digital and audiovisual preservation – online resources

EIAJ Web

If you are new to the world of digital and AV preservation, all the different approaches might feel a bit overwhelming.

Fortunately there are many open access resources available that can help you learn more about existing best practices.

Below is a selection of resources to guide your hand.

Contact us if your project/ resource is missing!

Magnetic Tape / AV Preservation

  • The A/V Artifact Atlas is a community-generated resource for people working in digital preservation and aims to identify problems that occur when migrating tape-based media. The Atlas is made in a wiki-format and welcomes contributions from people with expertise in this area – ‘the goal is to collectively build a comprehensive resource that identifies and documents AV artifacts.’ The Atlas was created by people connected to the Bay Area Video Coalition, a media organisation that aims to inspire ‘social change by empowering media makers to develop and share diverse stories through art, education and technology.’
  • You can download the ARSC Guide to Audio Preservation here, a practical introduction to caring for and preserving audio collections. It is aimed at individuals and institutions that have recorded sound collections but lack the expertise in one or more areas to preserve them.
  • Richard Hess is a US-based audio restoration expert. Although his website looks fairly clunky, he is very knowledgeable and well-respected in the field, and you can find all kinds of esoteric tape wisdom on there.
  • The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia have produced an in-depth online Preservation Guide. It includes a film preservation handbook, an audiovisual glossary, advice on caring for your collection and disaster management.
  • The British Library’s Playback and Recording Equipment directory is well worth looking through. Organised chronologically (from 1877 – 1990s), by type and by model, it includes photos, detailed descriptions and you can even view the full metadata for the item. So if you ever wanted to look at a Columbia Gramophone from 1901 or a SONY O-matic tape recorder from 1964, here is your chance!
  • Vintage Technics – Russian site of a personal collection of extremely rare tape recorders, radios, televisions and detective recording devices.
  • The Museum of Obsolete Media, affiliated with the Media Archaeology Lab is an online directory of, yes you’ve guessed it, obsolete media. It includes information about audio, video, data and file formats. The curator of the site points to the site Lost Formats as a strong inspiration for his work.
  • Project C-90: An ultimate audio tape guide is an impressive collection of different brands of compact, micro and mini-cassettes.
  • The Tape Tardis offers a useful inventory of audio cassettes organised into tape type (e.g., normal bias, chrome, ferro-chrome and metal) and brands.
  • The Preservation Self-Assessment Program (PSAP) is a free online tool that helps collection managers prioritize efforts to improve conditions of collections. It is specifically designed to help organisations who have no prior training in digital preservation. Includes extensive format identification guide. New as of 2015, it is the most up to date resource of this nature.

Digital Preservation

  • Archivematica ‘is an integrated suite of open-source software tools that allows users to process digital objects from ingest to access in compliance with the ISO-OAIS functional model…Archivematica uses METS, PREMIS, Dublin Core, the Library of Congress BagIt specification and other recognized standards to generate trustworthy, authentic, reliable and system-independent Archival Information Packages (AIPs) for storage in your preferred repository. ‘
  • The Digital Preservation Coalition‘s website is full of excellent resources including a digital preservation jargon buster, case studies, preservation handbook and a ‘what’s new’ section. The Technology Watch Reports are particularly useful. Of relevance to the work Great Bear do is the ‘Preserving Moving Pictures and Sound’, but there are many others including Intellectual Property and Copyright, Preserving Metadata and Digital Forensics. Also check out the fully revised second edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook (2015).
  • Preservation Guide Wiki – Set up initially by Richard Wright, BBC as early as 2006, the wiki provides advice on getting started in audiovisual digital preservation, developing a strategy at institutional and project based levels.
  • The PrestoCentre’s website is amazing resource to explore if you want to learn more about digital preservation. The organisation aim to ‘enhance the audiovisual sector’s ability to provide long-term access to cultural heritage’. They have a very well stocked library that is composed of tools, case studies and resources, as well as a regularly updated blog. 
  • Northeast Document Conservation Centre (USA) – Digital Preservation Reading List, a detailed  annotated bibliography has been compiled to acquaint readers withy the challenges associated with developing a digital preservation plan and repository, and successful strategies for overcoming those challenges.
  • The Pericles Project ‘aims to address the challenge of ensuring that digital content remains accessible in an environment that is subject to continual change.’ The website has a blog, video and an archive of outputs from the EU-funded project that runs from 2013-2017.
  • PREFORMA project aims to address the challenge of implementing good quality standardised file formats for preserving data content in the long term. The main objective is to give memory institutions full control of the process of the conformity tests of files to be ingested into archives. Advocates for FFV1 and Matroska standardisation for video.
  • Preserveware – a digital preservation hub is a community-led portal related on IT and research solutions in the field of digital preservation. This website focuses on IT solutions and exchange of knowledge/ good practice between IT experts and preservation practitioners, with an emphasis on open source.

Digital Preservation Tools and Software

  • For open source digital preservation software check out The Open Planets Foundation (OPF), who address core digital preservation challenges by engaging with its members and the community to develop practical and sustainable tools and services to ensure long-term access to digital content. The website also includes the very interesting Atlas of Digital Damages
  • Archivematica is a free and open-source digital preservation system that is designed to maintain standards-based, long-term access to collections of digital objects.
  • Mediainfo is a very useful open source software tool that displays technical and tag data for video and audio files.
  • BWF MetaEdit permits the embedding, editing, and exporting of metadata in Broadcast WAVE Format (BWF) files. This tool can also enforce metadata guidelines developed by the Federal Agencies Audio-Visual Working Group, as well as recommendations and specifications from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Microsoft, and IBM.
  • MediaConch is an open source AV preservation project currently being developed by the MediaArea team are ‘dedicated to the further development of the standardization of the Matroska and FFV1 formats to ensure their longevity as a recommended digital preservation file format’. Also check out the blog.
  • ffmprovisr – this app makes ffmpeg easier by helping users through the command generation process so that more people can reap the benefits of FFmpeg. Each button displays helpful information about how to perform a wide variety of tasks using FFmpeg.

Digital Heritage

  • In 2005 UNESCO declared 27 October to be World Audiovisual Heritage Day. The web pages are an insight into the way audiovisual heritage is perceived by large, international policy bodies.
  • Be sure to take advantage of the 35 open access digital heritage articles published by Routledge. The articles are from the International Journal of Heritage Studies, Archives and Records, Journal of the Institute of Conservation, Archives and Manuscripts and others.
  • The Digital Curation Centre works to support Higher Education Institutions to interpret and manage research data. Again, this website is incredibly detailed, presenting case studies, ‘how-to’ guides, advice on digital curation standards, policy, curation lifecycle and much more.
  • Europeana is a multi-lingual online collection of millions of digitized items from European museums, libraries, archives and multi-media collections.

 Miscellaneous Technology

  • The BBC’s R & D Archive is an invaluable resource of white papers, research and policy relating to broadcast technology from the 1930s onwards. As the website states, ‘whether it’s noise-cancelling microphones in the 1930s, the first transatlantic television transmission in the 1950s, Ceefax in the 1970s, digital radio in the 1990s and HD TV in the 2000s, or the challenge to “broadcasting” brought about by the internet and interactive media, BBC Research & Development has led the way with innovative technology and collaborative ways of working.’
  • IRENE technology, developed by the Northeast Document Conservation Center in the US, applies a digital imaging approach to audio preservation. IRENE currently works with fragile media such as Wax cylinders, Lacquer discs (a.k.a., “acetate” discs), Aluminum transcription discs, Shellac discs, Tin foils and other rare formats (e.g., Dictabelt, Voice-O-Graph, etc.).

 


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