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Moving Image Archive Studies
In all its forms, moving images were the defining media of the twentieth century. As works of art, historical documents, popular entertainment and cultural artifacts, images that move are distinctive records of our times. Many have been lost and will not be replaced. Many others await physical preservation and restoration, critical rediscovery, study and appreciation. Democratic and unfettered access to these vital resources will depend upon the skills, ethics and commitment of new generations of archivists. New forms of access will be developed and critically validated by an evolving partnership between the archive and emerging media scholarship of all types.
In the upcoming decades, both the technical and cultural challenges to preserving moving images will only increase in complexity and importance. From the large budget Hollywood feature to the independently produced documentary, from contemporary television to virtual realities and computer games, from the images of underrepresented communities to home movies, the long-term viability of moving images will depend largely on the abilities of informed media librarians (in both the public and private sectors) to implement technical solutions and to shape institutions and public policy. In establishing the social and aesthetic value of these images, the formation of new archivists will play a critical role.
The new generation archivist will be equally motivated by the long term preservation of moving images and by the invention of new paradigms for access to celluloid, tape, bits and bytes. Founded in 2002, UCLA's Moving Image Archive Studies (MIAS) program is the first and most comprehensive in North America. The MIAS program at UCLA is rooted in historical, practical and theoretical study. It assigns equal importance to heritage collections and emerging media types.
Traditionally, archival education relied predominantly on practical, working apprenticeships. But apprenticeships tend to focus on a limited range of specialized skills and generally do not keep up with technological change. More training than education, the traditional approaches often exclude complex social, philosophical and cultural contexts in which modern archival practice is grounded. On the one hand, they fall short of producing reflective archivists capable of networking within and adapting to the rapidly evolving mediasphere. UCLA's program, on the other hand, focuses on the twin educational challenges presented by technological obsolescence (the built-in disappearance of some media formats) and by continuous technological innovation (the fundamental reality of ever-increasing media formats and mechanisms for delivery).
UCLA's MIAS program redefines archival study by encompassing a continuous chain of practices from the reconstruction of historical media to representing new and emerging media. We examine the aesthetics and history of film, video and digital media; the cultural responsibilities of selection and curatorship; access and public exhibition; collection management and cataloging; and, the technical aspects of preservation and restoration. Our expanding educational goals are made up of core and elective seminars, directed studies and hands-on practicum. The curriculum is taught by an extraordinary combination of UCLA faculty, visiting professors and archival specialists, guest speakers, and leading mentors from the archival profession itself.
Seminars: Archiving is a continuum of interconnected practices. It includes collection selection, building and maintenance; technical conservation and restoration activities; storage management and access systems; digital asset management and the production of new digital media; public exhibition and scholarly research; the creation of metadata for archival resources and cataloging. The curriculum recognizes that the inseparability of preservation from access is well established within modern archival practice and scholarly research. These connections hold the key to building new forms of visual and historical literacy.
While stressing the links between all archival practices, MIAS provides opportunities for specialization. Specific areas of concentration can be achieved through a combination of seminars, electives, hands-on practica and other learning opportunities. The core seminars include Moving Image Archiving: History, Philosophy, Practice; Moving Image Preservation and Restoration; Archaeology of Media; Moving Image Cataloging; Archival Administration; Access to Moving Image Collections.
MIAS addresses the needs of both large, national level archives and smaller institutions with regional or local mandates. Within this broad range, it takes into consideration fiction and non-fiction, narrative and experimental, films, video, and digital moving images. Finally, MIAS articulates the specific differences between the productions of large private-sector archives and the images created by often marginalized and community-based archiving.
Practicum Program: In addition to the core curriculum, MIAS links theory and practice through a variety of professional Practicum experiences in both public- and private-sector organizations in Los Angeles, across the U.S., and internationally. MIAS’s expanding list of Practicum partners includes 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment; Academy Film Archive; Archive of American Television; Chace Audio by Deluxe; Chinese Film Archive (Taipei, Taiwan); CNN Library; Deluxe Digital Media; Directors Guild of America; Film Technology Company, Inc.; Filmoteca de la UNAM (Mexico City); Getty Research Institute; Human Studies Film Archive at the Smithsonian; Il Cinema Ritrovato (Bologna); Imagica Corp. of America; Jim Henson Company; LA Natural History Museum, Seaver Center; MBRS Branch at the Library of Congress; Pacific Film Archive; Producers Library Service; Pro-Tek Media Preservation; Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage; Sony Pictures Entertainment; The Internet Archive; UCLA Film & Television Archive; USC Hugh Hefner Moving Image Archive; Vidipax, LLC; Walt Disney Animation Research Library; Warner Bros. Corporate Archive; Wende Museum; Women in Film Foundation.
Career paths: The MIAS program is designed to prepare its graduates for the complexities of the emerging job market. The MIAS program has already produced numerous leaders in the archival field in areas such as restoration, cataloging, access and archival administration. At the same time, we know that the needs of the archival profession change very rapidly. We therefore encourage students to build specific study plans with their faculty advisors and archivist mentors to construct a professional identity that best fits their backgrounds and career aspirations. The study plans combine clusters of seminars, electives, directed studies, and unique hands-on practicum. Students are often linked to the membership activities of professional associations (such as the Association of Moving Image Archivists and the Society of American Archivists) and experience may be further augmented by employment opportunities available in and around Los Angeles.
1. Administration/Policy: What are the most useful models of archive organization? Which kind of institution should archives resemble more closely: museums or libraries? What will the archive of the future look like? How will it provide for staff development and supervision; grant writing, fundraising, and fiscal management; inter-archival relations and archival policy; advocacy for institutional, legislative, copyright and diversity issues? What insights can be derived by comparing institutional policies from diverse archives?
MIAS 200: Moving Image Archiving: History, Philosophy, Practice
2. Restoration: What makes for successful restorations? What are the criteria for restoration practices? Given the elusiveness of "the original", how are individual restoration practices justified? What is the appropriate role of the artist in guiding archival decisions? How is the line best drawn between "faithful" reproductions of an original copy and entirely new versions? This area of study includes document research for designing restoration authorities, extensive research into multiple versions, restoration methods and their contingent application, laboratory liaison including specifications for analysis, evaluation and processing, cost/benefit analysis; case studies and theoretical models. This area of study also addresses issues such as the replacement of the visual and sound qualities of film stock or video formats that are now obsolete.
MIAS 210: Moving Image Preservation and Restoration
3. Access: How will modern archives increase access to the rarest parts of their collections? How will that access change in nature given especially the arrival of new media technologies? What are the access requirements of metadata, cataloging and finding aids; new media productions and research; public exhibition, presentation technologies, reference services; scholarly access; outreach and constituency building? What will be unique in the experience of accessing moving image materials? What is the most productive relationship between advanced media research and an archive's educational programs?
MIAS 230: Moving Image Cataloging
4. Collection Building: How does an archive articulate a collection policy? What are the cultural and economic criteria for selection and de-selection? What balances are achieved between the needs of preservation and the needs of exhibition activities? What guidelines exist for cultural, historical and economic appraisal of new collections? Other specific areas of study include: donor/depositor relations; deeds of gifts, estate donations, contracts; authenticity of records, versions, and copies; intellectual property issues and copyright law; scholarly research and publication; connoisseurship; censorship. What are the distinct needs for building collections of non-traditional collections, of home movies, of materials that were born digitally?
MIAS 230: Moving Image Cataloging
5. Preservation: What are the differences between conservation and restoration? What are the minimal requirements for physical appraisal and inspection triage? In a field with rapidly evolving technology, how do we establish best practices for basic repair and treatment? What are the statutory requirements for the handling and shipping of archival materials? Given that there is a tremendous range in the resources that are available to individual archives, what are the minimally acceptable standards for storage, duplication and digital asset management? Does preservation always mean duplication? If not, what are the minimal requirements for the inspection of collections? What are the consequences of abbreviated regimes of either inspection or duplication? How does metadata play a role in the physical preservation of archival objects?
MIAS 210: Moving Image Preservation and Restoration
Entry level summer jobs with Film and Television Archive and at other archival institutions in the Los Angeles area are highly recommended.
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