The Foxboro Mansfield football rivalry goes back decades and since 1983 the games have been videotaped by Foxboro Cable Access volunteers – rain, shine, snow or freezing temperatures – and shown on the local public access channels. Beginning on Sunday (November 23rd) a marathon playback of those prior years’ games has been scheduled for the viewing pleasure of the Foxborough community … and, via the worldwide web, their friends and family .
In 2012, FCA established a Digital Program Archive project with a goal to preserve, protect and share the 35 years of programs in its library which represents a historical archive of the Town of Foxborough over the past three decades including community events, parades, graduations, issues of the day featuring recordings of many current and former citizens. Over the past several months, Foxboro Cable Access has been actively involved in digitizing many older programs of historical significance for permanent storage on archive.org. This website contains a massive collection of media content which is available for viewing or downloading at no cost to anyone with an internet connection. One section of this collection is designated as the “Community Media Archive” and it contains programs produced by public access television centers across the nation. While attending the national Conference of the Alliance for Community Media in 2012, FCA’s Executive Director Michael Webber learned more about the fledgling worldwide project and began planning for ways that Foxboro Cable Access could develop a system to participate. Because of advances in videotape formats over the past 35 years, many of the locally produced programs were no longer able to be viewed easily and the labor intensive process of multi-step transfer recordings made it an overwhelming task for FCA’s limited staff to achieve.
However, some very skilled and dedicated volunteers emerged to assist, and slowly a workable system was implemented. Barbara Massey has been working quietly every week since 2012 transferring almost thirty years of school music concerts from ¾” U-matic and VHS tapes & DVD’s to the digital file format which is required for uploading. Over this past summer, Paul Beck, FCA’s President and Chief Technical
Engineer, advised the team on how to prepare aged tape stock for transfer including cleaning and warming. He also installed a frame-syncronizer to stabilize and process the incoming video from the 15-20 year old tape stock. When linked with a computer using standard post production software, the program can be trimmed or adjusted as needed and documented in a spreadsheet. This documentation of metadata magnifies the value of the digital file when it is uploaded because it contains a metadata (time, date, occasion, people, topics, etc) that can be used in searching the archive collection. Shortly after the transfer workstation and computer system were in place, another volunteer, Deb Wendall, came forward with a unique set of special skills to pull all of these many phases together and refine the process.
As a result of this collaborative effort between staff and volunteers, 544 programs have been uploaded to archive.org . These include a series of programs presented by the Foxborough Historical Commission and Society, Founders’ Day parades and events, and the most recent, the Thanksgiving Football games since 1983.
In addition to the notable benefits to viewers who can now search and find a local Foxboro program from anywhere in the world, having a collection of programs in digital file format also facilitates scheduling the programs on the channels and on FCA’s website.
The marathon showing of Thanksgiving football games against Mansfield from 1983 to 2013 will begin on Sunday night, November 23rd and continue through the weekend. This memorable collection of “the good, the bad, & the ugly” of Warrior football will be played on FCA’s Education Channel (Comcast Channel 12 or Verizon Channel 37. A detailed schedule of exact times will posted on the FCA website www.fcatv.org, and will also be printed in the November 26th edition of this newspaper.
The programs will also be available for viewing in the Video Gallery on the FCA website. For more information on FCA programming, training or volunteer opportunities, please call Executive Michael Webber at 543-4757 or visit our studio at 28 Central Street in downtown Foxborough.