Freelancer Eric Bugash runs a camera for an author’s presentation at the National Book Festival.
With a nearly 635,000-square-foot imprint at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 13 program stages and more than 170 authors, the 15th annual Library of Congress National Book Festival presented challenges of scale and complexity for video capture and access.
The annual literary extravaganza is made possible by the generosity of festival co-chairman and lead benefactor David M. Rubenstein as well as additional sponsors, which this year included AARP, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, The Washington Post and Wells Fargo, among many others. Over the years, this support has enabled the Library to record author presentations to be digitized, captioned and posted on the Library’s website so that book lovers unable to travel to the nation’s capital can experience the event virtually.
In addition to its own 15-year milestone, this year’s festival offered a celebration point for the 200th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library coming to the Library of Congress and the 15th anniversaries of two other Library programs – the Veterans History Project and the John W. Kluge Center.
To capture the many moving parts, the Library supplemented its significant internal recording and post-editing capabilities by engaging Decibel Management and its partner EventEQ to manage and deliver live capture of the festival.
Each of the 13 stages was equipped with professional-grade audio and lighting to ensure clean, broadcast-quality capture of all content. This videography used a dedicated Sony HSC100R camera at each stage recording directly to Blackmagic Hyperdeck recording decks.
James Cannady, a multimedia coordinator for the Library of Congress, interviews popular author Jeffrey Deaver on camera.
All recordings were made in uncompressed high-definition resolution for optimum quality. Decibel Management and EventEQ set up an on-site transfer capability using a combination of Apple MacBook Pros and Blackmagic Design MultiDocks. This let the Library process all content to hard drives, check them for accuracy and completeness, and have them immediately available for processing and editing.
Eight terabytes of video will be migrated to the Library’s internal servers, transcoded using Harmonic Rhozet encoders and edited on Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere. Once edited, packaged and captioned, the videos will be posted on the Library’s website on a page dedicated to the festival (loc.gov/bookfest) as well as the Library’s site containing all its videos: loc.gov/webcasts.
The Library of Congress has been at the forefront of digitizing video materials from its collections since the earliest days of the web. Adding video of on-site programming beginning in 2005 enabled the Library to share its public programs with a much larger audience online. Since 2009, the institution has taken the additional step of posting its video content to YouTube and iTunesU to expand its audience and improve discoverability.
By year’s end, the Library expects to upgrade its online video player to improve accessibility and device-compatibility. These steps all combine to improve public access and make the National Book Festival truly “national” in its reach.
Guy Lamolinara, an employee of the Library of Congress, is the co-director of the National Book Festival.