Supplemental Readings

Play/back Supplementary Readings


The following list of resources, compiled by the Play/back Program Committee, offers a selection of the latest research at the intersection of audiovisual preservation and cultural heritage studies.  If you would like to see a resource added, please contact Josh Sternfeld.



"Activists' Guide to Archiving Video." WITNESS,


Helpful guide for field videographers to capture archival video.  Includes sections on creation, transfer, acquisition, organization, storage, cataloging, preservation and access.


"ARSC Guide to Audio Preservation." edited by Sam Brylawski, Maya Lerman, Robin Pike and Kathlin Smith, 2015.


The "Guide to Audio Preservation" is a co-publication of ARSC (Association for Recorded Sound Collections), CLIR (Council on Library and Information Resources) and the Library of Congress, it was made possible through funding from the Recording Board, along with contributions from CLIR and an anonymous donor. This 200+ page publication is a primer for the non-specialist (collectors, archivists at universities, libraries and historical societies) to help them manage their collections of audio recordings.


Bordwell, David. "'Pandora's Digital Box: The Blog Series." In David Bordwell's website on cinema, 2012.


Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative. "Digitization Guidelines."


Projects related to embedded metadata in audio files, digital file format recommendations, born digital video, performance testing of audio analog-to-digital converters, scanning motion picture film and more.


"DMIA: Digital Moving Image Archives Guide."

The Digital Moving Image Archives (DMIA) guide is designed for independent filmmakers to provide basic information about preserving digital data and to encourage collaboration with moving image archives.


The DMIA guide is a cost-effective plan based on archival best-practices for personal digital preservation. Rather than focus on individual file formats or specific “archival standard” formats (which don’t exist), the purpose is to provide a road map for digital survival.


The DMIA primarily addresses born-digital moving image data – audio and video created using digital equipment. The strategies discussed can be applied to any multimedia or computer-generated digital data, and to analog film or tape that is transformed to digital format.


Resources for the DMIA guide were selected from stable national and international institutions engaged in digital preservation research with the hope that these institutions will continue to provide standards and best practices.


Fuhrig, Lynda Schmitz. "And Action: The Ins and Outs of DVD Video Preservation." In The Bigger Picture: Smithsonian Institution Archives, 2013.


Goldsmith, Barbara. "Digitizing Video for Long-Term Preservation: An RFP Guide and Template." New York University, 2013.


Digitizing Video for Long-Term Preservation: An RFP Guide and Template is intended to take an institution step-by-step through the process of drafting a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the transfer of analog video formats to digital carriers for preservation. This template can be used by libraries, archives, and other cultural heritage institutions and submitted to qualified transfer vendors.


Image Permanence Institute. "Filmcare.Org." Rochester Institute of Technology, is a central resource for best practices in film preservation that provides guidelines for dealing with the preservation of all types and formats of film materials. It addresses the requirements for preserving black-and-white and color film and nitrate, acetate, and polyester-based film. It also addresses specific issues for motion-picture film, sheet film, still roll film, microfilm, and aerial film, as well as the management of collections containing a variety of media types (certainly the most common real-life situations encountered in the field). This approach focuses primarily on storage, condition surveys, and the development and implementation of best-fit environment-based strategies.


Library of Congress. "Sustainability of Digital Formats, Planning for Library of Congress Collections: Moving Images."


Nelson-Strauss, Brenda, Alan Gevinson, and Sam Brylawski. "The Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Plan." 2012.


The National Recording Preservation Plan has been devised to provide a blueprint to “implement a national sound recording preservation program,” as mandated in the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000. Congress specified that the program established by the Librarian of Congress under this legislation “shall ... increase accessibility of sound recordings for educational purposes.” Preserved recordings can benefit the public only if they are made available for listening. Technological, institutional, and legal impediments to broadened access create daunting challenges for the national preservation effort. This plan identifies the audio field’s most important preservation and access problems and offers recommendations for surmounting them.


Pierce, David. "The Survival of American Silent Feature Films: 1912-1929." 2013.


Rice, Dave. "Sustaining Consistent Video Presentation."  (2015).


This technical paper addresses approaches to identifying and mitigating risks associated with sustaining the consistent presentation of digital video files. Originating from two multi-partnered research projects – Pericles and Presto4U – the paper was commissioned by Tate Research and is intended for those who are actively engaged with the preservation of digital video.


Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. "The Digital Dilemma 2: Perspectives from Independent Filmmakers, Documentarians and Nonprofit Audiovisual Archives." 2012.


The Digital Dilemma 2 focuses on the more acute challenges faced by independent filmmakers, documentarians and nonprofit audiovisual archives.  While 75 percent of theatrically released motion pictures are independently produced, these communities typically lack the resources, personnel and funding to address sustainability issues that are available to major Hollywood studios and other large, deep-pocketed enterprises.  Independent filmmakers create – and nonprofit film archives collect and store – a sizeable part of moving image and sound heritage.  The Academy partnered with the Library of Congress's National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) to produce this new study with the conviction that these communities shouldn't be allowed to fall through the cracks.


For this report, a cross-section of independent filmmakers, distributors and marketers was interviewed and a broader online survey of independent filmmakers was conducted.  In addition, a representative group of nonprofit audiovisual archives provided details on their digital preservation activities, including information about the content they receive as born digital files, their current practices for digitally reformatting content for preservation, and their overall digital infrastructure, policies and funding strategies.  The report's findings show an urgent need for these diverse and widely dispersed individuals and organizations to address the digital dilemma before the cultural heritage they represent is permanently lost.


———. "The Digital Dilemma: Strategic Issues in Archiving and Accessing Digital Motion Picture Materials." 2007.


In its landmark report, The Digital Dilemma, the Academy’s Science and Technology Council examined ways in which key players in the movie business and other major industries currently store and access important digital data. The goal was to better understand what problems these industries face today and what, if anything, is being done to avoid full-fledged data access disasters down the road.


Through 18 months of research and writing, the Council discovered that the issues of digital storage reliability and compatibility go far beyond lost snapshots and spreadsheets. The world currently produces the equivalent of many trillions of books a year in digital data. The question of how to dependably and efficiently archive and access this massive amount of information in the long term is already a burning issue for government, industrial and scientific communities.


Shahmohammadi, Andrea. "Born Digital Video Preservation: A Final Report." Smithsonian Institution Archives, 2011.


Born digital videos bring about a number of multifaceted and still unanswered questions amongst archivists when discussing best preservation practices. While digital audio files have gradually evolved some accepted standards from which to build a framework for preservation this is unfortunately not the case with digital video. Moving images are now primarily made in digital formats, and as such the archival community needs to better address how to preserve and make accessible incoming collections for future generations.


Sounding Out! Pushing Sound Studies into the red since 2009, edited by Jennifer Stoever-Ackerman, 2016.


Sounding Out! is a weekly online publication, a networked academic archive, and a dynamic group platform bringing together sound studies scholars, sound artists and professionals, and readers interested in the cultural politics of sound and listening.  Every Monday, our writers offer well-researched, well-written, and accessible interventions in sound studies, directing the field’s energy toward the social, cultural, and political aspects of sound and listening, particularly their differential construction of and material impacts on variously positioned bodies.