Capturing the past, preserving the future: digitisation of the national review of live art video collection

Project start date: 2006-01 Project end date: 2009-02
The Capturing the Past, Preserving the Future project has the following aims: To preserve for posterity the unique research materials contained in the National Review of Live Art Video Archive by digitising and maintaining the entire collection; To create an interactive and searchable on-line catalogue, including selected copyright-cleared examples of its holdings; To promote the enhanced research facility amongst the UK higher education, national and international performance research and practitioner communities; Readiness for developing curated programmes. We are creating new archival masters to ensure the continuation of content beyond the life of the fragile carrier. Unlike photography, few standards or precedents exist for generating new audio-visual archival masters. Following recent research, we chose to store our data in uncompressed format, without the use of electronic compression algorithms which are often employed to reduce the amount of data storage required. As well as generating uncompressed archival video, the project also produces access copies in the form of DVD-videos. DVD-video is both familiar and economical, making the generation of replacements for damaged copies straightforward. It offers the possibility of adding artists' and programmers' commentaries and incorporating multiple camera angles.
Subject domains: 
Methods usedCategory
Accessibility analysisStrategy and project management
Audio interaction (asynchronous)Communication and collaboration
Audio-visual interaction (synchronous)Communication and collaboration
Cataloguing and indexingData structuring and enhancement
Coding and standardisationData structuring and enhancement
Collaborative publishingData publishing and dissemination
CollatingData analysis
CollocatingData analysis
CurationStrategy and project management
Disk publishingData publishing and dissemination
DocumentationStrategy and project management
General project managementStrategy and project management
General website developmentData publishing and dissemination
Graphical interaction (asynchronous)Communication and collaboration
Graphical interaction (synchronous)Communication and collaboration
Human factors analysisStrategy and project management
Image restorationData structuring and enhancement
IndexingData analysis
Iterative designStrategy and project management
Moving image captureData capture
Moving image capturePractice-led research
PreservationStrategy and project management
PrototypingStrategy and project management
Resource sharingCommunication and collaboration
Resource sharingData publishing and dissemination
Risk managementStrategy and project management
Searching and queryingData analysis
Security planningStrategy and project management
Sound compressionData structuring and enhancement
Sound editingData structuring and enhancement
Sound editingPractice-led research
Sound encodingData structuring and enhancement
Sound recordingData capture
Streaming mediaData publishing and dissemination
System quality assurance and code testingStrategy and project management
Textual interaction (asynchronous)Communication and collaboration
Textual interaction (synchronous)Communication and collaboration
Usability analysisStrategy and project management
Use of existing digital dataData capture
Version controlStrategy and project management
Video and moving image compressionData structuring and enhancement
Video and moving image compressionPractice-led research
Video editingData structuring and enhancement
Video editingPractice-led research
Video post productionPractice-led research
Video-based interaction (asynchronous)Communication and collaboration
Web browser scriptingData publishing and dissemination
Funding sources: 
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Content types created: 
Software tools used: 
  • Adobe Encore 2
  • Adobe Photoshop CS
  • Adobe Premier Pro 2
  • Auto Exec Backup
  • Cinema Craft MPEG2 Encoder
  • Daemon Tools
  • Filecheck MD5 (Checksum)
  • Microsoft Office XP
  • Morgan M-JPEG 2000 Codec
  • Nero Burning ROM 6
  • Win DV
  • Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2
Source material used:  
Source material was the National Review of Live Art Video Archive held at the University of Bristol Theatre Collection. The National Review of Live Art Video Archive consists of video documents recorded at the National Review of Live Art, an international festival of performance, from 1986 to the present [2006]. The archive consists of 1012 videotapes in these formats: U-matic (high and low band), VHS and Mini DV. In total approximately 929 hours of footage. NB. It is not known what percentage of the Archive is original performance documentation. At various times and for various years – but not consistently – some tapes have been re-edited and compiled into various demonstration or “highlights” tapes (without loss of the original). The project will digitise these tapes. An unknown number of tapes are first-generation copies of the originals. The project will not digitise these copies unless the original has been lost or damaged.
Digital resource created:  
A digital archive of the materials contained in the National Review of Live Art (NRLA) Video Archive, including master copies (uncompressed video data) held on LTO tape and external hard drives and access copies (compressed video data) on DVDs, external hard drives and a non-networked Viewing Station, together with a website and interactive catalogue of the collection at Enables varied access to footage from the NRLA Video Archive which was previously too fragile/high risk to view and preserves the content for the future.
Access to digital resource:  
Open Access
Metadata standards employed: 
Dublin Core, qualified (DC), MPEG-21, MPEG-7, Other
University of Bristol Department of Drama. "National Review of Live Art". University of Bristol.

GRAY, S. Conservation and Performance Art: Building the Performance Art Data Structure (PADS), MA diss., Northumbria University, 2008.

Institutions affiliated with this project: 

UK HE institutions involved:
University of Bristol
Other institutions involved:
New Moves International

Project staff and expertise: 

Principal staff member:Prof Simon Jones
Other staff:Computing officer(s) / Technical supporter(s), Postdoctoral researcher(s) / Research assistant(s)
External expertise:AHDS - Deposit of digital resource and advice on technical and administrative aspects; ICON - preservation and conservation advice; INCCA (International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art - advice on development of the PADS (Performance Art Documentation System) for the project case study

Metadata on this record
Author(s) of recordSimon Jones
TitleCapturing the past, preserving the future: digitisation of the national review of live art video collection
Record created2010-07-16
Record updated2010-07-16 15:07
URL of record
Citation of recordSimon Jones: Capturing the past, preserving the future: digitisation of the national review of live art video collection. <> created: 2010-07-16, last updated 2010-07-16 15:07
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