During the last six weeks of my fellowship, I conducted a user experience (UX) | user interface (UI) research for the DHC Dance Preservation Digitization Project (DPDP), formerly known as the Secure Media Network. DPDP (http://archive.danceheritage.org/) is an online library of performing arts videos and images from dance companies, archives, libraries, and museums. DHC developed DPDP to preserve historically significant dance documentation and provide secure access to these materials.

The objective for the UX | UI Design Project was to understand user and stakeholder needs and requirements, improve services and workflows, and re-conceptualize an intuitive, effective, and human-centric UI design. The focus was to move away from the library catalog design. My recommendations were based on research and requirements gathering, in-person interviews with professionals in the field and DHC consultants, competitive analysis of similar sites using Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) design heuristics, and wireframes. User feedback and the competitive analysis revealed some issues with the existing site including navigation problems, use of jargons, technical information (i.e. unique identifiers, streaming assets, instantiations), and largely text-based interface design. It was also noted that performances were not often viewed in its entirety, and users desired tools to create, save, and share video clips to be viewed at a later time. Below are several examples of deliverables developed for the project using Omnigraffle

*Please note that these recommendations are in the very early stages of the conceptual design process. As more comprehensive research and data are gathered and features tested, retested, and validated, the final UI designs are likely to change drastically.

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Highlights of the new UI include:
• Natural language with familiar words, phrases, and concepts
• Contextual and descriptive metadata about the company / performer / choreographer / performance
• Autofill / controlled vocabulary in keyword search bars to prevent common errors
• Icons and images to provide visual cues
• Clean and minimal design – no irrelevant or rarely used information
• Tools for creating clips, annotations, and personal collections 

All in all, I had an incredible summer of professional growth and adventures. A great big THANK YOU to everyone at DHC and all the amazing folks I met along the way! 

*In my previous blog, I mentioned a number of places I will be visiting during my time in San Francisco. Here’s a few photos from my visit. 


Lauren Sorenson, BAVC (Bay Area Video Coalition) Preservation Project Manager


The Internet Archive


IA truck parked out front


New York, New Orleans, and San Francisco

Since flying into New York for my practicum and New Orleans for the SAA conference, I’ve had so many incredible opportunities to meet and converse with library and archival professionals in the performing arts field and beyond.

In New York, I met with two DHC member institutions: The Dance Notation Bureau (DNB) and the Jerome Robbins Dance Division at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. DNB is a non-profit organization that actively documents and preserves dance notations/scores. DNB’s collections has over 250 dance scores by artists such as George Balanchine, Paul Taylor, Doris Humphrey, and William Forsythe. Moreover, DNB is one of the digitization hubs for DHC’s Dance Preservation Digitization Project (DPDP). My visit included a tour of the facilities and collections, as well as a meeting with the preservation assistant who has been digitizing videos for DPDP.

Entrance to DNB, New York

Entrance to DNB, New York

DNB's Digitization Station

DNB’s Digitization Station

NYPL’s Performing Arts Branch at the Lincoln Center has an impressive collections of dance, theatre, and music materials. Tanisha Jones, Director of the Moving Image Archive at the Jerome Robbins Dance Division kindly took me on a tour of the facilities and invited me to sit in on the branch processing meeting, where I gained some insight into how content is prepared for preservation, digitization, and dissemination online. Eugenia Kim, Project Coordinator/Metadata and User Testing Specialist for the NYPL Digital Collections database provided me with some useful tips and resources for the research I am conducting for the DPDP project. I also got to sit down with Selena Chau, DHC fellow, to provide some user testing and feedback for the Dance Division’s Digital Collections site.

As part of my research for DPDP, I met with Sarah Gentile, Digital Project Archivist at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and Megan Wacha, Research and Instructional Services Librarian for Media and the Performing Arts at Barnard. At Barnard, I also got to check out the zine library and meet Jenna Freedman, Zine Librarian and Shannon O’Neill, College Archivist. Before bidding farewell to New York, I visited the Noguchi Museum (I’ve always been a fan of Noguchi but didn’t realize he designed sets for Martha Graham!), the Cloisters Museum, the Met, the Interference Archive, and the Brooklyn Art Library.

Book on Noguichi's Dance Design

Book for sale at the Noguchi Museum store

I had a great time at the SAA Conference in New Orleans. It was a perfect combination of professional development, catching up with old friends, making new connections, and exploring the city. The Student and New Archives Professional (SNAP) Roundtable, the Performing Arts Roundtable (PAR), and the SAA Presidential Address were particularly interesting and useful to me as a new professional. In addition to attending roundtables and sessions, I had a productive meeting on the DPDP project with various DHC members and even took a tour of the Historic New Orleans Collections hosted by PAR.

SAA Reception Left to Right: Angel Diaz (Autry National Center), Jillian Cuellar (UCLA), Jennifer Maiko Kishi (DHC), Courtney Dean (UCLA), Chris Weatherly

SAA New Orleans Reception at the WW II Museum, from L to R: Angel Diaz (Autry National Center), Jillian Cuellar (UCLA), Jennifer Maiko Kishi (DHC), Courtney Dean (UCLA), Genevieve Maxwell (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences)

DHC Fellows post SAA Performing Arts Roundtable, from L to R: Rinna Rem, Selena Chau, Hadley Davis, Lyla Medeiros, Sydney Gulbronson, Jennifer Maiko Kishi, Elizabeth Hollenback

DHC Fellows post SAA Performing Arts Roundtable, from L to R: Rinna Rem, Selena Chau, Hadley Davis, Lyla Medeiros, Sydney Gulbronson, Jennifer Maiko Kishi, Elizabeth Hollenback

Next up: I flew into San Francisco on Tuesday and will be meeting with: The Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) – Digitization Hub for DPDP, Museum of Performance and Design (MPD) – DHC Member Institution, the Internet Archive, and the folks at the Pop Up Archive. I just have a few more weeks of my fellowship left. More to come on my final report and findings for the DPDP project…

Preserving Performing Arts Motion Capture Materials

I spent the past five weeks working with the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD) Motion Capture Lab at OSU, where I conducted a collections assessment and researched best practices for managing and handling performing arts motion capture materials for long-term archival access and preservation. ACCAD’s growing performing arts motion capture collection is a living archive of works by world-renowned choreographer Bebe Miller, performing artist Marcel Marceau, and culturally significant dance documentations.

The Motion Capture Lab was established in 2001 and is distinguished for its innovation, experimentation, and collaborations with academic and research projects in art and technology. The lab provides opportunities to learn how to utilize optical motion capture technology and data integration into other software so that the motion capture materials may be used for artist experimentation or academic research.

Mounted photograph of Marcel Marceau's Session in 2001. Marceau was the first motion capture taken at the ACCAD.

Mounted photograph of Marcel Marceau’s Session in 2001, the first motion capture taken at ACCAD.

Marcel Marceau's Motion Capture Suit

What is mocap?

Some of you may be wondering what motion capture (mocap) is and how it works. Mocap is the documentation of movements (human, animal, object) in three-dimensional space. The ACCAD Motion Capture Lab is equipped with twelve Vicon cameras. These cameras track and record reflective markers placed on joints and limbs. The recorded data is then processed and displayed. Traditionally, mocap has been used in computer, film, and game animation. However mocap can also be a tool for documentation, preservation, research, and experimentation where multi-angled views of movements may be used for in-depth analysis. As part of my research, I got to experience the mocap process first hand. Here are a couple of photos from my session.


Reflective marker diagram at the Motion Capture Lab dressing room.


T-Pose mocap on the Vicon Blade software display.

Collections Assessment
The collections assessment was conducted to gain a better understanding of ACCAD’s existing materials, conditions, and needs. I surveyed the facilities and interviewed two Motion Capture Lab staff members: Vita Berezina-Blackburn, Animation Specialist, and Thomas Heban, Motion Capture Graduate Research Assistant, as well as the Systems Administrator for ACCAD. The assessment revealed that the biggest challenge for ACCAD was the lack of consistent organization and intellectual control of their holdings. The biggest concern for ACCAD however was preserving soon-to-be obsolete proprietary motion capture materials. 

Archival Planning Report
As part of my research, I communicated and reached out to various institutions and companies working with mocap materials, as well as with departments throughout OSU to discuss copyright, metadata, digital preservation, and technical issues and requirements. The final archival planning report included recommendations and best practices for creating an archival inventory, developing archival policies and procedures, organizational file structures and file-naming conventions, metadata standards and controlled vocabulary, preservation techniques for mocap materials, sample archival workflow and artist questionnaire, as well as potential sources of funding for developing a performing arts motion capture archive. I concluded my time with a presentation of my findings and recommendations.

It’s been really great learning, exploring, and experiencing the world of performing arts motion capture first hand. A bittersweet farwell to OSU and Columbus, Ohio and many thanks and gratitude to my wonderful supervisor and mentor Nena Couch and the ACCAD Team – Maria Palazzi, Vita Berezina-Blackburn, and Tom Heban.

Next Up
My practicum will take place in New York where I will be working in collaboration with DHC Fellow/metadata and ontology extraordinaire Lyla Medeiros for DHC’s Dance Preservation and Digitization Project (DPDP). Lyla will be developing the back-end of DPDP by working her metadata schema and ontology magic. I will be conducting usability research to develop a more intuitive and human-centered user interface to increase access and discoverability of the materials on DPDP. I’m also looking forward to the 2013 SAA Conference in New Orleans next week!

2013 ALA Conference

I attended my first ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. It was a great opportunity for professional development, making new connections, and catching up with both new and old friends from DHC and UCLA. As an ALA newbie, it was nice having familiar faces and fellow first-timers to walk around with and get lost in the crowd.

DHC Fellows at ALA

DHC Fellows at ALA, from L to R: Jennifer Maiko Kishi, Hadley Davis, Lyla Medeiros, Elizabeth Hollenbeck, and Rinna Rem. Photo by Amanda Wick and courtesy of Elizabeth Hollenbeck.

The DHC fellows who attended ALA (photographed above) joined the Dance Librarians Discussion Group (DLDG), where we had a chance to introduce ourselves, share our respective fellowship experiences, learn about new and upcoming projects, and discuss issues in the performing arts field. By the end of the DLDG, I came out with a nice little list of performing arts resources below, in no particular order. 

Here are a few highlights from sessions, talks, and displays:

Here’s a couple of library zines on display at the Zine Pavillion:

Richard J. Lee

Let’s Get Seriously Radical About Cataloging: A Minizine about Zine Librarianship by Richard J. Lee

2013-06-29 10.41.15

Meta-zine: A Zine About Zines for Librarians-in-Training

Dance Notations & Exotic Dance

I am delighted and honored to have the opportunity to work with Nena Couch, Head of OSU Thompson Library Special Collections and Curator of the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute (TRI). My first week at the TRI has been wonderful and I have a lot of exciting things to look forward to in the next five weeks. Nena invited me to sit down and chat with the lovely Lucy Venable – Dance Notation Bureau Board of Directors, OSU Dance Professor Emeritus, former dancer, and Labanotator extraordinaire. Lucy stopped by to drop off her beautiful handwritten score of José Limón’s “There is a Time” (1956). She was kind enough to take me through the score and explain the various meanings of the symbols in such a way that really brought the dance notations to life. It was real treat meeting Lucy Venable. Read more about her life, background, and involvement with dance notation in her interview with Nena Couch. 

I began digitizing newly accessioned cabinet cards and carte-de-visites of early Burlesque performers from the Charles H. McCaghy Collection of Exotic Dance from Burlesque to Clubs. Charles McCaghy is a Sociology Professor Emeritus at Bowling Green State University where he specialized in criminology and the study of deviant behaviors. The McCaghy collection is a personal collection made up of extensive research materials, spanning from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, on Exotic Dances such as Burlesque and striptease. Below are just a few of my favorite cards. My next steps include entering descriptive metadata and mapping them to Dublin Core so that these images will be accessible and discoverable on OSU’s Knowledge Bank (digital repository) and Flickr page for the McCaghy CollectionFor more information, I highly recommend checking out OSU’s online exhibition for the McCaghy Collection titled Loose Women in Tights: Images of Femininity in Early Burlesque Performance Digital Exhibit.


Sylvia Gerrish, Charles H. McCaghy Collection of Exotic Dance from Burlesque to Clubs of The Ohio State University Libraries.


Eileen Karl, Charles H. McCaghy Collection of Exotic Dance from Burlesque to Clubs of The Ohio State University Libraries.


Marie Tempest, Charles H. McCaghy Collection of Exotic Dance from Burlesque to Clubs of The Ohio State University Libraries.

Next up: I will be returning to Chicago this weekend for the ALA Conference. A few of the DHC Fellows will be presenting at the Dance Librarians Discussion Group (DLDG) to share our experiences at our respective host institutions. 

DHC Orientation Week

The Dance Heritage Coalition (DHC) Fellow’s Orientation Week took place in Chicago earlier this month. The orientation was a wonderful opportunity to get to know fellow cohorts, as well as Imogen Smith and Amanda Wick whom have been involved with preparing, organizing, and coordinating the fellowship. Our agenda was jam-packed with professional development sessions and workshops including a group assessment of the Thodos Dance Chicago’s archival materials, exciting tours of the Chicago Film Archive and the Newberry Library Archive, Conservation Lab, and Collections (The Ann Barzel Dance Research Collection was a real gem). On our final night, we had a farewell dinner at the Russian Tea Time followed by a performance by Jennifer Monson in “Living Dance Archive” at the Columbia College’s Dance Center. 

Early morning walk to the Cloud Gate sculpture

It’s hard to believe that nearly two weeks has passed since the orientation in Chicago. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind since returning to Los Angeles with completing finals, moving preparations, and graduation celebrations. But now that the dust has settled a bit and have officially received my MLIS from UCLA, I am eager to begin my fellowship with the Ohio State University Libraries Theatre Research Institute and the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD) on Monday! More to come on my fellowship in the next couple of weeks…