Robert the Intern's Story: Road Trip

by Robert Johnson

During my internship at the WGBH Media Library and Archives I was given the opportunity to travel to New Hampshire and Connecticut with my supervisor to talk to public media stations (both television and radio) about participating in the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s American Archive Content Inventory Project.  WGBH is administering the project, which hopes to survey the archives/collections of PBS stations across the country.  Individual stations or statewide networks can apply for grants from CPB to fund a survey of their holdings.

Everyone was interested in participating but one station seemed almost thrilled at the prospect of being able to take a survey of the thousands of video tapes in their basement.  There was a little uncertainty involved at points and maybe even a little fear.  Depending on the size of the station there may be tens of thousands of films, video tapes, audio cassettes and digital files that need to be surveyed. That can be overwhelming but WGBH is working to make the process simple and understandable.

In my capacity as an intern, I basically went along as an observer.  I probably said no more than two dozen words at the three meetings I sat in on.  But it was a great experience nevertheless.  These were my first official business trips and even though I was only responsible for shaking hands, smiling and nodding, I would like to think I learned something I can put to use later in my career.

Public Television Quality Group Conference at WGBH

In November, I presented at the Public Television Quality Group’s conference in Boston. Over 300 people showed up at the two day conference to learn more about the transition from analog to digital broadcasting. The workshops offered education and training on the best practices for production from shooting to final delivery.

The presenters ranged came from a wide range of productions and experiences:

  • Mark Schubin, a film historian
  • Jeff Cronenberg, the series editor for Antiques Roadshow
  • Douglas Trumbull, effects supervisor for movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner
  • Steve Audette, award winning editor for FRONTLINE and NOVA
  • Ben McCoy, cinematographer with 20 years experience shooting docs and programs such as FRONTLINE and NOVA
  • Chris Fournelle and other FRONTLINE folks discussed different aspects of their jobs and what systems they had set up to deal with file-based media.

Many of the documents, video, power points and other output from the workshops can be found on the Quality Group web site.

My workshop discussed how productions can organize their materials with the aid of Media Production Organizational Tools that are freely available on Open Vault. My slides are available here: “In the Beginning: It’s all about Metadata”

I also mentioned if you catalog and archive your materials, you can then re-use them. Some examples of what WGBH does besides the series websites are:

  • Open Vault – is a way of making materials available to the public, primarily for educational purposes
  • Teacher’s Domain – Resources for teachers to incorporate media assets into their curriculum
  • WGBH Stock Sales – A revenue generating site providing documentary filmmakers access to WGBH media.

There will be another conference on January 13th which I would urge production folks near Nashville to attend!

For more information about the conference, I recommend Chris Portal’s Blog.

— Alison Bassett, Compliance Manager, WGBH Media Library & Archives