Moving Image Archiving and Preservation

Fall 2006 - Tuesdays 6-10pm, Rm 651

Introduction to Moving Image Archiving and Preservation
H72.1800 (sect. 001; call#71000; 4 credit hours)

2003 | 2004 |, 212-998-1521

Office hours:  Mondays, 10 am til noon; and by appointment

[updated September 8, 2006]

Course Description:  This graduate-level course introduces and contextualizes aspects of the archiving and preservation of film, video, and new media.  We will consider the moving image and sound recording media as material objects, as technologies with histories.  We will contextualize them within culture, politics, industries, and economics. Topics include: conservation and preservation principles, organization and access, restoration, collecting, curatorship, and programming, legal issues and copyright, and emerging issues in digital media.    
Designed for students entering the profession of moving image archiving, the course examines the history of archiving and preservation and the development of the field’s theories, practices, and professional identities.  We will consider the tasks and areas of specialization practiced by moving image professionals and how these are changing and multiplying in the digital era.   

Required readings:  There is no single book, or even set of books, for this multiperspectival, interdisciplinary field and course.  The book that should start out the course is out of print, but read it on reserve.

 • Penelope Houston, Keepers of the Frame:  The Film Archives (BFI, 1994)  [one at Bobst Library Reserves Desk, TR886.3 H68]

A .pdf file of most of the book is online at the Blackboard site.

            The other readings will be essays and documents handed out in class or (most often) made available in digital form (pdf files available on the course website and via e-mail; websites; and electronic library documents via Bobst Library portals).  The U.S. national plans for television/video and film preservation are on-line, as are NFPF publications.  We will also read articles from the AMIA journal, The Moving Image.  The 2004-06 issues are available to you in .html and .pdf formats via Project Muse (see Bobst Library databases). 

            Please print paper copies for yourself when any electronic versions are required reading.  Keep them handy for marking, reviewing.
Objectives:  After completing the course you should be able to  …

Requirements:  Course grades [A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D, F] will be determined by performance in the following areas. MIAP students must earn a grade a B or better to advance. 

Attendance and Participation (25%)  Attend all meetings of the course.  Participate actively in all discussions. 
Participation will also measured by your completion of short assignments given occasionally.  These required short assignments will be announced throughout the semester.  Most will consist of a brief written response (ca. 500-words), due a week after its assignment. 
Each student will be assigned one date to summarize and lead class discussion on a reading. 
You must also monitor the electronic discussion supervised by the Association for Moving Image Archivists (AMIA-L).  Subscribe via e-mail.

 Research report (25%)  Research and write a report on a single piece of under-researched film or video.  You and a classmate will be provided an access copy of an original item about which little is known.  Studying the film’s content, historical context, archival and material conditions, you will compose a written report assessing the piece’s significance and recommend a preservation and presentation plan. 

Proposal  (10%)  A proposal for your final project, including preliminary research bibliography and a prospectus .  (3-4 pages). 

Final project  (40%)  A substantive, in-depth, individual research project.  Integrate archival research with one or more set of moving image materials (or related materials, such as audio, photographic or paper documents), or develop an essay and documentation on an archival project stemming from issues in the course.  
            The topic of your final project must be approved before submitting a formal proposal.  You will receive an additional list of possible projects, but you may also propose a project of your own invention.  Look at the MIAP web site to see projects that students have done previously.  The best projects tend to work with available primary materials. 
            Some general options to consider include:

Course schedule:   [Readings for the 2nd half listed fully in October.]

Sept  5    Introduction to materials and the profession 

                        Look at 8/S8, 16mm, 35mm film; VHS, BetaSP, DigiBeta, miniDV videotape; DVD, VCD, CD-ROM, ¼” audio reel; audio cassette.

Regarding Penelope’s Wake Michele Smith, 2002) DVD

Keepers of the Frame (1999) 45 min. VHS excerpt 

Television Pictures (1931) VHS excerpt                        

• clip from CSI episode “Committed,” (CBS, April 28, 2005) inspired by   
to see the video “Le Vase,” by Bilge Sehir (Zalea TV, Belgium) 1:56. 
But . . .

• “The Movie Savior,” CBS Sunday Morning, film preservation story on Roger Mayer, Library of Congress, and Colorlab (2005)  9 mins.

• “Numa Numa Dance” (Gary Brolsma, 2004)  3 versions (+ sequel to launch 9/9)

Assignment for next class:  Select 1 title from the filmography in The Field Guide to Sponsored Films that is also available at the Internet Archive (  Briefly, compare the data/metadata found in the Field Guide for that title to the information about that title found at  View the moving image version of the title you find there.  Note any significant or surprising differences between the Field Guide entry and the movie itself. 
(Write your response on the card provided in class.)

Sept 12           Materials, production artifacts, ephemera;
                        Collecting, Collectors & the Collected;
                        What is an ‘orphan film’?
• Paolo Cherchi-Usai, “What Is an ‘Orphan Film’?  Definition, Rationale, and Controversy” (1999)
• Gregory Lukow, "The Politics of Orphanage: The Rise and Impact of the 'Orphan Film' Metaphor on Contemporary Preservation Practice" (1999) 

• Rick Prelinger, introduction to The Field Guide to Sponsored Films (NFPF, 2006); peruse the filmography. 

• Rick Prelinger and Raegan Kelly, “Panorama Ephemera,” Vectors: Journal of Culture and Technology in a Dynamic Vernacular 2.1 (2006)
              View the interactive production and read the texts. 

• Anthony Slide, Nitrate Won’t Wait:  A History of Film Preservation in the United States (McFarland, 2000): “Newsreel Preservation and the National Archives,” 25-35; “Thanks to the Film Collectors,” 45-60; “Stock Footage Libraries,” 134-44.

Friday, Sept. 15 -- 1:00 – 3:30 pm, room 656; 
“Self-Made Archivists:  Orphan Film Collectors as Programmers" 
Skip Elsheimer (A/V Geeks)
Stephen Parr (Oddball Film + Video)  &
Greg Pierce (The Orgone Archive)


Sept 19             Alan Berliner studio visit   

Meet in his Tribeca studio (13 Vestry St., w. of Canal & 6th)
including bio, resume, and Philip Lopate’s “American Family Life Wittily Revealed,” New York Times, Jan. 12, 1997.
Begin reading Keepers of the Frame for future discussion.

Friday, Sept. 22 --  5:30 pm, room 656
“How to Find Films and Videos,”  public MIAP/NEH talk
Nancy Goldman (Head of the Library and Film Study Center at UC Berkeley's Pacific Film Archive, )  will talk about locating and using material for research, production, and exhibition.

Sept 26              Principles, Philosophy: the international landscape, Ray Edmondson

• Ray Edmondson, Audiovisual Archiving:  Philosophy and Principles (Paris: UNESCO, 2004)

• Questionnaire for the “World Day for Audiovisual Heritage” study

• CCAAA site [  “Policies and Standards” tab documents, especially the paper about a new UNESCO instrument.

• The existing UNESCO instrument “Recommendation for the Safeguarding and Preservation of Moving Images” (1980) at

• UNESCO’s “Memory of the World” Program

• Ray Edmondson, "You Only Live Once: On Being a Troublemaking Professional,” The Moving Image 2.1 (2002):  175-83.

• FIAF Code of Ethics

Oct  3               Film Preservation

Annette Melville and Scott Simmon, Film Preservation 1993: A Study of the Current State of American Film Preservation  (Report to the Library of Congress)  excerpts

Karen Gracy, "Documenting the Process of Film Preservation,” The Moving Image 3.1 (2003): 1-41.

Paul Read and Mark-Paul Meyer, Restoration of Motion Picture Film (Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2000):  chapters 9, 10, 21, 22.

Oct 10              [no Tuesday class meeting]

Wednesday, October 11-14, AMIA Conference 

Airplane reading
Jan-Christopher Horak, “Old Media Becomes New Media,” et al., in Celluloid Goes Digital, ed. Martin Loiperdinger (Trier, Germany: Wissenschaftlichter Verlag, 2003).  13-37.

Begin reading
William T. Murphy, Television and Video Preservation 1997 (Report to the Library of Congress)  excerpts

Oct 17             Video & Digital Preservation           

Finish reading William T. Murphy, Television and Video Preservation 1997 (Report to the Library of Congress)  excerpts

excerpts from John W.C Van Bogart, Magnetic Tape Storage and Handling: A Guide for Libraries and Archives (Washington, DC: Commission on Preservation and Access, 1995).

excerpts from Playback: A Preservation Primer for Video (San Francisco: Bay Area Video Coalition, 1998).

Howard Besser, “Digital Preservation of Moving Image Materials?” The Moving Image 1.2 (2001): 39-55.

Oct 24             Archival Institutions and Policies

Oct 31             Copyright, Legal Issues

                        Eldred v. Ashcroft (2003)
                        “A Posterity that Never Quite Arrives”:  Amicus Brief of Hal Roach Studios”
                        University of Texas System Crash Course in Copyright

Nov  7             Access, use, reuse

Nov 14             The MIC Project:  Moving Image Collections
                        Jane Johnson (Library of Congress)

“AMIM2”-- Archival Moving Image Materials: A Cataloging Manual 2nd ed. (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 2000).  excerpts  

MIC, Cataloging and Metadata Resources
            Jane Johnson, “Cataloging:  Lay of the Land”
            Grace Agnew, “Developing a Metadata Strategy”

Nov 21             The Flaherty Project: 50 years of audio

            Jonathan Kahana and International Film Seminars, Inc. on what to do with the hundreds of audio tape recordings made at the annual, week-long Robert Flaherty Film Seminars.  Cataloging and description has just begun.  Lots of work to be done here. 

Nov 28             Planning projects, final readings

Dec  5            final project presentations


A MIAP field trip to the Museum of Television and Radio will be announced.


MIAP Digital Archive:  In addition to any paper or other materials that must be submitted for a course project, all MIAP course projects will be submitted with accompanying electronic copies.  The ‘e-versions’ will be made part of the MIAP digital archive.  Provide all files with (1) a MIAP Submission Form and (2) file names that follow MIAP guidelines (which you will receive soon).  Identify on the Submission Form any content that might require access restrictions. 

“Blackboard” – This online resource will host course documents and web links as well as announcements.  Your are required to log-on before Sept. 12. 

Access NYU Blackboard Course Sites with a valid NYU Net ID and password through the Blackboard Classes list in NYUHome (   Click on the “Academics” tab, then click on the course link in the list provided.  If the class link does not appear in your list, try clicking the "Update Classes Information" link at the bottom of the channel.  Help is at ITS Client Services (212) 998-3333, or NYU Blackboard Help Request Form .

Plagiarism Advisory:

Plagiarism and other violations of the University’s published policies are serious offenses and will be punished severely.  Plagiarism includes presenting or paraphrasing a phrase, sentence, or passage of a published work (including material from the World-Wide Web) in a paper or exam answer without quotation marks and attribution of the source, submitting your own original work toward requirements in more than one class without the prior permission of the instructors, submitting a paper written by someone else, submitting as your own work any portion of a paper or research that you purchased from another person or commercial firm, and presenting in any other way the work, ideas, data, or words of someone else without attribution. These are punishable offenses whether intended or unintended (e.g., occurs through poor citations or confusion about how to reference properly).
You are encouraged to read additional texts and to discuss the issues of this course and your papers with others; but if you use ideas that come from others, you must acknowledge their help.  It is always better to err on the side of acknowledging other people than to fail to do so.  

Other offenses against academic integrity include: collaborating with others on assignments without the express permission of the instructor, giving your work to another student to submit as his/her own, copying answers from another student or source materials during examinations, secreting or destroying library or reference materials. . If you have any questions about how to cite sources, what constitutes appropriate use of a text, or other matters of academic integrity, please discuss them with your course instructor. 

Anyone caught plagiarizing will fail the course.  In addition, violations of academic integrity, including plagiarism, call for disciplinary action through the University.