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By Hank Russell
With archivists making the transition from analog videotape to digital archiving, the question is no longer where to store everything — since hard drives and digital video recorders (DVRs) are replacing the stacks of tape stored inside an air-conditioned room — but how to store it. If lossiness is a concern, they need to figure out what format works best for them. But, no matter what format they choose, there are software solutions that may solve their dilemma.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM, Bethesda, MD) recently hosted “Getting to Disk-Based Lossless Digital Video Compression,” a topical meeting that included the first public demonstration of real-time, full-screen, mathematically-lossless video compression and decompression based on the Motion JPEG2000 (MJ2) standard. Participants considered the potential of lossless, on-disk video storage in light of the “twilight of tape” as a cost-effective storage media.
Glenn Pearson, senior software developer of Management Systems Designers Inc. (MSD, Fairfax, VA) says that migration from analog tape to digital archiving as a preservation strategy continues in the digital domain, and can still incur generational losses if using lossy rather than mathematically lossless codecs. The latter include ones based on JPEG2000 (JP2) lossless and MPEG-4/AVC lossless.
The NLM’s repository system uses software from Endeavor (Des Plaines, IL), in the cataloging of books. “We’re trying to decide where to go with the video material,” says Pearson, “and that’s been the impetus, the motivation for a lot of our interest in this area.”
Pearson addresses the state of software and its role regarding digital preservation. “It hasn’t been a big market developer so far, but there has been some movement.” Judging by the number of software companies working to solve the problems of video compression, this movement may soon gather steam.