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.
Call for proposal
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Funding SchemeIP - Integrated Project
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