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The Art Institute's A/V Club

There’s always something happening at the Art Institute: artists visit to talk about their processes, curators take on complicated installations of exhibitions, conservators use cutting edge scientific techniques to study artworks, and scholars stop by to discuss current issues in art history. In a blink of an eye these fantastic museum moments could be lost to time. The Art Institute’s Media Production team saves the day by helping us capture these events on video to share with the world.

The museum has long used media to aid in its interpretive goals, but back in the days before the internet and low-cost video production, the museum used media primarily to support on-site programming. Bill F., our Multimedia Producer/Manager, recalls the hot technology of yesteryear: a programmable slide projection system from Clear Light Productions that allowed management of up to 16 slide projectors with different fades and a soundtrack. Bill would program the projectors for special events in what sounds like the preparations for a laser light show.

Thankfully, technology and how it is disseminated has improved dramatically. Fast-forward to the present day where we can now use a digital picture with a looped soundtrack, and creating videos is a cross-departmental affair, with input from Communications, Public Affairs, Curatorial, etc.  And better yet, now we share these museum highlights with tens of thousands of people every year on the internet. Currently, you can find our videos on ArtBabble, a video-sharing site specifically designed for art ideas, YouTube, and the Art Institute’s website.

Although spending hours editing video in the “cave” (see above) can be a tedious job for our Media Productions team, they also get an incredibly unique view of the museum from behind the camera. Tommy R., our Multimedia and AV Technical Services specialist, says its like he’s a fly on the wall, silently observing.  For many shoots, he must spend a lot of time with artists, draftsmen, or curators and they can develop relationships that enhance the production—especially for labor intensive time-lapsed videos like the installation of Sol LeWitt #1111.

This month we’re launching a new tool to help you find audio and video resources produced at the Art Institute.  Have a sneak peak at the beta and let us know what you think!

What kind of videos would you like to see from us?