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Audiovisual Research Alliance

The Audiovisual Research Alliance for Archivists & Cultural Heritage Professionals (AVRA), set up and supported by the Netherlands Institute for Sound & Vision, is a new initiative that seeks to openly engage with and produce research in collaboration with the wider audiovisual archiving and heritage community.

On the occasion of World Day for AV Heritage, the Audiovisual Research Alliance in collaboration with the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) Preservation Committee is pleased to release Snapshot of a Field in Motion. Audiovisual Preservation Report 2020: Four Topics Impacting the Field written by independent researcher Claire Fox.


New Directions

The Audiovisual Research Alliance commissions and publishes research in the field of sound and moving image archiving and heritage, evolving from the former AV Think Tank and taking the idea of a research-generating working group in a new direction. The research of the AVRA thinks forward to consider how the decisions, tools, strategies, and approaches enacted today are currently and can possibly impact the field of AV archiving and heritage. The Alliance does this by actively engaging with and openly inviting practitioners to: 

  1. Share key questions and topics they would like to see explored through formal research; 
  2. Join a network of interviewees to offer different perspectives and experiences on topics being researched; 
  3. Volunteer as part of diverse peer review teams to support the development and feedback of research; 
  4. Propose possible researchers within and outside of the audiovisual archiving field to be commissioned for specific reports.

As an initiative that endeavours to facilitate research of importance to a vast and diverse community of enthusiastic practitioners, the AVRA is grounded by an open, community-driven, and collaborative approach to research. Here we see “diverse,” amongst other things, as being first and foremost related to the identities and experiences of the individuals performing archival work, while being attuned to varying institutional types, sizes, and resources available, and the specificities of different geographic locations.

Working Towards a Working Method

While a transformation of the AV Think Tank, the Audiovisual Research Alliance continues to support an AV archiving sector that enables more long-term use of, learning with, and education through AV materials. The AVRA will do so in this new configuration by producing research (at the outset, 2 to 4 research papers per year) that draw from the interests of AV archives and heritage practitioners and are guided by an editorial direction.

This direction, in addition to being informed by exploring current and future impacts on the field, focuses on asking research questions of an analytical nature, looking across institutions, projects, people, and places; bridging technical questions with more political, social and philosophical inquiries; and showing and bringing together different approaches and strategies to offer broader overviews. Topics could include looking at the ethical implications of AI and machine learning in archives; about strategies for maximising financial, human, equipment or knowledge-based resources available to archives; exploring inspiring examples and strategies for access; or trying to understand the role of archives in taking in and caring for private born-digital collections, just to name a few.

The AVRA also seeks to collaborate with the working groups and committees of AV archiving associations to gather insight and engage in research on interests important to their members and the wider field, such as the recent collaboration with the AMIA Preservation Committee on the AVRA’s first published report. Additionally, the AVRA impresses the importance of an international scope, aiming to amplify the experiences of archives and practitioners operating outside of oft focused on North America, UK and Europe. 

Over the coming months, we are working to fully figure out how to put these intentions into action: how this new research alliance will operate practically and transparently. With this in mind, Rachel Somers Miles, the coordinator of the Alliance, is reaching out to different practitioners to get input on how people would like to see such an initiative operate, and is very open to feedback, so please feel free to reach out to have a conversation:

New Report: Snapshot of a Field in Motion

In the midst of this moment of transition and building, we’re excited to announce the release of a first report from the AVRA, whose origins came out of interests raised in the AV Think Tank, but whose execution and conversations around it, have helped lead the path to this new Alliance formation.

On the occasion of World Day for AV Heritage, the Audiovisual Research Alliance in collaboration with the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) Preservation Committee is pleased to release Snapshot of a Field in Motion. Audiovisual Preservation Report 2020: Four Topics Impacting the Field written by independent researcher Claire Fox.

Download report

Much like the name of the report suggests, Snapshot looks into the sound and moving image archival and heritage landscape, exploring a number of shifting and emerging topics impacting the field in 2020. These topics are: 

1. Providing and Preserving Captions for Digitized and Born-Digital Audiovisual Content

2. Testing and Implementing RAWcooked on DPX Film Scans 

3. Identifying and Managing Born-Digital Video Collections

4. Knowledge-Sharing as a Preservation Tool.

From the report: 

“What will the field of audiovisual preservation remember when it looks at the impact 2020 has had on this field and its future? It could be the year that archives decided that caption extraction or creation became a standard part of preservation workflows, joining with the sentiment that the COVID-19 pandemic could make the work more accessible. It could be the year that archivists adopted an open-source tool that compressed unwieldy file assets from expensive digitization projects into an open standard. It could be the year when born-digital processing is recognized as an urgent international concern, with smartphone documentation of protests accumulating in the form of evidence as well as irreplaceable cultural heritage documents. It could be the year that knowledge-sharing platforms evolved in a way that brought new preservationists to the field, and provided the infrastructure for current preservationists to continue expanding their skill sets. With the breadth of these possibilities in mind, this report aims to provide a focused perspective on four topics that might offer current and future archivists a frame of reference for what was impacting the field in 2020.”

In addition to individual research, Snapshot draws upon conversations with, and collective feedback from, moving image and media archivists and preservationists from around the globe.

The Creative Commons licensed report is freely downloadable.

To join the conversation about this research, you’re welcome to follow and comment on the report on Medium

Connect with Us

Please feel welcome to contact us should you have any questions or comments about the new Audiovisual Research Alliance or want to connect about the recent report by Claire Fox: