LIFT: Digital Migration
Time is Not on Your Side
You may only get one shot at digitizing your media collections.

We are amidst a renaissance for the distribution and consumption of rich media content, yet essentially all of the world’s audiovisual content is at risk. From new born digital files to legacy film and tape assets, valuable content will expire without a content strategy. Our years of experience have shown us that no off-the-shelf product meets all the needs of audiovisual preservation.

When it comes to digitizing media collections, time is not on your side. The fact is there are more tapes in the world than there are machines available to transfer them. Content that exists only on magnetic tape is facing a game of musical chairs. When all of the decks of a given format are worn out, the music stops, and that content is lost forever.

BOTTOM LINE: You may only get one shot at digitizing your collections. That’s why the most respected organizations in the world have entrusted this critical task to Crawford LIFT.

What's the Hurry?

“In early stages of film chemical breakdown, heat and moisture in the surrounding atmosphere fuel the production of acetic acid. When enough acetic acid has been produced, the chemical process proceeds much more quickly,” Harvard Library Preservation.

“More properly referred to as acetate film base degradation, vinegar syndrome is a very similar problem to nitrate base deterioration. Its causes are inherent in the chemical nature of the plastic and its progress very much depends on storage conditions,” National Film Preservation Foundation.

Failed splices or “folds often occur in leaders and trailers, particularly when poor winding, untaped film ends, use of inadequate reels, or some other film­handling deficiency,” Eastman Kodak.

Open or damaged film canisters are susceptible to dust, dirt, and other airborne debris. Static electricity associated with film acts as a magnet for outside contaminants.

“Mold can attack the gelatin binder of any film format. Although some film stocks are manufactured with fungicides incorporated into the gelatin, mold growth cannot be prevented with additives,” Filmcare.org.

“Shrinkage is the loss of the original dimensionality of the film. In the case of motion picture film, shrinkage of over 1% can present a serious problem, as the sprocket-holes of shrunken film will no longer properly align with projector sprocket teeth, resulting in damage on projection, printing, or scanning of the film,” Filmcare.org.

Case Study
Migrating the American Archive of Public Broadcasting

In 2011, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting selected Crawford to provide digitization service for the American Archive Project. The task as outlined was to digitize 35,000 hours of audio and video content across 55,000 tapes, and transcode another 5,000 hours of born digital content from approximately 100 stations from across the nation.

One of the project’s initial hurdles was the need to hold the majority of the content in-house, simultaneously. Space in the temperature-controlled, secure vault was reallocated to handle the additional capacity. All told, 58 pallets and hundreds of additional boxes of tapes were stored to ensure safe, efficient availability to our migration team.

Next, the project team had to determine how best to label the thousands of objects from various different locations. In order to alleviate organizational headaches in the scanning process, station-specific barcodes were printed and shipped to each location.

By the numbers:

 24 hours a day, five days a week, tapes were digitized to stay on schedule
  Thousands of 1/4″ reel-to-reel audio tapes were baked
  2 Petabytes of new data at the conclusion of the project
  280 Terabytes of born digital data derived from 33,000 files