Ivan Dimitrovski

Ivan Dimitrovski

Last updated on 27 April 2020

Ivan Dimitrovski is a Digital Archives Assistant at UNIRMCT. He attended AV Winter School 2020 with support from the DPC's Career Development Fund which is funded by DPC Supporters.


The 2020 Winter School for Audiovisual Archiving, the fifth edition of this unique annual training where participants are taught to design and implement a preservation plan for their audiovisual collections, took place at the Sound and Vision Institute in Hilversum, The Netherlands. This year, I was fortunate enough to be granted a full scholarship by the Digital Preservation Coalition, enabling me to attend this prestigious training.

As a Digital Archives Assistant at the United Nations International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (“Mechanism”), I am assigned to work mainly on digital records. My specific role, within the digital preservation programme, is to support the extraction of digital records from various source systems, including the Electronic Documents and Records Management System (EDRMS), prepare those records into a pre-defined Submission Information Package (SIP) structure and ingest them into the Mechanism’s Digital Repository. The digital records include approximately 1.5 Petabytes of audiovisual recordings of courtroom proceedings. This involvement in digital preservation activities was good justification for me to attend the Winter School with the hope of returning to my job with broader skills and expertise, particularly with respect to preservation of digital audiovisual materials.

On the first day of the Winter School, together with 13 other participants, I was welcomed to the superb, ultra-modern Sound and Vision Institute building in Hilversum by the instructors and digital preservation guides for the next four days, Kara van Malsen, Peter Bubestinger-Steindl and Erwin Verbruggen. Participants from many different organisations came from various corners of the globe, including Hong Kong, Colombia and several European countries. Some of us had the same or similar backgrounds, others not, but we all gathered together in one of the Sound and Vision Institute’s “Tech labs” with one shared goal - to learn more about the preservation of digital audiovisual records and take that knowledge back to our respective organisations for practical application.

The opening session on the first day was a ‘know your peer’ ice breaker during which we got to know more about each other: our specific areas of responsibilities and the challenges we seek to overcome in developing a solid understanding of digital preservation practice. With all that nicely out of the way, we felt well acquainted and ready to collectively dive into the substantive content which Erwin kicked-off with an introduction to the OAIS reference model during the first session. He eloquently walked us through the OAIS model from pre-ingest, ingest, to access, discussing SIPs, AIPs and DIPs as applicable. He was followed by Peter who discussed preservation planning with a particular focus on the format policy for audiovisual preservation. Kara’s lecture on the ingest scope of the audiovisual digital archive from the perspective of its user community completed the day’s agenda. At the end of day one, I left the building with much to think about. The presentations, aided by the many practical exercises, prompted a lot of active discussion which helped me to fully grasp the OAIS reference model.

The next two days started with brief presentations by participants where we each talked about our collections, experiences and challenges as well as long-term visions for our digital repositories. These presentations were a favourite of mine because they highlighted real-life experiences and challenges that we are all facing in the effort to preserve digital content in our organisations. They also provided me with the necessary context against which I was better able to understand the theoretical concepts which we discussed during the lectures.

The participants’ presentations were followed by instructor-led lectures where we took a deeper dive into the OAIS components: Ingest, Archival Storage, Data Management, Preservation Planning, Administration and Access. Each day of lectures ended with a presentation of a practical case study by a guest speaker. Lucy Wales talked about digital preservation at the British Film Institute National Archive, outlining systems in use as well as policies and practices in place across the digital collections’ lifecycle from acquisition/creation to documentation, processing, digital preservation and finally access. Jonáš Svatoš, of the digital laboratory of the Národní filmový archive in Prague talked about the sustainable digital workflows in governmental institutions, focusing on the audiovisual collections in the Národní filmový archive. He gave an overview of the software platform in use and a glimpse into their future projects. Marjolein Steeman from the Dutch Institute for Sound and Vision (our hosts) talked about becoming a Trusted Digital Repository by looking back to the Institute’s TDR strategy from 2011-2016 and giving an overview of the milestones accomplished to the present day.  

Over the course of the first three days, I developed many favourite topics but the one which stands out is Preservation Metadata. This is mostly because the digital audiovisual collections in my organisation have a substantial amount of metadata which we aim to preserve in accordance with contemporary good practice. We will also generate a lot of preservation metadata which we must also preserve and maintain, while ensuring it remains persistently linked to the respective objects.

After three days of acquiring theoretical knowledge, the last day was dedicated to practical sessions where we had the opportunity to put theory into practice. The sessions focused on file delivery, file analysis and data transfer working with tools such as FFMpeg, MediaInfo, MediaConch, BagIt, and they were guided by highly professional and knowledgeable instructors. In closing, we were all asked to write down the activities and actions which we thought our organisations should undertake in order to achieve our goals and become trustworthy digital repositories. I look forward to hearing back from my peers in years’ time about their progress and achievements.

At the end of a very engaging and fruitful four days, I left the beautiful Sound and Vision Institute building with a real sense of satisfaction. The knowledge and technical skills gained from this opportunity has given me a deeper understanding of the basis for audiovisual preservation, and how digitization and migration projects fit into the longer-term preservation goals. I also feel better equipped and more competent to contribute to the processing and preservation of audiovisual materials in my organisation.

The Career Development Fund is sponsored by the DPC’s Supporters who recognize the benefit and seek to support a connected and trained digital preservation workforce. We gratefully acknowledge their financial support to this programme and ask applicants to acknowledge that support in any communications that result. At the time of writing, the Career Development Fund is supported by Arkivum, Artefactual Systems Inc., CAE Technology, Formpipe, Libnova, Max Communications, MirrorWeb and Preservica. A full list of supporters is online here.


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