I attended the 2018 AMIA (Association of Moving Image Archivists) Digital Asset Symposium, referred to as DAS, on June 6th at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. LAC Group’s PRO-TEK Vaults was one the event’s sponsors.
This annual spring event is well-attended by moving image archive professionals from a wide spectrum of industries, including academia, government, business, media / broadcasting, sports and non-profits.
Event host and moderator Nick Gold, Lead Technologist at Chesapeake Systems and the Symposium’s New York Chair, ably stitched together the day’s presentations and Q&A sessions. The event kicked off with a brief welcome message from AMIA President Dennis Doros of Milestone Films.
Keynote presentation incorporating AI
The keynote presentation was titled, “Truth is a Lie” and was presented by two speakers from Amsterdam’s Vrije University (VU):
- Lora Aroyo, Professor and head of VU’s User-Centric Data Science Lab , and also Chief Scientist at Tagasauris, a tech start-up that uses machine learning and human-assisted computing for video search and discovery.
- Chris Welty, Endowed Professor of Cognitive Computing and also Senior Research Scientist at Google.
They examined the challenges of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the importance of knowing context and perspective to get to a better understanding of the concept of truth. Algorithms and probability can harness disagreements in crowdsourcing to discern deeper interpretation and more accurate and relevant analysis.
Nonprofit digital archiving and workflow challenges
Following the keynote was a more practical and workflow-minded presentation by Nicole Martin, Senior Manager of Multi-Media Archive and Digital Systems at Human Rights Watch, or HRW.
HRW is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization made up of human rights professionals involved in fact-finding, impartial reporting and advocacy to shine a light on human rights conditions around the world. Nicole walked through an overview of the digital archiving and workflow challenges at HRW, as well as a brief history of the organization and the growth of its archive over the years.
Content integrity is especially important to HRW since while creating multi-media they are also collecting evidence on human rights concerns and abuses. To that end, the digital asset workflow satisfies legal requirements preserving all original file names, file hierarchies, file formats and original metadata. Nicole has established standards throughout the content pipeline and perhaps most importantly, has integrated a preservation consciousness throughout the production process. This enables HRW to meet creative and production workflow needs and also remain within the boundaries, rules and standards of the organization to assure an effective preservation strategy.
Netflix turns isolated data sets into market insights
After a break, Randa Minkarah, COO at Transform, presented an engaging presentation titled, “Bridge the Gap: Unite Content and Customer Intelligence for Audience Engagement and Growth.” Her presentation focused on harnessing data often in separate “data silos” and turning these data sets into insights.
Netflix was pointed to as an example of an organization that excels at leveraging integrated audience and content intelligence to power its remarkable growth. It turns the data it collects into valuable tools for informing on content intelligence, user behavior, timing, usage, likes, dislikes and more to target their offerings and user experience accordingly.
Intersection of data science and information science
The last session of the morning was a panel discussion titled “Smart Stacking of Data and Information Science” led by Sally Hubbard, Metadata Architect at PBS and featuring Senior Data Scientist Gian Klobusicky and Ontologist Dalia Levine of HBO. Their discussion focused on the intersection of data science and information science to increase overall knowledge and examined their similarities and differences. When working together they can offer richer insights for an organization’s better understanding of their media content.
Archiving 100 years of professional hockey
The afternoon sessions kicked off with a spirited discussion by Dan Piro, Digital Asset Archive Director at the National Hockey League (NHL). Dan gave an engaging presentation on the history of the NHL’s archive and the recent efforts starting in 2015 to digitize the league’s entire collection in advance of its 100th anniversary, celebrated during the 2017 / 2018 hockey season.
Dan detailed the physical, logistical and technological challenges of completing this initiative, while also launching a new DAM infrastructure and continuing to support new content and ongoing daily business support needs. The push to effectively managing the collection and migrate to all-digital access shined a light on their otherwise dark and often inaccessible content, improving the NHL’s ability to create new content that ultimately told more compelling stories about the extensive history of professional hockey, including the teams, coaches and players.
This initiative created a platform for the NHL to better serve its internal departments and broadcast partners while expanding marketing and licensing opportunities. Dan’s work has proven to be a smart strategy for assuring continued preservation of these assets, both physical and digital, well into the future while also effectively addressing their content operations needs.
Jazz delivers object storage lessons
Dr. Alain Dufaux of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne gave a presentation titled “Object Storage and the Modern Media Archive, Montreux Jazz Digital Project—From Patrimony to Innovation Platform.”
This presentation focused on the digitization of the audiovisual recordings of the Montreaux Jazz Festival’s collection, going back to the mid-1960’s. The project was designed to preserve and enhance research access, to expand interaction with this collection through a number of innovative user-interaction tools and experiences.
Producing a documentary from archive materials
The closing session was a panel discussion, “The Making of Netflix’s Bobby Kennedy for President,” moderated by Matthew White, Executive Director/ACSIL and co-producer of “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week.”
Panelists included producers and editors from “Bobby Kennedy for President”—Laura Michalychyshyn, Joshua Pearson, Rich Remsburg and Elizabeth Wolff. Together, they offered a complete view of the process and challenges of producing a documentary from mostly unseen, rare or otherwise newly discovered archive materials.
Laura spoke about the development, pitch and then pre-production process and timing while Rich shared a number of stories on how he discovered much of this content from his research efforts and some serendipitous finds. Interspersed into the discussion were clips from the film, followed up with backstory on the discovery and acquisition of the content. I found it particularly interesting to see how the editorial process drove the archive research and discovery process and vice versa.
AMIA DAS 2018 success
My general opinion about this event is all positive. I was a participant at one of the original DAS events in Hollywood, back in 2007, and thanks to digital technology, moving image archiving has undergone significant changes in the last decade. It’s exciting to be part of LAC Group, as we expand our Content & Archive Services to go far beyond the motion picture film restoration and preservation services we’ve been delivering to the movie industry for decades. As movie-making goes digital, our archiving services are going digital too.
I’m excited about what the next decade will bring for asset management and moving image archives.