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Dr Bob Pymm School of Information Studies Charles Sturt University, Australia Television archiving – managing the move from analogue to digital
Television as cultural product • From 1950s – now - the major communication/entertainment medium in the developed world • Changing now with Internet • Concern over negative influence • Large number of studies on power of TV
Early broadcasting • BBC – Baird system 1929 • High definition system November 1936 • By September 1939, around 40,000 TV sets in London area • About 3 ½ minutes of pre war television survives plus some rehearsal footage • Live broadcast the norm although by mid 1950s film recordings being made
Kinescopes, telerecording • Film recordings – used for resale, time shift broadcasts • Significant numbers of these survive around the world • Costly and quality not always great • Lasted for many years – into the 1970s – but introduction of videotape from 1956 on saw their gradual replacement
Videotape • Costly in early days – 2 inch format • Easy and cost effective to reuse – thus copies lost • Over 50 years, many analogue formats used • Archiving ‘haphazard’ • From late 1960s archiving grows – Vanderbilt collection 1968, FIAT founded 1977
Archiving – why? • BBC Policy (2005): • Research value – as a source of information • Re-use value – repeats, re-versioning • Legal requirement – government records • Business requirements • Historical, heritage requirements • As otherwise required by BBC charter
Television holdings • European Broadcasting Union estimate 50 million hours in European archives - film and videotape • Physical stability of film good, video tape also may be good – but problem of playback equipment for all the formats • Manufacture of videotape and equipment virtually ceased today
Digitisation • “Everything MUST be converted to digital or it will be lost” (Wheeler, 2005) • “Doing nothing is not an option” (EBU, 2003) • Broadcast archives are major assets – digitisation increases opportunities to exploit these
Tapeless broadcasting • Gradually since mid 1990s move away from videotape. Speeding up in last few years • Tapeless cameras recording directly to memory cards – speed and efficiency • Programs edited, stored on disk • Broadcast using computers, networks, satellites
Survey • Six major broadcast and television collecting institutions in Australia, US and UK sent a questionnaire in 2008 • Aim to ascertain two things: • Extent of digitisation of existing tape collections • Acquisition efforts for born digital productions
Broad outcomes • Major digitisation activity underway in nearly all organisations • Some sophisticated automated systems to handle large numbers of cassette based tapes • Acquisition of born digital still in its infancy • Limited experience – just starting to be addressed
Digitisation issues • Workflows – the physical movement of tapes from storage; checking existing metadata; establishing file structures for digital output; off site storage for original tapes. Needs some trial and error to settle in. • In house or outsourced – both approaches being employed. Concern over moving tapes off site; but also concern over the time it takes in house (usually done in real time – 1 hour of video takes 1 hour to digitise).
Digitisation issues (cont.) • Quality checking – a major concern to get digitisation ‘right’. Reliance on automated checking with some random checking by skilled operators • Prioritisation – so much – what gets done first? Usually format obsolescence a major driver (all 2”, all U-matics). Content – what should be kept “forever” ? • Access/rights – access so much simpler, quicker and expectation of increased demand – but if rights not owned, then more questionable.
Digitisation issues (cont.) • Metadata – ensuring good data exists before digitisation; coping with the creation of new metadata for the created digital objects • Storage and outputs – storage costs seen as less of an issue and declining. Attraction of storing as uncompressed files (simplicity) though more commonly using lossless compression algorithms. Usually stored on LTO tapes offline, though increasing amounts being stored on disk and available online.
Acquisition of born digital • Few organisations addressing in any major way • All reported being in planning stage (mid 2008) • Issue of what to acquire and formats – variety of software platforms being used seen as a concern for long term preservation strategies
Acquisition of born digital (cont.) • And how to acquire – capture the actual broadcast (eg. record from network, satellite); transfer of hard disks; file transfer by broadcaster • Issue of best quality – if capturing broadcasts are these at lower quality levels • But concern over HD broadcasts and file sizes
Conclusions • Digitisation well under way using well established processes leading to potential for greatly improved access and re-purposing opportunities • Acquisition of recent ‘born digital’ broadcasting is still in its infancy. Significant resources will need to be directed into this work over the next few years to establish programs to archive such material.