Video Preservation Lab

The goal of the Video Preservation Lab is to provide appropriate digital products for NARA video collections as well as to provide the needed services and expertise to assist NARA staff and other stakeholders in dealing with video collections at the technical level. The Video Preservation Lab supports analog-to-digital reformatting workflow for both preservation and distribution purposes. The Video Preservation Lab also works with selected born digital video material in accessioned NARA collections. Lab staff also serve as subject matter experts for digital conversion issues specific to video recordings and media. The Video Preservation Lab has developed a suite of products to satisfy a wide variety of demands for different material types. Selection of an appropriate product or set of products is a collaborative process between archival and technical staff.

In complement to the products produced, Video Preservation Lab staff also provides a complement of essential services and expertise which support the archival process across NARA and the broader community.

Mass and Manual Reformatting Workflows

The majority of current reformatting work within the Audio-Visual Preservation Lab is focused on legacy standard definition (SD) video. We will need to augment our products and workflows to accommodate high definition (HD) video needs, but this is not a current focus of the NARA video collections.

Currently there are two file-based workflows to digitize analog source video. One is through the robotic SAMMA system (currently set up to process ¾” U-matic tapes) and the other is a more individualized manual process using appropriate VTRs and Edius editing software and hardware. Each workflow has specific outputs that are the results of software and hardware restrictions. For example, the robotic SAMMA and its Digital Rapids encoding cards captures uncompressed AVI with a choice of 1, 2, or 4 channels of audio while the Edius video editing and production system, with its single encoding card, always captures uncompressed AVI with 8 channels of audio. In general, the Video Preservation Lab staff members determine which workflow is appropriate for what materials; in some cases our available equipment dictates which formats will be processed through particular workflows.

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