From June 1st through June 13th 2015 the Audiovisual Preservation Exchange (APEX) was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina where two XFR Collective members participated: Lorena Ramirez-Lopez (APEX 2015 Organizer) and Pamela Vizner Oyarce (APEX 2014 Organizer and APEX 2015 Advisor).
APEX is a program that gives students and professionals from the media preservation community the possibility to share knowledge with fellow colleagues in other areas of the world. The program this year was organized in collaboration with NYU, Museo del Cine and TV Pública in Buenos Aires.
Lorena and I had the chance to work with TV Pública in the assessment of their video collection, specifically with their huge collection of quad tapes. Other members of our team were Sara Chapman (Executive Director, Media Burn Independent Archive, Chicago), Jim Lindner (Video Digitization and Preservation Expert) and Alicia Kubes (MIAP Assistant Director, NYU).
Our main tasks focused on a general assessment of the vault and video collections and a specific assessment of the quad collection. This last part was the most fascinating learning experience and we felt very honored to have the chance to work with this unique collection of thousands of quad tapes from the 1970s.
We first assessed the quad tapes with glue flange syndrome, a problem specific to 3M Scotch tapes that had a protective foam adhered to one of the flanges. This foam has a glue that deteriorates over time, covering the tape with a very persistent and very hard to remove glue. For these tapes we recommended a manual cleaning and immediate transfer. Finding the right solvent to undertake this laborious task became one of our goals. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find it in Argentina. The TV Station staff is still looking for the much needed Trichlorotrifluoroethane or an equivalent chemical. Trichlorotrifluoroethane is a powerful solvent that has been banned for causing ozone depletion.
While we were there, we also tried to find solutions to clean the rest of the quad tapes. The TV Station had a Recortec cleaning machine, known for its roughness with tapes. Jim Lindner, in collaboration with the tech maintenance, engineering and mechanical team worked on the development of a 2” quad and 1” cleaning machine, using old 2” audio machines. This project led to an extraordinary visit to the National Radio transmission site, where the TV Station has a storage area for old equipment. Unrelated to video preservation but equally exciting: we were able to see the old radio transmitter working!! A huge machine from the 1940s still working!!
We were able to find three audio machines for our project. To build the machine it was required to restore the transport of the machine, in addition to remove the audio heads and replace them with a cleaning assembly. The engineering team was able to restore the mechanism a few days after we left Argentina, but they were still looking for the right cleaning tissue to use in the cleaning assembly. We are hoping that they can get it from a US source.
Our worked was summarized in a written report in English and Spanish, delivered to the TV Station. We also presented our work and talked about our experience at the APEX Colloquium held at NYU Buenos Aires Site on June 13th.
This was an amazing learning experience and we thank all the people who made it possible. Thanks to Jim Lindner for sharing his knowledge with us, to Nicolás Malerba (Vault Manager at TV Pública) for his incredible assistance, to Maxi Tocco, Héctor Rey and all the Engineering Team for their work and commitment.