Video Restoration Television (VRTV) Audio-Visual Project at UCT

By Susan Harris

Susan Harris is a Director at VRTV, Bladeworks post production facilities for TV, digital, advertising and film projects and campaigns

VRTV are thrilled to be involved with the restoration and digitisation of the audio-visual material that was salvaged from the Jagger Library in April 2021, as well as film reels that have been preserved in UCT Libraries’ dedicated cold room. Without digitisation, the survival of the archive in its current state was threatened.

The project is expected to last for most 2022. The first few months of 2022 have seen the set up of our digitisation unit in UCT Libraries Chancellor Oppenheimer Library, and we are working closely with the Special Collections team on this project.

What follows is a photo essay documenting our first months on campus.

There was much excitement when our equipment started to arrive on the premises in December so we could begin installing in the New Year.

Susan Mvungi (UCT Archivist) having a sneak preview

 Steve Swigelaar (UCT Libraries Facilities Supervisor) helping with the logistics

Some of the heavy lifting

Susan Harris from VRTV at the entrance to what will become our new home for the best part of 2022

There are quite a few of the film industry dinosaurs being brought out of retirement. And a few new toys have been added

The brand new Cintel Scanner has arrived, capable of scanning both 16mm and 35mm film. We are all so excited to see it

Ta Da…. Isn’t it lovely!

Steve Harris & Abdul Kareem Latief from VRTV are installing, connecting, testing and servicing all the video machines

Blythe Edwins (UCT Libraries Facilities Manager) coordinated the delivery of all Special Collections video and audio tapes to our digitisation unit at Immelman 24/7. We have been assisted throughout by Libraries Facilities and UCT’s Properties and Management Division.

Bigger is not always better! Abdul Kareem is holding an 8mm film converter

Now the enormous job of cleaning and repairing the water and fire damaged tapes. Here Abdul Kareem can be seen wiping ash from the cassette boxes

Above is an example of a tape that is full of ash and needs to be cleaned

Kelly Nunes from VRTV is hard at work cleaning the tapes before they can be rewound

Jemma Bellion from VRTV is also gently cleaning tapes

Here Andrea Petersen from VRTV is manually rewinding the tapes that have shrunk from exposure to moisture (and in some cases being immersed in water) and are too tight to rewind on the machines without snapping

Abdul Kareem and Kelly celebrating the repair and cleaning of the last tape. Now we can finish with the rewinding of the tapes, and then begin the ingesting process

We have begun ingesting the footage on the video tapes into a digital format.

It is such an honour to see all the history of our beautiful land and be a part of the team that is responsible for the future proofing of it.

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