If we save the Vault, who owns the stuff in it?
(Do we own it?)

The funds we raise on Kickstarter will help cover the costs of preservation and archiving as much of the Vault as possible. Before she passed, Gail and the Zappa Family Trust granted me complete access to use anything and everything we find in the Vault to help Frank’s story, and that’s what I plan to do.

But the contents themselves will still be OWNED by the Zappa Family Trust, just as Frank and Gail intended.

We’ll get to see and use whatever we need, but the content of the Vault will remain with the Zappas.

Why aren't the Zappas saving the entire Vault on their own?

It’s not as simple as you'd think.

The Zappas have already been taking care of the archives for decades, under the expert guidance of the Vaultmeister, Joe Travers. Without all the work they've already put in, it's very possible some of the contents would already be lost forever. But this a HUGE undertaking, and it takes an enormous amount of time and money.

Real preservation isn’t a hobby — it requires expensive, specialized equipment, a lot of expertise, and a full-time commitment. Plus, each of Frank’s kids have a LOT on their plate, and their own full-time lives and careers, and — as insane as this seems — it’s not like there’s a historical foundation stepping in to preserve all of the historical materials. If the family had to find these resources on their own, it could take a lot longer, and there's a chance that it just wouldn't be possible to save as much of the stuff as we would all like.

Working together, we have the power to get this important and insanely difficult process started immediately, independently, and in a way that's pretty damn fun. You know, Zappa style. : )

What happens if we don't raise enough? 
Will the Vault be left to rot?

FUCK NO! Of course not.

Some of it will get saved no matter what, because it's got too much commercial value not to save. And under the guidance of Joe "Vaultmeister" Travers, the ZFT has been working — and will continue to work — at preserving as much as they can.

But it's like I said above: It takes a crazy amount of money, technology, expertise, and time to preserve things the right way, and they've only been able to address the tip of the iceberg so far.

Outside the family, there will always be investors who understand the value of saving the Vault contents and selling them. But that's just the STRICTLY COMMERCIAL stuff. We want to save the material of HISTORIC value too, which is way more exciting to fans like us than to executives looking for something to sell.

That's the stuff that really helps us understand who the fuck Frank Zappa was — the stuff that helps us tell his whole story. And that's why we need your help!

Is Joe "Vaultmeister" Travers involved?
Hasn't he been preserving the Vault?

Oh man, such a great question.

Yes, Joe "Vaultmeister" Travers is involved, and will definitely continue to oversee all efforts to preserve and save material from the Vault. 

And yes, Joe has been working to preserve and remaster content in the Vault for years – but there's only so much he can do alone, so he's been really encouraged to see how many of you are excited to step up and get involved in saving even more of this material.

With the funds we raise together, we'll be able to help him expand that effort, speed up the work, and save more of the Vault before it's too late... especially some of the really interesting, but less commercial, material about Frank's life. 

He sent along this note:

Here at the UMRK, we take pride in the people and companies we trust in handling Frank Zappa’s precious assets. The bad news is that it can cost amazing amounts of money to digitize and save film. And FZ’s film is beginning the eventual downward spiral, even with the proper storage conditions in its lifetime. 
Still, we trudge on and hope for the best in our race against time. 
With such an incredible response to the Kickstarter campaign so far, it excites me that we are that much closer to the goal of saving such an important archive.
- Joe Travers, Vaultmeister

How are you going to preserve and archive everything?

The archive exists on every conceivable form of media; 35mm, 16mm film 8mm film, sound tape, vhs, ¾”, D1, betamax, etc etc. We’ll use state-of-the-art transfer and conversion technology to digitize and preserve the archives, and we'll do the entire thing with the help and supervision of Joe “Vaultmeister” Travers, resident Zappa expert and – to date – keeper of the Vault for the Zappa Family Trust.

Ever since I started thinking about this, I've been studying and trying to understand all of the crazy complexities involved in proper preservation and archiving, but let's be honest: I'll never know as much as Joe. No one will!  

So, since he'll be overseeing the entire preservation process, I asked if he could help me explain a little more about the process, and why it's so complicated. Here's what he said:

Audio & Video tape have a certain shelf life. Some longer than others. At a certain point, oxide just removes itself from its binding, resulting in a loss of data — forever. 
Thankfully, manufacturers of tape realized that by a certain heat treatment (or “baking”) the oxide can re-adhere to the binding which enables playback without damage, for a small period of time. This does not mean you can just put your old tape into the oven at home, it needs to be a certain type of an oven, at a certain temperature, for a certain amount of time. And but also, not all audiotape is eligible for the heat treatment process, so you have to know which kind of tape formulation it is before you go for it, otherwise you’ll kill it. For the past ten years or so we have been baking tapes in-house and digitally preserving with much success. 
Unfortunately, this heat treatment does not apply to film. Film, after a certain point, will actually emit a gas infectious to other reels around it, which results in “Vinegar Syndrome.” This is bad.  Here in Los Angeles, there are specialists that deal with this problem and can actually get results from damaged film, or film which has fallen victim to this Vinegar Syndrome. 

How long will it take to save and preserve the entire Vault?

Dude, we have no idea.

All we know is that there is media stacked literally floor to ceiling for rows and rows, no one has ever written down a complete list of what it is, and some of it is in formats that aren’t even made anymore.

So the more resources we have to tackle that, the better.

But we can tell you we’ll start by surveying everything, and with the help of the Vaultmeister, Joe Travers, we'll start preserving what we determine together to be “the most critical stuff” first.