You merely woke up one day and uncovered you have a huge library of recorded content on a variety of video tape formats – Betacam, Digital Betacam, HDCAM, DVCAM, VHS and more. You can not just discard these tapes as the content on them remains needed, for whatever reason – legal, practical or normally. You also noticed that as time passes, the tape decks required to read these different video tape formats are becoming out of date and will break down. The tapes themselves will also break up as time passes – magnetic debris on the tape become randomized which results in drop-outs, and even lost content in extreme instances. transfer tapes to dvd

With content stored on video tapes, time is the enemy. As time passes the tapes will deteriorate, and the machines to read them will become harder to find as old machines break down and parts become scarce.

The other problem with content stored on video tape is that it is hard to manage. Suppose you want to get a clip from 10 years ago, but only have a vague idea of the title, not to mention what tape it could possibly be on. How could you search through a lot or a huge selection of tapes to find the right content – it is practically impossible. 

The solution is to digitize (ingest) all of the content into an Asset Management Program – a DAM (Digital Asset Management for more generic digital content) or MAM (Media Asset Managing for broadcast or creation related content) system. Undertaking so not only maintains all of the content forever, but it makes it a heck of a lot better to take care of – categorize, search, modify, repurpose, archive and spread.

The ingestion task is simple, but not always easy or quick, especially with a sizable library of tapes. Usually it is advisable to outsource this task as accomplishing this in the camera will require much in internal resources, not to mention possible investment in hardware that will only be used for one phase of the job. Yet , for some reasons, you may want to ingest on site and hire a firm to work on site (for example, if the information is sensitive).

Once the content is ingested in digital form, many things are possible. Now that the content is captured, it can be manipulated in many ways through the MAM system. Metadata can be added to the information while it is being consumed so that content and clips are easy to find and search. Pertaining to example, let’s say one of the tapes covered a 30 minute info-mercial by using an ultrasonic electric tooth brush from 10 years in the past. Metadata (keywords) such as “toothbrush”, “ultrasonic”, “infomercial”, “May 20, 2004”, “Hypersonic cleaning system”, “ABC Ad Agency”, etc., can be added so that anyone in the future may easily find content or clips, by simply having a lttle bit of a hint about the content.

Now clips and content are easy to find. Let’s say an editor working a few months as time goes on wants to incorporate parts of the 30 minute infomercial for generation Hypersonic cleaning system. He would just search for the proper content by using one of the keywords, which will help narrow down the search. Now, rather than needing to take a tape away from a shelf, it is as easy as a few clicks. The sub-clip can now be identified, played out back, edited, enhanced, and stitched into the new infomercial very easily.

Digitized content is also better to archive and backup – the distinction between organize and backup is this – archiving content creates a managed, self-describing index chart so the backups themselves can be easily refurbished if required, whereas a back-up is merely a duplicate of content somewhere – now how do you find and search for the backup content? Think of archive as “a back up with a brain” or “self-describing content”. Ironically, once content is digitized you will want to store to, you guessed it, tape (because hard hard disks also fail). However, the backup media of choice these days is LTO (Linear Tape Open) recording – good for large volume, long-term storage (30+ years) and archive. A single LTO tape can keep several hours of HIGH DEFINITION content (LTO6 = 2. 5 terabytes uncompressed currently), and is searchable with a library management system through MAM.

Chris Guli manages Business Development at Empress Media Asset Administration and has several years experience with MAM and DAM systems and applications.

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