Video Archeology

“As many of you know, Channel 12, KMAC, a service of the Graphic Services Division of the Minneapolis in ’73 bid, is producing for you a video record of the entire convention, and, I might add, that this evening’s particular broadcast is brought to you by the molecules DNA and C2H3O5.”

With those words, Minneapolis fan Jim Young opened a series of poolside interviews during the Meet the Authors party at MidAmeriCon in 1976. Scott Imes and the rest of the KMAC crew videotaped Jim’s interviews with Bob Vardeman, Ray Nelson (inventor of the propeller beanie), Spider Robinson, Joe Haldeman, and Larry Niven.

In August, those interviews entered the digital age and were seen for the first time in nearly 40 years. The Vardeman interview is particularly entertaining … or is that bewildering? Bob poses as Ed Earl Repp in a stream-of-consciousness pastiche of science fiction’s pulp roots.

MidAmeriCon II’s Video Archeology team is working to digitize all of the KMAC videos. Panels, workshops, presentations, interviews, and plays plus the Guest of Honor banquet, Masquerade, and, of course, the Hugo Awards Ceremony.

The original material is archaic by today’s standards: reel-to-reel tapes in something called “EIAJ” format and .-inch U-Matic cartridges. But on those archaic tapes? Treasure. We’re happy to share a few screenshots from the first 4.5 hours of tapes digitized in the initial tests.

If you have ideas, comments, or questions about the Video Archaeology project, please send them to videoarchaeology@midamericon2.org or to MASFFC Inc., Attn: Video Archeology, P.O. Box 414575, Kansas City, MO 64171

Credits & Thanks

A very partial list!

Thanks to Carl Zwanwig, Scott Dorsey, Bill Miller, and Syd Weinstein, we’ve found a good resource with the expertise and equipment to digitize the archaic tape formats. Our own Matt Jacobson is digitizing the VHS tapes.

FANAC, CanSMOF, and BWAWA (fan history and convention-running groups) have each made generous financial contributions covering about half of the estimated project expenses. ICG, the International Costumer’s Guild, is handling the order digitizing the Masquerade U-Matic tapes. Thanks to their support, we know we’ll have a lot of video to share at MidAmeriCon II and beyond!

Minneapolis fan Jeff Schalles organized the hundreds of tapes in the Scott Imes Video Archive. Before that, there were boxes (and boxes and boxes!) and notes on nearly every label. Now there’s an inventory. Priceless!

(Note: The tapes aren’t all from MidAmeriCon; those are just the ones we’re focusing on first for perhaps obvious reasons.)

Margie Lessinger, Scott’s widow and fellow member of the KMAC video crew, shares our excitement for the project.

“This is exactly what Scott wanted,” she wrote. “He had initiated the process; however, it never got finished.” We know better than to speak too soon after all these years, but we’re thrilled to be working toward finishing the project at long last, and look forward to sharing them. In his poolside interviews, Jim Young said the videos were Minneapolis’s gift to fandom. As the current post-supporting chair of the Minneapolis in ’73 bid, it seems serendipitous to have a hand in helping move that gift from boxes of tapes in a basement into the digital age.

David Dyer-Bennet, another member of the original KMAC crew, is on the Video Archaeology team. Instant timebinding!

– Geri Sullivan, Video Archaeology