The 22nd Southeast Asia-Pacific Audiovisual Archive Association Conference and General Assembly was in Bangkok, Thailand, from 6 – 12 April 2018 at the Pathumwan Princess Hotel. This yearly conference gives an opportunity for audiovisual (AV) archive professionals from the Asia-Pacific and other regions to network, share ideas, discover new developments, and provide training for participants. The theme for this year’s conference is AV Archiving Beyond Boundaries, and was hosted by the Thai Film Archive.
I was fortunate to be the recipient of the AICCM Queensland Professional Development Grant 2018, and the grant helped with my conference and workshop fees. I was keen to go this year as I wanted to participate in the “Open Source for Archives” workshop facilitated by Reto Kromer from Switzerland, and Joshua Ng from Singapore. The other workshop was “Care and Handling of Photographic Materials” by Bertrand Lavedrine from France.
The two-day pre-conference workshop on open source software introduced and demonstrated a range of open software tools for AV content such as MediaInfo, QCTools and FFmpeg. I was especially keen on getting a better understanding of FFmpeg, for working with various digital AV file formats and encodings. Two days is not a long time to cover all that we strived out to learn, and a bunch of us even had to stay on at the end of the conference to learn a few more useful FFmpeg commands.
Jan Müller, CEO of the National Film and Sound Archive in Australia gave the keynote address at the start of the two-day conference. He highlighted the challenges facing AV collecting organisations and how these organisations have to constantly reinvent themselves to stay relevant in this ‘technology-dominated and network era’, in order to fully utilise their collections.
The conference programme was arranged as panel sessions on various topics, with two sessions running simultaneously after the opening plenary session on the collaboration between AV archiving organisations. Each panel session comprised of three half hour presentations, followed by a short question and answer segment from the presenters. The presentations were on a wide range of topics include disaster response and planning for AV archives in Puerto Rico; maintenance of AV files during a data migration; new approaches to film preservation; case studies from India, Belgium, Cuba and the US etc; engaging young film audiences in Thailand; archiving film display technology; volunteerism at the Hong Kong Film archive and more. The link to the programme schedule can be found at http://seapavaaconference.com/programme-and-schedule-22nd/ and you can learn more about the sessions on https://twitter.com/seapavaa_org .
Each evening there were film screenings at the local theatre close by, of notable interest was the archival restoration gems screening on 10 April, where organisations were able to showcase short film restorations.
I have been a member of SEAPAVAA for a number of years, and the conferences have grown from Southeast Asia and Pacific countries to include participation from specialists from around the world. I would encourage anyone who is interested in the preservation of audiovisual collections to participate in future conferences; Noumea, New Caledonia in 2019, and Ho Chih Minh, Vietnam in 2020.