Sustainable Information Part Two: Digital Preservation of Audio-Visual Content


About the Webinar

Audio-visual resources in digital formats present even more challenges to preservation than do digital text resources. Reformatting information to a common file format can be difficult and may require specialists to ensure it is done with no loss in integrity. While digital text may still be usable if done imperfectly (e.g. skewed but still readable pages), even small errors in digital A/V files could render the material unusable.

This webinar will share the experiences of several projects that are working to ensure that A/V files can be preserved with their full integrity ensured.

Click here to view the agenda for Part One.

Event Sessions



Planning for Video Preservation Services at Harvard


Andrea Goethals

Manager of Digital Preservation and Repository Services
Harvard University

Nearly all of the major Harvard Library repositories count video (both analog and digital) among their valued holdings, though in many cases these materials are hidden from the scholarly community due to lack of resources for cataloging and processing. At the same time, these resources are at high risk of being lost because of format obsolescence, disappearing reproduction technologies, degrading physical media, and data corruption and loss. For media collections, there is only a small window of time globally in which to address preservation. Without a preservation intervention plan implemented in the next fifteen years, many of Harvard’s video resources will disappear.

This presentation will focus on the planning efforts and decisions that have been made in the early stages of establishing video reformatting and preservation services at the university. It will cover format, metadata and tool analysis, as well as an investigation of the potential impacts on the current digitization, reformatting, ingest and storage infrastructure.

AXF: Finally a Storage and Preservation Standard for the Ages


Rather than rely on archaic or proprietary approaches, recent domain-specific advancements in the area of open standards based, long-term data storage have been made helping ensure long-term preservation and universal accessibility for valuable file-based assets and collections.

This presentation will give a detailed technical overview of the recently published SMPTE Archive eXchange Format (AXF) standard. Born out of the Big Data-centric pedigree of the Media and Entertainment industry, AXF is applicable to all aspects of file-based asset preservation now and into the future. In sharp contrast to other approaches such as TAR and LTFS, AXF was designed from the ground up with the goals of asset transport as well as long-term storage and preservation. AXF future-proofs digital content repositories by embracing key OAIS preservation philosophies and abstracting the underlying operating system, file system and storage technology so that content remains available no matter how each evolves.

A history of the development of AXF highlighting its recent standardization will be given along with a detailed overview of the technology and its key features as contrasted with other non-standard approaches such as LTFS. End-user success stories will focus attention on the key features of the AXF standard and how it can be leveraged to ensure open access, long-term protection, and transportability of file-based asset and collections now and into the future.

You emphasized tape as a storage media, but also mentioned disk and cloud as options. Does tape dominate storage in large media archives, or is there a mix? Is there a certain size of archive after which tape dominates?

Tape does dominate in these large (big-data) environments because the scale of the data cannot be economically maintained on disk-based storage. Data tape is also easy/cheap to expand, physically transport and has much higher resiliency than disk based arrays. It can also be argued that it lasts much longer than disk technology as well. There are a lot of studies on this which are available on the web but ultimately disk environments are typically 10-23x more expensive (TCO - power, expansion, cooling, etc.) than those involving tape. Protecting your stored data with tape involves simply making two copies and shipping one of the data tapes (preferably in AXF format!) to another site. No power, cooling, etc. required. Even at the lower end, the only way to truly protect your data on disk is to have two physically separate storage environments running all the time which is expensive to implement and manage. Then with upgrades, they always involve a BIG swap of equipment. Expansion also involves more gear, cooling, power, connectivity, etc. All of our environments are combination of disk and tape in a 1:10 (very roughly) relationship. Disk for immediacy of access, staging on the way to the data tape library, site-to-site replication, etc. However, even at the lower end there are many compelling data tape robotic solutions available for less than $20k offering the reliability and advantages of larger scale solutions.

Where can we get access to AXF and who are the 25 organizations already implementing it?

The AXF Standard can be downloaded from the SMPTE store. It does cost a couple of hundred dollars (SMPTE imposed fee for maintenance of the site, etc.) unless you have access to the SMPTE standards packages. There is no fee for development, usage, etc. as this is just a simple admin fee for the maintenance of the document. In terms of the customers currently using AXF, they include Disney Studios, Paramount, Labatoire Eclair, Danish and Dutch National Archives, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Major League Baseball and many others.

An Open-Source Preservation Solution: Hydra/Blacklight


Tom Cramer

Chief Technology Strategist
Stanford University Libraries

Additional Information

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