Broadcasters, film studios and post-production houses are currently facing a major challenge in that the volume of generated video material is increasing dramatically. The result is a significant increase in the need for storage and archive capability.
Broadcasters and video archivists are also looking for long-term digital preservation. In most cases, the source material is not digital. Instead, it is on film that needs to be scanned or high-quality analog video tape.
A production and digital archive compression format, with no concessions in video content quality and the actual fabrication process, is the obvious choice — one that reduces storage costs compared to uncompressed video, while still maintaining indefinite protection from loss or damage. Such a format should preserve original quality, while also easily enabling the generation of most of the commonly used formats.
Several questions are frequent when selecting a format. What is the best physical long-term storage media for video content? What is a good candidate for a digital preservation? Can digital content be interpreted in the future? Various options are possible, and organizations have to decide carefully.
Today’s broadcasters understand the industry’s keywords: highest image quality, flexible delivery formats, interoperability and standardized profiles for optimal preservation. They also have a vested interest in a common high-end format to store, preserve and commercialize the avalanche of video footage generated globally. JPEG 2000 is the growing choice for master file format.
Digital storage keys
There are three keys to digital storage preservation:
- Ensure continuous access to content over time. Archive and storage covers all activities necessary to ensure continued access to digital materials for as long as necessary. This includes strategies to ensure access to reformatted and digitally-born content, regardless of the risks of media failure and technological changes. Quality preservation is crucial. A conversion system of archived items is important for dissemination or distribution.
- Everything that belongs together fits in one package. Archiving is an enduring process concerned with the impacts of changing technologies, whether it is the support of new media and data formats or a changing user community. “Long term” may extend indefinitely.
To standardize digital preservation practices and provide a set of recommendations for preservation program, the Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS) was developed. OAIS is concerned with all technical aspects of a digital object’s life cycle: ingest into and storage in a preservation infrastructure, data management, accessibility and distribution. Continued interoperability is strategic; one needs easy and fast format conversion, as well as playback compatibility between manufacturers. For instance, a master file format must not be linked to any specific application, production format or major user.
- Use open, well-documented industry standards — no proprietary formats. Ideally, focus on standards recognized and used for archiving applications. Open-file formats are published specifications, usually maintained by standards organizations, which can therefore be used and implemented by anyone. For example, an open format can be implemented by both proprietary and free/open-source softwares, using both types of software licenses. Open formats are also called free-file formats if they are not burdened by any copyrights, patents, trademarks or other restrictions. Anyone may use it at no cost for any desired purpose.