Assessment and Prioritization: Part One – PrestoSpace/CRCDG

Assessment and Prioritization: Recent and Current Research and Development Projects
Part One – Assessment
Léon-Bavi Vilmont, Project Manager, PrestoSpace “Media Condition Assessment” Work Package CRCDG – Centre de Recherches sur la Conservation des Documents Graphiques



The PrestoSpace project consists of many in-depth projects that seek to enable and support mass migration. One of these projects under the Work Package 06 set forth the following tasks for “Media Condition Assessment”

to understand the way video tapes degrade over time and become unplayable
to develop a method to measure the deterioration level in order to anticipate playback problems.

These objectives were seen as particularly important considering the financial and time impact of mass transfer operations of audiovisual (A/V) tapes for preservation and access purposes. Optimization of the preservation workflow requires effective prioritization of the media according to technical considerations.

The magnetic tapes deterioration is a difficult notion to define because numerous parameters are involved: operator tape handling, tape player, original media quality, materials formulations, and chemical decay. As a consequence, the magnetic tape deterioration study requires multidisciplinary fields of investigation from mechanical player considerations to organic chemistry analysis. The CRCDG used a comprehensive study strategy involving all aspects of the problem. The deliverable of the project, D6.1: Report on video and audio tape deterioration mechanisms and considerations about implementation of a collection condition assessment method reflects this approach.

The first part of the report (Part A) provides an overview of the reasons why a tape becomes unplayable and to identify specific chemical deterioration issues.

The second part of the report (Part B) is based on the results and data obtained from laboratory investigations in order to propose a condition assessment method for archival magnetic tape collections based on a statistical approach. A knowledge database and its management system and applications are presented in detail to represent a recommended software tool.

A primary contributor on this project from the CRCDG will discuss the project, their findings and offer an update on recent follow up activities.



Léon-Bavi Vilmont received an educational training in chemistry and graduated as a Ingénieur chimiste (Chemical engineer) with a specialization in physico-chemistry analytical techniques. He also obtained a university post-graduate degree (D.E.S.S.) in preventive conservation management of Cultural heritage.  Vilmont is a research scientist at the CRCC, a joint research laboratory of the French Ministry of Culture, the National Science Research Council (CNRS) and the National Museum of Natural History. Léon-Bavi VILMONT is employed by the French Ministry of Culture. He carried out research in the field of cultural heritage preservation studying at first the ageing of collection materials (natural and synthetic polymers), the characterization of their physical, mechanical and chemical properties and finding methods for safeguarding and long-term preservation. He then developed research – since 1999 – in the preservation of modern information carriers (audiovisual and digital media).

Léon-Bavi Vilmont is currently involved in PrestoSpace FP6 IST European project on the preservation of the Audiovisual Heritage, and he is in charge of the media assessment Work Package. Léon-Bavi Vilmont teaches every year at numerous educational and cultural institutions: Université Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne), Institut national du patrimoine, Archives de France, etc. and provides scientific consultancy in the field of preventive conservation.

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