The preservation master file is the digital file that is saved for long-term preservation; thus, it must be a high-quality representation of the video and audio signals from the original analog video recording. The digital preservation master file should reproduce the most accurate version of the original analog video possible. Archives and institutions adhere to a variety of file formatting combinations based upon their archiving needs and standards prescribed by several trusted authorities. MIPoPS has chosen their format based upon thorough research of these standards and recommendations made by experts in the field, including Sarah Shipley (Digital Assets Manager, Seattle Municipal Archives) and Dave Rice (Archivist/Digital Systems Manager, The City University of New York Television).
The Magnetic Media Crisis
Audiovisual objects everywhere are at a crisis point where they could be lost forever, but especially magnetic media. Tape manufacturers predicted 20 to 30 years of life expectancy, but media lifespan depends greatly on environmental conditions. Analog video recordings are reaching their lifespan. Heritage organizations have no choice except to digitize magnetic media for preservation. To not digitize magnetic media is tantamount to deaccessioning or destroying historical records.
Format obsolescence contributes to the crisis for archivists and others hoping to preserve their videotape. For example, Umatic and VHS tapes are no longer manufactured and BetaSP will soon be discontinued. Machines to play these formats are necessary in order to make preservation copies; they are becoming more scarce as are the skills to maintain and repair them.
If analog videotapes are not digitized soon, many will be lost forever. At the same time, archivists are being overwhelmed with born-digital content. MIPoPS offers a platform to help heritage institutions digitize videotape appraised as having historical value and provides tools and advice to help preserve and make video recordings available to researchers and the public.