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Digital Archiving For A Bygone Era

The challenges already associated with archiving are compounded by an increase in the quality and size of movies, broadcasts and other digital files. But as we continue to create, produce and store, attention turns to the preservation of historical footage.

Access to past broadcasts tomorrow is dependent on how they are stored digitally today.
"One of the major challenges facing broadcasters today is the volume of legacy tape footage, which needs to be archived in a manner which preserves the integrity of the video," says Steve Lauter, Sales Manager of Jasco Broadcast Solutions.

"Since tape is a physical medium, it degrades over time, which means that migrating this footage to digital archives is the best solution. After all, this footage is a critical asset and is an important part of preserving history - particularly with regard to news footage of global events."

Kelvin Bolah, Managing Director at Digital Vision, agrees.

"The current state of film and video archives is a disaster waiting to happen," he says. "Valuable assets are lost on a daily basis through misplacement, degradation or simply by being mislabelled. Without preservation and digitisation this material will be unrecoverable. Whether it’s for posterity, heritage or profit, it should be preserved for future generations."

Digital Vision's Vintage Cloud could provide a solution for industry players wishing to transfer, preserve and restore film archives. As a semi-automated solution, the Vintage Cloud combines traditional film-handling techniques and tools with modern, intelligent scanning, image processing and an automated workflow and cataloguing system.
Of course, whereas in the past a certain discrepancy was applied with regard to selecting files which would be stored, the convenience of the digital age has led to a 24-hour cycle of news broadcasting and file archiving.

"The sense of immediacy generated by an 'always on, always aware' culture means that news broadcasters in particular have to create more content under tighter deadlines and distribute that content to an ever-growing array of platforms," says Steve Lauter.
Steve says Media Asset Management (MAM) solutions are a vital tool for storing digital files, providing "comprehensive and intelligent solutions that enable broadcasters to organise media, make it broadly accessible, unify and coordinate every aspect of production and link to business functions such as rights management and market data."
Tom Blake, Managing Director of Cambridge Imaging Systems, says: "Our archive management system, Imagen, contains a number of modules that are designed to work together in a coordinated way to reduce the manual intervention required to manage very large-scale media archives."

Cambridge offers advice on matters of large-scale digital storage, having developed technology through contracts with the MoD, the Police, the BBC, British Pathé, the Imperial War Museum and the British Library.

A good example of the systems provided by the company is the British Library's 'Broadcast News' service, which was commissioned in 2010 and is now available for public use in its reading rooms. Cambridge Imaging Systems applied its Orbital Enterprise Video Recorder and Imagen software to record, store and index content from 18 UK and International news channels. This tool is now used by both researchers and the general public.

Naturally, it is preferable for organisations to be able to manage their own content.
Tom Blake adds: "We enable organisations to create their own online archives, which in turn allows them to monetise their content and realise new revenue streams."
This ease of use and access is clearly important. Steve Lauter advises: “Using time-based metadata tracks, users can instantly locate the right video, audio, still image, graphics, and documents. Workflows can also be automated and combined with Web Services (Application Programming Interface) APIs to integrate servers, storage, editing, graphics, or traffic systems.

"Integration is an important aspect of any digital archiving solution, as MAM systems need to work harmoniously with various other tools and systems if they are to function optimally."

Without doubt, care and attention needs to be paid by companies which are seeking to create a flexible, reliable and easy-to-use archiving system. But, as Steve adds, the risks can be minimised by taking advantage of modern technology.

"Without a proper digital archiving strategy in place, broadcasters are at risk of losing audio-visual history and their most important business asset," he warns.

"Implementing the latest in archiving and asset management technology through an experienced provider and integrator will allow broadcasters to ensure their footage is archived securely, that storage is available for the future, and that all systems and solutions are properly integrated for maximum functionality and value."

Read the article in the online edition of Regional Film & Video here.
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