Final work day at Señal 3

We entered our final day with most of our goals accomplished. We had inventoried all of the station’s Hi8, Video8, Digital8, and U-matic tapes and had built a working digitization station. Rather than relishing in our accomplishments, we spent our last day hard at work tying up loose ends and making sure the team at Señal 3 had all of the information and documentation necessary to make our work useful to them. We had three main goals on our final day: 1.) To consolidate our separate inventories into a single Excel spreadsheet 2.) To create documentation explaining how to use the spreadsheet 3.) To train members of the Señal 3 team to use the digitization station.

Because the internet at Señal 3 is spotty at best, rather than working from a single inventory in Google sheets, each team of catalogers worked from separate Excel spreadsheets. This meant that we had quite a bit of extra work to do consolidating those half dozen spreadsheets into a single, cohesive Excel document. Allie and Caroline took charge, diligently putting all of the information in order and checking for any mistakes along the way–and inevitably, there were mistakes. In fact, once we had our final spreadsheet ready, to our collective horror, we realized there were two tape numbers missing from our inventory. Rather than letting it slide or assuming those numbers were mistakenly skipped, Allie diligently searched through the boxes of tapes and found the tapes with the missing numbers and added them to the inventory. This was a satisfying end to two weeks of work. I am proud of the work we did and so happy to know that Senal 3 can now search a majority of their archive by keyword because we transcribed all of their annotations from the tapes. Not only that, but they have all the technical and descriptive information they could ever want about those tapes in the spreadsheet as well. Next, the inventory team worked together to create a document for the Señal 3 staff explaining how to use the inventory sheet to find tapes in the archive and how to add more tapes to the inventory as the station continues to build its archive.

In addition to working with the inventory team, I spent part of our final day working with the video digitization team. In the morning, Eddy, Mariel, and I labeled and numbered all of the cables for the digitization station. This often overlooked step will save Señal 3 a lot of hassle in the future if they ever need to dismantle the equipment and put it back together again. Later in the day, I shadowed Jonathan, Eddie, and Pamela as they trained the Señal 3 team on how to use the digitization station. This was a great opportunity for me to take a video refresher course. Jonathan, Eddy, and Pamela are great teachers! After Eddy finished explaining the purpose of each piece of equipment in the room, from how to use the time-base corrector to why they chose certain Final Cut capture settings, the group finally got to start digitizing some tapes. Polo brought in a VHS-C tape of a protest from the 1990s that he wished to show at our roundtable discussion the following day. I should add that he was able to find through the new inventory! Unfortunately, during our first attempt at transferring the video some frames were dropped. The team worked together to troubleshoot and after unplugging and replugging a few cables our second transfer attempt was a success. After we stored the file on the station’s new archival harddrive, it was time to say our goodbyes to Señal 3 and the La Victoria neighborhood. We took the long walk through the streets full of beautiful shops and murals for the last time. As we waited at the bus station it began to sink in that this wonderful experience was coming to a close.

–-Taylor Morales



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