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Archiving: analog or digital?

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Archiving: analog or digital?
on Mar 22, 2006 at 2:05:29 am

Hi. I'm wondering if there are any video pros out there who have an opinion about this. I'm in charge of an audio and video archive for a small school in Berkeley, CA, and I've got some Betacam SP tapes that I want to archive. I'm wondering if the extra money to transfer them to Digibeta for archiving would be worth it. It seems that Digibeta videotape is just as likely to corrode with age as Betacam sp tape. The original Betacam sp tapes are ten to fifteen years old, so theoretically they could last another ten to fifteen years. And by then there might be better info on what the best long-term video archiving format is. Since both formats are on tape, it makes sense to me to just keep my masters on betacam sp until there is a clearer long term archiving format. Any guidance anyone can give me would be greatly appreciated.



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Chuck Reti
Re: Archiving: analog or digital?
on Mar 22, 2006 at 4:40:15 am

At the absolute very least, while you're pondering the archiving issue, get some new tape stock and make BetaSP backups of the old tapes, which realistically probably won't last another fifteen years. Since new recording formats come along pretty quickly these days, every few years there are going to be "New and Improved" long term archiving formats to replace the last one. Of course we all know that the "best" archiving format is 35mm black and white film (or is it U-Matic??). Since there's no real way at present to truly future-proof archiving of magnetic recordings, the best that can be done IMO is to determine what format, tape or optical, will suit your needs at this moment, and to develop a long term strategy to provide for periodic refreshing of the library material to more up to date formats (holographic recordings, quantum cubes??) in the future. Even if recording media lasts seventy-five or a hundred years, the equipment to play the content probably won't.

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