Conversion and Transfer Processes - The EVIA Digital Archive Project

Conversion and Transfer Processes

home research & development digital preservation of video

It has been standard practice in media archives to make a preservation copy of all original recordings onto a consistent format that can be readily migrated into the future. Analog video copies are no longer accepted as a long-term storage and preservation format, which means that analog recordings we wish to save for the future must first be transferred to a digital form in accordance with preservation practices and guidelines. Analog formats have many disadvantages for preservation, but they do have the advantage of accommodating a great deal of signal density in an economical manner. With regard to large archival projects, only recently have digital preservation formats affordably approached the signal density of analog sources.

The conversion of source recordings to digital preservation formats is one of the most important and critical steps in the EVIA Project workflow. Because of costs, limited time, and the large amount of material in need of preservation, we can safely predict that we will not have another opportunity to do this work again, and so we must do it with the utmost care and at the highest possible quality. To that end, Duderstadt Media Center engineers at the University of Michigan have been responsible for the transfer of most analog video formats as well as MiniDV recordings. More unusual formats that the Duderstadt Center is not equipped to handle, such as U-matic PAL and open reel video, are sent to a professional vendor specializing in preservation work.

Another key element in good preservation work is quality assurance. In a given production year, nearly four terabytes of video files are sent across Internet2 from transfer engineers at the University of Michigan to administrative staff at Indiana University. One remarkable thing about the EVIA Project is that each digital file is checked at IU against technical metadata created at UM, both by running checksums and by visually spot-checking files.

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