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Monday, May 16 • 9:30am - 10:00am
(Electronic Media) Putting the Time Base back in Time Based Media Conservation

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Leitch. Digital Processing Systems. Fortel. Snell & Wilcox. For the video formats that require the stabilizing force of a time-base corrector (TBC) to be digitized, the selection of TBC is second to only that of the videotape recorder. But despite the critical role played by these remarkable, increasingly obsolete machines (the earliest of analog-to-digital devices), their inner-workings remain a mystery to many of those responsible for reformatting analog video materials. Color, definition, stability, interlacement errors, preponderance of drop out—these things all rely, and, to a certain extent, vary, depending on the choice of TBC. During this presentation, members of the Bay Area Video Coalition’s (BAVC) Preservation team will stake a renewed claim for the significance of TBCs in media conservation, under-discussed, yet essential components of video and digitization systems. Beginning with an overview of helical scan recording technologies, Haydon and Turkus will deconstruct the time base, which, like all forms of video technology, is rooted in the rapid-fire transformation of light into electronic signal. Pinpointing the various distortions (tape damage, stretching, mechanical speed variation, oxide loss) that can affect the sync pulses that play a critical role in the playback of recorded signal, Haydon and Turkus will walk the audience through why time base errors occur, and how they are “corrected” by these devices. Presenting a series of case studies from the recent BAVC preservation projects, with a particular focus on formats from the heyday of video art (CV, EIAJ-1, ¾’’ U-Matic), the speakers will use side-by-side visual comparisons and analytical data provided by QCTools to demonstrate the at-times subtle, at-times significant differences between time base correctors. With relevance for both in-house and outsourced video digitization projects, Haydon and Turkus will guide collections holders in taking a more active role in the selection of TBC, communicating with vendors both at the outset of a project (the RFP/SOW process) and during playback testing. Haydon and Turkus will conclude with a critical look at the omission of “peripheral” machines such as TBCs from discussions of the magnetic media crisis. The obsolescence factors that affect TBCs, and the difficulties (and expense) of repairing and procuring functioning TBCs on the open market will only increase in magnitude in the coming years. Just as time-based media conservators should know the names of TBC manufacturers, they should also begin actively preparing for this inevitable decline.

avatar for Kelly Haydon

Kelly Haydon

Preservationist, Bay Area Video Coalition
Kelly Haydon holds an MA from the Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program at New York University, where she focused on digital preservation strategies, community archiving, and the conservation of audiovisual material. Through her project work in the program, she implemented... Read More →
avatar for Benjamin Turkus

Benjamin Turkus

Preservation Project Manager, Bay Area Video Coalition
Ben Turkus oversees all of BAVC’s preservation and digitization activities, developing workflow, documentation, and technical practices. He has a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in Film Studies from Columbia University, and is currently pursuing a MA in Moving Image... Read More →

Monday May 16, 2016 9:30am - 10:00am EDT
Room 513 D/F