What Is Preservation?

As audio and video technologies have changed, and as old formats age and disintegrate, we are at risk of losing significant media that documents the art, culture and history of our diverse communities. BAVC Media works to preserve and digitize these cultural artifacts and other precious works of media art. Since 1994, BAVC Media has preserved over 7,000 hours of audio and videotape.

Why Preserve Analog Media?

Analog media preservation is necessary because of two central factors: technical obsolescence and deterioration. Experts say that magnetic media has an estimated lifespan for playback of 10-15 years, and companies have already ceased manufacture of analog playback decks, the devices required to digitize and preserve analog media.

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Preserving analog media can be surprisingly complicated, and no two projects are alike. Submit an inquiry and give us details to help us determine a cost estimate and jump-start a more in-depth conversation about your preservation needs.

If you have a general question about preservation or digitization, contact our department directly (415) 558-2158 or


BAVC Media is developing a series of tools, curriculum, and hands-on training opportunities with the goal of furthering education and equity in the field of audiovisual preservation. We aim both to address the urgency of preserving high volumes of historic audiovisual content held on degrading obsolete formats and to develop a more diverse and inclusive pipeline of preservationists.

Open Source Tools

BAVC Media Preservation, in collaboration with other leading organizations in the field, has developed open source tools that make the work of media preservation more accessible and more efficient.

QCTools, AVAA, and AVCompass are used worldwide by archivists and collection holders to help preserve memory held on obsolete AV media.

Transfer Services

BAVC Media rigorously maintains endangered analog equipment in order to provide high quality transfers to preservation standard formats. BAVC Media’s tape storage and transfer facility follows the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) guidelines for magnetic tape storage and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) care and handling practices for extended usage.

Currently, BAVC Media only transfers tape formats manufactured for the North American NTSC video system, including:

  • 1″ Type C Open Reel Video
  • 1/2″ Open Reel Video (AV and CV)
  • U-Matic, U-MaticSP
  • Betamax II/III
  • Betacam, BetacamSP
  • Hi8mm/Video8mm
  • MiniDV, DVCam
  • Digibeta
  • 1/4″ Open Reel Audio
  • Audiocassette
  • DAT

To request a quote for preservation transfer services, please fill out the preservation transfer inquiry form.

Our Process

Upon Arrival

  • Inspecting, evaluating and itemizing each asset
  • Cleaning and Conditioning of tapes
  • Treatment for tapes with Sticky Shed Syndrome and Binder Hydrolysis
  • Re-housing of tapes as required
  • Storage in moisture and heat controlled environment

At Transfer

  • Cleaning and inspection of playback machine before each transfer
  • Video signal passes through time base corrector for signal correction as required
  • Real-time, fully supervised transfer
  • Digitization to uncompressed or losslessly compressed, high quality digital file format
  • Documentation of signal issues to transfer log by technician
  • Quality control checks of every file
  • Hardware upscaling (1080p and 2k) and retiming services available

On Delivery

  • Archival quality files
  • Access and Mezzanine files upon request
  • Detailed transfer logs
  • QCTools Report
  • MD5 checksum
  • Necessary codecs and instruction

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The old tapes you have in storage are likely way past their shelf-life, and the longer they sit the harder it will be to preserve the content they hold.

If you need funding to help cover the cost of digitization the Preservation Access Program is here to subsidize the preservation of your collection.

History of BAVC Preservation

As one of the nation’s longest-standing non-profit video and audio preservation organizations, BAVC Media remains a leader in the field, developing the highest quality preservation standards and practices while working with individuals and cultural, academic, and media organizations to meet a range of needs for preserving historically and artistically important video and audio materials.

Established in 1994 with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and in partnership with the Getty Research Center, BAVC Media’s Preservation program has also received support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Funding has also been provided by California Humanities and the State of California through the California State Library.

In addition to partnering with institutions such as the Stanford Media Preservation Lab and New York University’s Digital Library Technology Services on research and development projects related to archival moving image and video preservation, BAVC Media’s Preservation Department works with museums, artists and cultural institutions around the world to remaster, transfer, and archive seminal creative and historical works on video and audio tape. Clients and partners have included the Dance Heritage Coalition, Human Studies Film Archives of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, The Kitchen, Video Data Bank, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Fales Library at NYU Special Collections, Walker Arts Center, and San Francisco Ballet among others.

Thank You To Our Current Funders