Get to Know the Avalon Team: Stefan Elnabli


In our new series "Get to Know the Avalon Team," we're providing a closer look at the individuals who are working each day to develop the Avalon Media System.


Stefan Elnabli


Stefan is the Moving Image and Sound Preservation Specialist at Northwestern University Library's Digital Collections Department. He obtained his degree in audiovisual preservation from New York University's Moving Image Archiving and Preservation program at Tisch School of the Arts.


Stefan isn't new to the blog--he contributed his take on the Association of Moving Image Archivists 2012 Conference back in December!


Can you talk about your role in the project?

I've found that my role can vary, but these variations are all anchored by a theme of digital audiovisual media. When our product owners determine that we need to work on an aspect of the system that incorporates encoding profile testing, user documentation for digital media collection managers, or audiovisual metadata, I take on the tasks. Now that we are inches away from our R1 finish line, I'm finding myself doing a lot of user testing through scripts we've created so that we can ensure the smoothest and most intuitive system for new users.


What is a typical work week like for you?

Since Avalon is only a portion of my responsibilities in the Digital Collections department, a typical work week changes based on the projects that I'm managing. When it comes to the library's legacy moving image and sound materials, like film and old magnetic media formats, I spend my time doing physical/playback inspection and determining the right course of action for digital reformatting, preservation, and access of the materials. For small adhoc projects, I perform digital reformatting in-house for access in courses or for research. Our much larger collections have to be sent to trusted reformatting vendors and I get to manage those projects as well. One of the nice things about my position is that I interact with collection owners throughout the library and work cross-departmentally in collaboration with our Preservation Department. Since the field of audiovisual archiving and preservation is relatively new and rapidly changing, there's something to discover almost every day. In light of this, I find myself crawling informative listservs and taking opportunities to participate and present at conferences as well.


What apps/software/gadgets can't you live without?

I find that I'm a heavy user of apps/software/gadgets that allow me to play music, discover music, and listen to radio and podcasts. I typically commute by car, and my car stereo used to only play CDs and terrestrial radio. You may not believe me, but I still buy CDs so that was great, but in the digital age it's severely limiting to have optical media as your only listening option. Since upgrading to an aftermarket receiver with the perks of USB and Bluetooth, not to mention a good old 1/8" auxiliary input, I can now connect almost any device to my car stereo! Are you happy for me? Now I rely heavily on my phone's Android apps to play what I want when I want it. The apps I can't live without right now are Winamp Pro (FLAC support!), to keep my musics all socialized and to find new musics, and the iHeartRadio app so I can listen to Bill Handel in the mornings and during his legal advice show where he tells callers they have absolutely no case (he and I find this delightful).


When you’re not working, what can you be found doing?

I enjoy the many opportunities Chicagoans have to see a diversity of live music and film screenings (the latter being a particular treat since they're harder to come by these days). I also perform film projection for a film society and train apprentices on the art of changeover projection. One of my proudest (nerdiest) moments was projecting a pristine print of "Spider Baby" from the Academy Film Archive for a 24 hour film fest, and director Jack Hill was sitting in the audience watching! Sometimes I'm in bad (good) movies.