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Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:26 PM CDT

Software Gets Digital Archives in Order

Phonogrammarchiv (Vienna, Austria)
This shows an example of media deterioration. The magnetic oxide of this open reel audiotape has separated from its substrate.
Glenn Pearson, NLM
This chart shows extrapolating dollars per gigabyte, a bit-on-disk (ignoring system costs) is getting cheaper than a bit on-tape (left circle). With system supply costs (CPU, cache, RAID controller, frame, power supply), the crossover [right circle] is later, but other factors, like convenience, may drive a move to disk sooner.
Quantel
Quantel's iQ digital intermediate solution handle pre-visualization assembly grading, trailers and deliverables for the digital cinema industry.
J. Cheng/NLM
National Library of Medicine facilitator Glenn Pearson (standing) listens to a point made by Media Matters' Justin Dávila (left) as Bob Berger, also of Media Matters, looks on.
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Hank Russell By Hank Russell
Managing Editor

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.

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