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DigiCULT
.
Info
16
O
ur broadcast quality programmes
are rented out, with an appropri-
ate fee being paid for each commercial use.
Negotiating rights for audiovisual materi-
als is complicated at the best of times, and,
as copies are delivered to the users, it is
therefore possible for resources to be used
beyond the licence agreement. Since legal
deposit began, we have developed a new
project to track and monitor usage of our
materials, ensuring that the owner of, say,
a news clipping, is known, and to help us
identify unauthorised and/or illegal usage.
Our news archives are the most used mate-
rials, and this is one example of an antici-
patory project: high-level research for fast
identification of images, to survey what
is being broadcast and identify anything
which belongs to us.
O
ur research methodology combines
an academic approach to research
with a developmental model. We have
around ten PhD students who are semi-
funded by the government and (currently)
25 senior researchers who work both on
projects and initiatives specific to INA and
on generic solutions to modern problems
in the audiovisual sector. This combination
of academic and industrial methodologies is
very useful as it allows us to view INA from
different perspectives. Without this distance,
it would be easy to fall into the trap of
becoming simply a software developer.
T
en years ago, INA began a new mis-
sion: as well as archiving all pub-
lic broadcast programmes, we would also
become the legal deposit repository for all
broadcast programmes within France, like
a public library but for film and television.
INA now stores all of these programmes
and makes them available for research.
Legal deposit materials are stored in com-
pressed format, as opposed to the public
broadcasts, which are retained at a broad-
cast quality. Producers send their materials
to us in a digital format where it is com-
pressed, checked, documented and sever-
al copies are made (for storage, access and
backup). The traditional challenges of con-
serving and storing media still apply, but
we are also faced with many more modern
problems: digital storage, description, doc-
umentation and compression. The whole
span of archival activities is reflected in the
work of the research department, from the
chemistry of magnetic tapes to tools for
semantic interpretation. One major prob-
lem for audiovisual archives is that of long-
term preservation, as digitising every item is
a very ambitious goal.
O
ur audio materials are generally
stored in shellac, magnetic tape and
DAT tape formats, and we also have 16 mm
film and video (of which there are six dif-
ferent magnetic formats). There is a crucial
problem in that it is not only the storage
formats themselves that are at risk, but the
machines that can read them are also dying
out. If these audiovisual materials can be
compared to books, we must ensure that
we also keep the `eyes' that can read them.
To identify items that are under threat is a
difficult and time-consuming task, as you
have to look through the entire collection!
It is a fight against time to check each disk
for damage, remove the `sick' disks (as the
vinegar syndrome suffered by acetate for-
mats is contagious and will spread to other
materials unless it is quarantined) and take
steps to preserve the threatened data. Once
an item is identified as under threat, we
store it separately in a cold area and digitise
it as soon as possible. It is very important
that we digitise as much of our materi-
al as possible before the analogue original
becomes useless.
T
here are two main factors that
affect our ability to digitise: money
and research. Digitisation on INA's scale
requires a very large investment, and the
investment must be over the long term; at
The value of your archive
depends on the knowledge you
have of it.
Audio record showing signs of decay. Shellac disks suffer from a slow chemical deterioration
whilst the ´vinegar syndrome` of acetate media is well known in the archival world.
©
Daisy
Abbott,

HA
TII,

Uni
v
er
sity
of
Glasgo
w
,

2004