** Written in Vienna International Airport while waiting for my flight back to Dublin **
I thought i’d jot down some notes about the recent No Time To Wait conference that just finished yesterday in Vienna. It was a two day event loosely based around open source software, AV preservation and FFV1/Matroska. The scope was quite broad, and it included JPEG2000/MXF as part of Kate Murray’s update on AS-07.
All of the talks are available online, so I won’t go through each one, but I thought I’d jot down some of the things that resonated with me. I don’t have any photos so it’s a barrage of text, unfortunately. So, in no particular order (sorry if I left anyone out,this is more of a quick brainstorm than anything exhaustive):
- The importance of financially supporting open source projects. Several participants, particularly Jerome Martinez and Peter Bubestinger made the point that open source software does not mean Freeware. Software requires a considerable level of skill and time commitment, and archives must rethink the way that we fund software and services. We seem to be a lot more comfortable buying licenses for proprietary software,rather than funding a much more sustainable open source project, or buying service contracts for free software.
- RAWcooked – DPX to FFV1 with metadata!! – It looks like Jerome has a strategy for the lossless process of migrating DPX to FFV1/MKV and back to DPX again. He requires funding, and his strategy should hopefully attract attention as it is the kind of tool that could ultimately save an archive a lot of money. https://avpres.net/RAWcooked/
- Open source support. The misconception of ‘Open source software means you have no support’ was mentioned a few times. While this might be true for some projects, there were countless examples of open source tools that also offer professional service contracts as part of their business model.
- Agathe Jarczyk of University of the Arts Bern presented on her wish for ‘the ideal video player’. This might have been my favourite presentation. I really appreciated all the real world tests and the sharing of knowledge. She highlighted the inconsistencies in all the video players that she tried, and explained why Quicktime Player 7 still has a lot of features that are particularly useful for her workflows. It was wonderful to see other archivists in the audience add to the wish list, followed by Steve Lhomme of VLC saying that a lot of these features are in fact going to be part of the upcoming VLC 3.0! For any other missing features, he encouraged Agathe to raise tickets on VLC’s issue tracker, as they look at absolutely everything.
- Specifications. The run of presentations from Jimi Jones, Ashley Blewer, Steve Lhomme and Kate Murray were all fascinating in different ways. Ashley’s presentation made me feel a little less intimidated about trying to contribute to the actual Matroska and FFV1 specifications. I apologise yet again for messing up the timing of Jimi Jones presentation, he was totally cool about it but it’s my biggest regret!!
- Carl Eugen Hoyos. A lot of us were particularly excited that we would have a somewhat unexpected guest: Carl Eugen Hoyos from FFmpeg. One of the goals of No Time To Wait was to get archivists,developers and specification writers together, so it was important to have an FFmpeg representative present. FFmpeg is very frequently used by moving image archivists, and those of us who request help on their mailing list or track FFmpeg development are very familiar with Carl. Pretty much no one aside from Peter Bubestinger had ever actually met him, or even knew what he looked like. He is a frequent contributor to the project, and it’s a running joke among archivists about his insistence on particular posting styles. Anyhow, Carl was one of the stars of the symposium, everyone loved him pretty much. It seemed like he really enjoyed himself as well. He gave a great presentation on FFmpeg, attended a brilliant panel hosted by Alessandra Luciano, and raised many points and questions throughout the conference. And he gave a few of us a historical tour of Vienna.
- Alessandra/open source strategies.Speaking of which, Alessandra Luciano chaired that panel on attitudes to open source and strategies for bringing open source into your institution. Alessandra’s employer,CNA Luxembourg were also so kind as to fund the attendance of two participants.
- Dave Rice and Jerome Martinez. They both put a phenomenal amount of work into every aspect of the conference. I don’t know where they found the energy. As always, they are really friendly, inclusive, approachable,and absolutely essential to the field of digital moving image preservation. And they gave excellent presentations. It was great to meet Guillaume Roques and his wife Marie-Laure as well. I’d seen Guillaume pop up a lot on the MediaArea github pages, so yet again, it was nice put a face to a name.
- Michael Loebenstein & Austrian Film Museum: Michael Loebenstein was incredibly kind to host us in the beautiful Austrian Film Museum. All of the staff there were so friendly and helpful with everything from start to finish. It’s an excellent event space, everything went off without a hitch!
- Volunteering. I was one of the members of the organising committee, but to be honest,I really did very little in the lead-up. I did put myself forward for a lot of volunteer work during the conference itself, including being the MC/stage co-ordinator for the opening morning, as well as helping with the live stream on the last day. It was all great to do and I’d encourage everyone to get involved in some small way at any future conferences. You get so much experience, meet way more people, and it really gives you a greater appreciation for those who run these events.
- Reto Kromer made YCoCg a little more understandable for me, especially in terms of why the simpler transformation to RGB resulted in speed increases compared to YCbCr, as well as the color space allowing for some improved digital restoration workflows for some use cases. Listening to his attitude to research,development and implementation is always inspiring. Reto is wonderful! I must rewatch his presentation though and email him about a million things.
- Ffmprovisr – Maybe I have one more regret – I wish that Ashley, Reto or I had done a quick lightning talk/demo on ffmprovisr, considering that FFmpeg was mentioned every thirty minutes or so. Also it was nice to have three of the four maintainers in the same place, we all missed Katherine Frances Nagels though!
- NYPL. I was delighted that Ben Turkus and Genevieve Havemeyer-King from NYPL were there to present on their transition to FFV1/Matroska from uncompressed video. It was quite inspiring and it’s always interesting to see a much larger institution, working on a vastly bigger scale, still have a lot of similarities to my own institution.
- NYU- It was great that Ethan Gates was able to come. It was lovely to finally meet him, and his talk on advocacy,education and open source was a perfect way to kick off the event.
- Jonas Svatos/Czech Film Archive – I really respect his work,and thought he chaired a fine panel on film preservation, and I loved that he carried on the previous conversation on databases. It was great to hear honest accounts of database woes from the panel. I think most people in the room could relate. It was great to meet Fumiko from the Austrian Film Archive, who stepped in as a late replacement on the panel. She had some very interesting takes on film scanning,and on the Blackmagic Cintel in particular.
- FIAF – Speaking of which – Jonas was hyping the next FIAF congress that they are hosting in the Czech Film Archive. It is on the theme of sharing,and he encouraged the attendees to enter proposals. I should probably get going on that, hopefully in collaboration with another archive?
- Validation – I must follow up with Merle Friedrichsen from the German National Library of Science and Technology, as their research into using open source tools to validate deposits at the point of submission is something that we are interested in too..
- Normalisation- Peter Bubestinger gave a wonderful talk on normalisation strategies – codec only, container only, and both codec and container. I need to rewatch his presentation as I need to think over this topic a lot more,especially the concept of developing a ‘whitelist’ of formats that will not be normalised.
- EN 15907 – I was really interested in Peter Bubestinger and Christian Widerstrom’s talk on their upcoming database that uses the EN 15907 cataloguing standard.The IFI is investigating this standard at the moment so we will follow this project closely..
- RTV Slovenia. It was wonderful to hear from Bojan Kosi about the wonderful work of RTV Slovenia and their mass digitisation projects. I really respected their approach and how open they were with their workflows, decision making and execution. I wasn’t familiar with their work, but I think they are doing excellent work and and I think we can learn a lot from them.
- Livestreaming: Seeing the setup for live OBS streaming was such great experience. It was great to see how the issues were resolved, such as having too long of a HDMI cable for 1080p, which then had a knock-on effect on the presenter’s laptop resolutions. Dave Rice and Jerome Martinez provided most of the hardware, and everything seemed to work really well anyhow. Thankfully, Lukas Oberbichler was there, and he really stepped up and ensured that the live stream ran successfully from start to finish. I don’t think he left the livestreaming setup the entire time. If you enjoyed the stream from home, then Lukas, as well as the other Volunteer Livestream Assistants are to thank.
- Film scanners. I was interested in the test patterns that Dirk Hildebrandt (Wavelet Beam) and Adrian Bull (Cinelab London) presented. The idea is that you scan their test reel with your film scanner in order to discover the performance and potential flaws of the sensor. We will definitely have to look into this in the Irish Film Institute.
- Irish Film Institute. I spoke on our experience in the IFI with Matroska/FFV1/Mediaconch and other tools. Check it out on the live stream!
- Vienna – It is beautiful, particularly at night. Every bar or restaurant seems to find some way to be interesting. Vienna seems super safe and calm as well. I never felt unsafe walking around by myself at night.
That’s roughly it! It was great, and you really should check out the videos, you’ll learn a lot!