greatbear analogue and digital media > audio and video digitising, archiving & preservation

audio and video digitising, archiving & preservation

Pile of five scotch 262 quarter inch open reel tapes

Why digitise?

Some of the most important audiovisual archives of the 20th and 21st centuries are stored on magnetic tape.

Often the content of collections remain inaccessible because institutions do not have the appropriate machines to play tapes back on. Older tape can also be extremely vulnerable, making it susceptible to damage in the playback process.

Digitisation helps unlock the potential of magnetic tape collections by offering the double benefits of preservation and accessibility.

There are plenty of other reasons why you should consider re-formatting your magnetic tape collections to digital files:

  • According to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), ‘it is estimated that we have no more than 10 to 15 years to transfer audiovisual records to digital to prevent their loss.’ See also the British Library’s Save our Sounds campaign, launched in 2015, which aims to raise awareness of this issue.
  • Availability of key parts in some tape machines, especially in video, has become poor. Many formats are now at risk as machines become harder to service and repair.
  • Magnetic tape can and does degrade making playback difficult, more expensive and sometimes impossible.
  • Magnetic tape can become damaged because of poor storage conditions, leading to mould infestation in some cases.
  • Digital storage space in hard drives, solid state drives or in the cloud has become larger and cheaper

How can Greatbear help archives digitise their audio and video magnetic tape collections?

  • We support archives, memory institutions and museums who need to migrate, digitise, preserve and manage their tape based collections to the standards within the IASA TC-04 Technical Guidelines.
  • We offer consultation for institutions on technical issues that arise from planning and delivering a large-scale digitisation project.
  • We can adapt our service according to your project’s digitisation requirements, including generating and storing metadata.
  • Please contact us so our knowledge and experience can inform your project design.


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