When faced with the enormous task of migrating media content to digital assets, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Budgets are restrictive, user requests can be random, and there are so many formats to choose from!
One suggestion I like to offer archivists, media librarians and curators is to start by identifying their most volatile formats – and there are two factors to consider:
1. Date of recording
2. Availability of playback machines
As a general rule of thumb, my experience with magnetic tape formats is that you have about a 30 year shelf life (depending on storage conditions, quality of tape, etc.). So, it’s not too difficult to assess where the most risk to your colleciton lies by looking at recording dates.
The other factor to consider is availability of playback machines. Generally, the older the format, the more difficult (and costly) to keep the machines running.
So, here is a basic refernce chart for video formats that hopefully helps you begin to prioritize your digitization list.
|SOURCE FORMAT||AGE OF RECORDINGS||AVAILABILITY OF MACHINES||FLUME SUPPORTED?|
|1” Open Reel, type-A||50+||Obsolete||No|
|1/2” Open Reel, EIAJ||45+||Obsolete||Yes, but phasing out|
|1” Open Reel, type-C||40+||Rare||Yes|
|DVCAM, DVCPro, miniDV||20+||Available||Yes|