Our MAM -- Some Basics and Screenshots


The basic reason we created the video tool was to:

Ø  Manage our entire archive of restored video and audio files.

Ø  Ensure quick archival access to all media files by our researchers, production staff and outside users, in a organized and secure way.

Ø  Enable instant access via searches by names, dates, tags, transcript and other metadata attached directly to specific point in the video.

Ø  Ensure smooth interface with our production operation.


File Formats

For both speed and security, the system use two formats of files for each asset: Proxy and Mezzanine. Proxy files are low resolution format with watermark for preview purposes. Mezzanine files are high resolution version for production use and/or export.



The tool has the ability to attach set of metadata fields to a specific time on a video or audio.

The system contains multiple layers of metadata, each with multiple fields:

Ø  Tape information and technical info.

Ø  Recording info, with many fields specific to the event.

Ø  Date, time, and location fields.

Ø  Names, of individuals in the scene, photographers, source of collection, and more.

Ø  Metadata content tags.


We’re now in the midst of adding two major metadata layers:

Ø  Subtitles and transcripts (10 languages). This will enable us to search the text of an interview and be brought instantly to that location.

Ø  Metadata tree. This will enable us to import all of our past content logs and Avid bins and connect them directly to the content, further enabling us to leverage our content lists.



Advanced internet browser based video player with variant playback speed, time code, ability to jump forward or backward at user-set amounts, mark in and out.



Ø  Ability to clone video to different server for use by editing facility.

Ø  Ability to export user-selected in-to-out selection to multiple formats (FFMPG).

Ø  Burn logo or time code onto the exported video.

Ø  Admin can monitor exports by users.



Ø  Free text search with the ability to narrow down results by multiple filters.

Ø  Index pages for people and dates.

Ø  Ability to filter results by the different layers of metadata.


User permissions:

To ensure high security the admin can limit user functionality or access to specific videos. 

Video Player


Video Player, Multiple Events

Tagging Screen



Interview Detail


Video Export Options


Recording/Events list

Name Index

Date Index


Export History - Admin

Results - September, 1975

Narrow Search


Video Preservation Part 2

We just sent off a whole batch of videos to be preserved as part of the Living Archive preservation project.


Videos of interviews conducted by the My Encounter project in Betacam format are being prepared to be logged before shipping

When we initially set out on this enourmous journey of the preservation project we realized that we would have to prioritize some of our collections over others in terms of what gets done first, primarily because time is of the essence when it comes to preservation. So the criteria was based on two factors: 1. Tape condition, age and vulnerability and 2. Content priority.

We have now launched our final sprint to the finish line to complete the preservation of all tier one media. Much of tier one has been preserved, backed up and being used daily in our media management tools by our production staff, but some small collections of various formats still remanied.

We've also included a number of tier two tapes in this push, most notably, the early My Encounter with the Rebbe oral history testimonies -- those which were recorded on tape (all new interviews are recorded in HD directly to hard drive).

So the vast majority of this batch consist of interviews conducted by the My Encounter with the Rebbe project between the years 2000 and 2006 in the analog format of Betacam video tape.

Our task begun with calling in all necessary videos from our offsite storage facility where they keep our tapes in a temperature and humidity controlled environment.

The next step was to confirm that all tapes being sent are in fact the original master tapes and not dubs as in the past there were many instances where we made copies of tapes so we can send the originals back to safe storage.

Archivist Shloime Morosow analyzing the situation

Next would of course be to catalogue what's being sent out and to communicate that with our vendor.


Archivist and researcher Motti Hazan comparing tapes to inventory list

After that we securely package everything and send it off to our preservation specialists.


Container snugly filled with Betacam tapes

In cases of X-ray scanning in airport security, a special request needs to be made for a different procedure in order to prevent damage to the magnetic media


And sometimes we have to remind people not to let their curiosity carry them to places they don't belong

All packed and ready to go, wait, this is only half of the shipment

What next? good question, it's actually the usual, once the videos have been preserved and the digital media sent back to us, the following process begins:

1. Quality control, confirming preservation has reached satisfactory level

2. Storage and backup, on servers and multiple copies of LTO tapes which are stored offsite

3. Ingestion into media management system

4. Metadata tagging begins, we do this in many rounds, starting from the most important information down to the most minute

This is obviously a brief description of the process, we hope to discuss each stage with greater detail in future posts.




Operation "MELAMED"

Several days after the passing of Yossi Melamed on 10 Iyar - May 2, one of the featured photographers here at the Living Archive, some members of the archive team have come up with an ambitious goal of making an exhibit of Yossi and his collection. But here's the catch -- they want to launch it  in time for Yossi's Shloshim (30 days after one's passing)!

Archive Director Dekel Hamatian discusses logistics of the project with Senior Archivist Shloimie Morosow

Since this project was launched, a group of archivists have begun working around the clock to turn the dream into a reality. The project includes scanning tens of thousands of photos from the original 35mm negatives. (The scanning project actualy began a year ago. But now the archive staff have thrown themselves into it 24/6!)

The archive team fully unleashed on the project!


Senior Video Editor Yanky Ascher cleans and fine tunes photos for the gallery, proving that he knows much more than video editing!

After negatives are scanned and added to the internal content management system, Shloimie Morosow and Elkanah Shmotkin work on curating the exhibition, selecting the most unique and striking photos from each batch. After all the photos are reviewed, 40 finalists will be chosen to appear in the exhibition.




Logging and organizing all photos into archive-grade acid-free sleeves.


Stage 2

Scanning the original negatives to digital form.


Stage 3

Hi-rez files are backed-up on LTO tapes, and sent to offsite storage. Original negatives are returned to secure offsite storage.


Stage 4 

Basic batch color correction is done.


Stage 5

Photos are migrated to the content management system.


Stage 6

In the CMS, a senior researcher and archivist begins to enter metadata to these photos, including: Date, Location, Event, Basic People and technical info regarding the format and how it was preserved etc.

This part can be really tricky as many photos don't have any desctiption by the original phtographer, so we have to do some detective-work. In most cases, the envelope with the photographer's original notes provide enough clues to start this process.

This difficult and extremely time-consuming step is vital. Once the proper metadata is entered into the historic record, the material becomes searchable in a whole host of ways.

Stage 7 

Photos which are selected for the exhibition are color corrected and touched up. A good photo restorer doesn't change the scene; he merely removes any deficiencies. Fine-tuning Yossi's already beautiful photos brings out the beauty of the moment, making truly worthy of what will surely be a world-class exhibition!

Researcher-Archivist Motti Hazan adds metadata to a batch of photos. On the right-hand screen is a scan of the photographer's original envelope


Fresh new batch from the 50's

The films just brought in, waiting to be opened.While technically these 16mm B&W films may be old, to us they are new and exciting.

This week, we've received and addition to our archive collection, 4 - 100 Foot 16mm B&W films, recorded in the early to mid 1950's by a (then) young student who was trying out some interesting and fancy technology he got a hold of, and after many years of sitting and collecting dust, he has agreed to let us take care and preserve these precious films.

What's fascinating about 16mm is that they can be transferred to HD, think about it, a video taken around sixty years ago, being viewed in HD.

When I saw this, I paused for a second - Wow!As with all our materials, the first thing we do when receiving something new, we inspect its physical condition, then we assign and tag to it a serial number which corresponds to a record in our database in which all its information -technical, as well as the recorded content- is entered.



Our Collections Coming Together

Recently we got a request from our production team for photos of a particular event, what we have discovered is that have photos of this event in two separate collections taken by seperate photographers. What's particularly interesting with this one is that in each of the photos can be seen the photographer who took the other photo.

Both of these pictures were scanned from 35mm negatives by The Living Archive.

This is another example of our many collections coming together and completing the gaps and angles missing in others. In many cases we have several photo, audio and video collections all of the same event.


Our Video-Preservation Challenge 

In this video we present the great challenge we face with preserving our video collection:

Our video collection is comprised of many small collections mostly recorded by non-professionals. 

There are several aspects to the challenge 

1. All the formats are obsolete, which means finding the right people and equipment for this task is not easy.

2. Since we have many formats we need to spend time on every one researching and finding the right methods and people to preserve them.

3. Even the tapes that were professionally recorded were never done with long-term preservation in mind, so all our tapes are badly deteriorated.

4. Most of our recordings were made by non-professionals who cherished these moments and wanted to capture them but didn't have the resources (including knowledge) to make good quality recordings and therefore besides for having a shaky camera A. they used amateur formats like 8mm and VHS(horrible for long-term). B. they would use different techniques to save money like recording with SLP speeds.


Our Video collection includes:

8mm Film

Super-8 Film

16mm Film

1" Reels

1/2" open reel (EIAJ)

3/4" Umatic




Digital Beta

Mini DV

HDV (on Mini DV)



Digital Files


Years recorded: 1940's - Present


Another Comparison

This comparison demonstrates the reward of the hard work searching for the best methods to preserve our videos at optimum quality.



Just In: Over 1000 Hours of Audio Recordings are Restored

The excitement of receiving the magnificent new collection of 150 quarter-inch audio reels pales in comparison to recently receiving the digital files, meaning the ability to watch, listen and edit, all at a click away.

The Goldstein audio collection consists of over a thousand hours of audio, recorded and collected by Aharon Goldstein.  The collection ranges from the early 1950's until the mid ‘70's, all on quarter inch magnetic tape, spooled onto reels. 

A quarter inch tape being played on a Sony deck at the preservation department of The Living Archive

This collection also includes recordings made by Aharon's father Yossi, a man with a passion for recording audio, as well as video, and pioneering the concept of recording the Lubavitcher Rebbe. He managed to obtain recording equipment in the ‘50's, when it was still considered to be a break-through technology and very far-fetched to the average person.  Yossi's passion for recording was passed along to all his sons, who have continued the family legacy.

This collection consists of recordings done in a very unique method, therefore requiring a really skilled specialist with customized and modified equipment to digitize them.

The uniquness of these recordings are in the amount of tracks and the speed at which they were recorded: 4 tracks instead of the common 2, and at speeds of 15/16 and 1-7/8 IPS (inches per second) instead of the standard 3-3/4 or 7-1/2 IPS, this enabled to record over eight times the recording time which a standard recording on the same tape would allow.

Now that these 150 audio reels have been digitized and backed up, another chunk of history has been preserved. 

An LTO-5 tape used for long-term backup at The Living Archive, it has no delicate internal mechanical parts, therefore greatly reducing failing risks as compared to its counterpart the Hard Drive

The digitization of this collection is part of a greater project, the Preservation Project. The mission of this project is to digitize and preserve all media of the Living Archive.

The preservation department at the East New York Ave office.The Living Archive spends countless time, and exhausting effort in researching technology, new and old alike, ensuring that the whole collection of media is digitized and stored at the highest standards possible.

The Living Archive has an in-house quality control system, documenting and critically inspecting each piece of digitizide material that is returned from our various vendors, analyzing it from various technical perspectives, ensuring the integrity of its digitization.

As part of the quality-control process, Motti Hazan is doing an in-depth analysis on newly digitized audio, determining its accuracy.

For more details regarding the content of this collection refer to this post


Our Fluid Scanning Kit Has Arrived

The ScanScience Fluid-Scanning Kit For 35 MM Film With Nikon ScannersFor quite a while now, we were looking for the best method of scanning our enormous collection of photos in negative film format. Based on some research the wet-mounting method seemed quite promising.

ScanScience's signature product the "LUMINA"

Problems With Black and White Negatives

One of our main issues - which fluid-scanning addresses - is a particular one we encounter with B&W film: For colored film, Digital ICE technology does wonders with getting rid of the dust and scratches, it is a completely different story with B&W - which isn’t supported by Digital ICE technology. Because of this all of our scanned B&W negatives had undesirable results. Even worse, the Nikon scanners  we use - and for that matter most high-end dedicated film scanners - use LED lighting which exaggerate the dust and scratches even more.

The Nikon Coolscan 4000, the scanner we will be using for this project

A Great Discovery

When we discovered that fluid scanning is made available for CCD (digital) scanners and can considerably, if not completely, remove the dust and scratches from the scans, we got excited and thought this might be the solution we were looking for.

 The Nikon adaptor we needed to obtain for making the scanner compatible with the kit

Additional Benefits

Besides for Fluid-Scanning possibly being the answer to our main issue there are additional benefits it provides, for the same reason that many seem to consider Digital-ICE technology as being an amateur approach because

1. It degrades sharpness of the image as compared to scanning without it

2. It fills-in the scratches and dust areas with non-original data

Therefore with fluid-scanningb even for our colored-films can be tremendously beneficia, plus it is claimed to have some other advantages such as Broadening the depth of field – Sharper image, greater contrast, a wider dynamic range, greater color saturation and smoothens the grain.

With all these promising expectations we intend on putting this to the test and hopefully by next week we will present our findings here.


Preservation Project In Full Swing

After countless months of research, testing and comparing between the various methods and vendors for video digitization, and also creating a quality control and storage system, we are now in full swing of the video preservation project.

This video presents the first batch leaving our facilities for digitization including the preliminary stage to our 3-stage video preservation process, plus a glimpse of our visit to the digitization firm in Cranberry Pennsylvania where we got to see our first batch being digitized.


Video Preservation Stages

Preliminary stage - Entry of tape info into project database.

Stage 1 - Digitization

Stage 2 - Quality Control

Stage 3 - Storage and Backup 


Preliminary stage

Entering the required technical info of the tape into the project’s database and confirming that a corresponding label is tagged to it.

Info entered-

Tape ID

Tape format

Tape length

Recorded speed

Externaly visible tape condition

With this screen we enter basic media info into the project's database

Once that’s done we safely package all the tapes into totes and notify the digitizing firm which tapes (ID’s and formats) are included in the shipment and they should expect, once they receive the shipment they confirm that the shipment indeed matches the description we’ve sent them and all the tapes were received, now they can go on to starting the digitization process.

In future posts we will present the 3 stages in detail


A new angle of an old event

As we continue to seek and acquire new collections a new and surprising one has arrived:

Two white cardboard boxes each almost the size of a tissue box filled with Medium-format negatives, WOW! was the response of everyone around Medium-Format? We haven’t seen much of those around here.

 Opening the box of Medium-Format negatives on it's arrivalThe photo's quality and condition being inspected by an archivist






The negatives relocated to archival-grade polypropylene sleeves

We all knew what this meant, if it’s close to four times the size of a 35-MM film photo then it must have 4 times the amount of detail.

 The Benefit of having these professionally-taken photos does not only express itself in megapixels but also in the quality of the shot.


The Making of the Purim Farbrengen 5733

Behind the scenes of JEM's new release of the Farbrengen from 5733 - 1973, watchinng this video will give you a bit of an understanding of what goes into each video we release.

when we release a video, from our various collections we will choose the recording with the best image quality and the recording with the best audio quality and combine them together to creat the best possible quality video of that event. In this case the video we chose was of 1/2 inch open reel recorded by a Professional crew hired by Rabbi Krinsky in honor of the event and the audio of 1/4 inch audio tape reel recorded by Rabbi Aharon Goldstein, after many hours spent on the preservations side restoring both sources and many hours spent by the editors syncing them together the results are magnificant.


New Transfer Method Proves Itself!

This is an exciting one. We just got back a transfer of the earliest (almost) full Farbrengen recorded on video – Yud Shevat, 5731 – 1971.
The video was restored ten years ago, but now we retransferred it with DC Video in Los Angeles.

 This was transfered from a 1/2 " open reel tape into an 8 bit uncompressed file.   

A classic example of our hard work paying off: lots of research travel, and testing on our part, and hours of sweat piled on top of decades of experience on the part of David Crosthwait and his team at DC Video.
G-d willing, we’ll all be enjoying the results for years to come.

As soon as the transfer arrives some members of our team (and a couple of visitors) view the results


Our new office

after six  months of hard work our new office is finally ready, now our long planned and spoken preservation project can finally get in full swing in it's professional work-friendly enviroment facility.

Check it out:







NY Times Spotlights CM Approach to be Used for Rebbe’s Archive


In a profile of a cutting edge video system in use by Major League Baseball Networks, The New York Times shed light on a little-known system that will ultimately drive future public access to videos of the Rebbe.

Almost a year ago, JEM’s director Rabbi Elkanah Shmotkin, along with The Living Archive’s Director of Preservation, Dekel Hamatian, visited MLB Networks in Secaucus New Jersey, as part of their planning for a content management system to catalog and house footage, audio, and photographs of the Rebbe.

“The moment we saw their system, we knew we had found the closest thing to what we’ve been looking to build,” said Shmotkin.

Shmotkin and Hamatian should know. Their research on the subject took them to the Unites States Holocaust Museum and the Smithsonian Institution archives in Washington DC, Fox News Headquarters, and numerous other news and film archives across the United States. After all their travels, they realized that they’d need to build their system from the ground up. “But the MLB visit showed us that a project of this scope can be done, and that our vision of what is possible, is also realistic.”...

Read the full article


Massive Tape Collection Donated to JEM 


"...Recordings of dozens of the Rebbe's Farbrengens from 1951 through 1977, made by Rabbi Yossi Goldstein and son Aaron, were donated to JEM's Preservation Project.

A magnificent audio collection, which will enable new access to dozens of Farbrengens, Sichos and Yechidusen of the Rebbe was recently donated to JEM (Jewish Educational Media.

The recordings, made by Rabbi Yossi Goldstein and his son Aaron, span the years 1951 through 1977.

The two collections are exceptional in both quality and quantity, filling gaps of missing audio in other collections, JEM's Living Archive Preservation Project said in a statement..."

Read the full article at


85,000 Personal Photos Ready

85,000 photos from 'Sunday Dollars' with the Rebbe are being uploaded online for personal purchase, COLlive has learned.

By COLlive reporter

Walking by the Rebbe to receive a blessing and a dollar for charity at Lubavitch Headquarters 770 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, usually didn't last long. Its effect, however, lasted forever.

With almost every movement at the 'Sunday dollars' photographed and videotaped, those memories will now be relived again through an ambitious project.

Some 85,000 still photos taken at those encounters have been digitally scanned and will be uploaded to a special website for identification and individual use, has learned.

Photographed by Chaim Baruch Halberstam of WLCC, which documented the Rebbe's life at 770, the photos are now in the possession of Jewish Educational Media (JEM).

In an effort that lasted several years, JEM's Mendel Gourarie supervised a massive scanning project along with Shaya Gopin, working with a professional digital images company.

"After all the scanning, they worked out a partnership with a top photo developer so people will be able to buy their picture, frame it for their home or office, or give a photo as a gift to a friend," a source told COLlive.

Meir Simcha Kogan and the staff - also underwriting the project - recently began to upload the photos, planning to have the first batch ready for Gimmel Tammuz 5770.

These 85,000 new photographs will be featured in a revamped interface built to accommodate the huge amount of images.

The new website - donated by Florida businessman Nossi Dubrawsky - will make it easier to streamline and identify the individuals pictured with the Rebbe.

Rabbi Elkanah Shmotkin, Director of JEM, confirmed some of these details to COLlive and said "this collaboration between our staff, our donors, and the photo experts," will finally be realized.

"I'm sure the tens of thousands of people who met the Rebbe - and their children and grandchildren - will be pleased with the results. "

An additional 100,000 captures from video footage were already available online at (and we're told that another 100,000 are ready to go). The quality of those screen shots do not allow printing, but the video can be ordered on DVD.


A trip back in time.. 

This past week, Dekel and I visited an audio restoration studio, owned and run by Art Shifrin. What an experience!

The vibe

Just as you approach the staircase leading to the basement you can already smell the vintage aroma… Don’t get me wrong this isn’t a dirty or unclean smell, this is a “vintage” aroma, in spite of being a well-ventilated room. The first thing to catch my eye was an old toy-train collection, some of which date back to as early as the first decade of the twentieth century, all running on a hand-built (by Art) mountains and desert platform. Art will go on to explain in depth the superb uniqueness of each relic.

On the other side of the room is where all the audio equipment is found, which is also mostly constructed of old parts, every piece of equipment customized to precision for what suits his needs best. According to art some stuff was worked on over several years to get is as accurate as it is.

The combination of these two, plus the aroma, literally takes you back in time 50-plus years, and none of the modern-age computers and machinery in the room can take that away.


When it comes to professional jobs, often people find themselves at a fork in the road, should they hire someone who is using all the modern hi-tech advanced computerized (no-brainer) systems, or should they just stick to the “old-school” style people who understand and know their stuff through and through like no-one else but not necessarily are all equipped and familiar with the new technology.

Meet “Art”

I always liked the famous saying by Yogi Berra: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” When it comes to audio restoration, Art Shifrin is the typical example off that, this guy will blow you away with the vast knowledge and understanding he has in all formats of audio recording, from wire records through reel-to-reel audio, but no, there isn’t any compromise on the latest digital equipment and formats, his workshop is where the two worlds meet.

Why so good

As known to many, the best way to be really successful at something is to “live it.”

When something is your life and that’s what you are thinking about even when you don’t have to, you will get much better at it, and any additional talent is just a bonus. This is why Art is so good, because despite being a brilliant and intelligent gentleman, audio restoration is part of his life.

Above all

The main thing which caught my attention was: that above all his talent and brilliance he is a Mentch – fun and exciting to work with, no arrogance and cockiness, which unfortunately is quite common amongst highly professionally sophisticated people.


Puzzle Time! 

Our first post from the Living Archive photo division.

By Shloime Morosow

Okay, organizing the negatives is literally like a puzzle – and boy, I like puzzles! So putting all sentimental value aside, this thing is fun.

Let’s not let ourselves get carried away with excitement, because negatives require proper handling and storing. In order to prevent skin oils from damaging negatives, handling must be done with clean cotton gloves, and even when so, touching the negatives has to be kept to a minimum because any immediate contact will scratch these delicate negatives to some degree.

How It Works?

So, I receive a box which looks as shown in the picture to the left, and I have to organize it into new binders and negative sleeves as shown in the picture below, and then document everything we have, all in preparation to be sent to a negative scanning laboratory to be digitized and then stored and accessed in the new beautiful digital “Living Archive.”



Why Puzzle?

Although generally speaking most of the stuff is quite organized; but some rolls will have at least one strip (of 4-5 pictures) extra or missing, so finding their proper location might be quite challenging like some tough puzzle

Precious photos

The difference between shots taken those days (film) and today (digital) is: today you have at least one 16 GB memory card which was is a one-time investment and you can take as many pictures as you’d like and delete whatever you don’t, plus you can look immediately on the screen to see if the picture came out the way you wanted it to, and if not you will take it again to get the perfect shot. In those days, on the other hand, every roll of film cost about 10 dollars and consisted of 24 to 36 pictures. Then to develop them you had to pay the same amount as the roll itself cost, but the bigger issues were:

  1. You couldn’t view what you took to know if you got the shot you wanted – only once you’ve finished the roll and developed it. Obviously, in most cases, that would be too late to retake the shot. In some cases it was only developed a few weeks after it was taken (can you imagine the anticipation and suspense the photographers had “in those days?!”)
  2. You couldn’t delete the bad shots (when you knew them) to save space and developing money.

So with all that: you can just imagine how much thought and meticulosity was taken in each shot.


That said: when I have a roll of 24 photos it is a roll of 24 solid, quality photos and to miss one strip (of 4-5 photos) is really upsetting, but when I find the missing strip in the extras of the other rolls and put the strips side by side to see if they match by numbers… it’s a great feeling to complete the roll.

Shloime Morosow handles archival materials at The Living Archive


A contribution from the 60's..

When a woman in Crown Heights, Brooklyn heard about our efforts in restoring audio and video of the Rebbe, she decided to contribute her reels she had lying around her home for many years.

She called us yesterday to ask us if we had any use for them? one of our researchers, Akiva Nussbaum, went to meet with her, and there he found a number of audio reels from the early '60's and '70's. Our research department will now determine whether these recordings are originals or just copies and then send them off to be restored.

Shloime and myself reviewing the new audio reels