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Where has all the AV content gone? How do we preserve it for the future?. Jim Lindner Media Matters. Our Audio Visual Heritage. How we will be understood by history will in part be based on what materials they have to study.

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our audio visual heritage
Our Audio Visual Heritage
  • How we will be understood by history will in part be based on what materials they have to study.
  • We are in the early years of a technology evolution that will certainly take hundreds of years, maybe thousands.
  • What is at risk are the documents of our time.
what are these documents
What are these Documents?
  • Feature, Documentary, Independent Film
  • Network, Independent, Art Television
  • Industrial / Educational Film and Video
  • Audio from Network to Soundtrack to Field Recordings and Oral Histories
  • Community Recordings
  • Home Recordings
where has the content gone
Where has the content gone?
  • We Have Lost Much More then most people suspect
    • All but a small fraction of the films of the silent film era are lost forever
    • Essentially all of television “pre history” is lost
      • E.G. Broadcasts of J.L. Baird
      • TV Before Tape – All lost except what was a kine or news film and has survived
      • TV After Tape – A huge amount has been lost
        • 1958 – 1978 3000 news shows remain versus 11,000 Days
where has all the content gone
Where has all the content gone?
  • Landfill – space, cost, not “needed” anymore
  • Erasure – intentionally to save money and unintentionally
  • Into brown cardboard boxes after the edit sessions, unlabeled, sitting in warehouses or worse
  • Closets, Attics, Basements
where has all the content gone6
Where has all the content gone?

Some of what is left has found its way to an archive.

how much of it survives
How Much of it survives?
  • No one really knows - but there are estimates…..
  • CBC – 300,000 tapes
  • BBC – 600,000 hours
  • MTV – 1.2 Million hours
  • UNESCO estimate –
  • 200 million hours of culturally important archives at risk
what do the records in archives look like
What do the Records in Archives look like?
  •  For the most part our A/V heritage is :A mixture of analog and digital formats including…
a vast array of media types and formats
A Vast Array of Media Types and Formats
  • Film and Film Elements
    • Nitrate – Acetates – Polyester - Mixtures (Magnetic Full Coat)
  • Audio
    • Disc, Cylinder, Vinyl, Wire (steel), Polyester (PET), Acetate, CD-R
  • Video – Polyester (PET)
media is extremely fragile
  • Nitrate Highly Combustible
  • Acetates – Vinegar Syndrome
  • Binder issues – Sticky Shed
  • Laminates – Delaminate
media is subject to disasters
Media is Subject to Disasters


  • Chemical Deterioration
  • Physical/Mechanical Damage
  • Natural Disasters
and man made
… and Man Made
  • War
  • Theft
  • Loss
  • Bad Economic Times
  • Format Obsolescence
  • Technological Evolution
digital media is subject to many of the same perils
“Digital” Media is subject to many of the same perils
  • Format Type may be irrelevant in some situations
storage as a file adds many levels of complexity that did not exist with analog media
Storage as a file adds many levels of complexity that did not exist with Analog Media
  • File Format Compatibility
  • Application Level Compatibility
  • Operating System Compatibility
  • Firmware / BIOS Level Compatibility
  • Hardware / Controller Level Compatibility
what about the content in the file
What about the Content in the File?
  • Content Management
    • Few standards across collections – no union catalog
      • Let me see all the films that have Ford cars
    • Description of Sounds and Pictures with words
    • Primitive Searching tools
no real long term strategy
No real LONG term strategy:
  • Best Practice Environmental Control
    • Short term postponement of the inevitable
  • No single media type lasts forever
  • No single format / technology lasts forever
  • No single location lasts forever.
how long do we store the stuff anyhow how long is forever
How long do we store the stuff anyhow – how long is forever?
  • Manufacturers think 90 days – well OK – 10 Years
  • We have paper documents for hundreds of years
  • We have clay tablets for thousands of years
  • We have cave paintings for many thousands of years
can we realistically reformat forever
Can we realistically reformat forever?
  • Consider the resources required to reformat every 25 years, physical space for each object, cost for media  
  • Consider the environmental cost to produce all that media
  • Is it desirable even if you did?
what we are doing is not working very well

What we are doing is not working very well!

We need to rethink and try some new things…

Can the past help us with the future?

the first television was mechanical
The First Television was Mechanical!
  • Mechanical television existed for quite some time – some systems scanning horizontally others vertically. John Logie Baird generally is given credit for the first working mechanical television system – as well as developing the first way of RECORDING his television signals.
magnetic recording27
Magnetic Recording
  • In The Beginning:
    • Initial market was for for TIME SHIFTING – Not for Editing or anything else
    • No thought given to other markets or applications
    • It did not take very long before other uses were found for video recording and the manufacturers responded with new product
magnetic recording28
Magnetic Recording
  • Different Markets / Different Needs
    • Broadcast – High Quality, High Cost, Low Quantity of Machines Sold, Flexibility
    • Industrial / Educational – Medium Quality, Medium Cost, Higher Volume of Machines Sold, Simplicity
  • These Markets were later segmented Further and new markets like consumers came into being
videotape recording35
Videotape Recording
  • Industrial / Educational
maybe we can predict that
Maybe we can predict that…
  • Change and new formats have always been a part of our AV Heritage and we need to think in those terms.
  • Innovation will continue - and perhaps the best we can do is not mess it up for the next generation of innovation
  • It will continue to get smaller, better and cheaper…. and
economic viability of storage as files versus videotape
Economic Viability of storage as FILES versus Videotape
  • In Canberra – Today June 6
  • Using Sony Stock
  • 1 Digital Betacam Tape costs $27.08, Records 1 hour, Obsolete Format ?
  • 1 LTO3 Datatape costs $60.52
economic viability of storage as files versus videotape48
Economic Viability of storage as FILES versus Videotape
  • Using MPEG2 50 Mbit or MJPEG 2000
  • 1 hour of content requires 25 – 30 Gigabytes using MJPEG2000 (24 using MPEG2)
  • 1 LTO3 tape stores 400 Gigabytes
    • 400 / 25 = 16
  • 1 LTO3 tape stores 16 Hours
cost to store 1 hour of content
Cost to store 1 hour of content
  • LTO = $60.52 / 16

Cost = $3.78 Per Hour

  • Digital Betacam = $27.08
  • Videotape is 7.16 TIMES more expensive!!!!! – storing the exact same quality.
how much will storage cost what about small collections
How Much Will Storage Cost, What about small collections?
  • 350 Hour Collection
  • 350 x 30 Gigabytes each hour =
  • 10,500 Gigabytes (10.5 Terabytes)
  • Media Cost @ $.15 per Gigabyte = $1575
  • 27 LTO Tapes (versus 700 Umatic)
  • 2333 DVD’s….
but what about the decks
But what about the decks!?
  • LTO3 $3600 (Tandberg Internal)
  • DVW 2000 $40,500
  • UVW 1800 $9,00 (Used)
how is the migration performed
How is the Migration Performed?




Time Code

Meta Data

manual migration
Manual Migration

Tedious and error proneRequires constant attentionDifficult to maintain quality control

SlowTeam of 6 experts (3 per shift – 2 shifts per day) can migrate 5000 hrs/yr

ExpensiveRequires highly skilled laborNo economies of scale

No Metadata No history of past actions or condition

automated migration
Automated Migration
  • Higher QualityVerification of tape condition and processConsistent quality controlFaster Multiple streams at a time (up to 6)Runs 24/7 (up to 140 hours per day)Less Expensive10 to 40% of the cost of manual migration
compression is not always bad for archival applications
Compression is NOT ALWAYS BAD for archival applications
  • Depends on the type of compression
  • Depends on the application
  • Depends on the implementation
  • Depends on the user (using things for what they were designed to do)
compression is not always bad for archival applications57
Compression is NOT ALWAYS BAD for archival applications
  • Must define terms
    • Preservation and/or Access?
  • Must understand underlying issues
    • Technical Considerations
    • Marketing Considerations
    • Practical Considerations
    • Political Considerations (NTSC vs. PAL)
many different standards and it is confusing
Many Different Standards - and it IS confusing…
  • MPEG - Moving Picture Experts GroupSeveral major categories use entirely different approaches
  • MPEG 1 Samples 4:2:0 at 1.2 Mbits/sec at 352x240, 30 FIELDS / Second
  • MPEG 2 Samples 4:2:0 at 1.2 to 15 Mbits/sec at 704x496, 60 Fields / Second
  • MPEG 2 Professional Profile @ Main Level Samples 4:2:2 at about 50-60Mbits/sec (variable) at 704x496, 60 fields/sec
  • MPEG 4
  • MPEG 7 …. MetaData
compression for a v materials
Compression for A/V Materials
  • In general terminology there are two classes of Compression – LossLESS, and Lossy
  • Most Common formats in AV are Lossy
    • MPEG2, MPEG4, H.264, Windows Media
  • LossLESS formats offer Uncompressed Quality, with storage savings of about 3:1
    • MJPEG 2000
determination of quality cannot be it looks fine to me
Determination of Quality cannot be “It looks fine to me”
  • Do No Harm
  • Area of Rapid Technology Development
  • Real possibility of new class of “Orphan Video” by encoding type – Videocube
  • What will Search Engines use in the future?
we are now in a transition phase and we will be for some time
We Are Now in a Transition Phase – and We Will Be for Some Time
  • • Digital asset management is very new and it will take some time for the technology and standards to mature.
  • • Migration of analog media to digital systems is still very unclear – compression/formats/bitrates
  • • Current production process still has “conventional” media used at times
  • • Storage is still too expensive, networks are still too slow and unreliable, systems are still largely incompatible.
what will the role of the future a v archivist be
What will the role of the future A/V Archivist be?

• Archivist as Information “miner”

• Archivist as architect of information standards and systems

• Archivist as Information Manager