Report: Preserving Moving Pictures and Sound

2 May, 2012 | in DCC News
By: Magdalena Getler

The DPC, Richard Wright and Charles Beagrie Ltd have recently announced (30 April 2012) the release of the latest Technology Watch Report ‘Preserving Moving Pictures and Sound’, written by Richard Wright, formerly of the BBC.

‘Moving image and sound content is at great risk’, explained Richard Wright. 

‘Surveys have shown that 74 per cent of professional collections are small: 5,000 hours or less. Such collections have a huge challenge if their holdings are to be preserved. About 85 per cent of sound and moving image content is still analogue, and in 2005 almost 100 per cent was still on shelves rather than being in files on mass storage. Surveys have also shown that in universities there is a major problem of material that is scattered, unidentified, undocumented and not under any form of preservation plan. These collection surveys are from Europe and North America because there is no survey of the situation in the UK, in itself a cause for concern.’

‘This report is for anyone with responsibility for collections of sound or moving image content and an interest in preservation of that content.’

‘New content is born digital, analogue audio and video need digitization to survive and film requires digitization for access. Consequently, digital preservation will be relevant over time to all these areas. The report concentrates on digitization, encoding, file formats and wrappers, use of compression, obsolescence and what to do about the particular digital preservation problems of sound and moving images.’

The report discusses issues of moving digital content from carriers (such as CD and DVD, digital videotape, DAT and minidisc) into files. This digital to digital ‘ripping’ of content is an area of digital preservation unique to the audio-visual world, and has unsolved problems of control of errors in the ripping and transfer process. 

It goes on to consider digital preservation of the content within the files that result from digitization or ripping, and the files that are born digital. While much of this preservation has problems and solutions in common with other content, there is a specific problem of preserving the quality of the digitized signal that is again unique to audio-visual content. 

Managing quality through cycles of ‘lossy’ encoding, decoding and reformatting is one major digital preservation challenge for audio-visual as are issues of managing embedded metadata.

You can read the full article and download the report on the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) website.