR. LOPER: We have mentioned on the Emmy Program the relationship that we have with UCLA, but there is no reason why we can't continue to do this on a more regular basis.
MS. KANIN: I think it would be a wonderful spot on the TV award show to have the preservation message.
MR. LOPER: Thank you.
MS. ADAMS: Is there some way to do something about the pirating and the copyright stealing? That's a terrible problem. People just take things and put them on and sell them; then you track them down. If something could be done with that, you could rake in a lot of things that are out there that don't belong out there.
MR. FRANCIS: Mr. Loper, mine is really a follow-up on what was just said. It seems that the Emmy Awards are so prestigious that it would be reasonable to ask a winner to deposit a preservation copy. I would have thought that that would have been accepted by a winner. It would mean there would be the submitted copy, which could be an access copy, and afterwards, the winner could present a preservation copy. Do you think that sounds reasonable?
MR. LOPER: Yes. And I think that we can go further than that and ask the production companies and the networks to donate a complete copy of the series of the program. That's what really needs to be done, and that was kind of the thrust of my remarks, that rather than one or two programs, we need the complete sets if we are really going to study television in an objective and positive manner.
MR. TABB: Are there any other questions?
DR. BILLINGTON: How about actually giving an award for preservation? Have you ever considered that?
MR. LOPER: We are up to about 90 Emmy awards now. I am not sure that the industry or ourselves can stand any more awards, but we certainly have certificates and can honor people for this kind of thing. And, Jim, that's a very good idea.
DR. BILLINGTON: And maybe past award winners, as well, in terms of getting their things.
MR. LOPER: Yes.
DR. BILLINGTON: Could you expand a little bit on what lessons you might have learned with your relationship with the UCLA Film and Television Archives, for other organizations that might possibly consider similar models with various archives?
MR. LOPER: My comments are very much the same as Edie's. I have no negatives, really. They have been enormously cooperative.
DR. BILLINGTON: No. I wasn't suggesting there were negatives. I was wondering if there were some keys to making such a relationship work or getting it started and so forth, that could be generalized.
MR. LOPER: I think each organization that is involved in such a partnership should do what it does well, and that is that the Academy has the contacts with the people who star in and produce the programs, and that should be our responsibility to try and put the leverage on them to get the programs.
On the other hand, I think that the archive has the responsibility of somehow preserving the material in a form that can be used by scholars in the long term and an even longer term of preserving it for posterity in some way.
So, I would say finding the material is our job, and preserving it and having it there for use is the job of an archive.
MR. RICHMOND: Just one other quick comment. I think the Academy has to be a major player in this whole plan. The work that you have done to date is outstanding, and you need to be a major part of the plan.
I think one of the things that has been really encouraging to me--you mentioned the TV screenings that we have initiated together. It has been really thrilling to see packed houses for those, just much more of a response than I ever would have anticipated. And it shows that there is a constituency out there. People in the television industry do have an interest in the history of their industry, and that's something we need to find a way to tap into.
MR. LOPER: We have also, as you know, instituted 11 years ago the Television Academy Hall of Fame, to honor people. And Mr. Kovacs was one of the very early inductees into the Hall of Fame. And I think by recognizing these pioneers in the industry, we can continue to develop that kind of bridge with those people to continue to extract the material wherever we can. From the garage is another place.
MR. HEIBER: I have a question for Ms. Adams. Do you think the better awareness now of artists' rights will prevent similar situations happening as with your late husband's programming material?
MS. ADAMS: I don't know what you mean. Artists' rights?
MR. HEIBER: Well, the rights of artists to protect their material, to have a say in the disposition of their material.
MS. ADAMS: On TV in the early 50's, there was no agenda for artists' rights. We were given a radio studio, 4 walls, a camera and a microphone. We were interested in killing 2 hours every morning. Those of us who cared about content bought back and copyrighted it later. So, somehow--the material is protected, but the physical product somehow gets out of your hands, and it goes somewhere else, and somebody else uses it uncopyrighted. And I find that I don't know what to do about it.
MR. HEIBER: I guess my question is not with the ownership of the material so much as--you called it--the "ruthless destruction" of the material.
MS. ADAMS: Yes.
MR. HEIBER: What is your take on whether or not people are educated at this point where that would be prevented from happening today?
MS. ADAMS: Well, I don't know. At that time, I just had no idea when they told me. Because I thought that they were just there, and I just didn't know that they would be destroyed and willfully destroyed. And everybody was doing it in the '70's, throwing it away, burning it, throwing it in the water, and just doing it as a money saving measure. And you didn't hear about it until years later. And if it hadn't been for the crew coming over, I would have had no idea that they were going to erase everything.
MR. TABB: I thank you both very much. We will end this panel at this point.
Especially thank you for bringing such great footage. It was a very appropriate way to begin the hearing.
MS. ADAMS: Got to lighten it all up. In life, too.
MR. TABB: We will invite the next group to come forward, please. (Pause.) All right. We will begin with the National Center for Film and Video Preservation, AFI. Will both of you be speaking during the time or...
MR. WLASCHIN: I will be speaking.
MR. TABB: Mr. Wlaschin. Okay. Thank you.
Presentation by Ken Wlaschin, Vice Chair National Center for Film and Video Preservation American Film Institute & Gregory Lukow
MR. WLASCHIN: My name is Ken Wlaschin. I am the Vice Chair of the archive arm of the American Film Institute.
The AFI is pleased to testify at these important hearings and to contribute to the Library of Congress's work to bring television and video materials into a comprehensive plan to preserve America's moving image heritage.
For over two decades, especially the work of AFI's National Center for Film and Video Preservation's effort has been one of the Institute's primary mandates. During this time, the National Center has taken a leadership role in coordinating this effort and has been privileged to work with hundreds of committed archivists across the country.
Today, at the Library's suggestion, we would like to share a bit of the AFI's long history in television and video preservation, describe how the National Center's current activities are contributing to this course, and offer five basic recommendations for a national plan to safeguard these materials.
These recommendations were first articulated by the National Center as part of a nationwide needs assessment that it carried out in 1990. The report that emerged from this assessment still stands as one of the most comprehensive statements on the needs of television preservation, and we are pleased that the Library has indicated it will be consulting this document in preparing its study.
AFI's history in television preservation dates back to 1974, when it convened a conference of interested parties, with follow-up support from the Ford Foundation, to discuss the coordination of television archival activities.
In 1978, AFI began coordinating the annual meeting of what was then known as "The Television Archives Advisory Committee." This group and its film counterpart evolved into what is now the "Association of Moving Image Archivists," a North American professional association for which the National Center continues to serve as institutional secretariat.
In 1983, AFI's television preservation mandate intensified when it established the National Center for Film and Video Preservation, in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts.
Throughout the 1980's, the Center completed a number of projects that placed television on the national preservation agenda. In 1986, the Center published the "National Film and Video Storage Survey," containing information on the film, television and video holdings of over 30 public archives.
Also in 1986, the Center called a two-year national moratorium on the disposal of television programming, an initiative that conveyed to the television industry the urgent need to save our national television heritage. As an outgrowth of the moratorium, the Center prepared national guidelines for the selection of television programs for retention and preservation. The guidelines were distributed in 1988 to the nation's television networks, producers and broadcast groups.
One of the Center's major accomplishments came in 1989, when it coordinated the negotiation of an agreement between-- Capital Cities/ABC, the UCLA Film and Television Archives, and the Museum of Television and Radio, to bring the history of ABC's entertainment programming into the national collection. The agreement covered hundreds of ABC aired series, from the 1950's to the 1970's, an estimated 24,000 kinescopes and film prints.
This national level work was complemented by the Center's extensive efforts on behalf of regional television archives across the country. The ground breaking event for this field came in 1987 when the National Center organized its first national conference of local television news archives. These institutions are a rich resource in documenting our nation's history, and we are pleased to share the table today with colleagues from two of the nation's leading local television archives, those in Miami and in San Francisco.
Today, the National Center has a range of programs with which they address the needs of television preservation. The AFI collection is known for having brought over 25,000 classic American feature films and short subjects into the national collection at the Library of Congress and other archives. But this national clearinghouse collection has also acquired thousands of television programs and classic commercials, dating from 1939 to the 1980's.
The Center's national moving image database has provided significant support for the television and video archival communities. Since 1988, the NAMID Data Entry and Conversion Program has allocated over one million dollars for data acquisition projects of archives across the country, including over 20 television and video collections.
In doing so, NAMID provides extensive direct support for the cataloging and automation work of these archives and fosters the use of national level standards. Each archive's data is in turn acquired by NAMID and made available, through a series of open access agreements negotiated with the archives, to preservationists, catalogers, researchers and the public.
Using this approach, NAMID has become the largest collective moving image database in North America. Over 30,000 of its records document the nation's television and video holdings, including broadcast television collections at the Library of Congress, UCLA, Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research, American Archive of Factual Film, and Museum of Broadcast Communication, as well as independent video artwork and documentaries held by the Pacific Film Archive and others.
This year, NAMID will provide additional television data through new conversion projects involving the Peabody Awards Archive, at the University of Georgia, the Bay Area Video Coalition, the Experimental Television Center and the University of Southern California Cinema and Television Archive.
In addition to physical holdings, NAMID includes all filmographic data published by the AFI Catalog Project. While the catalog will continue to focus in the coming years on researching American theatrical films released between 1893 and 1970, we look forward to the day when AFI will be able to expand this national filmography into the realm of historical television. A feasibility study on such a television catalog was completed by the National Center in 1988.
One of the Institute's priorities this year is to bring NAMID and AFI catalog data and AFI collection data online through AFI's new World Wide Web site. NAMID was available online for the first time in 1995, through a dedicated BBS line, and our goal now is to provide full Internet access to this valuable information.
The National Center continues the coordination and outreach efforts that have helped bring new archives and special collections into the television archival community. As a contribution to this effort, the Center will publish shortly The Administration of Television News Film and Videotape Collections: A Curatorial Manual, co-edited by Steve Davidson from the Wolfson Center and Greg Lukow of the AFI. This guidebook is illustrated with over 200 photographs and designed to assist local and national archives responsible for safeguarding television news.
Finally, we would like to note that AFI is currently in the middle of a three-year initiative to raise over one million dollars in new funds for archival preservation projects through the AFI Preservation Challenge Grant. Television projects are eligible for funding, and we encourage their submission.
In 1995, $350,000 was awarded to 13 archives through the first year of the project, and the Institute hopes to announce the availability of funds for the second cycle of grants in the near future.
We would like to conclude our testimony today by offering five fundamental recommendations for a National Television and Video Preservation Plan. These suggestions have, of course, a bottom line: Increased resources to help archivists preserve and make accessible our nation's television and video heritage. Indeed, one of the most compelling goals of the national television study should be to provide potential funding agencies with the information they will need.
First, determine the scope of the program. There is an urgent need to measure the size of the staggering volume of broadcast, cable and video material to be saved. Our experiences with funding agencies have shown that a statistical assessment of existing material is essential in developing a comprehensive approach to television preservation. The material grows significantly with every passing year.
Second, define "television and video preservation." The study should provide potential funders with a clear, working definition of the principles of television and video preservation. It should determine where consensus exists on current practices and promote the development of new standards where needed. It should differentiate between motion picture preservation and the unique needs of television and video preservation.
Third, strengthen public/private partnerships. If our nation is to save its television and video heritage, the need for cooperation between public archives and private sector producers and broadcasters can not be overemphasized. The study should promote the crucial concept of the national collection, held in a diverse range of institutions who collectively share the responsibility of preserving the heritage. The study should provide realistic selection guidelines to help evaluate what we can reasonably expect to save and foster consensus regarding who will save what.
Fourth, secure the necessary new funding. The study should bring television and video to the forefront of the national preservation agenda. It should articulate long-term funding needs and help develop necessary resources. This is the bottom line for all of the nation's archives. The techniques to preserve the heritage are at hand, but the pace must be accelerated.
Preservation support should be broadened beyond laboratory transfer work, to include storage, cataloging and access. The need is compounded by the absence of a tradition of support like that for film preservation. As a matter of public policy, we must overcome the impasse of conventional wisdom, which for too long has maintained that the mountain of television programs is too enormous to contemplate, or videotape is not a long-term preservation medium.
Fifth, increase access. As more television and video materials are preserved, the responsibility of providing access becomes paramount. The study should encourage rights holders to support shared open access for a diverse community of users, even as it provides assurances that legal interests will be protected.
The study should also encourage new agreements between archives and broadcasters that would enable archival off-air taping not only of news materials, as allowed under the current copyright law, but also a broader range programming for education and research purposes.
Indeed, looking to the future of online digital research, the study could explore the possibility of extending the very concept of off-air taping into the realm of online image capture.
Before I conclude, I would like to say simply that I have a personal interest in this. Thirty years ago, the BBC television made a documentary about my wife and my then five-year old son, and when I went back to look at it a few years ago, it was gone. They had wiped it, along with a number of my brother- in-law's television plays, which were among the most important of their time. So, I think preservation affects all of us in direct ways, as well as indirect.
The National Center would like to thank the Library of Congress for the opportunity to share these reflections. We look forward to doing whatever we can to assist the preservation community in this vital effort. Thank you.
MR. TABB: Thank you, Mr. Wlaschin. Ms. Whitson, from the San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive.
Presentation by Helene Whitson Special Collections Librarian/Archivist Curator, San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive San Francisco State University
MS. WHITSON: My name is Helene Whitson, and I am the Special Collections Librarian and Archivist at San Francisco State University Library.
I am here today to ask your help in providing funding for the preservation of local television productions. I come with 15 years of experience working to organize and preserve local television materials and at least 10 years of performing educational outreach to the public, the field and to related organizations.
Steve Davidson and I have jointly spoken before such organizations, and I am going to give you acronyms, as BEA, RTNDA, SAA, ALA, AHA, AASLH, AEJMC, plus local and regional organizations. This year alone, we will speak jointly at the-- Conference, in Miami, BEA, and the annual NATAS President's Meeting, in San Francisco, as well as speaking separately.
Our presentation here today is part of the continuing effort that we have undertaken on behalf of collections such as ours and for the understanding and preservation of locally produced materials.
And, Steve, would you like to--if we may speak sort of jointly.
MR. DAVIDSON: Sure.
MR. TABB: Make a joint presentation.
MR. DAVIDSON: Well, Helene and I normally do these kinds of presentations around the country.
MR. TABB: Great.
Presentation by Steven Davidson, Director Louis Wolfson II Media History Center - Miami, Florida
MR. DAVIDSON: What I thought we might do is just give you a sense of really what we are talking about on the local level. With the theory that one picture is worth a thousand words, we have got a couple million words to show you now of what these collections actually look like and what we are talking about, and to put it in perspective for small institutions such as ours. (Mr. Davidson gives slide presentation as he speaks.)
MR. DAVIDSON: Most of us began with very empty shelving like that, and within one day of getting the collection--a collection such as this in rusting film cans and so on--we can move these into our facilities very quickly. It takes years to get it to that point, clean, preserved and so on.
And what these next slides will show you is just some of that process of what is involved and what we are dealing with. Again, just perspective. This happens to be from one of the stations in Miami, but it is representative of what can be found at local TV stations around the country.
Here is a look inside some of those cans. The reels of film unraveling and so on, masking tape inside, if things are on cores. Most of the time they are coming off the cores. Again you see masking tape splices throughout. Or you will see this version. Each one of those cans represent a jigsaw puzzle. Those are individual news stories, probably not unwound since they were first shown by the station themselves. And oftentimes, too, this comes with no documentation at all, and if it does, it is not very accurate. So, these all have to be sorted out and so on. Again, this has masking tape and information written on the masking tape.
In this case, there were some inventory records which a technician is sorting out. Each one of those reels of films, each one of those individual stories, has to be cleaned, repaired, the perforations repaired, so it can be ultimately transferred to videotape. Each piece of film--each individual story has to be identified and numbered and so on.
The system and the tools of the trade--obviously, there is no quick ways of doing it. Everything is manual.
Preservation for the local news archives is really cleaning and repairing the film to the best ability possible and then making a video transfer copy. In our case, we are able to make a VHS reference copy and 3/4" master copy. Although now we have just gotten some Betacam equipment, so we are moving to that.
Again, each of those cans we have to log in, story by story, segment by segment, noting physical characteristics, whether it was negative or positive, magnetic sound or optical sound, and the duration. And eventually those log records are then used by the technician to make the transfer, and then we end up with the final product like that. Again, all on cores in archival plastic containers.
Now, just the video process. Again, all the news film needs to be transferred to videotape, but there are many news archives that also have video equipment, and those present similar challenges, as well. Again, the videotape--this is a storeroom at one of the TV stations in Miami, and that was their video library, just to give it some scale. It could come in boxes.
But again, all of these materials need to be put on the shelves. If we are going to be collecting videotape, it comes in all formats, every permutation of videotape. And again, unlike film, you need the individual video formats to go with all of that material.
At the Wolfson Center, we probably have around 300 2" videotapes, and unfortunately, we don't have the funding right now to transfer all those to a more usable format.
These are cut story tapes, and they contain the equivalent of those little rolls of film. Each one of those 3/4" videotapes probably has upwards of 30 or 40 individual stories. And again, these date from the mid-1970's onward. And of course, the tape quality back then wasn't what it is today, and chances are, those were originally recycled many times before they committed the final information onto those videotapes.
That's some of our equipment. But again, we need to remaster the older formats and even the older 3/4" tapes to more usable formats.
We also have an off-air recording program, and that's just some of that in our collection. And then, all of that must be done, of course, until access is able to be provided. I will turn it back over to Helene now.
MR. TABB: Okay.
MS. WHITSON: I would like to show you several samples of what we have in our collection.
I would say that once preserved and made accessible, local television material can be used in a variety of ways. My first clip shows what happened at San Francisco State in 1969. (Video was shown by Ms. Whitson.)
MS. WHITSON: What you see was used as raw footage by the station, by a researcher working on a Ph.D., and by me in a scholarly presentation in Miami.
This next piece is a descriptive piece which I created in 1987, working with a San Francisco State film student, to show my colleagues in the archival field what one has to do when working with moving images. I paid for this myself and created it and do not have a film background, so it is an amateur piece. (Video was shown by Ms. Whitson.)
MS. WHITSON: That is just a sample. It goes on for a while.
The third piece is a piece which demonstrates local television as capturing an era that will not occur again. This is a local Emmy Award winner. (Video was shown by Ms. Whitson.)
MS. WHITSON: Preservation of local television collections is a labor intensive, careful, hand-done process.
I just received a $55,000 LSCA Grant for preserving the KPIX Film Library. That's our San Francisco CBS affiliate. But I also must provide matching funds. Money pays for staff, supplies and equipment, but it can not change the initial laborious process. And that initial process is the most important. All the new technology does not help that process. In fact, we will need even more money to transfer our film and video to other media.
My entire archive is estimated to be approximately 10 million feet of film and video, and includes the following collection: KQED, which is our PBS affiliate, news film from 1968 to 1980; KPIX, our CBS affiliate, 1955 to 1980; local Emmy Award winners from the San Francisco/Northern California Chapter, from 1974 to date; Over Easy, a KQED program on aging; VideoWest, a pre-MTV rock video; several other locally produced programs. Plus we are now getting into programs that are not totally news. As you can see, our programs are not just news anymore.
To preserve this national heritage, the industry must show the same level of responsibility and commitment to the preservation of their material that I and my colleagues have done. I need at least a million dollars to preserve my collection.
And if you can see this headline which came out in the paper the other day, I will not get it from KQED, because KQED is on the rocks.
For future local television archives and archivists, we warn you that this is not a passive activity.
MR. DAVIDSON: Thanks. First, I want to thank the panel for allowing us the opportunity to speak and also say that a lot has happened since the Wolfson Center was founded 10 years ago, in terms of where we have gone with our collection and with modest funds.
I would also like to acknowledge some people in this room that were instrumental in the beginning in helping us set the pace, set the tone, of what we were doing: Greg Lukow, from the National Center for Film and Video Preservation, was an early advisor to us, as was Bill Murphy, from the National Archives, and of course, Helene Whitson. And we modeled much of what we were doing learning from Helene's example, in Miami.
I would like to show a video profile of our institution, and if there is time, there is another video piece, as well, which shows some of the issues that we face specifically at the Wolfson Center, but generally for news film and video collections around the country. (Video was shown by Dr. Davidson.)
(VIDEO: "From the everyday to the extraordinary, the Louis Wolfson II Media History Center holds a treasury of images. The Center, designated by the State of Florida as an official moving image center and archive, documents Florida's history. It provides the unique opportunity to relive, or see and hear for the first time, the issues and events that have impacted our lives and shaped the culture of our region. Also of interest is how film and television documents these changes.
"The Center's mission, important to the state and local community, and part of a broader effort, is to collect, preserve and make accessible film and video materials produced in or about Florida.
"The Center's growing collection began with the archival footage of WTVJ, Channel 4, South Florida's first TV station, that now includes millions of feet of film and thousands of hours of videotape, ranging from home movies dating from the early 1900's to yesterday's newscasts, spanning over eight decades.
"The collection has been donated by a variety of sources, including television stations, production companies and individuals. Together, these materials combine to provide a visual mosaic of our history and cultural.
"Films arriving at the Center in aged or damaged condition are painstakingly cleaned, repaired and restored. Ultimately, all the film will be transferred, the videotape to be used by the general public for education and research. Older videotape productions on various formats are remastered and reference copies made for accessibility.
"The Wolfson Center was established in 1986 and is sponsored by Miami-Dade Community College, the University of Miami, and the Miami-Dade Public Library. It is one of the largest archives of its kind in the United States.
"Public access takes many forms, and each year the Center increases its accessibility to the general public, researchers, and film and video makers.
"The Center provides a year-round screening and seminar program, featuring materials from its collection and those of other archives throughout the nation and abroad. The Wolfson Center provides footage for use in new productions of all genres. Significant documentary productions which utilized archival footage from the collection include: PBS's Eyes on the Prize and The American Experience Series.
"Locally, the Wolfson Center has worked with Metro-Dade Television to produce the video series REWIND. Each episode features actual broadcasts from the early years of television, restored and brought to video to be seen by new and former audiences.
"REWIND and a growing screening, exhibition and seminar program make the Wolfson Center unique among moving image archives around the country.
"While the Center is partially funded by local, state and federal grants, it can not survive without community support. The next phase in the Center's mission includes preserving footage from today's newscasts and programs which will be tomorrow's historical artifacts. "For more information, write to...")
MR. DAVIDSON: I don't know how much more time that we have, but that gives a sense of the kind of activities that we are engaged in. Thank you.
MR. TABB: Thank you very much.
Ms. Lan, from the Bay Area Video Coalition.
Presentation by Grace Lan, Director Preservation and Special Projects - Bay Area Video Coalition and National Alliance of Media Arts and Culture
MS. LAN: This is the first time I am doing a testimony.
My name is Grace Lan. I am here to represent the Bay Area Video Coalition. Right now, I am the facility manager and, also, I am in charge of the Preservation Program there. And I just want to say that I am very honored to be here today.
What BAVAC is--Bay Area Video Coalition--we are a non- profit organization funded by foundations to work with other non- profit organizations. And our mission, as a media art center, is to provide media makers, documentary makers, educators and artists the best quality product for the lowest price. And as a part of our service, BAVAC has been called upon to recognize that these cultural documents on video exist and also to provide an inexpensive remastering service for the non-profits.
This preservation work has a very important--it is very important to me personally because I wasn't born here in the States. I came to this country when I was 10, and I learned how to speak English watching television. So, I know that it is very important to preserve TV shows, like Sesame Street and I Love Lucy.
But just a couple of years ago, when I joined the Bay Area Video Coalition, I watched Vito Acconci playing with his own saliva in Waterways. And I saw William Wegman teach his dog how to spell, and watched Bruce Nauman bouncing around in his studio for an hour, and I saw video art for the first time. Without being a part of this preservation project, I would never have seen these pieces.
Now that we have done the work, along with Video Databank, in Chicago, these pieces are now accessible for anyone to see.
Just another example of that--what we have done--we have, through trial and error, started doing preservation work, first with the Minnesota Historic Society. We transferred a hundred open reel tapes. And then we transferred 250 reels for the San Francisco Public Library, their Gay and Lesbian Archive. And we have worked, like I said before, with the Databank, in Chicago, and Electronic Arts Intermix. And we are now working with the Walker Arts Center, and soon, we are hoping to work with the National Latino Communication Center, here in L.A.
Through these works, we have tried to finesse the process of preservation, but there are a lot of unanswered questions, because we know that our process works, but there are also other processes out there that also work. So, what we want to know is--all of these processes work, but the conservators have never had a chance to really test and create a system for things to be one way, and we know that it works. So, that's a dire need.
BAVAC's next step is to not only provide affordable technical service to preserve video, but also, our interest is to educate and advocate ways of advancing these preservation efforts, advancing these technical efforts to preserve these documentaries of our culture, because I think that's really important.
Later on this month, at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, with the support of the NEA Challenge Grant, the Getty Grant Program, and the Andy Warhol Foundation, and in association with the New York Media Alliance, Bay Area Video Coalition will present an international symposium on trying to develop techniques and practices of video preservation.
Unless these practices for videotape preservation begin to be articulated with a realistic look at skill and resources, we all know that tapes produced just only 15 years ago will soon be lost forever. And this urgency exists not just for art on video but also for future art using all new technologies.
I would just like to thank the Library of Congress for allowing me to testify today. Thank you.
MR. TABB: Thank you. Next, we have a charter member of the National Film Preservation Board. Welcome, Bob.
Presentation by Robert Rosen, Director UCLA Film and Television Archive
MR. ROSEN: Yes. I would like to thank you very much for the opportunity to testify in this area.
Before beginning, I would like to say that it seems to me that if anybody embodied in a real sense both the value of saving television and the tragedy of what was lost, it was one of the greatest, if not the greatest, innovators in the evolution of a language specific to television--Ernie Kovacs. So, I do want to take the opportunity to thank Edie Adams for being such a militant and for saving so much of Ernie's work.
First, let me make a few general comments--and very few--about what we do at UCLA and then to move into six areas that I think are distinctive to public archives, along with a few modest proposals.
First, about what we do. The television part of the UCLA Film and Television Archive began in 1965. It was in partnership with the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and there has been a long standing relationship with that organization.
We have in excess of 60,000 titles, half on various tape formats, and half on film formats, 127,000 news programs, and a quite large television technologies collection--including the first television set in Los Angeles. The collection covers all subject areas in the period from 1946 to the present.
There are thousands of documentaries including specialized documentary related collections, such as the DeNove Collection on the Kennedy campaign and the KTLA Local News Collection.
There is particular strength on the entertainment side, especially in the area of early television, including many one- of-a-kind kinescopes from the 1950's. Some of the notable collections include the Jack Benny Collection, the Dumont Collection, and the Mark Goodson Collection. There are entire runs of programs in virtually every genre, ranging from the dramatic anthologies, such as the Hallmark Hall of Fame, to sitcoms and the soaps.
We keep up to date with current production through the deposit of the Emmy Awards from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and we continue an active acquisition program.
Now, what do we do with all this? It is not dead storage. First, we do restoration, such as the "miraculous rising from the dead" of seemingly unusable footage that went into the Fred Astaire Specials. We do preservation, such as the remastering of materials on obsolete 2" formats and onto contemporary formats. We do conservation, which really means good storage of the materials. And as we sit, the entire collection is on route to new temperature and humidity controlled vaults on the UCLA campus.
We do public programming, either at our own Festival of Preservation or through the Academy. We provide access for study and research. Last year, in our research facility, there were in excess of 10,000 appointments made for individual viewings of materials that are in our collection. Finally, much of our material is used in productions, particularly in the documentary area. Information on the collection is available through the Internet.
Now, that said--in doing all these things, we share certain concerns in common with all other archives, including industry archives. There are, however, a number of things that are specific to the problems confronted by archives that are located in public institutions. And I would like to suggest, very quickly, six of these.
The first is that we are inescapably in the middle of things. You can call it one of the existential facts of life of a television archive. On the one side, the vast amount of materials that we hold are under the copyright protection of someone else. The owners of those materials understandably want to protect their copyright interests and want to minimize use of those materials for that reason.
On the other side, we are a public institution that serves an array of users, and these users want to maximize access to the material in whatever way is possible.
Our position as a public archive is to make both happy, to serve both of them, to harmonize, to mediate, and to make the appropriate principled tradeoffs.
We propose, that as a national plan evolves, it is essential to keep in mind the need to facilitate the ability of public institutions to effect those trade-offs.
So, for example, one of the things that would be useful is to look at archives across the country as, in fact, a network of archives--a system of archives--so as to provide, on the one hand, means for the exchange of materials through inter-archival loan or via means of new telecommunications technology, for access on a nationwide basis, and, on the other hand, to devise guidelines and procedures that ensure that the interests of the copyright proprietors are protected. So, it is essentially, a two-pronged approach: to increase the ability to serve the plurality of users on a national basis and at the same time to protect the interests of those people and companies whose materials we hold.
Two, the second reality. The second reality is that public archives deal with television in all of the various ways that Dr. Billington alluded to before. Television at its best is a popular art form distinctive to this century. It is also a document of our history. It is also a political force that influences our attitudes towards politics in general and, more specifically, gender politics and politics of ethnicity. It is a cultural artifact that we pass on to the future. It is a commodity on the marketplace. And on an individual level, it provides the pegs on which we very often hang our own autobiographical memories. People chart their own lives in relationship, in part, to the television that they have consumed over time.
An archive serving a plurality of users must respond in different ways to all of those different users.
Now, this affects a number of areas, notably acquisition. In light of the wide array of users, one has to acquire a wide array of materials. The soap opera, of no particular interest to the student of television as an art form, to the social historian is of enormous import. One may be tempted to say we only need a sample of a particular series. But as was pointed out before, very often the heart and soul of what that series is about for the culture lies in a formula that evolved over time. Or in the case of, say, a show like The Waltons, it is the evolution of the program that, in essence, contains its most important information.
So, in a real sense, you should be saving lots of things, if not everything. But the problem is there is so much that no one institution can do it alone.
In the area of acquisition, the single most important criteria for the archivist in the selection of material is humility, not precluding the possibilities for future generations to discover for themselves the value of these materials.
I would propose that we explore the possibility for a more extended division of labor among the archives in the country in the area of acquisition. The possibility, for example, that the Library of Congress itself may have annex collections at a number of institutions around the country, so that more of the material can be saved, but in a way that is practical, given the allocation of resources.
A third issue confronts public archives. We have in our collections the equivalent of the orphan films that were discussed in the area of motion pictures. That is to say, television programming for which there is no clearcut commercial body to defend the interest. This includes early television, much of it in kinescope form, where the question of ownership is very murky. There are many rights involved, including unclear music rights and underlying literary rights, but ownership is problematic.
It includes a vast amount of television that was produced by companies that no longer exist. It includes materials in the documentary area, such as the DeNove Collection on the Kennedy elections, that is not under copyright and is solely our responsibility.
And potentially, it includes the vast collections of the master documentary film makers, who over time have collected raw footage that is as important as the final productions that were made. And where do they go? They have to go into public institutions, and there is no obvious copyright owner to stand behind preserving them.
So, again, a proposal I would make is that in a national television preservation plan, special attention be given to those television materials that are, as it were, in an orphan status. And I think much of the material at more specialized archives around the country fall into that category.
A fourth issue, in the area of television. We all want to do preservation, but we are not terribly sure what preservation means. We know that, minimally, preservation is putting a program onto the stablest possible format, in as close as possible to its original condition, for the best possible storage for the longest period of time, and that involves minimally the differentiation between a preservation master and a use copy.
But what do you do in the area of television when you are not even sure what the master is? If you have kinescopes of early television on 16mm acetate film, is it possible that that is the master, and that the making of a reference copy, a use copy, so that kinescope can be put away for safekeeping, is what preservation means?
What happens if you have programming that is shot on film, very often the case in the industry, transferred to video for editing, with a video master made? What is the master for preservation? Is it the video master that exists or is it the original film material? And what happens if that original film material had never been constructed into a negative that conforms to the final product?
What does preservation mean when you are confronting a dizzying array of formats, 2" tape of various kinds, 1/2" reel to reel, VHS, beta, and now an increasing number of digital formats? These are areas that are open.
What I would propose are three elements in relationship to this, for a national plan:
The first is that a differentiation be made between retrospective and prospective preservation. Retrospective deals with the first fifty years. It deals with obsolete formats, such as 2" tape. It deals with the problem of kinescopes. Prospective preservation ideally is done at the time of production and involves a close working relationship between the archives and the industry in the establishment of standards. But it is important to differentiate the two or else some of the issues of the older footage will slip between the cracks.
The second thing I would propose in the area of defining preservation is that the archiving of television technology be part of the overall archiving effort. When you have materials in your vaults that may be in fine shape but can no longer be seen because the technology no longer exists, you are in big trouble. Those are the problems we confronted with the Fred Astaire restoration.
Television technology is not just a sideline activity; it is not just a complement to preservation; it is integral to some of the preservation issues themselves.
The third thing I would propose is that we take up the challenge of examining the implication of new digital technologies in relationship to preservation. For public archives, I would add that we take up also the problems of seeing how those technologies can become applicable in the cash-strapped context of public institutions.
Two more brief points.
One of the facts for public institutions, such as UCLA, is we are not alone. We exist as part of community of institutions involved in television preservation. Some, such as UCLA, the Museum of Television and Radio, and the University of Wisconsin are extensive in their collecting. Others are more specialized, dealing with local television news, political commercials, advertising or what have you.
What I am suggesting is that--and I am seconding the comment that was made before in the AFI presentation--the national collection is at a plurality of institutions, philosophically diverse and geographically dispersed, who share a common commitment. The key principle in planning on a national level is recognizing this plurality of interests, making sure that everyone has an appropriate place at the table and the gaining of advantage from seeing the ways in which these various activities can complement one another.
Finally, not only are we not alone, we can't do it alone. We are dealing with public institutions that confront decreasing budgets and where fund-raising is more difficult than ever.
So, the final thing I would underline is that the concept of the public/private partnership be at the core of the development of a national plan. The media industry and the archives really do need one another. The archives were responsible for saving literally thousands of valuable programs that would have been tossed away and would have disappeared, at a time before all of the ancillary markets developed for that programming.
The public institutions are a very economical way for the industry to serve the public interest by providing risk-free access to the history of television. And the public institutions, by foregrounding what is most interesting in the history of television, helped to sustain and maintain, in the best sense, that history as part of the collective memory.
Conversely, without the industry, the archives wouldn't have the holdings; nor would they have the ability to make these materials accessible to that plurality of users we talked about before.
Thus, a proposal. I would say that in implementing this notion of a public/private partnership, that there be created a National Television Foundation, comparable to the proposal that came out in the film area; that it involve a partnership between the private sector, on the one hand, and government on the other; that it work on behalf of the entire system of archives across the country; that the entities that already exist at that interface between the public and private, such as the Television Academy, be included in a very significant way in its planning; and that it be under the aegis of the Library of Congress, in the same way as the planning for the film area.
This working partnership is essential because, bottom line, all of the discussion before is abstract unless the resources are there to carry it out.
In this brief summary, I hope I have outlined what I think are core issues and a series of realizable proposals. I look forward to the future discussion that will take place. Thank you.
MR. TABB: Thank you very much, Bob, and all the other panelists, as well. Now, we will turn to colleagues on the dais for questions. We would like to be first?
MR. FIELDING: A question for any or all of the speakers. Of all of the devils we deal with in our lives, compromise is the most demanding. Given the fact that an astronomic amount of product has been generated on video until now, and that this will probably increase geometrically in the future, it follows that no archive, no matter how well endowed, is going to preserve everything, it follows there will be compromises. Some products will be selected for preservation and some will suffer some form of triage.
Would any of you care to illuminate what kinds of philosophies, methodologies, values, points of view you are obliged to bring to bear already in making the decisions as to what is going to be preserved and survived and what will probably not?
MR. TABB: Go ahead, Bob.
MR. ROSEN: Well, let me say, first of all, there is a disinclination on my part to answer the question, because that already puts you into the business, you know, of determining what will not survive. And I think, in the first instance, you try to exhaust all the possibilities for maximizing what will survive. And those ways seem to me to be, in part, this useful division of labor among a number of institutions across the country in terms of the acquisition and preservation of materials in a more coordinated way than exists at the moment. There is great cordiality that now exists among the institutions, but very little formal cooperation.
So, I think, in the first instance, I would rather not do it. Second, I would like to look to the longer haul, to the advance of technologies, to assume that more materials can be preserved--or, copied, at least--more quickly and stored in a smaller space than in the past.
And third, even now, when we confront materials that we can't handle, we contact other archives in the country. We will call Greg. We will call up the National Center and say, "Can you find someone else who will deal with this?"
I think, in the end, if you have to make decisions, you do. First, you look at the rarity of the material. Is it the only surviving material and what shape is it in? Then, later on, after that, you may look at the historical importance; you may look at its importance in relationship to all criteria--as document, as artifact, as art form, what have you. And you do the best you can within those criteria to make reasoned decisions.
But I think we are onto a wrong path if bottom line we start to formalize the basis for deaccessioning materials.
MR. DAVIDSON: I would like to answer that. Sometimes the decision is made for us. The stations to this day, local stations around the country, continue to recycle their videotape, let alone the field tapes and the out-takes and so on.
The other side of it is--and this could be with film collections or with videotape--you saw from those slides, sometimes it will take years before we actually know what the content, the physical images, are of that material. So, the first for many archives on the local level is to take these collections in and then see what is on them, because oftentimes, again, they don't come with an inventory, and then some decisions can be made as to what we have and what should we do.
MR. TABB: Greg, do you have some points?
MR. LUKOW: Yes. Just to address that question, I concur with Bob's initial instinct to not have to answer the question. But we dealt with the issue back in 1988, when we produced the National Selection Guidelines that Ken referred to in our remarks.
And we came up with categories--and I will be happy to share this document with the Library as you proceed with your study--we came up with several categories in which we found excuses, rationale, however you want to term it, for basically selecting everything. Aesthetic, historic and technological importance to the history of television were the three categories that we came up with. And you could pretty much put everything in there.
At the same time, we came up with a formula for the number of series, of certain kinds of shows, soap operas, prime time things. We ran through the Society of Cinema Studies, which at the time comprised a committee to help us with that, and they upped the number of episodes per series, and the formula, they tweaked it a little bit.
But the bottom line--the point I was trying to make was we found a rationale to justify the selection and, therefore, the preservation of everything, even though we knew that the people would not be able to do that, institutions would not be able to do that. And I think that is perhaps a bit helpful here in coming up with selection guidelines, which are going to have to be fundamental to anything that this study produces, to find that rationale as a basis for moving forward, even though you know that it won't happen.
MS. WHITSON: I would like to answer, please. I would say that my major interest is in documenting the history of my community, and in a way, the selection has already been made, because I only have what is left. I don't have everything that was produced.
MR. TABB: Yes.
MS. McLANE: This is a question for any of the panelists. Both Ken and Bob mentioned the notion of a nationally shared consciousness about television, the art of television collection. And as public archives, each of you have, as you said, a particular mission to reach the public.
I would like to know, for the study, what ways have been most effective and what ways could be most effective--aside from, say, the establishment of a national foundation--for raising public awareness about the issues that you face?
MS. WHITSON: I very much would like to see a production like Slow Fires, which showed the public about deteriorating books.
MS. McLANE: The books, yes.
MS. WHITSON: And use the medium of television to teach the public about the importance of television and what it has done. So, I would like to see a national production.
MR. WLASCHIN: One of the most effective ways of raising consciousness about preservation today, I think, has been AMC's Preservation Festival, through which they have received large amounts of money which has helped the archive. But it also has made a lot of people aware of how important it is to preserve film. I think that could be done on television, about television, and would certainly get to the people who really cared.
You know, if you love I Love Lucy and you find out these things are gone forever--you know, we have our consciousness raised about this. I think television itself should be used in this way.
MR. DAVIDSON: For us in Miami, that video piece that we saw is actually the end piece of our program that airs twice daily in Miami. But it is really access for the public to see what the results of preservation are.
You can explain what it is and behind the scenes what goes on and so on, but unless people can actually see the results, the images themselves, then they realize, "I remember that. I had no idea where it was. Oftentimes, I just take for granted and think somehow the TV stations might keep them or they might be in some warehouse." But having seen the images themselves really is the best way for that.
I should add to that. To really further that, we established an awards program several years back, which discloses the importance of preservation. And we actually did that because our local NATAS Chapter--for years they destroyed all the entries. They were celebrating the winners and so on, and then, after that, the entries were just destroyed. We are not really competing with that, but we just thought that to establish an awards program for productions that incorporate our footage and others, to highlight their interest, was another way of underscoring the importance of work being produced.
MR. TABB: I think Bob wanted to follow up.
MR. ROSEN: Yes. I just want to second the notion of looking at the AMC model. I think the notion of seeing on the screen the tragedy of what might have been lost-- and then having the pitch--probably is the most effective way of dealing with preservation.
I would also point to, I think, the effectiveness of the National Film Preservation Board with that process of the naming of a small number of titles that are--and as the Librarian always points out--not the Academy Awards of film production but exemplary of all that needs to be preserved. I think on a PR front, it has been miraculous. And I think the possibility of extending that into the television area ought to be looked at.
MR. TABB: Does anyone else want to respond to Betsy's question before we move on? Okay. David, I think was next.
MR. FRANCIS: Well, as one might expect in the public archives field, funding is a central issue, and I would like to try and come straight to that issue.
As people may know, the national lottery in the UK has absolutely changed the art scene. We are hearing reports that say the National Film and Television Archives have received huge amounts of money for preservation out of it. I am not suggesting that this might be the solution here, but some variation of it might be a solution.
And this comes as a result of talking to Ray Fielding at lunchtime and finding that in Florida, at least, a state lottery is substantially supporting some kinds of film activities. I think his own department and maybe also Steve Davidson's operation receive such support.
Then, taking that a stage further, we should be talking about de-centralizing funding, not centralizing it. There are 1400 television stations. We could go beyond a state lottery, to local lotteries on local television stations, which would support the saving of local news or local programs.
We want to have something in the report that actually is a proposal. It doesn't seem a lottery is a method that upsets anybody. It is not taking from one person particularly for another.
So, does anybody feel that these ideas, either the state lottery or even a local lottery at a local television level makes any sense?
MS. WHITSON: If I could just talk about the use of lottery funds. When California first started its lottery, I was able to buy a 3/4" player for my department. Now, we are just using whatever we get for basic library operations. So, it can't go for extra necessities, at least in terms of my institution.
MR. TABB: Ken?
MR. WLASCHIN: One of the things that we found through NAMID at the Center is how important the local archives are in preserving early documentary film and newsreel material. I think that this could certainly be expanded into television, not necessarily with a lottery, but with an educational program that every city that has a television should look into ways of preserving material that has been shot locally. And maybe it is a bake sale that raises the money, rather than a lottery. But that there should be a kind of local pride that we are going to save what the record is of our community.
MS. KANIN: May I just expand on that?
MR. TABB: Sure.
MS. KANIN: That was my major thrust. Is there some hope, those of you who represent local community archives, of awakening the pride in the local institution, the local station, to say, "We should raise funds for preservation; that is part of our mandate, our responsibility." Do you feel there is some hope in doing that? Besides, a lottery would be wonderful. But in other ways.
MR. DAVIDSON: What has been helpful for us is that with our News Film and Video Collection, a copyright ownership is certainly helpful for the local archive. We couldn't survive unless we were able to generate licensing fees to help us actually go right back into preserving the material. There are other institutions that just the stations feel that turning over their collection is enough, perhaps not realizing the cost involved in just housing these materials, let alone cleaning, repairing and making a video copy. Or at least, if copyright ownership isn't there, at least permitting the right to license the material is certainly a help.
DR. BILLINGTON: How did you succeed in getting people to give you the copyright along with the materials? Do you have some secret potion that you slip into the cocktails?
MR. DAVIDSON: It is no secret. I suppose that we were just fortunate that with our first collection, that set precedent. And we had an example to go by after that. You know, once, obviously, you make an agreement, it is hard to renegotiate.
DR. BILLINGTON: Were those agreements with individuals or with corporate entities or both?
MR. DAVIDSON: It started out with our initial collection from WTVJ, and that sort of set the tone for other collections that we have gotten, and not just television, but corporate entities, as well.
MR. ROSEN: Well, one of the ways that many film collections were built and some of the donations--particularly of news materials in the television area-- take place is that fundamentally the people who have the materials don't want it or find it too costly to maintain. And here is an example where an act of philanthropy joins that of self-interest. They will give you the stuff because they don't think they are going to make any money off it and they don't want to maintain it themselves. And you can then provide some services to them, in some contractually specified way.
For the most part, I think that happens. It doesn't tend to happen with entertainment programming.
MR. RICHMOND: Before I ask my question--on the local TV news front, it is interesting, I think, that some local TV archives have gotten copyright from the TV stations and are able to generate income. Some have not gotten copyright but get some other forms of support, cash support or any kind of support, that help them sustain and maintain the collection. And other TV archives get nothing, and often confront a big problem with the collection that they have no way of dealing with.
And one of the things that might be interesting to do-- and Steve and Helene, I think you are both in the ideal position to do that, being involved with AMIA, through the local television documentary collections group--is for the Library and for its plan to sort of go out and maybe survey that field and try to get together some of the information on different arrangements that have been done, different types of contracts and agreements, different techniques that have been done.
And maybe one of the things we have to look at in the local TV area is even some kind of a conference that could try to bring together the curators of local television archives and the managers of local TV stations, in order to see if something can be worked out that is a little more equitable. Because getting a collection like that, as you saw from the slides, without any support to go with it, is almost impossible to deal with.
MS. WHITSON: If I could say, though, I think awakening pride is a first step to come and educate the community. Our local CBS affiliate did a story about me and coming to this conference, on--I guess it was--Monday or Tuesday, and that was the first instance that it has actually been mentioned in the community. I got a call from a lady who wanted to find some family member's records. So, making that awareness of what's there and then starting to build. It is just a slow process.
MR. WLASCHIN: Just a slight follow-up on the awareness thing. David Francis knows about this--making people aware that what they have locally may be valuable nationally.
There is a very famous television series in England called Z Cars. It was the first great police series. The early episodes were all wiped. They did not exist. A few years ago, somebody was looking in a warehouse in Cypress and found they had taped them off the air at the time and kept them there, and they now exist and you can buy them. But only because they were stored on an island.
Lost programs still may be somewhere in the United States. They are not lost forever necessarily. And the awareness helps them to be found again.
MR. RICHMOND: I asked my colleagues to direct any hard questions to Bob, so I wouldn't have to (Laughter.)
I am not sure this is a hard question, but I will do it anyway. And also to Ken, because you both mentioned this, the idea of developing a greater sense of public/ private partnership in the television area. I think that has happened with great effectiveness in the film area, and to the benefit of all the parties involved. There are specific examples of it happening in TV, but my sense is that we are still feeling our way along as to how to do that, so that the partnership can work for both parties.
I guess my question--and it is sort of an open-ended one--is why hasn't it happened in the TV area? Or, if you want to be positive about it, what specific things can we do to make it happen? What mechanisms, if any, can you think of that might help to bring the producers, the broadcasters, the owners of television material and archives, that very often are holding copies of these materials, together in a way that can benefit both sides?
MS. WHITSON: If I could say--I am not sure; it is just from my perspective, not being from the industry at all--that the producers really look at the historical importance of their material, So, other than making money, it may be an educational process again of bringing people together, looking at all of this material as American heritage, and then what can we do from there.
MR. WLASCHIN: I mean, perhaps part of the answer is that television preservation is in the state that film preservation was like maybe in the 1920's. The producers never felt it was valuable, worth preserving at the time. And those who did, the MGM's of this world, were very rare indeed. And that awareness of the value of these documents has risen, so that the partnerships, I think, are probably a lot more likely now than they were 10 or 15 years ago.
MR. ROSEN: Yes. Let me agree in an optimistic mode. For those who are involved on the film side, remember, 10 or 15 years ago there were really two camps, and there was very little interchange and very little communication that existed between public archives, and the industry. It evolved dramatically, to the point where there is truly a sense of partnership now, in part because the economic changes made it move from being an issue in the back alley of culture to becoming a front office concern.
And many of the people within the industry who were involved in the preservation area moved to the foreground. What they had been dealing with now became very important. And I would second Ken's notion that that is happening in the area of television.
The second thing may also be that the holdings in television, in many ways, are much more fragmented. In the film area, you tended to be dealing, at least at the get go, with major studios, who own vast amounts of material. Whereas, in the television area, what the networks actually own is fairly limited, so there is much greater fragmentation in terms of effecting that kind of interchange.
But I think creating the right kind of format, and the right kind of invite, and the right kind of networking possibilities, would bring out, I think, the kind of cooperation in the television area that has come to exist in film as well.
In terms of looking to how to do it, I think one of the things we can look to are models of relationships that already exist, relationships that exist with the Academy, where there is that interface, the relationship with the Museum of Radio and Television, where there is a relationship that exists with the industry, the coming together that has been accomplished through AMIA, where a number of areas in the television archive field are now represented.
I think we can look to some of those existing models and draw some lessons from them.
MR. LUKOW: I was just going to add that in terms of the reason why it hasn't perhaps in the past, the relationship to film, is that, as we all know, in the late '70's and early '80's, the film community discovered a whole range of ancillary markets in which basically all of their product could be recycled, repurposed, in a number of venues.
The same is quite true for television, where there is so much more volume, and the syndication markets, at least at this point, are fairly limiting in how much of television's past can be put out there today. But I think that has started to change somewhat and will continue to change if we end up in the 500 cable channel universe, with more channels like Nick At Night, which has probably come as close to having some kind of historical emphasis on television programming as any cable channel out there.
If an AMC comes along, as Ken was saying, with a parallel kind of emphasis on television preservation, I think that that kind of--the asset potential of a lot of television programming that is not being syndicated right now, I think, may have to develop a little bit more to bring this more to the light.
But I actually--Bob was--had an inside tip that he was actually going to raise an idea today that I didn't hear him mention, but the idea of a cable channel devoted to television-- Bob, I am passing the ball back to you here, if you actually want to bring that up--but a cable channel devoted to the archive dimension of television.
MR. ROSEN: I was going to bring it up, but for sake of time, I moved on and was going to include it in the larger report.
It seems to me that in looking at the public/private partnership, where interests may complement one another, the interest that public institutions have in television--in all of its cultural, historical possibilities, on the one hand--and the interest of the copyright holders--that much of the material may not be getting the maximum use it ought to be--could conceivably come together through the creation of some kind of co-venture between the nation's archives and a consortium in the industry to create an archival channel devoted to historical television. It would respond in complementary ways to the interests of both.
I realize it is a daunting challenge to put something like that together, but I think it could be made to work.
MS. KANIN: May I just add--there was a suggestion to have a corollary to the AMC program for film, an AMC type program for television, or perhaps AMC itself.
As you all know, they ask for the public to send in money, and this year they raised $300,000 just from people sending in money. And I am just wondering, if you did that same thing for television, and you showed some of the great Jack Benny programs, some of the beloved programs of television in the past, on all levels, the news programs, and you did that in a television festival, as they do, I bet you would get a hell of a lot of people sending in money. There is a great love for the television they recognize or they honor. I think it would work extremely well.
DR. BILLINGTON: I want to ask Ms. Lan: What are the one or two most pressing problems in the field of media arts, and is that community sufficiently aware of the archival opportunities, needs and problems that branch of television faces?
MS. LAN: Slowly--there is a lot more awareness now, than just a couple of years ago. And I think a lot more awareness is going to be brought up at the symposium later this month.
DR. BILLINGTON: That community is helping with the sorting out of what needs to be archived or what criteria should be used? I mean, for instance, for the National Film Registry, I am enjoined, by the act of Congress, to judge it on the basis of historical, cultural and aesthetic significance.
Now, if we apply the same criteria to television, the question of aesthetic significance immediately comes up, and I wonder if your community has internally generated any definition that would be useful or any kind of ways of sorting out their own productivity in terms of what is essential to preserve.
MS. LAN: Well, we will take Video Databank, for instance. We helped them preserve about 50 1/2" open reel works of video art and also other programs of documentation. So, after this preservation work was done, they figured out a way to create a compilation, so the outcome was two volumes. Altogether, it is 17 hours. It is a collection filled with art, and what it is called is A Survey of the First Decade, and it is Video Art and Alternative Media in the U.S.
So, a lot of what--like Helene said earlier, it is what can be preserved. They went through a lot more than the 50 reels that were successful. I think it was a 50 percent chance for a lot of this material. And we are just working with whatever we can do to save whatever we can.
MR. HEIBER: If I could ask a question of all of you here. And first, you should all be congratulated for the great work that you do in the public sector.
But a recurring theme always is the access for funds, and I want to create a little distinction between just the archival or storage, being a repository for material, and then, of course, the cost of preserving or restoring or creating the new copy.
And actually, Bob, you mentioned this. Right here, you said "we have to share the commitment as a diverse group of institutions," and you talk always about a public/private sector. Well, what about a public/public partnership?
Is there some kind of objection or problem that could be surmounted so that there might be some kind of cooperative center among all the public institutions to gain a better economy of effort in the preservation and restoration areas? The thought is, if you have a restaurant and you have a kitchen, you might as well be open for breakfast.
Is there some kind of economy of scale here that could be gained? We have some very large institutions that are better funded and then some very small public groups. And there are hundreds of small public groups that need to have better access to resources. Could something be established?
MS. WHITSON: Are you thinking in terms of regional centers where people might store, instead of in their own institutions, for example?
MR. HEIBER: No. I think the collections should be held locally, but that there should be regional centers where they could be restored or gain better access to equipment and technicians, a central pool. In other words, if you were working on a 3/4" restoration one day and then it is 1/2" the next day-- but maybe there is one guy who takes care of the 3/4" restoration and another guy who takes care of the 1/2".
And maybe you are doing this all somewhat already. In fact, I have a sense that you are. But could it be better coordinated and gain an economy where you could actually get more done with less money?
MS. WHITSON: I think for those of us from little institutions, I very much would like to see that sort of regional effort made for preservation.
MR. TABB: Greg.
MR. LUKOW: If I may just come back in part to respond to your question but also to bridge back to Dr. Billington's last question.
One of the programs, as Ken mentioned in our remarks, that we have is the National Moving Image Database. And NAMID has worked extensively with the video art community, the media arts center community around the country, BAVAC, Video Databank, The Kitchen, in New York, Experimental Television Center, Electronic Arts Intermix, Long Beach Museum of Art. These media arts institutions which supported media arts production at regional levels had over the years developed really outstanding important collections, but they were, in many instances, in the first case, distribution shops, rather than archival shops.
What NAMID, in working with all of them--and we have a number of other projects in the works right now--has been able to help do, I think, along the model of what you are talking about, is provide the kind of support that would allow them to catalog these materials, automate them, make each other, this community, aware of what's out there for the first time. NAMID, in turn, acquires that data, makes it publicly available. BAVAC has been able to set up a preservation center for the first time, working in that region.
That's just one model of how through a kind of grassroots support, with national support through, in this case-- that I just happen to be mentioning--NAMID, you really do see that kind of development of a constituency. It is regionally based, but it becomes nationally based.
We are entering an era where at some level those distinctions are irrelevant as online access develops. All of this information is going to be out there, and sooner or later the collections themselves will be exchangeable through some kind of a virtual archive, not just the information about the holdings.
So, I have sort of gone beyond what you asked, but I hope I have addressed it a bit as well.
MR. ROSEN: Yes. I think it is a provocative question. I would differentiate, though, the financial issue that you pose from the other benefits to be gained from collaboration.
On the financial side, you take five underfunded entities and you combine them, you get one underfunded entity. If there was in fact a duplication of effort right now that was uneconomical, there would be an advantage. But there is little duplication of effort. The problem is really insufficient resources at every level.
On the other hand, I think the notion of thinking about ways in which we can work on a collaborative basis, from acquiring on a more systematic basis, to conceivably establishing certain kinds of specialized facilities that no one institution would do on its own, to providing access in a way that protects the materials at the same time.
I think that collaboration should be the key to our thinking. But I just wouldn't want us to delude ourselves by thinking that if we brought it together, the resources would simply be there. The resources would still be lacking.
MR. TABB: David, we have time for one last question.
MR. FRANCIS: Well, I would like to try and pursue this a bit further. I think--we discussed this before in the film study--the idea of some sort of centralized facility is a good one. How you can utilize a facility in a public organization beyond the use that it gets with the resources available in that institution.
So, let's say we have a laboratory, but we can only use it for so much of the time, basically, because we don't have resources to use it any longer. The interesting thing is to think if there is any way of working together to utilize the same basic investment in equipment. Obviously, I don't want to compete with the commercial laboratories, because they are also very, very important to us, but within particularly the specialized areas--it seems to lend itself perhaps more in the video area than elsewhere--if we could come up with some way whereby we could utilize existing investments of equipment in public institutions more efficiently.
And I really can't go beyond that because I am really asking for suggestions that might benefit us, that we might enable us to do more. I do agree with Bob that you can't cure the problem, but certainly, there is a lot of investment tied up in this equipment. If we could find a way of utilizing it for longer hours, then it seems to me that must have some benefit.
MR. TABB: Does anyone wish to comment on that?
MR. DAVIDSON: For the specialized, like 2" and so on, but the model for television news film collections has always been that basic setup of hand rewind, a splicer and so on.
And there has only been one funder on a national level, really, that has provided maybe eight to twelve grants, and that's the NHPRC, the National Historic Publications and Records Commission. And those grants, by and large, only--they are probably in the $50,000 to $60,000 range--but it only covers maybe a fraction of the size of our collections. That's always been the issue. Just the scale and the amount of news film materials--these are typically in the two and three million feet range. But when that funding runs out, there is really no other federal source to go to.
On the local level, interestingly enough, in Florida, we have been able to get money from the Florida Humanities Council and the State Division of Cultural Affairs, but those have been for public programming and access, not really for preservation, although some preservation work needs to be done to make the materials accessible. We have gotten funds, as I say, to do screenings and seminars, but really not directly for preservation.
MR. TABB: We now need to draw this panel to a close. Thank you very much for your specific suggestions.
We will take a 10-minute recess now and begin immediately at 3:30. Thank you.
(Whereupon, a brief recess was taken.)
MR. TABB: Why don't we go ahead and get started. If you will introduce yourselves. Whichever one of you wishes to go first is fine, and we will have others join us if they come in. Thank you. Statement by Roger Bell, Director of Library Services Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
MR. BELL: My name is Roger Bell. I am Director of Library Services for Twentieth Century Fox. Gary Ehrlich was supposed to be here today; unfortunately, he couldn't make it, and he has the statement. But I will be glad to answer any questions you have.
MR. AINSWORTH: I am Gray Ainsworth, Director of Technical Operations for Metro Goldwyn Mayer and United Artists.
MR. TABB: Would you like to make a statement?
MR. AINSWORTH: Yes.
MR. TABB: Thank you.
Presentation by Gray Ainsworth Director of Technical Operations Metro Goldwyn Mayer and United Artists
MR. AINSWORTH: Thank you. I feel that the previous panel of archivists did an admirable job in ferreting out a lot of the issues faced with archiving and preservation, so I think I am going to limit my comments to basically outlining a little bit about what we do to at Metro Goldwyn Mayer now, and then I think we will just go to the Q&A.
I was surfing through the channels of my television set the other evening, and I came across an older looking television show, which looked horrible. It was faded, scratched, generally very unappealing, and I must admit that my chest tightened up a bit, and I became quite anxious. And I thought to myself, "Oh, my God, is that one of ours?" Fortunately, though, it was not. But I do feel that that serves as a good reminder that film preservation does not stop with feature films. Television programming and videotape material must also be included.
MGM currently holds over 2600 hours of television programming, including such titles as The Outer Limits (both old and new), The Patty Duke Show, Seahunt, In the Heat of the Night, Fame, Thirty-Something, and The Pink Panther cartoons.
All the nitrate material has been transferred to safety film and then the safety film has been duplicated. Approximately 80 percent of this has been transferred to videotape, and of that amount, 30 percent is on digital videotape.
MGM currently is in the process of transferring all the remainder of this product to component digital videotape. We expect this to take another year-and-a-half.
It is MGM's policy to conform negative on all new TV product that is finished on videotape, both episodic and feature length. If titles and opticals were not created on film, we evaluate each product on a case-by-case basis to determine if we assemble negative without these for now and go ahead and create film negative digitally for cutting into the original negative, creating a complete film negative.
We have our eye on emerging technologies, as well, and changing broadcast standards. As an example, for this product, we output all materials squeezed on component digital videotape so it can be formatted to four by three, as well as sixteen by nine, if that should become an issue in the United States. It already is in Europe.
Also, we hold several shows from between five and ten years ago, where no negative was conformed. We have recently approved of a plan for conforming this negative for these episodes to be over the next two years. These will include digitally output negative for titles and opticals for integration into the original negative. These will be complete and ready for component digital transfer soon after.
For product that was shot on videotape, we create a component digital master for both NTSC and Powell, and make two digital protection clones for each format. These are then geographically separated. MGM, at this point in time, operates under the assumption that digital videotape stock holds up for approximately 10 years. We then revisit these tapes every seven years and evaluate for copying purposes.
Television is a different business than feature films. The methodology is different and the thinking is different. It is fast paced, hurried and even more deadline oriented than features. The conditioning and thinking is "hurry and get the tape to the network or the satellite up-link; then move on to the next episode."
Electronic editing, fibro-optic lines and other digital tools, allow for the TV producer to do more in a shorter amount of time. It seems to me that this is the issue that needs to be addressed. In this described environment, it is easy to not address the issue of preservation. It is up to the owner and the distributor to take this jumble of material and sort it out in a cohesive methodology that promotes preservation. This thinking needs to be built into the process. It must be thought of as naturally as mixing. It must be as comfortable as editing.
I sat at this table three years ago discussing film preservation, where I expressed our commitment and briefly outlined how we go about that today.
Today, MGM is a very different company. It is bigger, more diverse and vital. We now have four TV shows in production, with many, many more in development. In the last year, we have produced seven films made for television. Three years ago, we had one episodic show, period. Our commitment to television has grown with our company. So, too, has our commitment to the preservation of the moving image, be it feature or television. I am grateful for the occasion that these hearings bring to share information with one another and explore issues for preservation. It is very easy for us to get caught up in our own worlds of work and feel like we are making decision in isolation, when we really aren't.
This somehow brings us a bit closer together, and I thank you for that opportunity.
MR. TABB: Thank you. Mr. Murphy. Presentation by Philip Murphy, Vice President, Operations Television Group, Paramount Pictures
MR. MURPHY: Hello. Paramount Television is a Division of Paramount Pictures, a Division of Viacom, Incorporated. The Television Division currently produces over 40 hours a week of television product, including first run shows and product for network television delivery. Our asset protection for television programs began with Paramount product having life in syndication. When Viacom bought Paramount two years ago, we added product produced by, or owned outright by, Viacom to our list.
Today, we include over 8,000 television products in our asset protection program. The physical plant for protection of our television product is identical to our feature film asset protection program. We physically separate the original material and a copy of it in vaults, one in Los Angeles and one in Pennsylvania. We have a 40,000 square foot environmentally controlled archive building on the studio lot in Hollywood, opened in August of 1990, plus 15,000 square feet of environmentally controlled vaults in a converted limestone mine in Pennsylvania, which we opened in February of 1989. Other tenants of the mine include the Library of Congress, as well as many other government organizations and other studios.
The earliest series that we protect, from Paramount, is The Untouchables, which dates from 1959. Our protection program covers all series' that we own and do or will syndicate. As soon as a new show, such as Frazier, is aired on network, we create a protection and send it to the mine.
The form of protection varies. Many older series were post-produced on film. And you will notice some of the differences I go through here, of my approach versus what Gray Ainsworth from MGM spoke of as their conforming negative policy.
The cut negative is in our environmental vault on the East Coast, at 40 degrees, 25 percent relative humidity. The film copy is in our archive on the lot, in identical conditions. Magnetic audio is likewise in both places, in its original format, either analog or digital, plus a copy on multi-track 1/2" analog for the bulk of our products. This season, we are starting to create DA 88 tapes as protection.
For the past several years, foreign territories are sending us dialogue only, foreign language tracks, on DAT tapes, which we are storing in the archive. The film to tape transfer of these shows, network version, may be on a 1"C videotape in our on-lot archive, with a 1"C protection in the mine. Shows transferred in most recent years to D1 component videotape are protected with a D1 in the mine. Syndication versions of these shows, when edited on 1"C, are protected with a 1"C or, more recently, D2 in the mine.
Now, here come some of the differences. Shows that are shot on film and posted on tape have the edited master, in whatever format is used by the production company, kept in our on-lot archive. An electronic protection, usually on D2, is stored in the mine. In our case, the uncut negative is stored in the mine. Should we in the future need to reconstruct the show in an optical medium or retransfer into high definition, all of the film elements exist in our 40 degree, 25 percent RH environment.
Because so many shows today depend on electronic opticals created in the 525 or NTSC format, our feeling is that most product originally produced for television will be up- converted electronically into HDTV. The cost to recreate the entire post-production process in HDTV, including new opticals, would usually be prohibitive compared with the likely available additional revenue stream in HDTV for most of the library series product.
To up-convert opticals only and edit them into retransferred film segments would create a more noticeable change of texture to the viewer, similar to the look of a 35mm CRI optical cut into a camera negative.
We are covering our position by not discarding any of the original uncut negative, however, in case time proves we want to recreate these shows optically after all, and it covers my back.
Shows shot on videotape have the original edited master, in whatever format was used by the production company, stored environmentally in our on-lot archive, with either 1"C or a D2 protection in the mine.
Our videotape environment in the archive is 70 degrees, 50 percent relative humidity. The videotapes in the mine are at 50 degrees, 40 percent RH. The air is filtered and the vaults are protected with halon or FM200 fire suppression systems. All vaults are alarmed and the archive is also monitored with full- time surveillance cameras. Generators at both the archive and the mine provide emergency power for the HVAC systems.
We quality control each protection and fix dropouts or other problems before sending the tape to the mine. We are ensured that the image and sound on the protection is an exact replication of the source.
In anticipation of today's report to you, last month we specifically evaluated two of the earliest D1 tapes which were made and shipped to the mine. After the eight years that they have resided in that very stable environment, since 1988, they show no signs of deterioration. We have recalled from the mine hundreds of other format tapes, as well, in the course of doing business over these years. None of them have revealed any deterioration.
We do not have a separate schedule to inspect stored tapes, other than those that we are recalling for use. Since that level of activity includes several tapes each month and none have been problematic so far, our confidence remains that by continuing to conduct business, we will be monitoring our stored library effectively.
For long-term archival purposes, we never want to be so cutting-edge with technology that problems with new formats may not emerge before we have manufactured hundreds of protections. Digital Betacam appears to be the newest videotape production standard for Paramount. We, however, will continue to use D2 as the mine protection for these for probably another year, ensuring that any new format problems don't render our protections useless. We delayed starting to use digital audio as a protection medium until the stability and interchangeability of the format settled down.
We draw upon a portion of time from a dozen project managers within our organization to maintain our asset production program for television. They order protection material from our in-house videotape facility, quality control the dubs, resolve repair issues with outside vendors who created the original edited masters, and maintain computer inventory records.
We have a worldwide computer inventory system called "OPIS," which records descriptions and tracks the movements for close to 1.2 million film and tape items, each marked with a unique bar code. That number that I gave you, the 1.2 million, includes features and television materials, both elements and television distribution dubs. The system provides a firm handle on the quantity and status of all of Paramount's film and tape assets.
Legitimate persons, with valid reasons to seek information about our materials, will typically find us cooperative to share information about these resources. Usually, one of our project managers will be the conduit through which the information is disseminated. We have been cooperative, in addition, with the Museum of Radio and Television in New York, and about to open in Beverly Hills. Tapes of many episodes of requested series' have been provided to them for their in-house reference.
Regarding copyright issues for product produced for television, we have not encountered problems locating materials held by others for which we hold copyright. Unlike feature co- ventures, which can create myriad ownership paths, television product tends to be much more straightforward. However, Paramount would indeed welcome any extension of existing copyright laws. A longer future revenue stream would indeed encourage preservation of materials on everyone's behalf.
Paramount will continue to insure its future by properly maintaining its feature and television library. Hopefully, our procedures can be an inspiration for others, large and small, to attentively maintain their assets, as well, for the future well being of our heritage.
MR. TABB: All right. Thank you. Are we ready for questions?
MR. FIELDING: One of our speakers in the previous panel, Helene Whitson, in her written statement, addressed dramatically, even poignantly, the problem of archiving apparatus, as well as software, apparatus to play back--in her case, in which she was referring to--analog recordings. But presumably, the same problem is going to arise with DAT materials, that one will have to archive a steadily diminishing number of machines capable of playing these materials back.
From your point of view, in the commercial archiving business, do you feel that you are on top of this problem? What is your view about this problem? Do you feel you will be able to address that problem with the passing of time?
MR. MURPHY: Do you want to go first?
MR. AINSWORTH: Sure. I do feel that, because it is that kind of activity that I believe is at the core of our business, we have to be able to do that. We hold material--if I speak in television terms--back to the early '50's, in the United Artists' library, on various mediums. And even though we protect it and separate it geographically for protection, and so on and so forth, we do not like to get rid of the original material unless it is absolutely useless. And that means players still have to be around.
Now, MGM does not have archive buildings like Paramount does, so we rely on our facilities out there to also keep these things around.
But I feel that as long as large ownership holders like us, with large amounts of products, are there and hold material on this, the equipment will still be around.
MR. FIELDING: One of the points that Ms. Whitson raises is that--let us say, in the instance of the 2" machines, their numbers are decreasing around the world, and they will never be manufactured again. Do you still feel that you will be able to solve that problem? What if the machines disappear and you are holding 2" materials; what are you going to do?
MR. AINSWORTH: Well, I have no 2" material that is not protected on a modern medium.
MR. FIELDING: But in time, it will be 1" and it will be--
MR. AINSWORTH: That's right. And if that begins to happen, where 2" machines are beginning to leave, then I expect that I will have the material on a more modern medium at that time to compensate for that.
I mean, it is never worth it to us to get rid of the original material, even if there are no players around. I don't know why, but for some reason, it just bugs me. But I will always have material on a more modern medium in order to do that.
MR. BELL: We have--except 2", which we are converting now to DCT.
MR. TABB: We can't hear you. Could you speak into the microphone, please.
MR. BELL: Sorry. And we are converting to DCT, 2", right now.
MR. MURPHY: The point is well taken. In our case, so far, that's why I am trying to not have a potpourri of different protection formats in the mine. I figured that 1"--so far, 1" and D2 are the two that we focused on there. If 1" ever gets to the point that we are nervous about its equipment availability, I am hoping--and somehow an idea has come to me while sitting here, and that is, the price in the marketplace of the 1" machines may be low enough that I could actually buy one from a vendor going out of business and put it on an expense account, because nobody would ever let me capitalize something to put in the limestone mine in the way of a piece of gear.
But I think the point is very well taken, and as long as we don't have so many formats that we rely on for our protection material, something like that is entirely possible.
MR. FRANCIS: What I am hearing is very exciting. I think the way you are preserving this material makes me envious.
But one question I would like to ask. Is there any material now that you own, that you would consider not worth preserving, or have we reached a stage where you would want to preserve everything for which you own rights?
There is one other issue, obviously, that concerns an organization like the Library, and that is research access to this material. And I wondered how you would see one satisfying the need for research access. Obviously, you, yourselves, would not want to be involved in dealing with individual researchers. Is there a way in which you could see a public archive having copies purely for research purposes of the programs that you preserved?
MR. TABB: Let's take the first question first.
MR. MURPHY: No, we do not have anything in our collection that, in our case, we would say we don't want to preserve it.
Now we have to define what do you mean by preserve it, because we are maintaining in the environmental conditions all of this material. We may, on many products, not elect to make a copy of it and physically separate it, because we may feel that it has no value down the road in a commercial sense.
And I will use a very, very successful show such as Entertainment Tonight, where that is exactly the case. We have the 1" masters on all--I think they are up to over 5,000 episodes at this point in time. It is 15 years worth of heritage of the entertainment industry, condensed into a half hour or 22 minutes a day.
We also have 115,000 spot reels with all of the raw interview material that they keep going back on, so that you can see Cher before plastic surgery or something like that, if it fits in with what is going on in their recent story.
But all of this, the copyright issue--or, rather, the licensing issues, in terms of a business decision as to what future does it have, may swirl in doubt because it was all shot and licensed specifically for Entertainment Tonight's use. So, when the show goes off the air, what is going to happen to that material? Well, I can assure you that I certainly do not intend to have a big scrap tape stock sale, because we are all very aware that even though we may not today be able to use anything or do anything with it in a known business sense, I have--pardon the pun--dirt cheap storage in the mine. And I will simply move all of that material there and hang onto it, even if I don't have a resolution.
No, I do not have the funds to copy it or to convert it down to a smaller storage format. That's where the economics of the business come to play and say, "What's the breakeven point on my..." It is the same thing with my camera negatives that I don't cut and conform. We ran the numbers. To pay an editor to cut and conform negative today, versus put all of it uncut into the mine, is a 30 year breakeven point. I will run the risk and go 30 years, because I will be retired by the time that arrives.
The same thing with Entertainment Tonight or any program such as that. The cost to down-convert it to a smaller, more compact storage medium, instead of one-inch pizza boxes, which a lot of this is on right now, would be far more costly than the cost of just hanging onto it in an efficient storage facility.
And as I said in the prepared remarks, after eight years, we see absolutely no deterioration in the videotape that we have had in the very stable environment. And that's why we consider that the stability of the environment, both temperature and relative humidity, to be--no pun intended--paramount to the ability to maintain the longevity of this magnetic material. So, we will hang onto that.
Now, that's probably a much longer answer than you anticipated. And now I don't remember the second question.
MR. TABB: Well, let's call on now Mr. Ainsworth and Mr. Bell. If you want to respond to the first question.
MR. AINSWORTH: Yeah. We, too, at MGM and UA--all material that we own we deem as needing to be preserved and conserved. I mean, I can speak recently, in fact, that we have sold certain materials that have not been touched in years for foreign (ph.)--free television, in fact. And we are going back and doing some restoration on these films.
And I look in awe at the quality of these things and wonder why are we doing this, but it is very clear why. We sell them. And as long as we are selling them, we will preserve them. And that goes for every scrap in our library. It is all deemed preservable.
MR. TABB: Mr. Bell.
MR. BELL: It is our intention to preserve everything, as well, even to the point of trims and outs.
MR. TABB: David, do you want to restate your second question about research access?
MR. FRANCIS: The question was that in a public archive, like the Library of Congress, one of our most important concerns is to make material available for serious research. You would not want to deal--as I understand it--with the individual researcher. It is about finding a solution whereby copies of programs could be available within the public archives group for research. How would you feel about that? Would you be able to in any way contribute towards the cost of providing such copies?
MR. AINSWORTH: Well, we rely on groups like the Library of Congress, and UCLA, and the Academy, and other fine institutions like that, to act exactly as like what you are talking about. And if they come to us--like Mr. Murphy was saying--they find a kind ear. Our donations are active with all of these facilities, in the past and in the present.
We absolutely need to protect our rentals, as that's where our revenue comes from. But at the same time, we also see that it is important for serious study, and if nobody is able to see these things, their value is somehow diminished. So, we do see that that is important, also. And the way that we handle that is by making ourselves available to groups like that.
MR. BELL: No one has ever really approached us with that kind of a problem, but if they did, I am sure something would be worked out.
MR. MURPHY: We are aware that there are so many guild issues and sometimes contractual obligations, that for us to officially turn over a lot of material to other organizations can raise more legal--well, it will feed--pardon me, someone--but it will feed the lawyers much more than it will gain anything productive.
Sometimes I like to go off record and just point out that there is a record button on people's VCR's when this material is televised openly in the first place.
So, the research library ability to glean a copy, usually in a small format--so much of this is now in home video or will be in home video--is an issue that perhaps is a lot easier to deal with, compared to a request to get a 1" or a D2 or some format that the bell goes off to someone, saying, "Wait a minute. This is a source for distribution."
And where an organization such as ours is particularly concerned is looking at the extension of copyright, where you turn over material, be it feature or television, to any organization that will have the ability to maintain a copy of element nature, 1", D2, whatever, long enough for the copyright to expire. And all of a sudden we are seeing a lot of people that perhaps will say, "Wait, this is in the public domain, and here is a public institution holding that material." And it becomes a source for distribution, against us, as the original creator of it. So, yes, we are very leery to do something in a formal sense. That's why I go back to say that legitimate requests--because there are thousands of kids out there that are trying to do term papers, that would love to spend five hours on the phone asking all sorts of questions about Trekkies, and we are prone not to have the time or the inclination to want to answer all of that, from the studio's level.
But perhaps organizations, such as the Museum of Radio and Television, that have a database where the public can go in and put in key word searches and the like, and find actors or directors or scenes and the like in the product that they have in their vault, may be the route that something like that could work through.
Scripts--I am not sure in the future, in terms of putting word processing files worth of scripts in such a repository, that people could go in and access that type of material, because sometimes looking at the program itself I am not sure would provide as much researchability as being able to navigate through thousands and thousands of episodes for what someone may be looking for that is more text based than it is video based.
MR. TABB: Okay. Thank you. Bob.
MR. HEIBER: It seems that everything is very well in hand right now. And I am just curious. Is this really an easier problem, television preservation, for the studios because the preservation costs, the copying costs, are much less enormous than a full-on film protection cost for major feature films? Or does it come out of the same budgets and it gets the same kind of weighting when you make these decisions?
MR. BELL: Well, I think it is easier because it is newer, for one thing.
MR. AINSWORTH: I think if you are speaking about programs that were shot on film, it is pretty much the same. In fact, it could be more cumbersome because you are talking about multiple episodes.
If you are talking about video-based productions, something that was shot on video and kept on video all the way through, and that's really the only medium you are dealing with from a picture and sound point of view, yes, obviously it is less expensive to do work on that, unless you jump into the digital realm.
But whether it is treated any differently than the film stuff, for us I would say, no, it is not. It is all salable. It all needs attention.
MR. MURPHY: I haven't heard anybody say that they are making YCM's. Are you doing any YCM's on television products?
MR. AINSWORTH: No. I was afraid that would come up.
MR. MURPHY: There is one of the differences in terms of an optically based source, where to do YCM's on a feature is probably $25,000. You don't have that cost in television. I mean, we all have chosen not to go that route. Budgets are typically tight. Budgets are usually such that they don't include in the original production budget this sort of protection material. In our case, we are charging the protection material against future syndication revenues, because that is the market that is going to gain from it.
So, in the relative scope of the future syndication revenues, what we have to do to protect the material is not all that large of an amount of money.
DR. BILLINGTON: I am sort of curious why you would be concerned--I mean, I am sure as a checklist item, you have to be concerned and should be concerned. But as a practical matter, the Library of Congress, for instance--the Copyright Office is part of the Library of Congress. I have a statutory responsibility, and we have a very large staff that is devoted to pursuing all these people around, conducting institutes for other countries to instruct them about copyright. And in the wake of the--decisions, we are doing all this more aggressively.
Why would you be concerned that if you were to make a copy--I can understand it might be expensive, and there would be a straight economic argument, if there is a value not to answer just casual people who want to look at movies for a while or ask you a lot of questions about some television series. But for the serious scholar market that David was mentioning, why would you be concerned that a public institution like ours or like any of the others, that has very careful standards of protections--that your copyright rights wouldn't be enforced?
MR. MURPHY: After the copyright expires is what we are referring to. In other words, if in fact--of course, we haven't seen this with television yet. There is, to the best of my knowledge, no television programs that are 75 years old. But we have seen it in a couple of feature instances where, as soon as the feature elapses, either intentionally or through someone's oversight of failing to renew something that is already on the books available, the persons that are in business to distribute public domain material are, of course, very interested in being able to access the highest quality material that they can.
And it is a concern of Paramount, as a copyright holder today, that we may just be making it more difficult for ourselves down the road to position what we call an element style source material somewhere that someone else would have a very easy time of coming in and accessing it and saying, "We have rights now to be able to access this and make a copy and go out and sell it and exploit it in whatever markets we so desire."
DR. BILLINGTON: Is there some way you would want to deal with this problem, or do you just want to--do you feel that there are so many imponderables about it that you would rather just keep the things and not even consider this option of either copying or working out some other arrangement whereby scholars would have some kind of access, on at least a selective basis, to the material?
MR. MURPHY: I think the first thing, when you say the scholars, the scholars are not necessarily going to need to have the electronic clarity of a 1" or a D2, compared with a small format tape. So, we are much less concerned over providing a VHS, for example, of something. So that, the material may be there, but it is just not something that--I am not saying you can not copy a VHS, but in terms of somebody going out and trying to sell to Showtime or the like a feature film or a television series, because they happen to have a VHS in their possession, it is not as likely.
MR. TABB: I think our time is up for this panel. I'm sorry. We really do need to stop now. Thank you very much. And we will ask the next group to come forward now. (Pause.) All right. Let's go ahead and begin. We will go in the order that is listed in the program, starting with Sony, then Turner, Universal, and Walt Disney. Starting for Sony.
Presentation by William Humphrey Senior Vice President of Operations and Administration Sony Pictures Entertainment
MR. HUMPHREY: Good afternoon. My name is Bill Humphrey, and I am the Senior Vice President of Operations and Administration for Sony Pictures Entertainment. Sitting to my right is Grover Crisp, who heads up our archival and asset management areas.
Before I start, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Library of Congress, especially James Billington and David Francis, for continuing to take a leadership role in preservation, with the successful completion of the Film Preservation Study and by creating these hearings on television and video preservation.
Sony Pictures Entertainment, through our Columbia and TriStar Television Divisions, is one of the largest distributors and producers of television programming in the world.
In 1948, Columbia Pictures established Screen Gems, one of the first companies to produce and distribute commercials and programming specifically for television. Since entering into original production for network television in 1952, Sony Pictures' library has grown to more than 3,000 titles, comprised of almost 15,000 individual prime time television productions. These productions include one-half hour comedies, one hour dramas, mini-series', and movies of the week. We have also produced daytime dramas and game shows, numbering over 20,000 individual programs.
For the 1995-96 television season, we are producing over 1,400 individual programs for network and syndication.
The Sony Pictures division responsible for maintaining the primary film and tape assets for these programs is called "Worldwide Product Fulfillment." We store these assets in our main film and tape operations facility in New York, and for protection and security, we have separate elements and storage in locations in California, Kansas and Pennsylvania.
The maintenance and preservation of Sony Pictures television programming is of primary importance to the company. With the emergence of pay cable, home video and the demand for programming for international territories, including our new Sony Entertainment television networks in Latin America and India, the ability to service clients is dependent not only on the quality of the product but also on the care and handling of the assets used to create the product. Continued accessibility and exploitation of the SPE library helps us fuel our preservation efforts.
Preservation of television programming is determined to a large degree by the methods and materials used in production and the finished product itself. A digital videotape master is the final finished product for all current television programs, whether produced on film or videotape.
Production dictates our preservation policies in the following manner: Film edited products for movies of the week and mini-series' shot on film, we edit conform the original negative, produce a full corrected answer print, and manufacture interpositive film elements for protection and Tele-City (ph.) mastering. The original negative interpositives are stored in environmentally controlled and geographically separated vaults.
Film produced videotape products, all one hour and some one-half hour programs, are shot on film but edited on tape for reasons of cost control and post-production flexibility in delivering a final videotape master to the networks in a timely manner. For all of these programs produced and edited in this way, the original camera negative reels are permanently maintained and stored, along with the edit decision list, the videotape transfers and all pertinent production related data. This serves the dual purpose of protecting the asset, as well as providing the material necessary to possibly recreate the final product for future technological advances in broadcasting, such as high definition television.
Videotape produced and videotape edited products, which are mostly one-half hour programs, are shot and edited on videotape for the final videotape master. As with film programming, all production related materials are retained and stored separately from final production masters.
Clones, sub-masters and protection copies are all videotape masters, regardless of format origination, and are produced and stored again in geographically separate facilities.
In addition, we have developed a set of preservation priorities for our television product, including the handling of obsolete formats and maintenance of older library products. Since the late 1980's, Sony Pictures' policies toward older, obsolete formats, primarily 2" analog, has been to make new digital videotape masters, while maintaining the original master materials. Masters and copies, again, are stored in geographically separate, environmentally controlled facilities.
Filmed library titles. Sony Pictures has embarked on a program in the last year to manufacture new 35mm interpositives as protection for all Columbia Television titles that historically do not have adequate protection made at the time of production. This is a five-year program, with an estimated cost of $10 million.
Quality Control. Now that we have successfully completed our library conversion project to identify and bar code all of our elements, we are in the planning stages of a complete quality evaluation program scheduled to begin this year for all of our film and tape elements. This comprehensive plan is designed to identify the best existing materials for each title, eliminate unnecessary, inferior duplicate materials, and address any problematic areas for specific titles so that adequate protection measures can be taken. Thank you.
MR. TABB: Thank you. Roger.
Presentation by Roger Mayer President and Chief Operating Officer Turner Entertainment Co.
MR. MAYER: I am Roger Mayer, representing Turner Entertainment, the company of Turner Broadcasting that owns all the libraries of film.
We, however, also have taken on the responsibility for all the film libraries that have been bought by Turner subsequent to his acquisition of MGM, and we also work with Hanna-Barbera, which is a cartoon company that we own. We work with Castlerock. We work with New Line. And we work with Turner Original Productions, that makes documentaries in Atlanta and around the world. We do not handle the procedures of CNN, but those will be addressed for you, I think, at other sessions. Certainly, they would be more than happy to testify, if you would like to have them, and they certainly have enough news film.
But basically, today I will be here to answer questions of policy, to give you a feel for our attitudes, which you all know about from our film preservation, which is basically to preserve everything. Our policy in regard to television is exactly the same. Some of the problems are different. What you have heard here from Sony and from Viacom are the same policies that we have.
You will note that each of the companies is very strong in the areas of storage now and temperature control, and they have all kinds of quality standards now. It seems to me the answer to that is they got stung in film, and they are not going to let it happen to television. And I think that that is a very positive thing. I think your major problems are not going to be with the libraries of films owned by the major companies. The major companies either are smart enough or rich enough to know what to do with all of this now.
What we need to do is be part of a national program which will help the archives to cooperate with your needs, to cooperate with the needs of local television and national television, and to set up the databanks and make available the information and the technology that we have been able to come up with over the years.
To my right is--and this is an example of really what a company should do--we have a film expert and our tape expert to my right--and these companies now do realize that. They all have that sort of thing, and they are exchanging the kind of information you would want them to exchange. So, I think you are going to hear pretty much the same thing from each of them concerning storage, preservation, and the materials and how they handle them.
How has that happened? Because we have become smarter, and we also do cooperate with one another. Almost all of the people at this table regularly cooperate on a day-to-day basis.
With no further ado, and certainly looking forward to answering whatever questions you have on a policy point of view, I would like to introduce Peter Schade, who is our head of tape, who has a statement for you. Go ahead, Peter.
Presentation by Peter Schade, Director Video & Technical Services Turner Entertainment Co.
MR. SCHADE: As copyright holder of over 20,000 film and video productions made specifically for television, Turner Entertainment Co. is committed to preserving these assets for future generations.
Videotape is subject to damage and physical breakdown during long term storage. In order to maximize their shelf life, it is necessary to store videotape masters properly. Even if stored in optimum conditions, physical breakdown is inevitable, as is the rapid change and evolution of video formats. It is therefore advisable to periodically re-transfer film originated material and copy video originated material onto more modern tape formats.
Our policy for all film originated material is to re- transfer from film to video if the existing master is more than seven years old, if the existing master is on an analog format, such as 1" videotape, or if the existing master has severe video related problems, rendering it unacceptable for air or distribution.
Most material in our library that was transferred prior to 1988 is on analog 1" videotape. And that portion of the library is rapidly shrinking as we copy and re-transfer onto newer formats. For instance, between 1988 and 1994, all new transfers, including features, made for TV movies, television series', animated series' and shorts, were transferred and protected on D2 composite digital videotape. Since 1994, all new transfers for long form material, including features and made for television movies, have been transferred to D1 component digital videotape. All new transfers for short form material, including live action television series', cartoon series' and other short form material, has been transferred to Digital Betacam component digital videotape.
For the material that our division does not transfer from film to videotape, which include acquired and delivered masters, such as masters that we use for servicing from New Line, TNT originals, Turner Original Productions and others, we have specific delivery specifications that have followed the same evolution. In other words, the specs that we ask for material to be delivered on have been modified as time goes on, and now we request that everything is delivered on Digital Betacam.
Shows that originate or are post-produced on videotape are in many ways more difficult to preserve. There is no film to fall back on if the videotape is lost or damaged. Videotape is more fragile and susceptible to more problems than film. And when dealing with "video only" shows, we make efforts to improve the videotape format whenever possible.
Shows that originated on analog format, such as 1" or even 2" quad videotape, are bumped up to more modern digital formats, such as D2 and Digital Betacam. However, we do keep the original masters for generational purposes.
Video standards conversions, which are necessary for "video only" material--for instance, from NTSC to PAL for distribution in Europe and Asia--are now done with more advanced equipment and conversion processes, resulting in material which is more readily acceptable for broadcasting distribution in international territories with ever higher quality standards.
Obsolete videotape formats must also be addressed. While film has remained virtually unchanged in the more than 100 years of its existence, videotape changes and evolves constantly. Not only do videotape formats change, but the way that video and audio information is recorded onto the tape changes as well. There are videotape formats that have become obsolete. With a library as large as Turner's, there do exist programs that were originally recorded onto such obsolete formats. These programs have been recorded onto more modern videotape formats, as previously described.
The intent is to continually transfer the signal to better and better formats. Before the advent of digital formats, the program being preserved could be degraded by the very act of copying it due to generational loss during duplication. Component digital formats such as we are using today are not as affected by multi-generational copying.
Videotape master formats are not the only issue when it comes to preserving television programs. Storage of those masters and the film elements that make them is also important. Film elements, if stored improperly, are subject to fading, warping, physical breakdown and decomposition of the film itself, known as "vinegar syndrome."
Videotape masters and protection masters are subject to changes in friction properties, abrasivity and binder-base adhesion, caused by extreme shifts in temperature and humidity, airborne pollutants and ultraviolet radiation. The signal recorded on videotape is also in danger of being damaged or lost if exposed to electro-magnetic fields, which can be caused by electric motors or transformers. Due to these potential problems, storage conditions are of great importance.
Original negatives, color and black & white protection elements, and duplicate negatives are all stored at separate facilities with controlled temperature, humidity and environmental control. Videotape transfer masters and acquired masters are also separated from protection masters and stored under controlled conditions.
Preservation of programs also include safeguarding against the loss of elements. The physical separation of elements described prevents loss due to catastrophic events such as fires and earthquakes. Location and shipment of all film and tape elements is controlled via a computerized inventory that tracks all original and protection elements worldwide. In 1995, we designed and incorporated a state of the art warehouse management system that tracks elements located at, and shipped to and from, our Los Angeles distribution services facility using bar codes.
We feel that our efforts to keep up with current videotape technology, both when mastering from film to tape and when dealing with "tape only" programs, as well as proper storage conditions of all our elements, is vital for proper preservation of television product. Not only are these programs valuable corporate assets and a source of entertainment for millions of viewers, they are historical records and offer irreplaceable insight to our culture and society.
The fact that this product continues to find new life on an ever expanding array of outlets, including new networks, direct broadcast satellite systems and home video re-issues, among others, underscores the need for a conscious effort to preserve film and videotape. Thank you.
MR. TABB: Thank you. I think Ms. McLane had one clarification question she wanted to ask.
MS. McLANE: Yes. I have a question. And I hope you all will forgive my ignorance. Maybe you or someone else can answer this.
When you talk about digital remastering and digital transfer, you said that the loss of quality is much less than in previous formats, but you are still losing quality. How would you compare those two losses in percentages?
MR. SCHADE: Well, if you make a copy from a component digital videotape, the generational loss is almost non-existent. I mean, it is very, very good. There are always things that can happen when you copy from machine to machine, interchange problems, something could go wrong with the tape head--the actual tape interchange, taking the signal from the videotape head to the videotape medium itself. So, there are always problems that can occur when you are copying. However, component digital right now is the best way and the almost lossless way to copy from one format to another.
MS. McLANE: So you would say that the percentage of loss is nil, is that correct?
MR. SCHADE: I never want to say "nil" to anything, but it is almost that way, yes.
MS. McLANE: Okay. Thank you.
MR. MAYER: I would like to make a point just to finish up our presentation. And that is, we would suggest that all the various things that we have said from a technological point of view, and that everyone has said, be compiled as part of a suggestion for a national program, as to what should be done on a step-by-step basis with videotape.
We also offer our databank, and I think everybody else's databank, to be combined together so that at some point the systems can be used together as some sort of a national databank. So, those things are available from us.
Finally, we would like to comment that in regard to making copies available for educational purposes, we are willing to do that. We are doing it with the archives that ask us to do it. And we are more comfortable with that now than ever before-- because with a proper legal agreement, which protects us, as well as the archive, which limits its use for educational and research purposes, I think that probably most of the companies are fairly comfortable with cooperating in that manner with whomever asks for it. Thank you.
MR. TABB: Thank you. Universal. Presentation by Edward Zeier, Vice President Post Production Universal City Studios, Inc.
MR. ZEIER: Mr. Moderator, distinguished Panel, thank you for the opportunity and the honor to speak before you today. My name is Ed Zeier, and I represent Universal City Studios.
Universal's library consists of some 18,000 television titles for which we have current rights. It is primarily comprised of episodic series', both dramatic and comedic, made for television movies, mini-series', cartoons, syndicated strips and various teleplays, all falling into the entertainment category.
Universal's history in the production of television began in 1950 with the development of our first series by the MCA owned Revue Productions. Television titles were created and produced under this banner until 1959, when MCA purchased Universal Studios and Revue Productions became Universal Television. Since that time, television programming has been produced under various MCA banners.
Currently, we physically hold over 61,400 reels of original color or black & white negatives. And that is supported by over 154,800 reels of picture and sound preprint elements, which include over 27.3 million feet of color interpositives or finegrains for those television productions. The exception to this is a 13-year period before the advent of videocassette and laserdiscs, when other small gauge film formats or intermediates were considered sensible protection. However, we are currently in the process of manufacturing interpositives on these titles. Of the totals specified above, approximately 29 percent of the elements are in black & white and 71 percent are in color.
The predominant majority of our product has been produced on 35mm film, after which the negative was conformed, interpositives or finegrains were created, and then the elements were geographically separated. However, with the advent of multi-camera shows and electronic editing, we often edit and assemble some of our shows electronically, creating a videotape master. The original negative is then archived, along with the edit decision list and original production paperwork, for future use. The videotape masters are duplicated and geographically separated.
With these items still available, we will be able to address any new medium or technology that presents itself for future ancillary markets. The predominant video formats used by Universal are 1"C, D1, D2, D3, DCT and, to a lesser extent, D5.
Since 1976, Universal has spent approximately $30 million building and maintaining vaults, creating a computer database, relocating material to provide for geographical separation, and maintaining knowledgeable staff personnel. In 1995 alone, we spent over $4,450,000 on television preservation, copying and archiving.
Our main archive facility is located in Universal City. There are five buildings, totaling 49,000 square feet, with a capacity of 1.7 million containers. In 1976, Universal built its first modern vault building. This structure is a state-of-the- art facility in which we are able to meet the vendor-recommended storage conditions of 50 degrees Fahrenheit and 50 percent relative humidity. In addition, mobile storage racks were installed, providing for maximum utilization of space.
In 1987, Universal converted one of its older vaults to an environment of 46 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of 35 percent. We realized at that time the correlation between humidity and the deterioration of color negative and chose to improve the storage conditions beyond Eastman Kodak's recommended standard of 50 degrees Fahrenheit and 50 percent relative humidity.
In making this change, we extended the life of our color elements before they succumbed to color fading. In both instances, Universal was well ahead of the industry in the area of archival film storage. In 1986, Universal established an additional storage location in Boyers, Pennsylvania, owned by National Underground Storage.
These vaults are situated in underground limestone mines and are guarded by 24-hour security. Currently, our storage environment at NUS is 50 degrees Fahrenheit and 25 percent relative humidity. Universal was the first major studio to enter into an agreement with this facility. It was then later followed by Paramount, Columbia and Disney, in 1992 and 1993.
This operation is the cornerstone of our geographical separation philosophy, wherein we are able to store separate preprint, picture and sound elements 3,000 miles apart. Los Angeles being what it is, it is subject to natural disaster. Consequently, we feel our assets are better protected being geographically separated.
In 1988, Universal expanded its total storage area by adding a state-of-the-art videotape, audio tape and viewing print vault. This area comprises a total of 7,000 square feet, with a capacity of 510,000 containers. Incorporated into this vault is a high-tech mobile shelving system that allows 60 percent more usable space than that of conventional stationary storage systems. This facility operates in an environment of 65 degrees Fahrenheit and 50 percent relative humidity.
Universal is also currently reviewing the new ANSI standards and SMPTE recommendations for the storage of motion picture film and videotape and will be addressing them in the near future.
In 1986, Universal undertook the arduous task of creating a computerized tracking system for picture, sound and videotape elements. The task of implementing this system included the creation of a vault inventory software program, the establishment of a standardized nomenclature, the inventorying, cataloging and bar coding of over a million elements. This provided an interface throughout the studio post production departments, our home video and MCA TV syndication areas.
This system allows us to track elements in our vaults in New Jersey, in Pennsylvania, and also in our location at Universal City.
In the mid-1970's, Universal's Sound Department began protecting soundtrack masters. The program was then called "STUMPF copying." This process involves the copying of track masters to 1/2" non-sprocketed tape with sync pulse. The phrase "STUMPF" was also defined as "Studio Track Universal Multi- Channel Print Facility" and, coincidentally, was also the name of the director of sound for Universal at that time.
The STUMPF copy process of protecting our feature and TV sound masters continued into the 1980's. We concluded that as stereo tracks became more complex, the three tracks available on the 1/2" tape were not sufficient for our needs.
Under the guidance of Bill Varney, our Vice President of Sound Services, Universal instituted the following procedures for preservation of sound elements: Physical cleaning and/or repairing of original master elements, whether magnetic or optical, relabeling and bar coding of those masters, simultaneous transferring of these tracks to both 32-track digital and analog 24-track protection masters, and the shipping and protection of masters off the lot to storage facilities.
We are also actively inspecting our magnetic sound elements for "vinegar syndrome." As material showing evidence of this problem is identified, it is cleaned, recanned and duplicated on two separate 2" 24-track audio tapes and stored in geographically separated locations.
Older sound masters with unique inconsistencies are processed through the Sonic Solution system, which is a digital noise removal system. Sonic Solution equipment removes distracting noise from the valuable titles without damaging the integrity of the original mix of track. This affords the preservationist the ability to choose many different degrees of noise reduction, with minimal adverse effect upon the original soundtrack.
Most importantly, this process allows all this flexibility and improved quality through the digital medium, eliminating any additional analog generational loss.
Universal continues to evaluate emerging technology which could assist our sound preservation goals.
A limited number of titles are also stored at various archives. Under our existing agreement, scholars may access titles for research free of charge in a library or classroom environment. With prior authorization and under certain circumstances, screenings or cassette loans are permitted, providing no fee is charged for admission.
Universal actively works with institutions such as the UCLA Film Archives in the restoration of some of our classic television titles. This concludes our statement. Thank you.
MR. TABB: Thank you. Mr. Ellenshaw. Presentation by Harrison Ellenshaw, Vice President Buena Vista Visual Effects Walt Disney Company MR. ELLENSHAW: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Harrison Ellenshaw. I am Vice President of Visual Effects for Walt Disney Pictures and Buena Vista Visual Effects. I am also in charge of the library restoration program for the Walt Disney Company.
I think you will find that the Walt Disney Company has the belief that, although it has one of the smaller libraries in the industry, it has perhaps one of the most valuable libraries and has been very aggressive in preserving and restoring its library titles, especially since 1989, when a program was instituted to aggressively try to upgrade any restoration efforts that might be needed to take place for some of the titles.
Archiving, restoration and preservation goes back as far as 1955 with the Walt Disney Company, when they began to make copies of optical soundtracks onto magnetic transfers. In 1961, nitrate was also addressed, as it became evident that this was something that needed to be copied and taken care of in a very timely manner. And at this time, all our nitrate conversion has taken place.
So, we have been very aggressive and very much concerned with certainly our film aspects of our library, as we are also with television. And with the collective wisdom of those people on the panel and the panel previous to us, we also engaged in the same type of activities; that is, geographic location separation of elements, storage conditions that are very well maintained and also a continuing monitoring of quality control, of what we have and what we are copying.
The ability to clone D2, for example, is very, very beneficial in this day and age, and has allowed us to certainly reduce to some degree the anxiety level with which one views the fact that--let's face it, when you are talking about television on videotape, there is not as much--how shall I put it-- confidence that you always have the material there, because you have got a brown thing on a piece of tape.
Whereas, when you have film, you always have that image, and you can see what that image is like without a projector. You just take it out, roll it down and you look at it. And there is a tremendous advantage to that.
That's one of the reasons, by the way, that we feel so strongly that film is such a great storage medium and will remain an archiving medium for many years to come. Although we are very much open to the idea of digital storage and digital archiving, it will--at least probably in our lifetime--never take the place of film archiving. And that's something that we want to make sure that everybody understands because there sometimes seems to be a rush towards the latest technology, and one must take care, when it comes to preservation, that it is done in a timely and appropriate manner.
We have approximately 6500 titles that are in our library, all of which--every single one of which--has been addressed and has either been restored or preserved and is maintained.
The rest of our efforts in this area pretty well mimic what you have heard on this panel, and I won't go over that in detail because basically I will be repeating what most of these people have said. Thank you very much.
MR. TABB: Thank you. Anything?
MR. RICHMOND: Just a comment on the two panels, the previous one and this one.
I think it is encouraging that the institutions represented on those two panels, as well as the public archives that have been presented on panels here--I mean, it is kind of like "old home" week, because it is this group that got together to create the National Film Preservation Plan that I think was a big step forward in that area. So, the fact that we did that leads me to believe we can do it in television. And I think it should be acknowledged how much all of the companies represented on the past two panels have been active in those areas and in working to support the public archive community as well.
I guess my question kind of goes back to the earlier panel. I just want to follow up. Being from an educational institution, one of the big needs--we are going to hear this, I am sure, on the last panel of the day, when we deal specifically with education and research access to television--one of the big concerns among educational institutions is access to television. It is so vitally important to understanding so much about American culture, American politics, everything.
What I am hearing is--I think it was sort of addressed by Roger Mayer--if a way could be found to alleviate any copyright concerns, and it was economical, we could find a way to do it economically, would there be any problems that you can foresee in working to help establish regional centers or some-- let's not even talk that specific--some way in which more of the television holdings that you have could be made available on a convenient format for purely research and educational use? Because that is a big need within educational communities. And I know a lot is out there in the marketplace; a lot shows up on TV through cable. But there are vast resources that are real important to scholarship that are hard to tap for most scholars and most students.
Maybe I am not being clear enough. And I am addressing this to all of you on the panel, because you all have material that is vital to the study of American culture, communications, political science, anything you could think of.
MR. TABB: Go ahead, Roger.
MR. MAYER: Well, you got it right. And that is that there are legal documents that I think would be satisfactory to both sides, that would protect our interests, as well as the interests of the archives.
I think the key to the problem is how many and how many places. And I think, as an example, all of us are regularly supplying--I think it is called--the Museum of Television and Radio, in New York, with anything they ask for. Well, there is going to be a branch of it out here. Well, why shouldn't UCLA and all the other archives and educational institutions get together and make a deal with the Museum of Television and Radio, or vice versa, so there would be one source where you could have a lending library for all of these things? And all of us could supply what is needed, as long as we are guaranteed the legal protection we are asking for. And I don't think anyone has a problem with that.
MR. HUMPHREY: I agree with Roger that if there was a way to get access, to make a set of copies, that it would be just duplication, which is not as expensive as dealing with film elements. I don't see it to be that big of a problem.
MR. MAYER: And by the way, the point that Phil Murphy brought up earlier--and that is, once something goes into the public domain you are not controlling the elements and so forth-- that can be part of the contract we are talking about.
In other words, that at such time as something flows into the public domain, the archive still has either agreed to properly guard it or will return it. And I think perhaps that would make people feel better about it.
MR. TABB: Would anyone else like to respond to this question before we go to the next one?
MR. ZEIER: Yes. There has also been a vision of the future, if you will, with video or near video on demand. And with digitization and compression techniques on the horizon, the access to a lot of this entertainment product, at least, might become more readily available, if in fact we find an economic base by which to supply this product. And people can access it from their homes, from their research institutions, at a very nominal cost, hopefully, with a set top box.
That's the vision of the future that we have seen and talked about. Whether it will become a realization is another thing. We would like to see it and repurpose (ph.) our libraries again, of course. But that's another option.
MR. ELLENSHAW: There is a pragmatic concern, and that is that with such a broad amount of material, when people come and ask for something, they obviously can be serviced quite easily if they are very specific. But oftentimes, the request is very broad, and that takes somebody's time and effort, and basically, you become a search unit to go out and find what they are looking for. And obviously, that is an economic concern.
I think what Roger Mayer said about sharing of databases is very applicable, and it should become more like a library, if you will, where you can go and you can find the list of what's available. And hopefully, there are some specifics to it so that you can access it far more easily and quickly and efficiently. That's what is holding it up right now.
We are more than happy to help out educational institutions, archives, the scholarly people who want to come and take a look at anything in the library, on a case-by-case basis. We don't get as much of it. Quite frankly, I think you would be surprised how few requests we get. But occasionally, we do get a very broad-based request, and that just simply, quite frankly, can't be fulfilled. There are not enough hours.
MR. TABB: David.
MR. FRANCIS: I hope you will excuse me if I push Eddie's point a little further.
One possibility for dealing with the future would be for a public institutions to record off air with time code in vision--the time code would be an identifier and would also prevent misuse. This would alleviate the problem of actually having to supply material. This right is not granted in the existing copyright legislation, except for news.
I would like to ask how the members of the panel here would feel about something like that. The added advantage--if it could cover not only television but also film materials on television--is that one could record everything, including the links and the introductions. I know scholars today are very interested in not only the programs themselves but also seeing the way in which programs are related to one another and the way in which they are juxtaposed on different networks.
Is this beyond the realms of possibility? Do you think the idea of actually modifying the Copyright Act to allow at least one institution or one group of institutions to copy off air on a VHS format, so programs could be available for scholars, is feasible?
MR. MAYER: Well, if you would like me to address that- -for me to answer that directly I will get killed by all my lawyers, so I really don't want to negotiate the Copyright Act today, David.
MR. FRANCIS: No.
MR. MAYER: As a concept, it sounds okay to me, but I don't think what you are describing is necessary. I think that accessibility of this material is extremely feasible, and I don't think you have to go to that extent. I think there will be ways to handle it, and I think one of the keys is for the academic and educational community--if I am describing it correctly--to tell us what they need and what they want, and get together and come up with some feasible plan as to what their requirements are.
I get the feeling that if that is reasonable, with reasonable protection, that we can meet it.
MR. HUMPHREY: We agree. I think it is more of a--the first hurdle is really the concept and the plan, more than it is the methodology. I think that by the time the plan is put together, there will be several methodologies of delivery. So, I would focus more on the plan first, also.
MR. TABB: Any other comments?
MR. HEIBER: I have a question for Bill and Grover.
Everyone admits it is a mountain--an ocean of material in the television arena. Sony has developed a very nice kind of film preservation committee that meets. And I am just curious if maybe you could explain a little bit of what the philosophy of the film/tape preservation committee is and if there may be some guidelines that could be used--in what you have created to determine what is important--that could be shared among the other institutions.
MR. CRISP: Well, it is very much a public/ private partnership that we have developed with the major archives in North America, and some smaller archives as well, to support film preservation, feature film preservation. We also work with some archives on television programs. I know this last two years with Wisconsin we have been working with them on the David Suskind collection. It is primarily 2" videotape.
But it could be used as a model in terms of generating public support, I think, for preservation of video materials, and could be used also as a model for the foundation, which I think is somewhat the model that David is working on for the film side. Basically, that's how it works.
MR. HEIBER: Well, did you create any kind of like paper or guidelines on what material you would consider or who could approach you?
MR. CRISP: Well, a lot of the work, of course, is based to a large degree on the need and the degree of problems we may have with the materials. I would assume that it would work the same way with video materials.
MR. TABB: Are there other questions? (No response.) If not, I will thank this panel very much, and we will adjourn again for another short break of about 10 minutes and resume with the people addressing video technology at 5:00. Thank you.
(Whereupon, a short recess was taken.)
MR. TABB: We need to resume, please. If the next panel would proceed to the table, I would appreciate it. (Pause.)
All right. Let us begin now with the panel of video technologists, starting with Mr. Wheeler, President of the Tape Archival and Restoration Services.
Presentation by James Wheeler, President Tape Archival and Restoration Services
MR. WHEELER: Dr. Billington, Members of the Panel, I have two recommendations to help preserve America's television and video heritage. One of them is intended to mitigate the effect of rapidly changing equipment technology, which we have been talking about, and the other is intended to help archivists select tape with long life expectancy.
But first, I will give you a very brief history of videotape recording to illustrate how fast this technology has changed in just 40 years. I have firsthand experience with the development of videotape recorders because I joined Ampex just five years after the first Ampex videotape recorder was introduced. For 32 years, I specialized in two fields: I was both a tape recorder design engineer and a tape engineer. Very unusual. I was the only one at Ampex that ever did both of those areas.
Also, I was an engineer on the teams responsible for three of the videotape formats. So, I know the problem of formats, and I know why there is a problem with formats.
On the history of videotape recording--as I say, I will just do a brief one here-- several companies tried to develop a videotape recorder in the early 1950's, but Ampex was the first one to really succeed and make a successful one. The Ampex VR- 1000 was introduced in Chicago at the National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters Conference on April 14, 1956. It was just 40 years ago next month.
If fact, we are celebrating that at the NAB show in Las Vegas next month; what we call Ampex University. A group of us, about 300 people, I think are going to be there.
At the NAB Conference, Ampex sold 90 machines at a cost of $50,000 each, for a total of $4.5 million, which wasn't bad for a small company in those days. But Ampex marketing had only forecast 30 machines over a four-year period. They didn't have much foresight.
The first on-air broadcast of videotaped material occurred on November 30, 1956, with the CBS Douglas Edwards evening news broadcast. The show was time-delayed by using videotape recorders in each time zone. And that's why the Ampex marketing people had a limited vision of how many tape recorders would be sold. They thought it would only be used for time delay, not for anything else.
The large reels of 2" tape were very expensive in those days, so each--and still are expensive, I should say--so each tape was rerecorded over and over again, so you don't have the originals anymore. Another problem with the early videotape recorders is that a tape could be played only on the machine that it was recorded on. You could not interchange tape between two different tape recorders. That didn't occur until into the 1960's.
Until 1964, the use of videotape was limited because editing of videotape was done by the extremely labor-intensive process of physically cutting and splicing. In 1964, Ampex introduced an electronic editor and also introduced color videotape recording in the same year. These innovations expanded the use of the videotape recorder to new areas, such as TV commercials. So, TV commercials before 1964 were shot solely on film. From 1964, since then, they have been film and videotape.
Also in 1964, Ampex introduced a portable videotape recorder which had a slow motion/stop action feature, later referred to as "Instant Replay." ABC bought six of these units and Wide World of Sports then became a big success.
In 1968, Sony introduced the first videotape recorder that was small enough and cheap enough for use in the field of education. This was a 1/2" reel-to-reel machine. It was replaced by the Sony U-Matic cassette recorder in 1971. This 3/4" U-Matic became very popular for use in education and also for industrial applications. It is still used 25 years later. One of these days it is going to die out, I'm sure, but it is still there.
The videotape recorder was not cheap enough for the consumer until Sony introduced the BetaMax in 1975. The following year, JVC introduced the VHS VCR, and the battle of the formats began. By 1985, Japan was producing over a million VCR's each month.
In 1989, Sony introduced the Hi8 camcorder. This recorder, with its 450 line resolution, was cheap enough for consumers, yet the high quality made it usable as a field camcorder for news gathering.
Digital videotape recording was born when SMPTE established the D1 standard in 1987. Digital has a major advantage over the previous analog based recorders because there is no degradation when tapes are copied. It is difficult to differentiate a camera original from a multi-generation digital copy. I have done 40 generations, and I couldn't really tell the difference between the original and the 40th.
Now, to discuss the problem of equipment obsolescence. All in all, there have probably been about a hundred videotape formats introduced over the 40-year history of the videotape recorder.
The main problem with using rapidly developing technology, like videotape recording, is that new developments quickly make equipment obsolete. Eventually, your favorite tape recorder will no longer be produced, and in a few years, it will be difficult to find someone who can maintain it.
For this reason, I am recommending the creation of a repository for old videotape recorders, like a retirement home. Such a national video center could also be a repository for literature and technical manuals for the equipment, which is also very necessary. This center could maintain a database of the location of other equipment around the world and also have a list of the technicians who know how to repair the equipment. So, it is not just the equipment; it is the parts and the people to repair them. In the videotape recorder, the most difficult part to make was the video head itself, the rotary head mechanism. That is, without a doubt--that's one of my specialties at Ampex, or was, was in that head/tape interface area. It is extremely difficult to produce that without--I don't think you can without the original drawings.
The second problem we have with videotape is the problem of degradation of the binder. This problem makes it necessary to store tape in a cool and dry environment to maximize its longevity. In a high humidity and/or high temperature environment, the tape binder hydrolyzes and breaks down.
In recent years, most tape manufacturers have changed to a much more stable binder, but who knows which of the many tapes have the stable binders? Tape manufacturers will not publicize what type of binder is used in each product or how stable the binder is.
So, what I suggest here is that we have a national test laboratory that will publish test results annually, sort of like a Consumer Reports' Annual Auto Guide. This lab would develop tests that are indicators of the durability and longevity of each type of tape on the market. With this information, archivists would know which tapes to purchase and which recordings in their collection need to be copied to tape with a more stable binder. This test lab could be the National Media Lab, the NML, in St. Paul, or the NIST, in Washington, D.C. I think either one of those labs would be ideal for this.
In my opinion, we need both a videotape recorder repository and a videotape test laboratory to insure the longevity of our television and video heritage. As far as a repository, there was a Museum of Magnetic Recording, in Redwood City, that is owned by Ampex, and it was closed down three years ago, but the equipment is still there. So, we do have sort of a start of equipment, and it is just a matter of getting the owner of Ampex to agree to part with it. I have talked with Ray Dolby, of Dolby--you are quite familiar with Mr. Dolby--and he is very interested in getting involved in that.
MR. TABB: Thank you. Mr. Layn.
Presentation by Fred Layn Director of Audio Marketing for Quantegy
MR. LAYN: Hello. My name is Fred Layn. I am Director of Audio Marketing for Quantegy, a company I am sure that no one here has heard of. We are actually the manufacturer of Ampex recording tapes. We used to be known as "Ampex Recording Media," but we were spun off from Ampex three months ago and now have our own name, called "Quantegy." Sorry that I am a director of audio and not a director of video. Our video person is in Europe right now, but as an equipment manufacturing friend of mine once said, "Videotape without video is radio; videotape without audio is security." So, we think that audio plays a significant part in this game, too.
Anyway, I would like to give you a little view of what manufacturers think about preservation.
Magnetic tape is a complex series of compromises, not all of which impact the media's archivability favorably. Economic, scientific and process considerations give all manufacturers a matrix of decision points that must be considered before bringing a product to the marketplace.
Of course, the majority of the technical design characteristics a manufacturer must consider are determined by the format for which the tape is specified. Thus, many of the factors that will determine the life of the information recorded on a particular format are dictated by the standards that comprise that format.
Key components for determining the long-term robustness of a format, such as the physical dimensions of the tape and the design and function of the cassette, are all pre-determined by format standards. The magnetic media manufacturer can have an impact on the suitability of the media for archiving only within the constraints of the format. This caveat means, "Choose your format carefully if you intend to archive to it." We are not here to support all formats equally. We can not speak too publicly about which are better or worse, but it does need to be addressed by the people who are in the archive community that there are certainly some formats that are not appropriate for archiving.
Let me give you a brief description of the components of magnetic tape. This will either bore you to death, because it is so obvious, or it will be so hard that it is not interesting, so take your pick on this one.
Magnetic tape can be considered to be comprised of five major components: basefilm, backcoat, binders, lubricants and magnetic material. All of these components have been dramatically improved upon since the first introduction of paper tape coated with iron oxide.
Basefilm has evolved from paper to acetate to PET and further. PET is polyester film or Mylar is a tradename for it. The change from acetate to PET has been one of the most important from an archival point of view. With the introduction of PET, basefilm became the least significant concern in the archival chain. While some of the newer basefilm materials offer even greater strength and dimensional stability than PET, their archival improvements pale when compared to that of PET over acetate.
The dimensional constraints of some of the newer formats, and some extended length versions of more established formats, require the strengths of these more advanced basefilms in order to function properly. The improvements gained by the utilization of newer generation, ruggedized basefilms allow more densely packed media and have not usually been devoted to making a more archivably stable magnetic tape.
These improvements can also be incorporated into making existing products archivably superior, but they will add significant cost for the end user.
Backcoats continue to be improved in order to ensure optimal runnability of the tape in any particular format. Magnetic tapes have not always incorporated backcoats, and some less expensive tapes still do not.
Providentially for the archive community, the benefit of improved wind characteristics in professional applications have caused manufacturers to utilize backcoating in almost all professional magnetic tape products.
Further changes in backcoat design will continue to facilitate improvements in the quality of the tape pack. The tape pack is a simple, but extremely critical, component in determining the quality of signal reproduction possible after long term storage of media. As we will hear from Jim's partner in New York later on, the most damage that they have seen has been caused by edge damage when tapes were stored with a poor tape pack.
Lubricant packages are designed to allow the tape to travel smoothly through the tape path and over the heads. Improper or too little lubricant will cause the tape to exhibit stiction and squeal, impeding proper playback. Excess lubricants can deposit on heads and in the tape path, attracting debris and contaminants.
Our goal in lubricant package design is to not only ensure good runnability in a wide variety of disparate environmental conditions, but also to ensure that the lubricants will be available at the surface of the tape throughout the life of the tape.
Magnetic materials have evolved from simple iron oxide- -rust--to cobalt treated iron oxide and chrome, to pure iron particles coated with a passivating material. As we have all seen firsthand, iron oxide is physically a very stable material. In addition, iron oxide's magnetic properties change exceptionally little with exposure to reasonable heat over long periods of time.
Ever increasing demands for higher signal packing densities have led to the use of metal particle and metal evaporated magnetic materials in more recently developed tape formats. These materials are slightly more subject to magnetic deterioration in elevated temperature environments than the iron oxide family of particles.
Fortunately for the archival community, particle science and improvements in the passivation techniques have produced metal particles that are far more magnetically robust than their earlier counterparts. The thinness of the magnetic coating of metal evaporated tapes can make them very vulnerable to physical damage and subsequent loss of magnetic information.
Binder systems continue to remain a principal point of archival design focus for magnetic tape manufacturers. Increases in signal density requirements have led to higher magnetic particle loading percentages and thus dictated less percentage of binder in the magnetic coating of tape. In other words, we have more particles to be held by less glue.
New binders need to be more effective in bonding particles to themselves and to the basefilm than previous generation binders. The quality of the other components of the magnetic tape are of little value if the magnetic particles do not remain attached to the tape. The binder must remain functional for the magnetic tape to continue to be viable. If the oxide is lying in the box, it is not going to do you much good.
In summation, I would like to say that we at Quantegy continue to search for the right balance in designing a magnetic tape that performs to the desires of our customers today and tomorrow. Archival stability of our product is a continuing goal of ours.
Research into extending the effective life of our tapes continues long after the initial product introduction. In fact, we recently changed the formulation of a product that has been manufactured for 20 years solely to improve its archival stability.
We understand the value of the material recorded on our tape, and we strive to make each product as reliable as the format will permit. Thank you.
MR. TABB: Thank you. Mr. Sullivan.
Presentation by Dan Sullivan, Manager Videotape Technical Operations CBS Television City
MR. SULLIVAN: Dr. Billington, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the opportunity to be here today. Let me apologize in advance for my voice. I have apparently come down with a California cold, but in order not to be arrested by the Chamber of Commerce police, I must report that this is very unusual for California and almost never happens, and I am sure I will be over it tomorrow.
I am the Manager of Videotape Technical Operations at CBS Television City, here in Los Angeles, and the testimony that I would like to offer today centers around the preserving of television images on videotape. But first I would like to tell you a little bit about CBS Television City, and then I have a couple of specific points I would like to make about preserving television images.
CBS Television City is designed as a production facility for television programming. We have eight television studios, a scenery and graphics department, costume department, audio sweetening facilities, suitable not only for television but also motion picture sweetening, and a large videotape department that has 12 on-line edit rooms, off-line editing facilities, videotape duplication and various other facilities.
One of those various other facilities is a department that is set up specifically to transfer 2" and 1" videotape to digital formats for preservation, syndication or any other purpose. This transfer facility is used to transfer CBS's own tapes and also is available to contract with other companies and institutions for the transfer of anyone else's material as well. This 2" videotape facility will be the focus of my remarks here today.
Approximately two years ago, CBS entered into a contract with Mark Goodson Productions to transfer their entire library of approximately 34,000 programs from their current formats, which consisted of 16mm kinescopes, 2" and 1" videotape, to serial digital betacam format. Over the next 15 months, 34,637 shows were transferred. Approximately 2700 of these programs originated on kinescope. The rest were transfers all from videotape originals.
None of the tapes in the Goodson collection had been stored in what anyone would call "proper" videotape storage environments. They were basically stored in "furniture" warehouses where the temperature and humidity changed along with the weather. There was even a rumor that about 8,000 of the tapes were stored on pallets covered in black plastic, on the back lot of one of the other studios in town, for several years.
How to store videotape properly has been an interesting subject since about the time videotape was invented. The conventional wisdom had always been that if you did not store videotape carefully, in a controlled environment, that after about 10 years, you would open the container and you would have nothing left but clear plastic and a little brown dust in the bottom of the container.
Our experience with transferring over 32,000 shows in the Goodson collection, Carsey-Warner, some for the Library of Congress, in fact, and others, showed that the conventional wisdom was really not so wise after all. Our experience with this large transfer project showed that out of approximately 32,000 videotape shows, some dating back to 1956, there were only two that we were not able to transfer, and the difficulty with those two was not due to the chemical decomposition of the tape. It had to do with physical edge damage or physical damage to the tape or, in some cases, problems with the machines that it was recorded on.
This is not to say that it was easy to get all these tapes to transfer. We had to find and acquire various types of tape machines. We had to resurrect tape cleaning equipment. There were certain batches of videotape, from various manufacturers, that had special problems. For example, Ampex had one batch of tape where the binder would hydrolyze, as Jim mentioned before, come up through the emulsion and in effect would coat the tape with a glue-like substance that made it impossible for the machines to transfer them.
Ampex engineers who remembered this problem from the "good old days," told us that if the tape were baked in a convection oven, at a given low temperature, for a given amount of time, that the binder would then reseal with the backing material and the tape could be played. It sounded crazy to me, too, but in fact it works and the tapes did in fact play. The beneficial effects of this baking process, however, only last for a few weeks. So, the tapes had to be transferred quickly, because once the binder has hydrolyzed, even though you bake it back into the backing, it will come back out again in a few weeks.
Then there was the famous 3M idea to put a foam pad to cushion the tape to prevent edge damage when the tape was shipped. A commendable idea, except that the glue they used to glue the pad in place came through the pad and got onto the tape, coating the tape with glue. We worked with 3M engineers and eventually recreated a method they used years ago of cleaning the tape by hand with solvents that take the glue off without harming the videotape. Once again we were able to salvage several hundred tapes that otherwise would have been impossible to transfer.
Yes, there were problems. But at each turn, we were able to overcome the difficulty. And for the most part, the vast majority of the tapes transferred fairly well, with only a nominal amount of head clogs and dropouts that would be expected for a tape of that vintage.
Our conclusion is that videotape is a whole lot tougher than anybody really thinks it is. These are tapes that were not in ideal conditions, but they played anyway.
And this brings me to the first point that I would really like to make. And that is that videotape is still the most economical and safest long-range storage medium available to us today for the storage of television pictures and sound. Even when stored in less than ideal conditions, the videotape is still a robust storage medium and can store more information at less cost than any other system available to us. The weak link in storing television images on videotape is not the tape; it is the machinery. This goes back to what Jim was saying.
At Television City, we currently have ten 2" videotape recorders. And I believe I can say, without fear of contradiction, that that is probably more than anybody in the world has right now. We also have six other machines that are used for parts to keep the ten on-line machines running.
Two years ago, when we started the transfer project of the Mark Goodson Productions library, we had only one 2" machine on the premises. It was believed that by just calling a few chief engineers at stations around the country, that we would be able to acquire all the 2" machines we needed, because the conventional wisdom was that everybody had two or three old 2" machines in the back room that they were just waiting to get rid of.
Once again, the conventional wisdom proved not to be quite so wise. In calling around the country trying to acquire these machines, most of the time the answers we got went something like this, "Gee, I wish you had called about five years ago because we just sent those things to the dump because we needed the room."
Eventually, however, we were able to acquire machines here and there, all over the country. We had two from Alaska, one from New York, one from Rhode Island, and so on. We gathered the machines from everywhere, refurbished them, rebuilt them, and eventually we assembled the group that we are currently using, which consists of two Ampex AVR 1's, six Ampex AVR 2's, and two Ampex AVR 3's.
We also have, as I said, six additional machines--and this is very important--that are cannibalized for parts to keep the others running. The parts acquisition for these older machines is an ever increasing problem.
Several years ago, when Ampex stopped supporting the 2" format with parts, a man by the name of Roger Clemmens retired and made a deal with Ampex to buy up all their remaining inventory of new parts for Ampex 2" videotape machines. He moved them to Gunnerson, Colorado, and for several years was supplying owners with 2" machines around the world with hard to find parts.
Late in 1995, Roger Clemmens contacted me and asked if I wanted to buy his entire remaining stock of parts because he wanted to get out of the business. I said of course I wanted to buy them and arranged to buy them immediately. This, however, is like the good news/bad news joke. The good news is I was able to buy all of the remaining parts, new parts, for Ampex videotape machines. The bad news is they all arrived in one very small truck. Mr. Clemmens's remaining stock, though valuable, was not very extensive.
The problem here is that as these machines get older, the cost of keeping them running and the increasing scarcity of parts will eventually make it impossible for even CBS to keep the machines running. And I am afraid that eventually is only about three to five years away.
All of the above is mentioned only to underscore my second point, which is there is great urgency in getting 2" tape collections transferred to a digital medium; not because the tape won't last, but because the machines to play them are dying.
CBS Television City is the only facility I know of with the resources to do large collection transfers in any kind of workable time frame. I don't mean just the machines. We have the human resources as well, skilled craftsmen who make the machines work just right. When we started the project, we brought back several CBS technicians out of retirement. These were craftsmen of enormous experience, and they were willing to work alongside our younger technicians and apprentice them in what has become almost a lost art. We now have a large contingent of not only well trained but very experienced 2" tape operators. To transfer 34,000 shows from Mark Goodson Productions, we worked around the clock, seven days a week, for 15 months.
Eventually, when you have to have mechanical parts machined from scratch by a machine shop, it will not be financially feasible to keep these machines running. And when that point is reached, large scale transfer projects will no longer be possible, simply because there will not be enough machines to do them. Yes, you will be able to find a person or two with a machine or two who can make you a few copies. But if you have a large collection of several thousand tapes to transfer, you will have a real problem finding someone with the capacity to do them.
There are some people with large collections who, unfortunately, quote, "just don't get it." I have a short story I would like to tell you. One company with a very large collection of 2" tapes was very proud of the fact that they still had two 2" videotape machines, and they weren't worried about transferring their whole collection because any time anybody wanted a copy of one of the 2" tapes they just brought it up from the basement, put it on the 2" machine and played it.
They went on to tell me that, actually, only one of the two machines was working because their engineer had to take parts out of one machine to keep the other one running. They then went on to tell me that they used to have seven machines, but now they only have these two left. But they weren't worried because they had an excellent maintenance staff who they were sure could keep the remaining machine running.
These people should be getting a wake-up call. They used to have seven machines; now they have two, one of which doesn't work because it has been cannibalized for parts. There is a message here. That one machine that they have left may support their needs for the next few years, but in five years, they may not be able to get parts for it at all, and what are they going to do then.
This, unfortunately, is a true story and a prime example of those who "just don't get it." And there are a lot of people around the country who have collections who need to get this message.
And, yes, I know that there are those that say that the conventional wisdom--fortunately, fewer and fewer every day--is not to spend money on transferring tapes now but to build climate controlled storage facilities to preserve them and wait until the perfect transfer medium is invented and then transfer them.
That situation is really true for film, and it is being done for film right now. But videotape is a very different animal. The old tapes are surviving just fine in the current storage facilities. Yes, of course, proper storage facilities would be much better, but the tape that is out there now, as far as chemical deterioration, is going to outlive the machines that there are to play them. Besides, we all know that these same self-proclaimed experts will never agree on what the perfect transfer medium is anyway.
This brings me to my final point. Time is of the essence. The clock is ticking on these old machines. And when they are no longer functional, people with large collections of 2" videotape, who do not get them transferred to a modern digital tape medium, will wind up with warehouses full of perfectly good 2" tape and no machines to play them on. Thank you.
MR. TABB: Thank you very much. Michael.
Presentation by Michael Friend, Director Academy Film Archive Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
MR. FRIEND: I am Michael Friend, from the Academy Film Archive, where we have approximately 7500 items on video, and amongst those items is something called the annual Academy Award Show, which we consider to be fairly integral to our history and which is by and large a video product.
Therefore, it is part of my responsibility at the Academy Film Archive to protect the annual Academy Award Shows for as long as humanly possible. And I have those shows on 11 different formats, nine of which are video, and only two of which are completely and totally obsolete at this point. So, I am in a pretty lucky situation there.
And I can also say that we haven't lost any material due to video obsolescence because the Academy has been at least moderately prescient in duplicating materials before the end of a certain line of technology comes about. So, we are lucky in that sense, and since the Academy Award Shows are very successful and a very popular cultural icon, we have been able to support the preservation of that show.
But we also have quite a lot of other material in our archive, 7500 tapes or so, many of which are unique interviews with members of our industry who have passed on or who are now quite aged, many of which are interviews with people who are very productive today, but all of which are very important to us for documenting the industry.
We have other things, such as tests and special addresses, and a variety of--dealing with the motion picture industry or the media industry, as it is starting to be known. And all of that is part of our charge to preserve.
And we are not unlike a lot of other organizations in the arts and humanities, because many, many of these organizations have documented their own activities or important activities for their cultural heritage on videotape. In fact, since 1975, I would say that the amount of videotape to film used in documentation of these events has got to be well over a thousand to one.
So, the preservation of video is not an incidental thing, even in institutions which don't appear to be video archives per se. And I think that when we think about this National Preservation Program, we have to address ourselves to a very vast diversity of organizations out there, not all of which are immediately identifiable as, quote/unquote, "media organizations," but which have this problem.
I would also like to suggest that we don't have very large runs of 2" tape. We are stuck with things like open reel, EIAJ (ph.) format tape, or Norelco 1" tape, or a lot of other almost one off items. And I would certainly love to try to take them over to CBS and give them a run for their money and see what kind of percentage of copies we can get out of that. And I think I already know what kind of answers I would get.
We often, in the non-professional world, if I can call it that, have to deal with tape formats which are, as has been noted here, probably far less desirable as a preservation medium than 2" tape, 1" tape or any of the major digital formats.
So, as happy as it is CBS and some of the major producers are able to get images off of their older tapes, I think if you look at the diversity of cultural institutions in the country, you are going to find a rather dire situation which does not really correspond to that experience.
We use videotape in virtually every aspect of our work, including film preservation, but one of the major aspects of our work is access for scholars. And when you have invested your public money in a videotape collection, or a video disc collection, or DVD collection, or whatever happens to come down the pike next, you want to be able to use that collection for the longest possible time.
One of the things that I do in this town is to make things accessible on videotape because I don't have to worry about the 35mm nitrate prints. They are at UCLA. So, when somebody walks in my door, I can cheaply and efficiently use a video collection for access. And I think I am in the same situation as a lot of universities and a lot of other study centers in that respect.
I don't believe that we need to have a UCLA film and television archive at every campus, in every major city or whatever. But we do rely on video, and I would like to suggest that those video resources happen to play a major part in what we do. Certainly, we can always replace a seven dollar videocassette of The Most Dangerous Game if one of our users wants to do that and assuming it is still available in some access format. But we don't want to continue to pour money into the acquisition of videotape when it is going to have a short- term return for us.
So, I would like to suggest that finding a medium for video which is more robust and which will last longer than the existing media is an important thing for arts organizations and humanities organizations across the country.
We are very aware of the questions of videotape instability, and we have to deal with it much more than if we simply had professional videotape. We are also very aware of the problems of equipment obsolescence, since the equipment that we use to record our activities on very often has a much shorter life as a product than say 2", 1" or D1 or D2.
So, the problems of equipment obsolescence are multiplied in these smaller cultural organizations, and that is something we need to look after in terms of a national plan.
I don't want to repeat what other people have said about these kinds of problems, but there are two modes of preserving video right now. One of them has to do with the conservation of old video equipment at the highest level of operability, and that means gathering 10, 20, as many of these machines together as you can get. And if anybody has got open reel 1/2" machines out there, we would be happy to have them at the Academy.
The other way to go is to start to transfer your tape, which is also an intelligent thing to do. And that involves constant inspection and rewinding and transfer at facilities that can do a decent job of that. It requires quality control and a certain amount of expertise on the staff.
But both of these paths are dead-ends for us because there is no medium which approaches permanence, even when we start to get into the digital domain. I think that in the professional world, people are a little bit closer to having some stability, and they also have the funding to be able to transfer these things on a regular basis.
But if you look at what has been collected and what is significant to state and local arts organizations and humanities organizations, what is important to universities and local governments, as far as the material that they have documented, we are not nearly as lucky. And I think that we can't be complacent in thinking about the need for a true preservation medium for video.
So, the first thing that I need to suggest here is that the national preservation group has got to somehow spearhead a movement to find better media than videotape--or the existing videotape, because there may be a future form that is better than what we have--but better media for the long-term keeping of electronic signals.
Fortunately, we are not alone. There are billions and billions and billions of terrabytes of digital data out there which are similarly endangered. There are lots of optical media out there which is in trouble. And anyone who happens to think that videodisc or CD-ROM is a panacea should come down to our archive and look at some of our discs that are unplayable technically and some of our discs that are unplayable because of deterioration.
There is no real way of judging right now the lifespan of a videodisc. I don't think that kind of analytical work has been done yet. We may need to get the Image Permanence Institute involved in that. But there is no panacea and there is no permanent medium, and we need research to go in that direction.
The second thing I would like to suggest is that unlike film preservation, which is a--dare I say it--relatively simple matter of copying film onto the same gauge film with as high a degree of accuracy as possible technically, the preservation of video presents a whole series of problems that are very hard to judge and very hard to assess in terms of their future impact.
What was television in 1950 or 1960 or 1970 doesn't exist anymore. The entire context of television has changed so much that what I turn on when I get home is attached to a Pentium chip; what I watch when I want to watch television happens to be projected and comes from a videodisc player. And increasingly all around us, there is a proliferation of screens and affiliation of the idea of what television is and how we watch it and how we use it.
And therefore, if we think that our target medium for television preservation is another videotape--that is to say, let's copy a 2" tape to a 1" tape or whatever--I think we are not taking account of the complexity of the situation today.
And what I am asking is that this panel consider radical alternatives to the notions of preservation that may be available now or may become available. And I am not simply suggesting something as crude as, "Let's just wait until the proper medium comes around," because we will all be long gone when that happens.
But for example--and this is an extremely mundane way of thinking about it--we have the idea of geographic separation of preprint and duplication of elements in film, so that we have say an original negative and a finegrain we store in two different places. Well, storage in two different places is a good idea, but what about storing in two different media? What about, for example, a D1 tape and some form of advanced optical media? So that at least we have perhaps twice the number of chances of having a surviving media when we go to play back that tape.
And I think we need to begin to think more radically in every area about what television or video preservation is.
Now, having said that, I want to go back in the opposite direction and make a more or less reactionary statement about television preservation. And this comes out of my work with film preservation, in the first part. But television itself is a medium which has a lifespan. Forms of television, like 2" tape, are media which have lifespans. 2" tape is not digital tape; it is not D1. It is made in different ways; it has different characteristics.
And even though the closest thing to a standard we have for all of this is a 525 line signal, there are still differences in the way things were recorded, the way things can be played back. If you take an NBC color show from 1959 and compare that to what is being done today in terms of color, you are going to find differences that are as great as the difference between an-- technicolor print and a modern Eastman color print.
If you look at the kinds of work and the kinds of effects that artists were getting with 1/2" open reel tape in the '70's, when they documented performances or when Andy Warhol made tapes in his studio, you will find a medium which is very specific. And we can go to those media today with our digital equipment and our paint boxes and make them look like it was produced this afternoon, if we want to, but that is not the point of preservation.
So, the last point that I would like to make here is that we undertake to convene a panel of video technical and aesthetic experts who can talk about the actual media which comprise our television history and who can come up with some kind of guidelines and standards to guide us in terms of the television preservation that we do, so that we produce television preservation which looks like the originals and not like Melrose Place or Beverly Hills 90211, but which looks like An Evening with Fred Astaire or Edward R. Murrow (ph.) or whatever the original medium happens to be.
This isn't to say that the studios might not want to enhance their video for their further distribution purposes or for modern audiences, but as archivists, as historians, as preservationists, our first obligation is to find a way to capture that original experience technically speaking.
And therefore, I suggest that as a part of our National Preservation Plan, we convene a body of experts who can start to talk about and lay out these guidelines for a true understanding of what television preservation is, above and beyond the idea of transferring it to another medium which is a modern medium.
That's all I have to say as far as the Academy goes. And I would like to take one brief moment to suggest that there is another resource out there that this panel might draw upon, which is the Technology Council of the Motion Picture Industry. This is a group of individuals in the technology areas of film and video production, and distribution and archiving, which are working on a series of projects within the industry having to do with all kinds of different technical issues.
And if this panel was interested in contacting the Technology Council, the depth of expertise--those engineers that you are going to need--can be found through the Technology Council.
And unlike SMPTE, which is basically a standard setting body, the Technology Council is actually a project-driven body, and I am sure that they would welcome a contact from a national preservation group and be able to provide a great deal in terms of human resources, as well as ideas and contacts into the area where you can really get to the foul rag and bone shop (ph.), as it is, of video preservation and video resources.
So, I would like to thank the panel for listening to us today. I hope that things go well. Thank you.
MR. TABB: Thank you. Questions?
MR. HEIBER: Actually, I have a question for Fred and Jim that has to do with the experience Dan had. This is a little technical.
The manufacturer of the original 2" analog, the videotape, how does that compare to what people are using now for the D1 and D2 and Digital Betacam stocks? I mean, just the actual emulsion and the backing, it is pretty thin material compared to what that 2" tape was like.
MR. LAYN: Right. The 2" videotape is very similar to what has continued to be manufactured as 2" audio tape, essentially the same sort of oxide corrosivities and things. Current tapes are much more robust. The binder systems have been improved considerably. We currently have binder systems that we have been introducing in the last two to three years that we project will last at least four to five times as long as previous generation binder systems.
So, we fully expect that all of that will--
MR. HEIBER: Could you put a number on four to five times?
MR. LAYN: Yeah. We expect now, with the current generation--I am speaking of audio tapes, which are worse case than videotapes, because audio tape is much thicker coats, so therefore you have much more binder to break down. And in this particular situation, we project a 40 to 50 year life for these tapes, if they are just adequately stored.
MR. HEIBER: That's analog tape?
MR. LAYN: Analog tape.
MR. HEIBER: What about the digital tape?
MR. LAYN: Digital tape, I fully believe that the formats will be long gone before you have any concern whatsoever about the integrity of the tape.
We have a very interesting story from KNES (ph.), the French Space Agency, who has data gathering operations all around the world, in the South Pacific, for example, and other very challenging environments. They presented a paper at an archival conference in London last year where they stated that they have yet to lose a tape because of the tape failing, but they have lost many tapes, not only because they lost the machines, but also because they lost the software to interpret the digital data.
This is something that most people do not consider when new generation software comes out; it is not often retro. So, we have a lot of problems with getting new generation digital-- people think that automatically, "If it is digital, I am going to be able to find the files and interpret them." This has not proven to be the case. And I think it is a very grave concern for the all be digital world. It is not a panacea.
MR. RICHMOND: I would like to pick up on something that Michael was talking about. I am speaking here as a curator for a public archive.
One of the things, obviously, that I think that the plan that the Library is putting together will have to address, even if the answer becomes "there is no answer," is for archives that don't have the kinds of resources that a lot of studios have or other companies have, what does it mean to say you have preserved video tape? What does it mean to say you have preserved a television collection?
I believe very sincerely in preservation as a process, but in the video area, it feels more like a treadmill, because we are constantly flooded with new formats, as you have all spoken to. And it is really unclear what a small archive should do--a public archive, with limited resources--you have got some valuable videotape materials on whatever the format is, 2", 1", whatever; you have got the equipment, let's assume.
Obviously, equipment obsolescence is emerging as a major problem that has to be dealt with. But let's assume you have got some means of playing the tape. What do you transfer to? Because as Michael, I think, was pointing out, there are very few public archives out there that could afford to go back every seven years or every ten years and reinspect all of their video materials and retransfer them to whatever the next current format is.
Is there any advice you can give or any suggestions you can give on how this group could begin to try to approach that problem in terms of coming up with recommendations or guidelines for those many, many archives out there that face this on a daily basis?
MR. WHEELER: I was going to say, my favorite format, and relatively inexpensive, is the Betacam SP format, which there is tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, of machines out there. And that's part of the thing about equipment obsolescence; the more equipment you have out there, the less likely it is going to be obsolete. I like the D3 format also, because it is relatively inexpensive, but there is not as much equipment out there. The D3 is digital, so that's the big advantage from an archival viewpoint. Betacam SP is analog, so you lose a generation.
So, it is a trade-off. But the Betacam SP is much cheaper. You can get one for about $10,000, a machine; whereas, a D3 is about $30,000. So, that's a big problem. And any copy anyone would do, I would make sure you check with the tape manufacturer and make sure that that is an archival tape, that that is a tape with a good binder, that the company will back it up, will say, yes, this is an archival quality tape.
MR. RICHMOND: With a format like Betacam SP, what would you estimate its life expectancy is, in terms of it continuing to be a major format that is manufactured with equipment to back it up?
MR. WHEELER: I have no way of--
MR. LAYN: It is already shrinking. Digital Betacam is definitely coming much more to the fore. It is tough to hang your hat on any format. If we are to pick, it is a moving target; it is going to change. It is not the best of all possible worlds; we recognize that.
Unfortunately, formats tend to go to cheaper, smaller formats. Cheaper formats drive out more expensive. Plain and simple. That's the rule of economics in this business. These cheaper formats also are generally more compact. Well, unfortunately, more compact means that any physical damage that you do to a piece of tape means that you have lost much more information than something that is spread out.
We used to have a wonderful visual that we do for audio archiving, where the tendency now is a lot of people like to archive to DAT. We don't consider that a very prudent move in the long run. One of the favorite visuals is we hold up a 1/2" by 30" piece of analog audio tape, and then we hold up a 1/3" by 1/8". And that is the same information. A DAT tape is 1/3 of an inch by 1/8 of an inch, versus 1/2 inch by 30 inches.
So, you can see that there is no free lunch in this particular thing. You can, of course, trade size, which is very important for any archive. It is expensive to keep archival conditions, so size is a consideration. But it also goes against the grain of what makes it more long-lasting overall.
MR. SULLIVAN: One of the things that most of the customers that we have dealt with--not only in our own archive but outside organizations that have come to us to transfer their libraries--most of them have gone to serial Digital Betacam because they want to get into a serial digital component medium, because they know that whatever they have to transfer to next there is going to be a minimum loss. And they are all--in fact, I can't think of one yet that has asked us to process or improve the picture.
Yes, they don't want banding, and they want the dropouts repaired, which you would have done in 2" tape before, but they really want it transferred as it is. In fact, a lot of this material from Goodson went to the Sony Game Show Channel, and when we first started there, we were getting a lot of tapes rejected, saying, "Oh, the picture isn't very good." The problem is that the young kids that were looking at it over there have been QCing, quality control checking, tapes that were made with digital chip cameras and recorded on D1 machines, and now they are looking at--the pictures didn't look like that 40 years ago. And this is 40-year-old tape.
I wish we had a better solution than recording it onto the best digital format that you can get your hands on right now. I know that is not a panacea. Yes, you are probably going to have to transfer it again somewhere later down the line. I wish we could come up with some archival process that would last forever, but until they repeal the laws of physics, I don't think that is going to happen.
MR. TABB: Betsy.
MS. McLANE: Yes. I have a question for Mr. Sullivan. You answered part of it now in your last statement, by saying why Mark Goodson was paying you to transfer all of this material.
I am interested in if someone comes to you with this kind of project to transfer, what does it cost to do this?
MR. SULLIVAN: It depends on how many copies they want made and whether or not they want every tape to be 100 percent viewed and QC'd--
MS. McLANE: Well, approximately, to do these 34,637 tapes?
MR. SULLIVAN: It seems to me like that was about--I don't remember the total number--it was a million-and-a-half dollars, something like that.
MS. McLANE: So, it is a huge amount of money.
MR. SULLIVAN: To do that many programs. But I mean, that's--
MS. McLANE: To do that much.
MR. SULLIVAN: --34,000 half-hour or hour shows. They also had--they had a number of goals in mind. One was to produce some shows to go to the Sony Game Show Channel; the other was to consolidate and preserve their own library, which was of great value to them, and also to reduce their storage costs. So, where half-hour shows were concerned, we put three half-hour shows on 90-minute Digital Beta tapes. So, not only did you shrink it physically from the 2" tape, to go to 1/2" tape, but you put three programs on each 1/2" tape.
And over at Producer Services, where they had their stuff stored last--
MS. McLANE: They cut their cost.
MR. SULLIVAN: --they went literally from a space that was as wide as this room and as deep as I am to that wall, where they had their 2" tapes stored, to now they have one aisle where their digital tapes are stored.
MS. McLANE: Okay. So, for an organization like Goodson Productions, they obviously made a decision that they want to preserve this and they are going to hire you to go out and to do this. Within CBS, what kind of decisions are--how do they make decisions about what is preserved and what is not?
MR. SULLIVAN: In CBS, we have set out on a program to preserve as much as we can, to go back to the older shows. We have just shipped out 100,000 reels of film and some tape from our warehouse in New Jersey. And we are in the process of cataloging that and will be transferring that to Digital Beta tape over the next couple of years, to get that into--at least we want to get everything into one format, so that when you begin to copy it, at least you can set up a fairly efficient process of recopying it when that becomes necessary.
So, our goal now is to get all of our holdings from the Entertainment Division copied onto serial Digital Beta tape. Where film is concerned, they are still going to archive and hang onto the negatives. Where videotape is concerned, where you are moving up and the machinery is going to go away, it is a different situation. So, there they are looking to get the tapes transferred to a digital
MS. McLANE: And this is a corporate policy?
MR. SULLIVAN: This was a corporate decision that was made for the Entertainment Division. I know that the News Division, who you will be hearing from in New York, and also our Sports Division, they have similar projects to preserve their archives, because they are of value.
We see our shows have value not only to what is airing; we see value in it for the home video market and other distribution plans that we may not even know they exist yet. So, it is a future.
MR. FRANCIS: I have two questions. One, does it make any sense at all for all organizations holding large video collections to get together with a manufacturer to decide on as an archival format, with the hope that one can keep that format in production longer than a format would normally be?
MR. SULLIVAN: I think that one of the things that I have seen is if you are talking about older material that has already been recorded, and you can have an archival format to record it on that's as good or better than what came before, that's satisfactory. But as technology increases and you get better recording mediums with better pictures than your archival medium, to now get companies to take their material and drop it down in quality to go back to an archival medium, I think that might be tough to do.
MR. WHEELER: I think you would have to have an incentive for the manufacturer, and you would have to have some kind of a trust fund or something set up for the manufacturer for having spare parts, like 50 years from now or something. It could be done.
MR. FRANCIS: That's what I was thinking. When you think about the huge amount of material that exists in collections, it must make sense to investigate and to see if we can slow down a little the impact of obsolescence.
MR. LAYN: We actually made a last call production of 2" videotape about 18 months ago. So, as primitive as it is, there are still a lot of places throughout the world that it really is--mainly in Third World countries now, and also, Australia had a fair number of machines--you would be surprised at the number of machines out there, Dan.
MR. FRANCIS: The other question is totally different. I see that SMPTE, ANSI and AAS are considering an archival storage recommendation for videotape, which would be about 40_ Fahrenheit, 25% RH. One of the things I noticed in the discussions was that this humidity level would need a longer climatization period, particularly if we were talking about 1" tape. Something like 20 days, I saw mentioned somewhere. Obviously, that makes it very unattractive.
It seemed to be a very attractive proposal, because there hasn't been an archival standard, in terms of storage, in the past. But it is very unattractive if you do need to get access to the material, and have to put it in the climatization room for 20 days.
Is that an accurate picture of the situation?
MR. LAYN: There is actually a very large war going on between ANSI and SMPTE on that particular issue. The ANSI document leads toward the condition that you describe. The SMPTE document, RP103, recommended practices actually, comes right out and says, "We expect that you will have to migrate formats anyway; therefore, you are throwing your money away to have these conditions."
In the ANSI document, we have strong representation from the Library of Congress, among others, who are saying, "I am stuck with what I have got; I have got to preserve it." It is difficult. There is no way that you could migrate all the material that the Library of Congress has to new formats in any sort of time frame whatsoever. But it is a problem.
MR. FRANCIS: Is the premise right, though? The question I was trying to get at was if you go down to a 25% RH, do you really require a lot of time in a climatization room.
MR. WHEELER: I have never done it.
MR. LAYN: Temperatures--you are worried about the temperature more than you are about the relative humidity. You do need to stage for temperature, but you do not need to stage for--
MR. WHEELER: You don't want condensation.
MR. LAYN: Yeah.
MR. WHEELER: That's the main factor.
MR. FRANCIS: I see.
MR. SULLIVAN: I just read a 1962 document that was put out by 3M, that had recommended long-term storage requirements for videotape. And it said that they should be stored at 60 degrees, plus or minus 10 degrees, and 50 percent humidity, plus or minus 10 percent humidity. Not a bad deal, because what you are really talking about is an environment that machines and humans would operate in if you are really in that range.
And the fact of the matter is, I think--I am probably the only guy that has dealt with this much 40-year-old videotape, and the fact of the matter is the tape really survives quite well in those kinds of environment. So, spending huge amounts of money to concoct these great storage archives, with very tightly controlled humidity and temperature--the thing you really should turn your attention to is whatever your humidity and temperature is at you keep it constant. It is the up and down in humidity and the up and down in--particularly the up and down in temperature--that causes videotape problems.
If it is at 63_F and 49% humidity, and it stays that way for years and years and years and years--it doesn't go up and down--you are going to have a satisfactory storage environment. Spending a lot of money on trying to get it down to where film is, you don't have that kind of--to keep it there for 800 years, I don't think that that is worth the effort. Because in 800 years, I don't care if you put the machines in there with it, the machines are going to die, just from metal fatigue in 800 years.
MR. TABB: Just one last short question and then we will move on.
MR. HEIBER: Michael, you mentioned that from a preservationist standpoint, that all TV should look like old TV. Do you have any thoughts as to where those old technicians will be to come up with that aesthetic criteria to create that kind of document? I think it is a good idea.
MR. FRIEND: Well, you can see some of it when you do a transfer from the tape, because there are a lot of artifacts in the tape and there is a look of the tape. When you play back a 1958 2" tape, assuming you can do that, it is going to look a lot different.
For example, when I played--I haven't gone back to '58 tapes in terms of this specific experience, but with the Academy Award Shows, we have a lot of shots of Johnny Green, and his head may be green, purple or yellow, depending on what camera was shooting him at the time. And I am not sure whether or not the NTSC Broadcasting System at that time was able to render those colors, so I don't now whether or not people at home saw him in three different colors, depending on what angle.
But for modern audiences, when I show my Board of Governors that tape, I am going to show them Johnny Green with a single colored head, which will look like yours and mine. But nevertheless, there is more variation in terms of the way that something looks, than perhaps we may remember, and that's on the tape.
There are other problems with the tape. And when I talk about this problem of making it look the way that it used to look--when we have digital micro-mirror devices and super high definition projection video and a lot of other things, we are starting to get into display domains where we can no longer automatically reconstitute what something looked like. I mean, the phosphors of a cathode ray tube, for example, may not be ultimately what it is that is going to be used to produce the color, and we may be looking at having to make adjustments in order to make something look the way that it used to.
I am not suggesting that we are looking for artifacts and trying to make things look bad, but I do think that there are paradigms, aesthetic paradigms, and also technical paradigms, and they are interlinked. And we have to be very careful not to destroy those in the process of reproduction of these things. I don't think that anyone, of necessity, does that. But I mean, when I do a tape transfer, once I have got my basic transfer, then I have to do a digital noise reduction on it, because people looking at it today want to know what all that fuzz is in there.
It is just, as was said before here, these younger people--and in fact, a lot of older people who don't remember quite that far and have big, expensive TV's and look at videodiscs now--they don't remember what NTSC television looked like in 1970, much less in 1954 or '55, when I started tuning in. So, there are things that we can do to protect that record that is there in the tape.
I am not saying that that is the final stage of what we are going to do with the tape, even in an archival or historical situation, but I think it is a consideration.
One of the important things that was touched on here was the software which is used to recover data. And any of the programs that we use for any kind of noise reduction is imposing, essentially, a filter or an artifact which permanently changes the nature of the signal that you have. It is not recoverable. You can't go back from a DVNR tape and get what you had before. It doesn't keep a record of the so-called artifacts that it has removed. Therefore, it is an irreversible and permanent process. And we have to start to think about this as we go into historical reproduction and figure out what we want to carry forward as part of the historical record and what really doesn't necessarily have to be there. I mean, I don't think that dropouts, for example, are things that we have to duplicate when we duplicate these things. But even the error corrections or error concealments that are imposed on tapes and transfers can be problematic.
So, I mean, we haven't thought through the issues. I don't have the answers here. I am raising a question. And I think we have got to be careful about it if we want to protect the historical nature of this material. I am not saying that everybody wants to watch it that way or should watch it that way. I am not saying that's the way to attract an audience for older television. But I am saying, as historians and archivists, we need to be wary of it.
MR. TABB: Thank you. We need to wrap up now. Thank you very much for this very interesting testimony. We now have time for the last panel. If you will please come forward, the educators group. (Pause.)
All right. Let's move into the last panel. Thank you very much for coming. We will start with you, Ms. Spigel. Presentation by Lynn Spigel, Associate Professor School of Cinema and Television University of Southern California
MS. SPIGEL: Thank you. Thank you for inviting me. I am Lynn Spigel. I am an Associate Professor at USC, in the School of Cinema and Television.
And what I am going to read is some sentiments about why educators are interested in television and would be happy to answer more nuts and bolts questions about some of the difficulties in researching it.
In 1948, when the networks first offered full-time schedules, television was installed in American homes at a rate far exceeding any prior domestic technology in U.S. history. Television went from being a rich man's toy to a basic household fixture. It rapidly became the primary form of information and entertainment for most Americans. By 1960, almost 90 percent of the public had a television set and watched about five hours of TV a day.
Today, virtually all households include at least one receiver. Cable penetration is approximately 65 percent, and the average American watches about five to seven hours of television a day.
These circumstances alone should convince anyone that television is a prime force in the everyday life of our nation, serving as well as a key instrument for global trade and cultural exchange.
Over the past four decades, educators, artists, policy- makers, social psychologists, politicians, and numerous other groups have been acutely interested in the role television plays in defining our relationship to ourselves, our children, our local communities, our national leaders, and the world around us.
These interests clearly necessitate the preservation of our televisual past as a source for understanding a major component of the nation's history and life. As a media historian, I want to describe specifically the need for preservation for educators in the humanities.
Perhaps it seems odd for educators to be interested in the preservation of a medium that has been categorized as a "vast wasteland," a "plug in drug," or blamed for the loss of family values, for violence, dangerous sexuality, as well as a host of other social evils. However, research in the humanities has been less biased about the medium, attempting to find more objective criteria by which to evaluate television and the reasons why so many people in this country watch TV.
While aims vary, it generally is assumed that the study of television includes the study of the programs themselves. That is to say, scholars place significant emphasis on the close analysis of television series' and genres as a way to understand how these series' have both shaped and been shaped by larger social, economic, cultural and artistic trends.
As an educator, my goal in this pursuit is to demonstrate to my students and my readers that television is more than a toaster or electronic wallpaper. I am also concerned to show that its relevance in our social world can not be boiled down to simplistic and overly melodramatic assumptions which depict it as a modern day Pandora's box that can be blamed for evils such as violence or impoverished families, evils that are clearly wrought by men and not by machines.
Instead, television should be understood as a central tool for the communication of ideas, whether they be ideas about race and criminal justice--as in the case of Rodney King or Anita Hill--or whether they be more everyday "common sense" ideas about how to live in a family, ideas that are regularly represented on programs like Full House or Murphy Brown.
Moreover, television's power to communicate ideas and silence others necessitates that we better understand its rhetorical structures and aesthetics forms. In other words, the study of television programming allows us to teach young people to stop merely "watching" TV and start "reading" it analytically in order to become more critical about when it serves as a source of enlightenment and emotional uplift or when, conversely, its messages create incomplete, reductive, and biased ideas about the world.
The historical analysis of why certain genres have been produced, why they dealt with certain themes rather than others, or why they represented women and minority groups in demeaning ways, sheds light on the whole fabric of social values and ethics in our nation's recent past.
Looked at in this way, television programs are not merely trivial commercial forms that can be dismissed by historians and politicians as bad evidence or false data. Instead, television programs shed light on our nation's belief systems and changes in those belief systems over time.
As we enter the 21st Century, media literacy is a survival tool in an electronic wilderness of endless, unprocessed data and confusing world events that are beamed in from all corners of the globe. An understanding of how television programs have historically shaped ideas about the world, and how they continue to do so, should be part of the "tool kit" of every person in this nation.
As many of the people today revealed in this study, the job of preserving television is quite complex. Much of the early live programming no longer exists, at least in one place or in its original form. As a historian of this early period, I found myself on endless hunts through public and private collections, looking for materials that might comprise a sample beyond mere artifact. Because the "text" of television is itself expansive, the analysis of the entire series, rather than a single episode, is often mandatory. And because the text itself includes not only the program, but also the commercials and promotionals inserted in it, historians are typically eager to get original off-air programs rather than looking at the edited syndicated versions.
Although there are several prominent archival collections, any researcher knows that the present state of affairs makes serious scholarship difficult at best. While nostalgia networks like "Nick At Nite" rerun classic sitcoms for "campy" pleasure and show us a few popular hits from the past with commercial value today, this does not comprise an objective historical sample.
A historical understanding of television, its relationship to the American past, present and future, will necessitate the careful collection of all kinds of programs, hits and misses, long-lasting series', and ones that went off the air quickly.
And also, although it wasn't addressed today, I believe that we should place some thought into the preservation of local, as well as national, network programming, which creates a different set of problems. But certainly, television historically has not just been national network programming, but also local production.
In short, then, from the point of view of media history and its ramifications for media literacy today, the preservation of television is critical. As so many historians know, it is the everyday, incidental and seemingly trivial aspects of a civilization that often tell us most about it.
Finally, preservation of television's past will be a step toward the important job of educating our children in media literacy, as they embark on a future that will no doubt be even more saturated with electronic imagery than we can imagine. Thank you.
MR. TABB: Thank you. Mr. Caldwell.
Presentation by John Caldwell, Professor Film and Electronic Arts Department California State University at Long Beach
MR. CALDWELL: Yes. I am John Caldwell. I teach television history and video production at California State University at Long Beach. And I am sharing some sentiments I have about this issue, as well; not just preservation but access and teaching about archival materials.
Two stories may help explain my concern with the current state of video television program preservation.
A few years back, I was transferring and editing a program master of mine produced in the 1970's. As the tape played in the on-line suite, what was at first mere dropout morphed into a diagonal band of video noise that slowly crawled to the top of, and soon engulfed, the screen. The tape destructed, its iron oxide sloughed off, and the operator hit abort, even as that part of my history enacted the law of entropy and fast forward.
The sickening realization that my original had vanished before my eyes only got worse as the operator warned me that substandard tape and sluffing oxide may damage their costly video heads in ways that I would soon regret.
A few years later while teaching television history at the graduate level, a classic television program from my personal collection seemed to start sliding out of frame. Tape tension problems pulled the tape out of alignment even as the high speed rotary head shaved off important sync information at the edge. Stretched and routed, the scene is now also vanished into the phosphorescence.
In one case, aging tape damaged equipment even as it self-destructed. In the other, a poorly maintained VCR in the educational arena ensured that I could never teach with that irreplaceable clip again.
Because I wear several professional hats, I teach television history to graduate students, video production to undergrads, and am an independent producer, I accept the kind of hopeless impermanence and entropy described above as part of the unfortunate parameters of the field.
As an educator, however, I think there are many things that we can do to improve the situation and to ensure that perhaps the single most important defining artifact of our age, television, is preserved and made accessible for research and instruction on a wide basis.
For years, I bemoaned the fact that important historical programs were only available to those fortunate enough to be on site at television archives. Everyone else teaching television history in the country--and there are now many--must be scrambling with unrepresentative or skewed samples to bolster courses that depended more on contextual or background information than they did on the single most important piece of historical evidence, the television program itself.
If one looks at the way that many histories of the medium were written, one finds evidence of this strategic lack. Historical accounts focused on regulatory precedents, industrial practices and legal milestones; whereas, aesthetic histories were driven by biographical anecdotes, personal memory and critical hierarchies.
History is not obviously one single thing to be referred to, but unfortunately, of the many discourses that make up television history, the program artifact itself is frequently written out of the equation. The program is perhaps the most important piece of evidence to consider, and even communication scholars that focus on effects, do bad science when they leap from producer to audience without exhaustively understanding the complexities of the program artifact itself.
But who is to blame them? The program videotapes have not been available to them in ways that science demands. Programs can not be used in systematic, controlled, repeatable and verifiable ways across the discipline. The kind of histories and science that we get, then, is also a logical outgrowth of the archival straightjacket and meager samples that we have been forced to work with.
But this is changing. For example, the early impressionistic histories have falsely totalized the early 1950's as a "golden age" of live anthology dramas. Most recent scholars, like Christopher Anderson, with access to studio archives, have demonstrated quite the opposite, that Hollywood telefilm production played a tremendous role in television from the very start. Other historians have dramatized the need to utilize exhaustive archival research in the way histories are written.
Lynn Spigel, by tying archival programs to the formation of the post-War home and consumerism; the late Nino--by exhaustively mapping domestic ideology through hundreds of archival programs.
While these stand as precedence for how television research might be done, they also raise thorny issues for the non-research part of the academic equations, teaching and pedagogy. If a teacher does not have access to the Warner Brothers Studio Archive or to the UCLA Film and Television Archive in the classroom, he or she is left with an outdated historical notion of pedagogy.
Industrial and technological changes may, however, be altering the picture. This past week, in a graduate television studies seminar, several of my students utilized clips from the complete episodes of The Bionic Woman and The Six Million Dollar Man to understand the social context of television in the 1970's. They could do this because both series' are now in sequential nightly syndication on the Sci-Fi channel.
For various reasons, even the established archives do not come close to having this kind of complete collection. Nor could they ever make it available to every cable subscriber in the country.
Cable's "Nick At Nite," of course, establishes precedent with its network celebration of classic television. Viacom's nitch in the multi-channel universe, then, promised to do what non-profit archives could never do, make enormous hours of historical programming available to one and all. And this research has in fact been useful in accessing historical program text, '60's and '70's sitcoms, in particular.
But the commercial 500 channel universe can not in any useful sense take over the historic role of the archive and museum. Bewitched or Dragnet on "Nick At Nite" are not the same as Bewitched or Dragnet on the nights that they originally aired, are not, in fact, the same as the Bewitched and Dragnet episodes stored in the UCLA Film and Television Archives, with ads and other materials.
Cable networks work over these artifacts in marked ways. They are visually branded with network ID's throughout the episodes. They break differently, are set up and introduced differently, and have different ads inserted in the breaks.
If one important goal of television history is to consider the logic of ads and the relationship to programs, then any kind of original context here has evaporated. All these factors work to make and stylistically transform older programs, in the 1990's, into a kind of de-historified, post-modern, retro programming soup. These are not, then, the artifacts I referred to earlier that have been written out of the histories of the 1960's, but are hybrids that will permutate forever in an ancillary afterlife of 500 channel syndication. They are certainly less useful for understanding the '60's than they are for understanding the '90's.
I am, therefore, still concerned about the ultimate impact that will come with the new technologies and delivery systems. The nitch mythos (ph.) of the 500 channel world promises that every piece of historical programming will have some future life--read "economic value"--in the multi-channel future. One network's strong-arming of the university archives for advertising its television collection on the Internet, in 1993, shows that the ancillary afterlife actually works against legitimate educational access.
Whereas news and public affairs were once considered non-commercial venues produced in the public interest, they have now been re-commercialized, given the many emerging markets that have opened up for the networks as a result of new electronic delivery systems.
It is not certain, then, that the commercial imperative that drives this world will also solve the legitimate, non- commercial needs of educators for access, research and teaching.
For example, rather than resisting appropriations and piracy by fans of the X Files, Fox has aggressively entered the Internet to provide web site materials, both textual and visual, that appear to meet, and in fact fuel, the needs of their viewers' customers. Photographic production stills from the series, available here, are infinitely more accessible than those available from the studio via traditional hardcopy marketing channels, via telephone or written request.
But Los Angeles is still, after all, a city and industry governed by the commercial imperative, where all forms of knowledge are proprietary. In an industry where everything can and will be licensed, the concept of fair use might as well come from outerspace.
As an academic, rather than complain about being cut out of the action by the industry, as I might have done earlier in my career, I am interested in considering win/win propositions, whereby the industry comes to consider academic insights as valuable contributions to the future of the field. In many ways, the industry has already begun to place a premium on the kinds of knowledge that academia produces.
Roseanne does a knowing retro critique of 1950 sitcoms and regressive gender norms that easily stands in for a television history 101 lecture. Nickelodeon does an interdisciplinary cultural analysis of the Ken Burnsey (ph.) and documentary aesthetic on PBS.
The audience at home laughs, but the programs and screenplays themselves utilize social and psychological insights that came from academic histories and cultural studies in the first place.
In the brutally competitive, multi-channel world, then, historical insights and academic models are now regularly used for economic gain and programming leverage by producers. A generation of practitioners are now entering the industry, having seriously studied television and film history in the university. This convergence of interests, in a world that once completely segregated the dominant industry on the inside and the critical academy on the outside, makes possible a kind of common ground where both industry and academia can work.
Good television histories, enabled by archival access and preservation, are also, then, very much in the interest of the industry. The cache of knowledge that such works provide is an important public resource in an electronic world that looks more and more like a volatile updating of the Oklahoma landrush.
Unless we bolster and reaffirm the doctrine of fair use, the faint pleas of historians and cultural studies scholars will simply vanish in the same ancillary afterlife that has commercialized television.
Once again, however, we educators need to be pragmatic about the legitimate needs of the parties involved in an archival access. How can we protect the needs of producers who need to prevent piracy, for example, even as archives and museums should begin to initiate traveling exhibitions and educational series' on television history for broader populations?
One answer may lie in the availability of the CD-ROM as a distribution access format. And this may be a real fantasy on my part, or a hope perhaps, in terms of access and research, not as a preservation or storage format. There are economies of scale that make the format affordable. There are CD-ROM mastering machines now within the economic and acquisitions reach of archives, museums and universities. And the hardened form of the CD makes possible a kind of quality control and uniformity sorely absent on any current tape based systems.
Deposit agreements and negotiations with archive donors should also stress the safeguards that come with the system and with limited educational distribution. First, unlike videotape, the CD-ROM is typically PC based and not easily pirated. Second, the format does not make recording a wide-scale option for consumers' viewers. And finally, to ensure both identification and severely limited use, a standard time code source window could be inserted lower third frame to protect and limit the use of the television program on the CD.
While it pains me to make this latter suggestion, given my interest in stylistic and visual analysis, this feature would have several chief benefits. Communication scholars and television historians would have access to the same episodes on a repeatable and verifiable basis. Second, each video frame would be assigned a visual time code number for accurate and universal reference. Third, the archive's source would also be keyed in to eliminate any confusion about its origins. And four, the illicit commercial potential of a program circulating in this form would vanish given this overt visual on-screen identification of time frame and archival source.
It is difficult to image anything in this form being broadcast or cable cast, given its altered on-screen form, but the format would be a true resource for educators.
Unless we as a culture begin to take television as seriously as our moral condemnations typically make of it, unless we take proactive measures to engage the issues of fair use and distribution in the educational context, we will simply let the electronic landrush configure culture and knowledge for us.
While privatizing may be a tantalizing prospect for those with financial resources, it will not be the same for those without resources. After years of teaching undergraduate television production students in the chronically underfunded world of affordable public higher education, it is clearer to me than ever before that this kind of education has a unique function.
We can, if we choose this direction, continue to enable the people of California, especially those without economic means, to engage the new electronic media with terms that will help them make the media responsive to the people and not vice versa.
Of course, the modest proposals I have made above cost money, and it always hurts to talk about money. But these resources can come if one considers the kind of technological and economic logic I have sketched out above and if one initiates and continues formal dialogue between the industry, the archives and the academy. Certainly, facilitating this dialogue should and could be a public function of government and the Library of Congress. The key once again in seeking common ground and developing win/win scenarios for both academics and the industry, and in developing technical safeguards for access distribution, rests in considering how the vigorous, scholarly study of television also benefits the industry and the American people.
Archival based historical research of television, then, provides the kind of intellectual capital that the industry can take to the bank. An educated television work force is our common ground.
MR. TABB: Thank you. Ms. Bergstrom. Presentation by Janet Bergstrom, Associate Professor Department of Film and Television, UCLA And Representing the Society for Cinema Studies
MS. BERGSTROM: Thank you. My name is Janet Bergstrom. I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Film and Television at UCLA. I am here as the official delegate of the Society for Cinema Studies.
The Society for Cinema Studies is the professional society for the study of film and television in the United States. The SCS has over 1,000 members, most of whom are professors and graduate students who teach and write about film and television in academic institutions. Members also include independent media scholars and film/ television study professionals, many of whom are also scholars, such as archivists and research librarians.
First of all, it is wonderful that the hearings on television and video are happening now, right on the heels of the efforts to develop a policy for film preservation. Increasingly, film and television are interrelated in our field of study.
A national group for the oversight of film and TV/video preservation and access is a positive step. The value of television and video materials as a resource for research and teaching is simply fundamental to the field of film and television studies. Without television and video materials, we would be prevented from carrying out our primary mission as educators and researchers. Our academic field, which is central to charting the history and culture of the United States, would cease to exist.
The Library of Congress summary of The American Television and Radio Archives Act of 1976 states that the Librarian of Congress is authorized to, quote, "preserve a permanent record of the television and radio programs which are the heritage of the people of the United States and to provide access to such programs to historians and scholars without encouraging or causing copyright infringement."
I would like to bring to your attention the concerns of the SCS regarding three interdependent parts of this charge; namely, preservation, access and copyright.
First, preservation. We understand that without preservation, access is impossible. Ideally, everything should be saved. But we also understand that we cannot preserve all the video that has been produced. Therefore, the scholarly community should be actively involved in prioritizing television and video materials for preservation and access. Hearings, meetings and the establishment of some formal mechanism for scholarly input into the design and implementation of the television preservation plan are necessary to the process. We urge that this dialogue should not begin and end with the current study.
As in film preservation, the first steps involve collecting, documenting and protecting the original videotape. But there is no stable support for video images, and therefore the tasks of inspection and duplication are much more urgent than in the film world. Funding and incentives should be made available to support the creation of better storage facilities, but at the same time, we need to transfer important and unique video programming to the best available digital format so that its further duplication will be possible without the loss of image quality that occurs in tape-to-tape analog transfers.
In video, the problem of equipment obsolescence is almost as big as the lack of a stable medium. Funding is needed to preserve equipment to play back obsolete tapes, so that they can be transferred to contemporary formats.
UCLA and the Smithsonian both have large collections of historical television equipment, but that does not mean that this equipment is in functional condition, either for playback of rare formats to researchers (it is said that large numbers of tapes that are now considered antiques simply could not survive repeated viewings, as John just indicated; they need to be transferred in order to be viewable by scholars, teachers and the public) or for transfer purposes. A public/private partnership combining the knowledge, expertise and facilities of archives and television companies might be a good solution, as it has been in the case of film.
The Importance of Preserving Video Resources: Television has become the most pervasive form of communication in American life. The study of television is an important and rapidly developing field of academic inquiry and teaching. I am referring to courses in research on the history and aesthetics of television and video, as well as courses that depend on documents that originated on TV or video to teach history, sociology, political science and nearly all other areas of the humanities.
Video preservation also directly impacts teaching and research on the cinema. The unfortunate reality is that most teachers now have to teach film history and aesthetics using videotapes of films. This has become the case at every level, not only in elementary and high schools but also in many colleges and universities.
The many factors which led to this state of affairs are well known, but cost factors aside, it is no longer unusual for a title to be available on tape that can no longer be found on film because the film has been pulled from distribution or because no projectable print exists and it is deemed too expensive by the distributor to strike a new print.
This is not just a question that affects American films. Because we teach and study the history and aesthetics of the cinema in a global context, video masters of important foreign films, which are subject to the same harsh laws of the marketplace, should be held in U.S. archives so that copies can be made for the non-commercial use of researchers and teachers.
Video Documents on the Verge of Extinction: One could cite many kinds of important video documents that have been rendered unviewable because of deterioration or are imminently threatened with extinction.
The first category I have cited is "News and Public Affairs Television Programming."
Although a lot of significant news has been captured on videotape since the 1950's, from about 1975 on, news and public events have been recorded almost exclusively on videotape. The three major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) and CNN currently hold the vast majority of national news footage produced in the last two decades.
While we recognize the right of these corporate entities to own and license or sell this footage for commercial purposes, we would like to propose that there is a larger national interest in both the preservation of this material and scholarly access to it. As educators and citizens, we need a system whereby this material can be accessed and acquired for non-commercial purposes. As the multi-channel environment develops, we should consider adding additional entities to the current big four.
Partnerships between private companies and public archives in film preservation have been very successful. We would like to propose that any television preservation plan contain three basic components that would constitute the foundation of a partnership between the sources of news and public affairs television, the American archives, and the academic and research institutions throughout the country. And these components are:
First, the producing and distributing entities should make a public commitment to preserving the news and public affairs programming in their archives. This commitment may involve a partnership with public archives for preservation and access.
Second, the databases of the network holdings should be made available on the Internet so that scholars can have individual and accurate access to them.
And third, a very low cost system of access to this news and public affairs material should be established for non- commercial teaching and research purposes.
The second category of things about to be extinct is called "Video Art."
Video art and artists' videos from the 1970's and '80's, which documented performances of dance, music and multi- media art, constitute a significant body of work that needs to be preserved and made available to scholars and teachers. Many of these works were funded by federal or state arts agencies, such as the NEA, NEH, New York State Council on the Arts, California Arts Council and PBS, a clear indication of their importance to the arts and humanities in the United States. Commitment to this work needs to be sustained through preservation.
A recent visit that I took to the Long Beach Museum of Art, which has a large archive of artists' video work, brought home the seriousness of the situation. Artists were coming there to view their own work, which they had placed on deposit, only to find that their tapes had deteriorated to the point where large sections or even entire tapes were no longer visible.
Funding had never been secured to catalog or house the tapes in a properly cooled and dry space, much less to support a sustained conservation program which would inspect and duplicate important works before they were irretrievably lost. The 1/2" video reels which were a mainstay of both the art world and many community documentation projects are now mostly unplayable, even if one can find the rare functional player.
One goal of the National Preservation Plan should be to stimulate the collection, prioritization and transfer of these documents.
The next category in line for extinction is "Documentaries."
MR. TABB: Excuse me. Ms. Bergstrom, could I ask you to summarize the rest of your paper? We are out of time. If you can just hit the highlights of the remaining points, I would appreciate it.
MS. BERGSTROM: Okay. The highlights are--since I have already submitted this in written form--the next category is very important and is "Documentaries," especially since now documentaries are largely shot on video. The last category about to become extinct is "Education and Industrial Videos," things that people don't think necessarily have value, but indeed, if we look at film, in film history, obviously have great value.
The second part, though, "Access," and the third part "Copyright," are absolutely crucial to us. So, I really want to read this part on access, which is only one paragraph.
We urgently need a national plan for preservation that includes access as a key component. Preservation without access is pointless, but far too often the raison d'etre of preservation is lost. Archive budgets usually do not include provisions for access for scholars. Cataloging and databases are virtually never funded.
It stands to reason that if there isn't any access to materials that have been preserved, then those materials are not seen. Those materials are held incognito, and they might as well not be preserved; they might as well not exist. We have to know that they are there.
I cite the UCLA Archive as an example because cataloging and access was made a priority there. On the same database by which we access our library holdings, we can find out everything that is in the archive. Limited database cataloging was made the first priority, but at the same time, there was a full database description project set up. And that really works and it is really excellent, but it is the only one that I know of.
And we really need that for all kinds of areas, not just university holdings. But I am suggesting that we also need that for news and public affairs, the networks.
This is available on the Internet, the UCLA materials.
Copyright and fair use: this is urgent for us. We urgently need a strong, unambiguous redefinition of the concept of "fair use" for research and teaching. We are scholars; we don't want to infringe on copyright laws. The current sense of "fair use" is timid, restrictive and very confusing. Today, copyright laws threaten to inhibit teaching and research and undermine the free circulation of information and ideas on which our society depends.
From the existing copyright statutes to the recent proposals for copyright, with respect to the National Information Infrastructure, one can chart a massive appropriation of the space of public discussion by private corporations.
The issue of "fair use" is a particular problem for "distant access" of media materials via the Internet. Distant access can enable scholars to do a great deal of foundational research without traveling to the many sites that would be necessary to go to in person. However, according to some interpretations, even sending a digitized image over the Internet to another scholar, to help identify it, would be considered an infringement of copyright.
A highly restrictive interpretation inhibits scholarly exchange at the very moment that the Internet offers the possibility of global scholarship and sharing resources in ways that were previously unimaginable.
It is also important to recognize that American media materials are held in archives and collections all over the world. The Internet makes it possible to consult a large part of that.
SCS is interested in facilitating scholarly exchange across geographical boundaries, and now we actually are able to collaborate with scholars all over the world, and we need to be able to do this with documents, as well as with scholarly voices.
There are other factors that impinge upon our scholarly work. The conditions of deposit agreements sometimes limit access to materials. Because depositors may not realize the negative consequences of certain clauses for teaching and research, it is important for archives to understand that this presents problems for scholars. We would like to encourage the collection of materials, which inevitably means the expenditure of resources, in a way that supports, rather than inhibits, access and the use of media materials in a scholarly context.
Guidelines could be drafted for deposit agreements that spoke directly to access and fair use, and that encouraged depositors to think positively about the research and educational value of the materials they deposit.
About facilitating copyright clearances: this is a crucial issue for us. When scholars and others, like filmmakers, need to obtain copyright clearances--for instance, if you want to publish a photograph--there should be a specific and clearly designated place they can go to request it. A mechanism is needed to facilitate this currently Byzantine task. One frequently hears that something can not be reproduced because no one knows who currently holds copyright, and publication or distribution hinges on explicit permission because of the fear of possible infringement of copyright law.
We urge that a part of a national preservation plan for media should include a strong, broad and unambiguous statement that educational use constitutes fair use, and a cognate commitment to establishing a broad exemption in the copyright laws for such use, particularly in the new media and technologies area.
If archivists and administrators are faced with interpreting complicated and highly restrictive copyright laws, they will choose a safe route and deny permission. This practice, currently prevalent, has been seriously detrimental to American media scholarship.
In conclusion, obviously, we don't have the space and I don't have the time to clearly elucidate more here, but I want to express to this committee the permanent and vital interest of the Society for Cinema Studies and many other parts of the academic community in national preservation issues. We generally feel that we have very little influence over the media resources that mean so much to us.
As I suggested above, rather than closing these issues, these hearings should be a genuine introduction to a sustained and broad-based national discussion about the preservation of that part of our heritage that is now in such an inaccessible perilous state. Thank you.
MR. TABB: Thank you. Time for a few questions. Are there any from the panel? Are we all questioned out today?
MR. RICHMOND: Well, this isn't so much a question, but just sort of to try to sum up so we know where we are going here.
Obviously, it sounds to me like in terms of educational access and research access, there are two issues we have to look at. One is how to--well, maybe three issues. One is how to simplify and try to facilitate access. The second is how to expand the amount of material that is available for research and educational use. And I would think the third, which maybe is part of the simplifying and facilitating, is to, with the modern means that are available, start to make it more possible, find ways that the materials can be brought to the researcher, rather than the researcher having to travel to get to the materials.
And there have been a lot of different proposals that I have heard, coming out of different panels, that all kind of relate to those topics, that are going to have to be thought through.
If anyone has any specific questions for what was said, maybe you should go first, because for me, I come from a university, so I am sold on the importance of education and research access at that level. And you may not be able to help me here, but it seems to me that television is also becoming more and more important at high school and the primary school levels. And I am wondering if you have any knowledge of that or any thoughts about how materials should be made available for uses at those levels, not just at the college level. And I apologize, because I know I am putting you on the spot here.
MS. McLANE: I can speak to that.
MR. RICHMOND: Could you?
MS. McLANE: Media literacy education in elementary and secondary schools is of great concern of many people, but it is very often the very first thing to go in times of hard budgets in education. So, teaching of television per se or media literacy, as it is called in elementary and secondary, is really something that is very, very difficult these days. Which isn't to say that the material shouldn't be made available to those people that want to do it.
If I may kind of ask something about what you touched on earlier, that I think provides a bit of a summation about a lot of the things we have talked about here today and the relationship between the industry, the archives and the educational community. And that is that, as Janet pointed out particularly, the film and the television and the video, it is all smushed together in a lot of ways. That doesn't mean that you don't have an area of expertise in video production or Hollywood feature film history.
But I think Ray could probably speak to the same thing, that you teach students video and film, and students study television and film in most institutions. It is not separated out. And with the proliferation of new media, which is really where media education on the elementary and secondary level is going, this is just going to become more and more and more the case.
And I would suggest that in thinking about film and video preservation, although technically they are vastly different, ultimately their meaning for our culture is very much the same.
MR. TABB: Did you want to pick up on it?
MR. FIELDING: Yes. But I would like to enlarge--if we have the time--like to enlarge the issue of fair use--the copyright protection--which Professor Bergstrom has touched upon. God knows, it is difficult enough to change the Copyright Act, and the last time it was done in a major kind of way was about 20 years ago.
Nonetheless, be that as it may, do you feel that current copyright protection is sufficient, both to protect the legitimate interests of the copyright owners, but also to provide access, or if not, then do you have specific recommendations regarding the revision of that act? I can not imagine, for example, that the Congress would accept the premise that educational use per se represents fair use. Do you have any specific recommendations you might want to make? It is a very important issue.
MS. BERGSTROM: I would like them to accept that premise that educational use represents fair use. I would like them to accept that premise, because what I run into, and my colleagues, all the time, is--you see, we don't run into the question of, well, is somebody being protected enough. We run into the big "no." You can't see this; you can't reproduce this; you can't--you know, it is no, no, no, because of copyright. And it is all very vague whose interest would actually be hurt if you did publish a photograph or whatever. You see what I mean?
And the other problem is that half the time you don't even know who to go to. And maybe you should be allowed to see something but nobody really knows that. It is just very confusing.
MR. FIELDING: Many years ago, when I ran a small educational film production company, I lost substantial revenues because as videotaping progressed in its technical sophistication, the school systems around the country were capable of duping off the preview prints we sent through my distributor. That's a legitimate form of revenue--a legitimate interest of commercial enterprises.
In other words, many, many organizations derive substantial revenue from educational consumption of their products. And I am wondering whether we can draw a finer distinction between what is legitimate and what is not.
MS. BERGSTROM: Oh, you are saying, for instance, we rent films to show; we rent--
MR. FIELDING: Yes. Access is one thing, but revising the Copyright Act is another.
MS. BERGSTROM: Right. I am not sure that we are really ready to do that in the next five minutes but--
MR. FIELDING: Right.
MS. BERGSTROM: But that's why--I mean, one of the big pleas here is that we have further dialogue on--I mean, there are just a host of questions, prioritizing preservation. I mean, all kinds of things, prioritizing access, how you are going to go about this. And how you can get these databases together is so important. I think we just need to have more meetings and more input and consider the pros and cons, so that people can speak for their own interests.
But from my own interest, you know, I am happy to pay rental for the kinds of things that we would normally pay rental for. It is not a question of that. It more has to do with situations like this: you are publishing an article and you want to enclose a picture in it, but the publisher will say you can't unless you have a letter saying that this has been cleared, but you don't know who it goes to, because--you know. Or you can't get access to a program because you sort of think you know where it is--you may not know where it is--but I mean, you sort of think you know where it is, but people will tell you, "Well, no, that's restricted." And it is all just very nebulous.
MR. FRANCIS: Well, obviously, SCS has a pretty large member base, and I was wondering whether the discussion could continue in SCS a little, so that there was a more refined document that could be part of any report that was prepared. It does seem to be a big issue in its own right. If the discussions could continue there, this would be very valuable.
MS. BERGSTROM: Well, I hope that there will be some framework to which we could contribute such a document, and I am sure that people within SCS would be very eager to do this.
DR. BILLINGTON: Well, I think you could contribute it not only to this study, but also to the discussions on the NII that are going on in Washington. We are in the Legislative Branch. Those go on, essentially, in the Executive Branch. But my impression is--I haven't sat in on those, but our people that have--is that there hasn't been as vigorous a statement of the position you have just made as might have been entered into that discussion, and that such statements as there are are not usually fortified by anybody hiring a lawyer to phrase them in language which would counter other positions.
So, there are various levels on which that dialogue has to be joined. And all these questions are being much discussed and in different fora. But I think I agree with the thrust of what David is saying, that with a large organization like that--I don't know firsthand how much you are in the dialogue, but these are issues that are very live.
As many of you know, the Telecommunications Act that was signed a couple of weeks ago, it was signed in the Main Reading Room at the Library of Congress. That's the first time in 30 years that a presidential signing has occurred there, and there was a lot of people there. There was a lot of discussion, a lot of animated discussion.
So, these subjects keep intruding in the public dialogue. The first time ever a bill has been signed in the Library of Congress as far as our historians new.
So, I think there is a kind of implicit recognition in all this that the scholarly--the educational and the archival-- because our whole digital library is an entirely educational project. That's something profoundly new for the Library of Congress. We are fundamentally an archival deposit, 110 million items in all formats. But the digital library represents an educational reach.
So, there is a lot going on, and I think it is important that an issue like this, that's important to the educational community, that perhaps not only your group but other educational groups formulate rather more clearly what they want and come up--and in the Washington dialogue, you have to come up with concrete suggestions. If you feel it is vague and you have vague objections to it, no amount of dialogue is going to be advanced very far, in terms of practical steps, unless one has concrete alternatives and tries to define that.
So, as I say, I don't think we can do it in five minutes here, but I--
MS. BERGSTROM: If I could just be informed of the various venues where we might formulate something, because I imagine you would need to address things differently to different groups.
DR. BILLINGTON: Well, you can call the Copyright Office, would be a good place to begin. I can give you some names.
MS. BERGSTROM: Okay. Thanks.
MR. TABB: We are at the end of our time. I want to close by thanking this panel and all those who preceded you, as well as my colleagues here, and the many of you in the audience who stayed throughout a very long afternoon.
I will remind you, yet again, that if you do have concrete suggestions, recommendations, to make to us, we very much welcome those. They will be welcomed up through April the 29th, if you would like to send them to Steve Leggett, of the Library's Motion Picture Division.
Thank you very much for participating today in this hearing. Comments are welcome from everyone who is here, not just those who participated in a formal way.
(Whereupon, at 7:05 p.m., the hearing in the above- entitled matter was adjourned.)