Audio-Visual Digitization Challenges and Experiences from the Danish National Archive

  • Jeppe Christensen, Danish National Archive, Denmark
  • The Danish National Archive is currently carrying out a project where analogue carriers holding sound and moving images are being digitized. This paper discusses the Danish experience and the challenges involved in the process of selecting digital formats.

    The goal of the Danish project has been to secure the content of 2000 carriers, 200 VHS tapes, 700 reel tapes, 800 cassettes, 300 lacquer discs and a few other formats. The preservation aim has been to reach a lossless file format for both sound and video archives.

    As the project has progressed different problems have been encountered and dealt with. Particularly the selection of digital formats has been a time consuming process. It has furthermore been difficult to find a best-practice for a lossless video format. The question at stake has been whether to transfer video to a lossless format or turning away from the principle of lossless archive formats and choose a more widespread and supported format.

    Some of the challenges encountered have been:
    Finding service providers, who understand archival needs
    Transferring special homemade lacquer discs formats
    Reel-to-reel tapes that needed baking
    Video files that needed editing

    Some of the main conclusions drawn are:
    Use the standards and guidelines as reference
    Consult/Work with experienced companies and institutions

    These and other issues will be addressed in this paper where the bottom line concerns moving from unregistered and decayed carriers to documented digital files.