Video Archiving: On the Way to the IT-World

Video Archiving: On the Way to the IT-World
Franz Pavuza and Julia Ahamer, Phonogrammarchiv, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna



At the JTS 2004 the Vienna Phonogrammarchiv reported the start of it’s – at this point of time rather adventurous – new enterprise of linear video file archiving. Meanwhile, the archive looks back to a labour-intensive but in general successful project, many hours of valuable analogue footage have been transferred to the digital domain, using uncompressed data representation. While in some areas some tasks remain to be optimised, the archive considers linear archiving to be a viable and future-proof solution.

So video archiving is on its way to a new technical environment. The achievements of the omnipresent Information Technology (IT) opened the doors for video archivists that have already been passed by their combatants of the audio community. The possibility to work freely and independent of proprietary chains, combined with emerging standards and recommendations of major institutions and experts groups set up an exciting new world for the technically oriented archivist.

Furthermore, the dramatically shrinking costs and the comparatively bright outlook for well-defined, technically sound and broadly supported storage media encourages the video archivist to approach the undisputed ideal of preserving the footage in a linear way, avoiding lossy compression and undesirable data reductions originally provoked by limited storage space. In the long run, even for broadcast companies – who still heavily rely on proprietary structures – this development may lead to rethinking their preservation strategies.

The paper compares conventional and IT-based strategies from the technical and financial perspective and outlines benefits and possible drawbacks of the latter.



Julia Ahamer currently works at the Phonogrammarchiv of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. She is a scholar of African Studies specialising in the Chadic language Hausa and currently working on her PhD thesis about contemporary Hausa literature. She has worked as a network administrator and webmaster for some time, and is now an archivist at the Phonogrammarchiv. She started her training at the Archive by audio archiving African Language recordings. Since then she has focussed on video archiving and in this capacity is responsible for the videography workflow at their new video archive.

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