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Adrian Salas
MIAS 220

Long Beach Video at the Getty: An Overview

The Long Beach video art collection consists of an archive of approximately 5000 video
tapes in various formats, related ephemera, papers, and artist files equating to 465 linear feet of
materials.1 The collection was assembled by the Long Beach Museum of Art starting in 1974
when curator David Ross was hired by museum director John Adlmann to establish a video art
program. Further solidifying their ties to the world of video art, in 1976 the Long Beach Museum
of Art (LBMA) began offering an in house facility to artists known as the Artists Post
Production Studio. LBMA established a practice of having artists contribute a copy of their video
work to the museums collection in return for use of the production facilities at the museum. In
addition, other artists also began sending in copies of their video art to the museum for inclusion
in the video art collection.
LBMA, with the assistance of a Rockefeller Foundation grant, opened a facility in the
Belmont Shore section of Long Beach called the Video Annex (also known as the Station Annex)
around 1979.2 This was primarily a post-production space containing two editing studios known
as Studios A and B. These studios contained broadcast quality editing equipment that the
museum would rent to artists as a revenue source. The museum also began a live-in residency
program for artists at the Annex, and would commission others to create works for broadcast
television. The museum produced cable and broadcast programs both on its own and in
partnership with other institutions. Eventually the Annex space came to also house LBMAs
video collection. In 1991 The Womans Building, a feminist arts and education center founded in

1973 and located in Downtown Los Angeles, closed its doors. LBMA subsequently acquired
approximately 250 video tapes from the Womans Building after the closure. These tapes formed
a sub-collection in LBMAs holdings and included feminist centered performance art, video art,
and documentation of feminist artists and events in Southern California.
The video program was phased out and closed by the Long Beach Museum of Art in the
mid-1990s. The Video Annex remained in operation for a few more years as an income source,
and, as such, the collection has materials dating up to 2003. The video collection was eventually
acquired by the Getty Research Institute (GRI) in 2006 under the direction of curator Glenn
The Collection:
The core of the video collection is primarily comprised of inch U-matic tape
cartridges.3 There are various other formats that are present in much smaller quantities. There are
some inch open reel tapes that date to very early in the collection. Much of this open reel
material appears to have been transferred by LBMA to U-matic over time. There are some
VHS cassettes that came with the collection but these are low priority materials and largely not
sorted or cataloged. There are also a few rolls of open reel 2 inch tape and a very small quantity
of 8mm film that is also uncataloged and fairly low on the preservation priority list.
The bulk of the video collection consists of two series of videos. The first of these is the
Artist series. This primarily consists of video art tapes, although there is also documentaries,
interviews, and documentation of exhibits interspersed throughout. The second main series is the
Exhibition series. The series is mostly a collection of compilation videos meant to be screened at
exhibitions, but there are also videos documenting performances and installations. In addition,

there is also a series of videos that consists of 237 tapes LBMA produced for cable and grant
programs which broadcast video art, interviews, and events. Furthermore, there is the
aforementioned collection of approximately 250 tapes which were acquired from the Womans
Building. There are also large holding of uncataloged and unsorted miscellaneous videos. From
the rough sorts indicated on the boxes by LBMA, these videos apparently consist of such things
as music videos, taped musical performances, commercial productions, and what is indicated to
perhaps be rough and uncut footage that was used to edit together works in the Exhibition and
Artist video series.
All of these video are explicitly stated to be works that fall into the category of singlechannel video. Single channel is defined as video or media work that involves a single
information source (such as a DVD), a single playback device (such as a DVD player), and a
single display mode (such as a flat-screen monitor).4 In the case of the Long Beach collection,
the videos were meant to be played back on analogue television monitors. While this seems like
an obvious definition, as this is how most videos are consumed in the home (at least before the
ascendance of flat screen digital televisions), this distinction can be important in the world of
video art due to the propensity of artists to explore less orthodox display and exhibition methods
for works they create, such as art pieces intended to be screened across multiple screens in
tandem. Another area to note is that the vast majority of the U-matic videos conform to the
NTSC television standard. There are a few PAL videos in the collection, but the number is so far
found to be very small (approximately 10 videos). No SECAM videos have yet been
Condition of Collection:

As previously stated, the videos from the LBMA collection were housed in the Video
Annex building in Long Beach. From a conservation standpoint, this location was far from ideal
for the videos, due to the proximity of the building to the ocean. According to Jonathan
Furmanski at the Getty Research Institute, moisture is a concern in video conservation and
preservation because video tape is highly vulnerable to mold growth under certain conditions.
There is also the risk of hydrolysis causing break down of the binder in the tape itself. That said,
the condition of the videos housed at the Video Annex were found to be better than expected
given the environmental concerns.
From an organizational standpoint, the state of the Long Beach collection as received
was, according to Jonathan Furmanski, a mess. The original cataloger of the collection for the
GRI, Andra Darlington, confirmed this assessment.5 The videos included a paper finding aid
prepared by LBMA, but it was somewhat haphazardly assembled and quite often reflected a
confusing sorting arrangement for materials. The video assets themselves evinced some sort of
original order, but this order was hard to definitively determine and appeared to have been
applied inconsistently across the collection. On an individual level most of the tapes were
identifiable as to what content they are supposed to contain, but not labeled or organized in a
way that could really be considered shelf ready according to most archival standards.
There are several other complications that the materials, as received, present from a
cataloging and organizational perspective. As video is by its nature wants to make copies of
itself, according to J. Furmanski, it lends itself to relatively simple reproduction by those who
possess necessary equipment. In a video collection as large as the LBMAs, this resulted in lots
of versioning of the recorded programs. For example, there are lots of cases of videos existing
multiple times across the collection as a master copy and its subsequent duplicates. This situation

of is further complicated by various attempts by Long Beach to institute a migration workflow

to videos so as to transfer them from one format into another. None of these past transfer projects
instituted under the aegis of LBMA seems to have ever been completed. The result as manifested
in the collection today is that there are now lots of redundancies present in the collection with
works being present in multiple formats and versions of varying quality.
The presence of this versioning means that one of primary concerns of the conservator is
determining the best possible version of a given work for processing into preservation and access
copies. Given the largely scattershot nature inherent in the legacy organization the collection was
brought to the GRI with, a large part of determining the best version consists of actually finding
and keeping track of what is the best tape among the multiple choices present. This task is
actually more complicated than it would seem at first blush. Even with the organization and
cataloging that has subsequently been imposed upon the collection by the Getty there is still
much material that has yet to be reviewed by catalogers. Many of these tapes are only
identifiable by the descriptive information that was already present on their enclosures from
Long Beach. Often times information present on these enclosures can veer towards the informal
or colloquial. For example, slips of notebook paper or Post-it notes may be attached to the tape
case which note the condition of the recording or problems such as artifacts. Most of this
secondary information about the tapes contents can only be verified by watching the video in
question, and this is not often feasible given staffing levels.
Despite the presence of both master tapes and duplicates, every tape received from Long
Beach is considered original to the Gettys holdings no matter the generation. None of the
original tapes circulate or are accessed directly by users of the collection. These originals
therefore are almost exclusively the purview and terrain of the video conservator and whoever is

assigned to catalog the collection at any one time. This means that knowledge of the intricacies
and specifics in the collections multiple copies and versions therefore is very specialized and
limited to just this handful of people. While this limited access is very good from a preservation
perspective as it reduces exposure of original elements, it does present a challenge in that it puts
the burden of discovery and making quality determinations almost squarely on the shoulders of
the conservator.
Another legacy complication that has proved particularly challenging on the cataloging
area is the presence of compilation tapes. These compilations introduce the need to take the
physical versus the intellectual nature of works into consideration. The reason for this is that the
context of a work can be changed from video to video. For example a specific work maybe be
present by itself or with works by the same artist on a tape in one instance. The same work also
may be present on a compilation video prepared for an exhibition, together with other artists
works. And on top of that there maybe multiple copies of both types of videos. This necessitates
cataloging of the intellectual (creative or artistic) work and of the physical location or locations
(i.e. the tapes) in which it can be found. These compilations received from LBM also may mean
that the best copy of a work of video art may turn up in an unexpected location.
While conventional knowledge pertaining to analogue reproduction is that the less
generations a copy is from the source or master the better it will be, a variety of factors may
upend that paradigm. For instance, if an earlier iteration of a video (possibly even the master)
happened to be created on a batch of inferior magnetic tape, it may be subject to an advance rate
of decomposition which could cause oxides to slough off and void the generational quality
advantage. If a compilation was treated well, it is entirely possible for programs that are included
on it to be in better condition than their sources which may be in degraded conditions for any

number of reasons. It also appears that often duplicates were made directly off an original master
tape rather than a duplication master. Some of these duplicates may be in better condition due the
fact that they were used less than their source master, and therefore saw far less wear. The main
problem with taking a compilation under consideration as a possible source to use for making a
digital preservation copy is that due to the limited original cataloging of the collection and the
fact that only a very select few people have the authority or means to review the tapes, it often
means that sometimes these better copies are only stumbled upon by happenstance. One more
anomaly that was brought up due to these compilations is that there are times that certain works
will only show up in these tapes, but lack representation anywhere else in the collection. This
complicates the organization of the collection because it raises questions of whether these pieces
can be considered as being in the scope of the archive or if they really are more akin to
something like orphaned works or works on loan, due to these pieces most likely being sourced
from some other video collection.
Conservation and Preservation:
The LBMA collection is said to be the oldest archive of video art. It is old as video art
itself.6 Video tape just like most other physical information mediums is susceptible to decay and
information loss. Age as well as storage conditions play a large part of how long magnetized
tapes will last before they are rendered completely unplayable. In the case of U-matic the
format was introduced in 1970 which dates it to roughly the same period as as the archive began
to be assembled in 1974. As one white paper states, in the early years of video recording
technology, little thought was given to the longevity of videotape.7 As such, many video tape
formats were not designed with long term storage and usability in mind, which makes them far
from archivally sound for log term preservation. It then becomes the job of conservation to arrest

this decomposition within the original tapes as much as possible until preservation strategies for
long term care of the video tapes, or more importantly the materials contained on them, can be
Over time preservation issues that were not originally known about in the early years of
video tape began to arise. In the case of tape formats such as U-matic, it has been found that
these videos are very susceptible to hydrolysis in the polyester-urethane (PEU) binders which
hold the metal particulate to the tapes substrate. 8 When the PEU binder picks up moisture in the
air, it begins losing its adhesive qualities and eventually begins shedding the layer of metallic
particulate in which information is recorded. In a study of sticky shed in magnetic tape
commissioned by the Library of Congress, a summary of their findings states that, PEU binders
appear inherently instable. Magnetic tape made with such binders must be assumed to have a
finite lifespan.9 The original location of the Long Beach holdings near the ocean would prove to
be particularly problematic, as this would of exposed much of the collection to more moisture
than would be ideal. In addition to contributing to the danger of hydrolysis, moisture in the air
would also promote the growth of mold or fungus on the tapes. As J. Furmanski stated, mold
loves to eat tape. The re-location of these tape materials to vaults with humidity and
temperature control is an important step in maximizing their lifespan potential.
The order that tapes are processed and entered into the preservation workflow at the
Getty is largely demand driven. That means tapes are processed as requested for use by a patron
(which can range from unaffiliated researchers, to in-house scholars, to curators). This order is
not ideal from a conservation or cataloging standpoint (this latter aspect will be covered next
section). The ideal order of work for the conservator would be to start with the oldest tapes first

and work forward, so as to cover those videos which are most at risk of decomposition. This user
driven workflow dates to the genesis of the collection at the GRI. In March 2008 the exhibition
California Video opened at the Getty Center. To prepare for the exhibit so close to the acquisition
of such a large and somewhat raw (from an organziational standpoint) collection as LBMAs, a
system of on the fly processing and cataloging was instituted, so as to hit the items that were in
demand first. This allowed for faster access to specific materials, but it also made for a far less
systematic and comprehensive method for working through the collection and bringing it into
focus and ideal order.
The preservation workflow that has been instituted at the GRI begins with a check of the
tape to ascertain the exact contents of the video. As mentioned before, many of the tapes are
identifiable as received from Long Beach, but that is not to say that the labeling present on the
tape is always correct. Also, since the archive contains so many duplicates, the tapes must be
evaluated for versioning. If there are copies of the same work spread across multiple tapes, the
conservator needs to make a determination about which is the version that is of the best quality
so as to begin processing it for eventual digitization. Most of this workflow assumes that the tape
being worked on is U-matic, as this is the bulk of the collection.
After examining the video to check versioning, the next step for the tapes is cleaning.
This is done in a SAMMA machine that is designed to clean U-matic tapes (see photo in
appendix). While the cleaning itself is rather straightforward due to the automated cleaning deck,
many of the tapes are subject to breakage. This is estimated to affect around 3/4s of the U-matic
tapes. This breakage seems to occur particularly on the spool leader. When this occurs the tape
cassettes have to be manually disassembled and re-spooled. The exact reason for these


breakages is unknown, but it is assumed that a large part of it may be due to the spool leaders
losing their adhesive quality due to age. After cleaning the next step is playback and digitizing of
the tape.
Playback is done in a production rack containing tape authoring and mastering
equipment, with a U-matic deck as its centerpiece. Along with the paper files and tapes that were
acquired from LBMA, the Getty also received a large amount of video equipment. The
maintenance of this equipment and acquisition of parts and machines necessary to ensure that
tapes can be properly played back has been one of the biggest challenges of the conservation
process. By way of historical context, in the broadcasting industry of the 1980s , the analogue
Betacam SP format superseded Umatic and retained a dominant market share throughout the
decade.10 Eventually Betacam SP came to replaced by Digi-Beta as the dominant industry tape
format. With U-matic falling out of favor and rendered obsolete by subsequent technical
developments in the video recording field, the availability of playback equipment becomes
scarcer as time goes by. Even when maintained by knowledgeable personnel, playback machines
can eventually break beyond beyond practical repair with the failure of key components that are
no longer manufactured. The U-matic decks at the Getty are studiously cleaned every few days
to minimize risk of damage to playback heads and internal components from dust and shedding
oxides. Despite these precautions, there have been two decks that have broken beyond repair, due
to their near constant use which is necessitated by the volume of material that must be gone
through. The U-matic deck in use now is starting to show signs of wearing down, so there is a
fourth deck that is being held in reserve should the current playback unit become inoperable.
Format obsolescence is in many ways as much of a challenge to tape preservation as the
condition of the tapes themselves.


The playback of the recording is kept to an analogue signal path as long as possible.
While the information gathered from the tapes will eventually be digitized for archiving and
access purposes, the use of digital tools in initial AV processing is avoided. This follows from the
philosophy of the conservator that the context of digital and analog media is not always the
same. Digital and analog machines and the subsequent content they produce is not always similar
in form. Compatibility issues arise when this is taken into consideration. An example that was
made was in the use of automated algorithms to clean up the video picture. Digital programs will
sometimes target features that are characteristic of early video formats, under the assumption that
that these traits are flaws or noise. An example was made of a type of ghosting that can occur in
analog video that is characteristic of the medium, but would be detected and erased by digital
software as an error. It was pointed out that this was not to say that one form of AV was
decisively superior to the other, but that they operate on different parameters that must be
accounted for in the conservation process. When there is crossover between platforms sometimes
this may raise issues of compatibility, which is why it is believed best that born analog materials
stay on an analog equipment pathway as long as it can be feasible.
The issue of display was brought up as a key parameter in the preservation process. Most,
if not all, of the video programs in the LBMA collection were produced as single-channel video
intended to be shown on analog television monitors. How good the Long Beach video programs
look on televisions is therefore a prime concern for the preservation effort. Much like how there
are issues with the availability of playback decks for the video, there was also similar issues with
the continued availability of analog monitors to view these videos in the context in which they
were designed. This may be more of an aesthetic issue than a conservation one due to the fact
that most of these videos will only be seen in digitized form by potential audiences anyway. On a


related note, when the video is finally digitized, it is done so as to preserve the native resolution
of the source video. Up-resing is avoided for the digital archival masters, as this is seen as adding
information that was not present in the original work.
Storage of the LBMA tapes, along with the papers and ephemera that came as part of the
collection, is on-site at the Getty Research Institute. The video tapes are in multiple locations
depending on if they have been sorted and cataloged or not. The unsorted tapes are grouped
together in the cardboard boxes in which they were received and located in a holding area in one
of the GRIs vaults until they can be attended to at some point in the future (see photo in
appendix) . The sorted and cataloged tapes are stored in a series of vault ranges in their original
enclosures (at least in the case of the cassette tapes, such as the U-matics) with the Gettys call
number appended on to the box with stickers (see appendix). The open reel materials which have
been cataloged have been re-housed in archival boxes.
While the vaults are all HVAC equipped and temperature controlled to cool and steady
conditions, they are also not the type of cold storage that is recognized as ideal for the long term
preservation of the tapes. The Image Permanence Institute (IPI) cites ISO temperature guidelines
for magnetic tape storage of 11C (51.8F) and 23C (73.4F).11 The Library of
Congress (LOC) cites slightly different figures of 65-70F for medium term storage
of 10+ years, and 46-50F for long term storage in their guidelines.12 The LOC also
states that while cold storage is a good magnetic tape preservation strategy,
freezing temperatures should be avoided. One study warns, temperatures lower than

32 F (0 C) may actually harm the media and shorten, rather than extend, life expectancies by
risking exudation of the lubricant from the binder, which may clog heads.13 There are cold
storage facilities in the Getty Research Institute, but unfortunately these are already


largely taken up with collection materials that pre-date the LBMA video acquisition.
The hope for the long term is eventual transfer of the physical video assets to a cold
storage facility off-site once the bulk of transfers are finished. One short term
advantage of this (hopefully) temporary storage situation, is that the videos stored
closer to the ambient room temperature of the facility do allow for a quicker work
turnaround. Videos, as well as many other archival items, stored at cold
temperatures require a period of acclimatization at progressively higher
temperatures to insure that that materials do not develop condensation or go
through undue physical distress from expansion or contractions due to temperature
changes. The storage condition at the Getty isnt quite ideal for the LBMA tapes, but
as Andra Darlington the original cataloger stated its better now then where they
Cataloging and Access:
Many of the particularities associated with the LBMA video art collection
affect both the conservation and cataloging of the archive. As stated before, there
was some original order and a finding aid for the collection as received, but the
inconsistencies in how this system appeared to be implemented left it largely
useless for the Getty to build upon. Fitting the tapes into a standard cataloging
structure is not as straightforward as cataloging items such as books. For the most
part moving image cataloging is sort of a wild west according to the the Gettys
original Long Beach cataloger, Andra Darlington, due to how many institutions
usually end up using some sort of in-house cataloging or organization system.
Eventually it was decided to organize the bulk of tapes into two separate series:
Artists tapes and Exhibition tapes. This left two other series of tapes: The womans


building tapes and tapes produced for grant and cable programs. In addition there
are five other series in the collection covering the paper materials and ephemera
from Long Beach (also see appendix).14
As previously mentioned, the need of near immediate access to the collection
for the California Video exhibition necessitated rapid decisions as to the cataloging.
The LBMA collections were assigned the accession number 2006.M.7. There were
two numbering schemes that finally were settled on for the Artist and Exhibition
series to further identify them and make them shelf ready. The Artist series tapes
are arranged alphabetically by the artists name which is appended onto the end of
the accession number. An accession number for an item from this series such as
John Baldessaris I am Making Art looks like 2006.M.7 (A.Bald-2). Exhibition series
tapes are arranged chronologically by the date of the exhibition the tapes cover. For
example, a tape from the Southland Video Anthology exhibition from June 1975
goes under the accession number 2006.M.7 (E.197506.Sout). The Womans Building tapes

use a modified alphabetical with a W appended to the front of the exhibition. For example, the
catalog entry Womans building video project has the accession number 2006.M.7
(W.Womav). The Cable and Grant Program series are a mixture of chronological and
alphabetical, depending on the video.
One of the primary obstacles to the complete cataloging of the collection has been the
challenge of staffing. The original assumption was that the collection would take three years to
catalog utilizing a staff of two dedicated full time catalogers. This level of staffing has never
been successfully achieved though. A more accurate picture of the situation is that there is
usually one cataloger who has the LBMA archive as their primary focus, with perhaps extra help


from an intern. As such there has had to be areas in the cataloging that have been streamlined to
create efficiencies. As previously mentioned, videos were processed and cataloged right away
on the fly so as to use them in the California Video exhibit. This meant that the collection was
processed piecemeal according to the needs of the curators rather than holistically. Also, many of
the videos in the collection are not able to be watched by the catalogers, which necessitates a
dependence on secondary sources and the item descriptions included with the video tapes. This
also means that the conservator is often times the only person who can verify information about
the collection. This is not ideal in that it would create a very large vacuum of knowledge should
this person ever leave the project for whatever reason. It was stated by Andra that were she able
to do the project over from the beginning, she would start by creating a comprehensive database
or finding aid documenting the collections from the very beginning with no cataloging
happening until this was complete. This way the makeup of the collection would be evident from
the very beginning rather than doing cataloging on a as it comes basis.
The need for quick cataloging and cataloging on demand has also created a bit of a
bifurcated structure as far as catalog entries in MARC. The Artists, Exhibitions, and Womans
Building series all receive detailed item level records. The Grant and Cable Program series and
videos documenting events and exhibits receive simple item level records with just the basic info
needed to create a MARC record. The problem of compilations arises again here in the
cataloging stage, because it had to be decided how to account for the same work being present
across multiple physical areas. It also had to be decided how to distinguish between deliberate
compilations, such as programs assembled together for exhibitions, and haphazard
compilations. These latter type of compilations are ones that consist of videos collocated together
on a tape with no apparent thematic or narrative connections. It was decided that each intellectual


work gets a separate MARC record even if it is physically located in multiple locations or
together with other items on a compilation. The physical location or locations that an item is
found, in this case the specific video tapes, can then be marked as a note on each record.
Deliberate compilations such as anthologies or exhibitions also get catalog entries under their
program name, for example Southland Anthologies. From this record a user can then see in the
catalog entry a list of works contained in the video tape or be led to a finding aid, depending on
the item.
The physical arrangement scheme of appending chronological or alphabetical
information to the 2006.M.7 accession number translates very well to making cleanly arranged
digital records. The descriptive standard used for creating LBMA MARC records are the
Archival Moving Image Materials (AMIM) standard and the Anglo-American Cataloguing
Rules, Second Edition (AACR2). Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) were used for
the catalog entry subject headings. Many of the artists tapes, due to their avant-garde nature,
were often too abstract to make proper use of any authorized subject headings. All the tapes have
form and genre terms which are taken from the Gettys Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT).
The Library of Congress Name Authority File (LCNAF) and the Gettys Union List of Artist
Names (ULAN) were used as the controlled vocabularies for the names entries.
Once the cataloging is complete, the records are available to view on the Gettys catalog
(, see appendix). If the item has been processed and digitized there will be a link
available on the record that will allow on-site viewing of the video through a web player. It is
estimated that around 2/3 of the video cataloging has been completed at this point. This still
leaves a very sizable chunk of materials to go through, especially now that the materials that are


left are becoming increasingly miscellaneous. The cataloging of these remaining Long Beach
materials could be less straight forward and therefore more time consuming. And of course this is
not taking into account the needs that may arise should another video collection be acquired,
therefore diverting resources and further delaying the completion of the LBMA cataloging. That
said, it still is a very large amount of material that has been processed and made available to
researchers, and the delay has not necessarily been a bad thing from a preservation perspective.
In the years since the collection was acquired, more advanced technologies and strategies have
come online, which are enabling more robust digital preservation and access to materials than
was feasible even a few years ago.
The final step in creating access and an asset for the use of long term preservation is
migrating the tapes to digital formats. This is a multi-step process which has several end goals.
First is creating an archival preservation master, and second is a lower quality mezzanine file that
can be used for streaming and access for those who need use of the collection. The GRI operates
its digital flow for LBMA on the Open Archive Information System (OAIS) model.15 A definition
of OAIS is an Archive, consisting of an organization, which may be part of a larger
organization, of people and systems that has accepted the responsibility to preserve information
and make it available for a Designated Community.16 In particular this model is concerned
with long term preservation. Long term is defined as long enough to be concerned with the
impacts of changing technologies, including support for new media and data formats, or with
a changing user community.17 With that in mind, the digitization process dovetails with the
preservation process of the physical assets.


Once the tapes are evaluated, cleaned, and maintained, the best version of a particular
intellectual work is chosen to be the representative copy that will digitized for long term
preservation. As an aside, the Getty and GRI have a working relationship with the Electronic
Arts Intermix (EAI), a non-profit arts organization specializing in preserving, distributing,
exhbiting, and representing video/media artists and their works.18 As video is by its nature a
format that was intended for reproduction, there is a fair amount of overlap between the
collections of the GRI and the EAI. Sometimes the EAI will already have digitized versions of a
video in the Gettys collection from Long Beach. If this is the case the Getty (in particular the
conservator) will evaluate their copy against the EAIs to determine if a higher quality version
can be made and digitized. When the GRIs version is judged to be better, the higher quality copy
is shared with the EAI.
The specifics of digital migration begin once the feed from the U-matic deck is sent on
through to a SAMMA workstation. SAMMA is a digitization interface and workstation
manufactured by Front Porch Digital that handles the conversion of video data into multiple
levels of digital information.19 For long term archival purposes, videos are made into JPEG 2000
files in MXF wrappers. These files are raw and unedited copies made with no compression.
These files are not easily playable without special equipment. A mezzanine level copy is also
produced in MPEG 2, which is DVD standard. This copy is edited and cleaned up in various
ways, (such as tweaking audio and editing out leaders) and eventually converted into MPEG 4
for streaming purposes. The specific codec used is H.264 that is used to make a file that is used
to make a NTSC standard file running at 29.97 fps and at 640x480 pixels. The video runs at a
variable bit rate (VBR) targeted at around 1mbps. The files that are accessed at the Getty to view
are not true streaming, but progressive downloads. In earlier phases of the collection, DVD use


copies used to be produced for access, but these have been phased out except for special
situations such as interlibrary loans to institutional patrons which cannot make it to Los Angeles
to study certain videos.
The digital files that are created are sent to a network attached storage (NAS) drive and
are ingested into the Gettys digital asset management system which is designed by Ex Libris,
Rosetta.20 The Rosetta system manages the data and does automated functions like running
checksum. As an aside, apparently the Rosetta system can inform users of dropped bits in the
JPEG2K files but will not patch them, as it will with other files. This workflow is what is used at
the moment, but it is still somewhat a work in progress. A new development in the air is the
impending announcement of new guidelines from the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines
Initiative (FADGI) regarding working with moving image data.21 This could result in the
creation of new standards that could change workflows across many institutions that work with
moving image archives that are in the process of being digitized. Currently many institutions
have to come up with individual solutions to work with the various formats. This could lead to
more uniformity across digital AV archives such as is present in more traditional collections,
such as library books.
The Getty Research Institutes acquisition of the Long Beach Museum of Arts prized and
expansive collection of video art represents an interesting study of the challenges of an audiovideo archive during the digital age. Many of the magnetic tapes held in the collection,
particularly the older items, can be argued to be entering the latter limits of their lifespans. This
raises issues of conservation and preservation of the info contained across what is set of
increasingly obsolete formats. In addition to saving the physical assets of the collection,


solutions have had to be developed which allow for the cataloging of information and its
subsequent access by the variety of parties who have vested interests in the video collection. To
make the collection most relevant and accessible to future generations, a successful digital
migration strategy is key to ensuring long term viability.

Much of this historical background is found in:

Long Beach Museum of Art Video Archive, circa 1964-2003, Finding aid at the Getty Research
Institute, Los Angeles, CA.
Appears to have been located at 5373 E. Second St., Long Beach, CA 90803
Information comes from an Interview with Jonathan Furmanski, video conservator for the Getty
Research Institute: Jonathan Furmanski, interview by Adrian Salas, Los Angeles, CA, November 26,
Electronic Arts Intermix. Single Channel Video: Basic Questions. Resource Guide. (accessed
December 6, 2013).
Andra Darlington, interview by Adrian Salas, Los Angeles, CA, December 3, 2013.
Richard Keatinge, Causes and Measurements of Videotape Decay. White paper presented June
8, 2009. (accessed
December 7, 2013).

Library of Congress. Magnetic Tape Sticky Shed Research: Characterization, Diagnosis, and
Treatment. (accessed
December 7, 2013).


Leo Enticknap, Moving Image Technology (London: Wallflower Press, 2005), 210.

Image Permanence Institute. The Preservation of Magnetic Tape Collections: A

Perspective. (Final Report To National Endowment for the Humanities Division of
Preservation and Access, December 22, 2006). (accessed December 8,

Library of Congress. Care, Handling, and Storage of Audio Visual Materials. (accessed December 8, 2013).
John Van Bogart. Magnetic Tape Storage and Handling: A Guide for Libraries and Archives.
(Commission on Preservation and Access and the National Media Laboratory, 1995). (accessed December 8,


Refer to the Getty Research Institutes Long Beach Video Finding Aid for these other series.
Information come from an interview conducted with Drew Krewer, Library Assistant for the GRIs
Digital Services department: Drew Krewer, interview by Adrian Salas, Los Angeles, CA, December 6
Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems. Reference Model for an Open Archival
Information System (OAIS): Recommended Practice. (CCSDS Secretariat: June 2012). (accessed December 9, 2013).
19 (accessed December 9, 2013).
20 (accessed December 9, 2013).
21 (accessed December 9, 2013).
Unprocessed Long Beach Video Collections, Getty Research Institute, December 6, 2013.
Processed Long Beach Holdings, Getty Research Institute, December 6, 2013.

SAMMA Cassette Cleaning Unit, Getty Research Institute, December 6, 2013.

Sample Primo Record for a LBMA Item.

Front Page of the LBMA Finding Aid Authored by the Getty Research Institute.