This year was the first AMIA Conference for many of us––not to mention first time in New Orleans. So, we wanted to share some of our Student Chapter’s experiences. The full 2017 AMIA Conference Schedule can be found here. The AMIA YouTube channel also has videos of some the sessions that were streamed during the conference.
(MLIS MAS ’18 / AMIA Student Chapter Co-President)
Attending my first AMIA conference solidified my conviction that media archives is the field for me, and that this is a professional community in which I could thrive. I was so nervous, but the efforts of the AMIA Education Committee to welcome students and
first-time attendees did not go unappreciated. Festooned with a glorious array of introductory banners on my conference badge to start conversations, I attended as many social events as possible, and met an incredible array of archivists from around the world. I even joined my first professional committee, and contributed productive ideas at the meeting. For me, this was the first step in the transition between graduate student and working professional.
I volunteered at the conference to save money, but it unexpectedly enlightened me to a number of topics that I never would have encountered on my own. My duties meant that I spent an entire day monitoring a single conference room, and subsequently attended every single session. To my great fortune, these sessions were universally engaging and popularly attended. It turns out that I’m very interested in the workflows, metadata, and experimental annotations for digital humanities research. Furthermore, I found it incredibly gratifying to learn about new advances in preservation and digitization efforts that I could apply to my everyday work.
The experience was additionally supplemented by the fact that New Orleans was an amazing city to visit, with wonderful food, music, and history right outside the conference hotel to sample every night. In short, attending the AMIA conference was an excellent decision that I highly recommend.
It was also gratifying to confirm the accuracy of some advice that Snowden Becker offered at the beginning of my time at UCLA: karaoke is indeed valuable networking.
(MLIS MAS ’18 / AMIA Student Chapter Co-President)
2017 marked a number of firsts for me as a budding media archivist. I volunteered at, and attended, a number of local film archive-related gatherings around LA. These included the 1st Film Librarians Conference, FIAF‘s first U.S.-hosted Congress since the 1980s, and The Reel Thing Symposium. I also finally went to my first AMIA Conference, which was held in New Orleans. Although I’ve attended (and presented my own work at) many other conferences, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m comfortable in that type of setting. On the contrary, conferences can be stressful if you’re kind of an introvert.
However, any reservations or anxieties I might have had about the 2017 AMIA Conference were quickly quashed upon arrival. Everyone was so welcoming! This must be a testament to the openness of working professionals in the media preservation field, as well as the ways in which AMIA staff operate with inclusivity in mind. Events, panels, and welcome orientations were well organized, and the general conference and networking vibes were “low stress.”
I had the opportunity to meet and interact with number of other AMIA Student Chapter leaders, which was fantastic as I think we should collaborate and share our ideas and experiences with each other (not just over karaoke, although that was a lot of fun). It was also a unique experience to serve as a school representative, as UCLA and LA seemed to be very well represented at AMIA 2017. In general, it was enjoyable to network with former UCLA MIAS alumni, to see where they ended up in the field, where they interned and apprenticed, and how their education at UCLA helped shape their career trajectory.
Attending my first AMIA conference in New Orleans was an extremely motivating experience for my future aspirations as a film and media preservationist. Even serving as UCLA’s AMIA Student Chapter Secretary, I have had a plethora of reservations in committing to the conference that included time, finances, and a novice professional identity. The invaluable experience of meeting established professionals, and the opportunity to become directly involved in issues that currently affect the field, immediately dashed away my trepidations after arriving at the conference.
In addition to subcommittee meetings for the projection and moving images materials, I also attended a workshop on workplace sexual harassment. This workshop was led by keynote speaker DeEtta Jones and was especially relevant for emergent professionals in this field, as well as the professional world at-large. Other speakers—like Karen F. Gracy, Snowden Becker, and Dino Everett—were influential to me in their professionalism, technological/academic relevance, and provided examples of how to participate (and when not to) in discussion and/or debate.
The vast array of topics for any individual even remotely interested in moving image archival and preservation ranged from the representation of Arab diversity in Hollywood to workflow developments for an academic institution. Additionally, the Vendor Café was an excellent opportunity to examine the current technological climate in the media archival world, as well as how vendors are continually evolving with standard practices in an increasingly digital environment. I was upset my shipment of business cards arrived in Los Angeles the day after I left for New Orleans, though the conference still afforded numerous opportunities for networking from UCLA alumni to heads of studio archives. Although some planning will be involved in fundraising for future conferences, my experiences in New Orleans were more than convincing that the annual AMIA conference is enjoyable, valuable, and rich in opportunities for any aspiring moving image archivist.
The most prized advice I can provide for any future attendees came from a group meeting before the conference with Snowden Becker at UCLA: No matter whether you’re a student or studio executive, exuding confidence and sidelining any professional self-doubt is the first thing you should have on your mind; attending the conference is one of the best ways to prove that you’re already an asset to the industry!
(MLIS MAS, ’18 / AMIA Student Chapter Member / CalArts Media Library)
Attending the AMIA conferences is a networking smorgasbord. One way to interact with the community there is to participate in the poster session – which will also make you look sharp in the conference program! Source material is easy, since we grind out so many papers in the quarter system. My poster sprung from a class I took in the film school, but played directly into ideas that later shaped my portfolio issue paper.* At the New Orleans conference, the space provided for each poster was 3’Hx6’L and no mounting was required. So they give you a lotta choice space, as well as a table to place handouts or business cards, which are great ways to connect. I highly recommend them.
Drawbacks? Mine had a lot of text. Even though I divided it up into clear sections, reading involves loitering. So there’s that awkward moment where you’re staring at people reading your writing, which freaks everyone out. I would advise on angling more visuals.
Regrets? I wish I had created a website and made a short run of business cards so that people could check out my poster topic on their own time. We should all be thinking about creating simple websites for a little self-promotion for future employment. However, the poster can be a nice gateway for people to connect, even those who you have never met. In my case, I received an email follow-up. Overall it’s an excellent experience and an easy conference icebreaker. Also, Graham is a typo magnet – hustle that feller over!
* Eric’s poster session was Finding a “Cine-Voice”: Materialism Realism and Auricon
(MLIS MAS ’19 / AMIA Student Chapter Member)
The 2017 AMIA conference provided opportunities for me to meet professionals who work with all types of media, but I spent most of my time at panels and meetings that pertained to television preservation. This was a chance for me to see the most recent issues facing this subfield of the media archives profession.
The American Archive of Public Broadcasting had a strong presence at the conference this year, with WGBH, the Library of Congress, and a number of local television/broadcast stations. Their panel topics addressed access workflows, copyright, preservation, and metadata – to name just a few. After one of these panels, I was lucky enough to be invited to dinner with a group of representatives from many of these organizations, in addition to our own Shawn VanCour!
After attending the Local TV Task Force panel, I have to give these guys a shout out! The challenges with preserving local television programs is one of my personal areas of interest, but the work they’ve been compiling in the past year would be helpful to any archivist who runs across broadcast material during their career. I should also mention that the Local TV Task Force plans on releasing a number of their resources on the new AMIA website at a later date. I really think smaller archives with vulnerable collections will find these especially useful. So keep a look out!
(MLIS MAS ’19 / AMIA Student Chapter Web/Social Media/Outreach Coordinator)
My favorite session was probably Collaboration in the Aesthetic Zone: Trisha Brown and Robert Rauschenberg, which addressed the challenges and complexity of exhibiting a collaborative performance piece that included film within a multi-media installation. This panel brought together people from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Trisha Brown Dance Company, and Bill Brand from BB Optics. Their presentation helped flesh out some of the difficulties that arise in collaborations between museums, art foundations and archives. Automation and Similarity: An Introduction to Perceptual Hashing with Andrew Weaver and Libby Hopfauf from MIPoPS pleasantly surprised me, since I was worried it would either be over my head or mind-numbingly technical. I had heard Andrew Weaver speak briefly about FFmpeg for Snowden’s Bootcamp, so this session helped put some of his work into a practical context. Before this session, I had never heard of MIPoPS, and after looking up their site, I would highly recommend their resource page for anyone interested in video. Seattle represent! Another highlight for me was the XFR Collective panel. Their new collaboration with Metro is an inspiring example of how to make media resources accessible to the general public.
I am sure I am not the only one to say this, but the social component of the conference can not be stressed enough. Throughout the events, mixers and cocktail parties, many names were finally put to faces. It was also through these more casual settings that I was able to talk to, or follow up with, people who I had met only briefly in the past. Networking with other student chapters is also a large part of networking at AMIA – and something I really enjoyed. So, organizing a karaoke night at Kajun’s Pub with the MIAP and Ryerson cohorts, was definitely another one of my favorite memories from the conference. Killer performances of Mariah Carey, Blondie, and the Bonnie Tyler hit “Total Eclipse of the Heart” ensued! I should also mention that, the other first years and I, pretty much fell in love with MIAP by the end of the conference. In fact, some of us plan to stay with the folks we met at AMIA for the Orphan Film Symposium in April.
The best tip I got was from Jen O’Leary (Archive Library Analyst, NBC Universal Media / AMIA Student Liaison / UCLA MIAS ’16), who told me she used her notes from the conference sessions for her school papers afterward. Sounds obvious, since the conference sessions present current research on topics that come up in class, but it hadn’t occurred to me before she said it. A couple other things I would recommend is stashing business cards in your badge holder and snapping pictures of PP slides on your phone during presentations. I took a bunch of pictures of charts, graphs and equipment guides that would have been impossible to sketch out or put in note form.