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Preservation towards storage and access. Standardised Practices for Audiovisual Contents Archiving in Europe

Project description

Technology-enhanced learning and access to cultural heritage
Preserving your audiovisual collection

It is not too late to save Europe’s audiovisual heritage, much of which is trapped in obsolete sound and video formats.

PrestoSpace is a project designed to help broadcasters, research institutions, libraries and museums preserve such unique records of European life, history and culture before they are lost forever.

As each new audio or video format comes on to the market, current ones begin their journey into obsolescence. Typically, each format is supported by equipment manufacturers for between 10 and 20 years – after which, users who have invested in a particular technology struggle to find the equipment to play them. Once the appliances to play old formats disappear, the content they hold becomes irretrievable.

Saving the content

All analogue audio formats are now obsolete – and all analogue videotape formats are obsolescent. More recently, Blu-ray has ousted HD DVD as the video format of choice. Even CDs and DVDs, which rapidly replaced vinyl records and tapes for storing music, are making way for new storage formats.

To ensure the audio or visual data held on such formats is not lost, researchers for the PrestoSpace project say the information must be digitalised so that a computer can read and store it. Once digitalised as computer language, such as MPEG for sound or jpg for a picture, the content becomes independent of format.

How will the research help?

To help overcome the many technical, organisational, and budgetary hurdles involved in the conversion process, the previous Presto project team had developed techniques for creating what they called digital ‘Preservation Factories’. Such techniques allow big public organisations (museums, public libraries) to automate the conversion process as much as possible.

The researchers of the current PrestoSpace project are now creating a website that will provide advice and management tools to help these public organisations make use of the 'Preservation Factories' as well as other types of storage technology. It also includes forecasts of storage trends for the next 20 years.

One part of the site allows its users to calculate the costs of digitalising content stored in each particular format and set their budget accordingly.

Deciphering obsolete media

The PrestoSpace team will also make available tools for preserving, restoring, managing, and archiving audio-visual collections. For example, they have developed a ‘black box’ capable of deciphering obsolete media using robotics and electronic applications – and of converting the content into digital data.

Reducing conversion costs

They estimate such an automated approach could reduce conversion costs by up to 40% while helping to maintain the quality of audio and video content. Such techniques are of particular importance to multimedia libraries and broadcasters, which hold audiovisual records that are deteriorating to the point where they will become irretrievable over the next two decades.

According to the PrestoSpace team, an estimated 50 to 100 million hours of European audio-visual material currently needs archiving.

The techniques developed by the project have made it easier to digitalise audiovisual collections – and the heritage and memories they contain.

The objective of the project is to provide technical devices and systems for digital preservation of all types ofaudio-visual collections. The aim is to build-up preservation factories providing affordable services to all kinds ofcollections owners to manage and distribute their assets.The 20th Century was the first with an audiovisual record. Audiovisual media became the new form of culturalexpression. These historical, cultural and commercial assets are now entirely at risk from deterioration.Broadcasters have begun to digitise their large holdings, at high cost and using complex technology.The preservation factory approach aims for an integrated automated solution of sufficient low cost so that thesmall-to-medium collections can be saved through common standardised services.The way to achieve this goal is an integrated approach, to produce sustainable assets with easy access forlarger exploitation and distribution. The key idea is: an accessible item is more valuable than an item stuck on ashelf. Integrated process provides this access, releasing the value that funds the activity.Previous EC Projects like PRESTO demonstrated that saving 50% of preservation work can be achieved.Access requirements include: digitisation in item-sized chunks with item-level metadata, with rights clearanceand rights management, restoration of quality where needed, and effective delivery systems for commercial andpublic access. There are unsolved problems of digitisation, automation, metadata extraction, storage, networkbandwidth, secure interaction, access and end-user delivery. Partial solutions exist, but in general they are notrobust, scaleable or affordable - and definitely not integrated end-to-end within a sustainable commercial model.PRESTOSPACE will push the limits of the current technology beyond the State of the Art, bringing togetherindustrials, research institutes and stakeholders at European level to provide text truncated for the purposes of the ESR

Call for proposal

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EU contribution
€ 2 432 403,00
94366 Bry-Sur-Marne

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Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Val-de-Marne
Total cost
No data

Participants (36)