13 Feb 2017

Tapes 'n Tapes

It's been a change of pace since December, a different kind of "fieldwork". I'm working at the Primate Research Institute in Inuyama, Japan. The team at PRI have been filming wild chimpanzees at Bossou, Republic of Guinea, for the last 30 years. The video was used shortly after filming, by watching through a TV and coding directly. But most of the video is on tapes! VHS, Hi8, DV, even Betacam. Now we're working on a project to digitize all of the tapes, saving them to hard drives.

Digitizing the video will make it easier for future researchers to re-watch and code data through a computer. It will also protect the video footage. I didn't realise before, but VHS can go mouldy! Digitizing the tapes quickly should ensure that none of the video is lost.

This is a pretty big project, and many more people will continue to digitize after I leave. And the Bossou video isn't the only video that needs digitizing - so many universities and organisations have their own sets of tapes in the basement. I've made several videos to show how to use the digitizing system here at the Primate Research Institute: VHS, Hi8, and DV. It was fun Googling how to set everything up, but why put everyone else through the rigmarole?


This is just one tiny project at Primate Research Institute, but they do many more exciting things. They have an awesome Primatology and Wildlife Science graduate program and they run Kumamoto Sanctuary for retired biomedical chimpanzees (and 6 bonobos). Researchers conduct fieldwork and captive research alike. There always seems to be some kind of event going on, from weekly seminars to Conserv'Session documentary screenings. If I hadn't just finished a PhD, I'd definitely consider applying here...

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