Video Preservation Website

Video Preservation Website

Summary

PTT Grant Number MT-2210-02-NC-02, “Video Preservation Website: Migration of Historic Video Tape to Digital Video Files,” Bay Area Video Coalition, Tim Vitale Principal Investigator, http://videopreservation.stanford.edu.

This thorough website was built and designed as a clearinghouse of information on videotape preservation.

In the past, videotapes had to be sent out to a service bureau for preservation where custody was transferred to a non-conservation service provider. The expense was relatively high due to a per-item cost that ranged from $200 to $400.

This website helps holders of video artifacts to develop their own tools for preserving their videos, reducing cash outlay to service providers, eliminating risky shipping of cultural artifacts and ending the loss of intellectual control over the final product.

Executive Summary

Video records are a vital part of our cultural patrimony. In the past, these video tapes had to be sent out to a service bureau for preservation where custody was transferred to a non-conservation service provider, and, the expense was relatively high due to a per-item cost that ranged from $200 to 400, or more. A collection of 1000 video tapes, (modest size) this could accumulate to as much as $450,000 for a preservation project. Projects of this scope require the development of grant funding, or the creation of a large multi-year line-item to fund a video preservation project. For relatively modest amounts, $7K-15K, using well proven off-the-shelf computer-video editing technology, a reasonably competent computer technician can undertake video preservation in-house, with real time aesthetic input from curators or conservators. This website helps holders of such video artifacts to develop their own tools for preserving their video, reducing cash outlay to service providers, eliminating risky shipping of cultural artifacts and ending the loss of intellectual control over the final product.

Introduction

This website uses a conventional website design but is somewhat unique in that it helps preservation technicians and conservators to build a system that can be used to capture historic video from off-the-shelf computer video equipment and historic video playback equipment.

Methods and Materials

The proof of the technology is that it is used every day by BAVC and Media Matters (SAMMA, Jim Lindner) for just this application. However, preservation managers are slow to adopt the technology because it seems so foreign. This website should help preservation professionals understand that there is nothing custom, or overly difficult, for reasonably competent computer technicians. In fact, there is a whole class of experience technicians, those doing non-linear video edition using Apple’s Final Cut Pro (Studio) of Adobe’s Premiere Pro.

Discussion

The purpose of this site is to encourage the preservation of historic video using the mature technology of digital capture , to create individual video files, which would be stored on mass storage media such as hard drives (HD) or data tape (DT). The individual video files created can be copied without loss — forever. As with all computer equipment, the storage media must replaced when (a) system components begin to failing with age or (b) the technology advances. The digital files would be migrated to new storage with no loss due to recapture, noise, haste, error or budget restrictions.

Use of the button leads to a description of the digital capture process, using video capture cards [computer bus] or external analog-to-digital (ADC) plug-in boxes, for acquisition into Final Cut Pro, Avid or Adobe Premier software, which is output as self-contained individual video files, uncompressed or compressed (variety of formats) that are then stored on HDs & DT, preserved forever.

Use of the button leads to information that will help users follow the traditional pathways to video preservation: (a) select a service bureau that can do the work; (b) find equipment and methods for the in-house migration of analog video tape to new video tape, analog or digital, as a time-based feed of the video signal as the tape is read. Video tape is now an historic storage format that has been superceded by video files held on mass storage such as HD or DT. Data tape (DT) is a common storage medium (DLT, SDLT, LTO, etc.) used by (a) IT Departments for the back-up of their servers, (b) individuals and small-businesses for the storage of digital data such as text, image or video files (among others) and (c) by SAMMA Systems to store vast numbers of individual video tapes that are robotically captured digitally, in a visually-lossless compression format , JPEG2000, on mass storage that is often LTO data tape or server arrays.

Use of the

Use of the holds links to all the major video equipment image repositories. Stanford University Libraries (SUL) holds a substantial collection of Ampex equipment and product literature; an Ampex VR 1000 from the collection can be seen on exhibition at the San Francisco Airport. On the West Coast, Richard Diehl has collected hundreds of cubic feet of historic equipment and offers a Museum of Extinct Video Recorders and a Museum of Extinct Video Equipment on his LabGuys World website; seen by appointment. On the East Coast, VidiPax has an extensive collection of Video Recorders, offering images and format descriptions in their VidiPax Museum.

Use of the contains valuable information on the science, history and technology of video capture and preservation. The Video Guide by Charles Bensinger (1981) is an invaluable user-accessible guide to historic video equipment; presented as online text and images.

Conclusions

After a slow start, this website fills an important gap in the knowledge about the preservation of video, making accessible the everyday task of capturing analog video using existing software and hardware that thousands of technicians and everyday folks are currently using for the non-linear editing of video.

This video was made possible through Grant MT-2210-02-NC-13 from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT).

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