Tyler Ortel, a student audiovisual technician in the Walter J. Brown Media Archives, was awarded first place in the UGA Student Employee of the Year Awards, sponsored by the Career Center and Office of Student Affairs.
Ortel, an entertainment and media studies major in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications, has been employed by the Brown Media Archives for almost two years, and he has completed digitization of hundreds of hours of film, audio, and videotape in that time. This work includes inspecting archival materials to assess the condition, performing minor conservation treatments when necessary, and playing the materials on analog playback machines connected to specialized converters and adapters to capture preservation-quality digital signals.
"Tyler has a rare combination of enthusiasm, initiative, and reliability that allow me to trust him with incredibly complex technician work,” said Callie Holmes, a digital archivist who supervises Ortel and nominated him for the award. “I use his input to help me develop new workflows to make our entire department more efficient. I rely on him to digitize unique and fragile archival collections. I trust him to curate an online presence for our archives that promotes our organization's values. We are lucky to have him."
Ortel’s skill in restoring damaged videotapes has allowed the Brown Media Archives to provide access to footage that even professional vendors were not able to transfer. As part of a research request from an HBO documentary team, Ortel was able to successfully recover previously lost footage showing the news coverage from the very earliest days of the Atlanta missing and murdered children crimes, footage that the archival researcher described as invaluable in their quest to uncover primary sources related to the deaths.
Ortel, who is scheduled to graduate this spring, also helped to identify unique, historically significant footage, such as a film clip showing Ed Dwight, a man who was poised to become the first black astronaut until JFK's assassination when he was pushed out of the program. Ortel digitized this film in response to a research inquiry from a reporter at The New York Times. After the high-resolution film scan was completed, and Dwight was positively identified in catalog records, a portion of the clip was featured prominently in The New York Times feature on Dwight (https://nyti.ms/2S3d3D1).
More information about the Student of the Year Awards can be found at http://career.uga.edu/hireuga/seoty2020.