A Guide to Approaching Audiovisual Digitization for Artists and Arts and Culture Organizations

Published On: July 2, 2019 |

In 2017 Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC Media) received a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation which supported the continuation of our Preservation Access Program (PAP), which offers subsidized preservation services to artists and organizations with archival audiovisual holdings. As part of the grant, BAVC Media has written this paper meant to provide direction and guidance in the process of preserving audiovisual collections, particularly those owned or managed by individuals or smaller organizations. The paper provides information for both practitioners in the field of preservation as well as information for artists and organizations that will help them to prioritize digitization efforts, as well as better understand the issues they may encounter as they plan to preserve tapes of various types and brands, thereby, ideally, saving time and effort in the preservation process.

The paper discusses the preparation of a collection before digitization, the stewarding of files post-digitization, and which tasks are best left to a digitization vendor. The paper also discusses common errors found in all parts of digitization and preservation workflows, and methods for selecting a preservation file format. Finally, the paper discusses updates made to BAVC Media’s tape preparation and digitization workflows which were enabled by the funding from Mellon. These workflow updates were informed by data collected by BAVC Media technicians throughout the digitization process, and are being shared to help advance the general expertise in the field of audiovisual preservation.