Video Preservation

Much of the content of this page was created by Hannah Frost who served as Associate Editor until Nov 2011

See also

Standards, Guidelines and Best Practices
Bibliographic Resources
Glossaries and Format Identification Tools
Digital Video: Guides, Blogs, Books & Articles, Projects & Initiatives, Formats & Standards
Organizations Concerned with Video Preservation
Mailing Lists


Association of Moving Image Archivists
The central organization of AV archivists in the US, AMIA is a forum for all moving image preservation issues. The Preservation Committee produces publications such as the Videotape Preservation Fact Sheets and Storage Standards and Guidelines.
Bay Area Video Coalition
Abstracts, slide presentations, and transcripts from playback 1996, a conference on video preservation, held in San Francisco March 29-30, 1996 and hosted by BAVC, the nation's first independent, non-commercial video preservation facility.

See also: PLAYBACK: Preserving Analog Video, "an interactive DVD [produced and for sale by BAVC] that invites users to view the technical practices of video preservation and to experience the complex decision-making process artists, conservators and video engineers engage in when the reconstruction of video artwork occurs."

Experimental Television Center, Ltd.
Video History Project
"An on-going research initiative which documents video art and community television, as it evolved in rural and urban New York State, and across the US." Includes a useful section on "Video Preservation - The Basics."

Image Permanence Institute
The Preservation of Magnetic Tape Collections: A Perspective [pdf]

Independent Media Arts Preservation (IMAP)
Preservation 101
Keep Moving Images
Video: Preservation information for artists working with the moving image
Video Art Preservation by Gaby Wijers
Jim Lindner
Confessions of a Videotape Restorer, or how come these tapes all need to be cleaned differently?
Digitization Reconsidered
The Proper Care and Feeding of Videotape
Magnetic Tape Deterioration: Tidal Wave at Our Shores
Videotape Restoration--Where Do I Start?
More available from Media Matters

Library of Congress
Television/Videotape Study

Media Matters
"Articles related to the issues that audiovisual archivists need to address when moving their valuable collections to a digital domain."

TAPE: Training for Audiovisual Preservation in Europe
TAPE is an EU effort to raise awareness and provide training on preserving audiovisual collections held outside the major national institutions with specific responsibilities for audiovisual heritage. Includes an extensive library of original publications, including Audio and Video Carriers by Dietrich Schuller and the Digital Black Hole by Jonas Palm.

Video Preservation Web site
`An ambitious, site in CoOL that covers many of current issues in preserving historic video tapes. Features the original Video ID format identification site, an online equipment museum, and digital and analog reformatting techniques, and a large resource library.

Informative site from a vendor that provides magnetic media duplication, restoration, digitization, and consulting services. Includes images of historic a-v equipment and a list of resources.

Jim Wheeler
The Do's and Don'ts of Videotape Care
Videotape Preservation Handbook
Transferring Old Analog Videotapes to a New Digital Medium

Standards, Guidelines, and Best Practices

Canadian Conservation Institute
How to Care for Video Tapes

Electronic Arts Intermix
Resource Guide for Exhibiting, Collecting & Preserving Media Art

International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
Standards, such as ISO 18923:2000 titled "Imaging materials -- Polyester-base magnetic tape -- Storage practices", are available for purchase.
See also: Standards relating to telecommunications, audio and video engineering

Library of Congress
Specifications for Plastic Containers for Long-term Storage of Motion Picture Film and Magnetic Tape Media

National Screen and Sound Archive (formerly ScreenSound Australia)
How to Care for Your Video

Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE)
Standards and Recommended Practices in Print
Including SMPTE RP 103-1982 (Reaffirmed 1987), Care and Handling of Video Magnetic Recording Tape.

SMPTE Metadata Dictionary and Related Documents

Bibliographic Resources

Deirdre Boyle
Video Preservation: Securing the Future of the Past. New York: Media Alliance. 1993.

Ray Edmondson
Audiovisual Archiving: Philosophy and Principles [PDF]. Written in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the UNESCO Recommendation for the Safeguarding and Preservation of Moving Images. 2004.

Jim Feeley
"Tape Formats Compared: How do DV formats measure up with Betacam SP and 601?" In Digital Video Magazine May 1999.

Steven Davidson and Gregory Lukow
The Administration of Television Newsfilm and Videotape Collections: A Curatorial Manual. Los Angeles and Miami: American Film Institute and the Louis Wolfson II Media History Center. 1997. Covers the range of archival issues, including several chapters on preservation.

Barbara L. Grabowski
Interactive Videodisc: An Emerging Technology for Educators. ERIC Digest. 1989.

Erich Kesse
Archival Copies of Video Tapes. University of Florida, George A. Smathers Libraries policies and procedures.

Helen P. Harrison, ed.
Audiovisual Archives: A Practical Reader. Compiled for the General Information Programme and UNISIST under the auspices of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Section VII includes: "Preservation of Audio and Video Materials in Tropical Countries" and "Strategies for the Safeguarding of Audio and Video Materials in the Long Term" by Dietrich Schüller, Phonogrammarchiv, Vienna. Section XII includes "Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Recovery in Audiovisual Collections" by Gerald D. Gibson, Library of Congress, Washington DC. 1987.

Peter Hodges
An Introduction to Video and Audio Measurement. Boston: Focal Press. Third edition, 2004.

Mika Iisakkila
Video Recording Formats

Chris Lacinak
"Reformatting: Terminology, Intent and Practices" available from the preservation portal of Moving Image Collections .

"Audiovisual Preservation Project Outsourcing: Navigating Through the Client/Vendor Relationship to Achieve Your Project Goals" [pdf]

Pip Laurenson
"The Conservation and Documentation of Video Art" [pdf] In Modern Art: Who Cares? (Amsterdam: International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art): 263-271. 1999. From a symposium organized by INCCA on the unique preservation and conservation challenges posed by installation art and other contemporary art forms. Other papers from the symposium are available from INCCA's Web site.

Library of Congress Preservation Directorate
Research and Testing Publications
Provides a listing of printed reports which are available at no charge to the public upon request. Several address audiovisual materials specifically, including the most recent report issued in February 2002, "Bibliography on the Preservation of Magnetic Media" by Gerald D. Gibson.
Paul Messier
"Dara Birnbaum's Tiananmen Square: Break-In Transmission: A Case Study in the Examination, Documentation, and Preservation of a Video-Based Installation". In Journal of the American Institute for Conservation Vol. 40, No. 3: 193-209. From the TechArcheology Symposium organized with the Bay Area Video Coalition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in January 2000. This issue features other articles on electronic media preservation which emerged from discussions which took place at this pioneering event. 2001.
Charles Poynton
Video Engineering

Jerry Rodgers
"Preservation and Conservation of Video Tape." In Care of Photographic, Moving Image and Sound Collections: Conference Papers, York, England, July 20-24, 1998, edited by Susie Clark (Worcestershire: Insitute of Paper Conservation): 6-10. 1999.

Steve Schoenherr
Recording Technology History

Steve Seid
"The Terrible Tenets of Video Preservation"

"Recovery of Mold Damaged Magnetic Tape at Vidipax: A Procedure Sheet." In Mold Reporter vol. 1, no.6. 2001.

Tim Vitale
"Preservation of Video in the Conservation Laboratory" (PPT) (Note: 4.2 MB download). June 2005.
Paper presented at the AIC Electronic Media Group 2005 meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Andreas Weisser
"U-matic 3/4" Cassette Removal Procedure When Normal Ejection Is Not Possible." Available at Richard Hess's blog. March 2006.

Richard Wright
"Broadcast Archives: Preserving the Future." [pdf] Describes the results of a survey of holdings within ten major European public service broadcasting archives and their preservation needs.

Glossaries and Format Identification Tools

Association of Cinema and Video Laboratories
Glossary of Video Terms and Definitions

Glossary of Film / Video Terms

National Screen and Sound Archive (formerly ScreenSound Australia)
Technical Glossary of Common Audiovisual Terms

Rebecca Bachman
Video Preservation: Glossary of Terms, handout from playback 1996 a conference on preservation of video, held in San Francisco March 29-30, 1996.

AV Artifact Atlas (AVAA)

"The AV Artifact Atlas is for use in the identification and definition of the technical issues and anomalies that can afflict audio and video signals.

"The goal of AVAA is to advance the audiovisual archiving field generally by strengthening the practice of reformatting archival media content. Archivists can improve the outcomes of their media preservation efforts if they can properly identify and characterize signal issues and anomalies. With a tool to facilitate building a vocabulary of terms and supporting examples, archivists will learn and be able to communicate about the problems with more clarity and understanding. With this understanding, it is more likely that fixable problems will be fixed, limited resources will be directed more appropriately, and the products of reformatting workflows will be of higher quality.

"The idea to create a community-based, online resource emerged while a group of media archivists attending the Association of Moving Image Archivists 2010 annual meeting were discussing quality control over vegetarian po'boy sandwiches at the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. We were frustrated by the lack of an accessible resource covering these issues, one that can be used to support and inform quality control processes in archival media reformatting workflows. We realized that if we gathered together our clipped examples of media issues, pooling our knowledge on the subject, and then shared it as a community resource using wiki software, we might begin to fill the glaring gap.

"Partners in the effort to bring about the AV Artifact Atlas include: Bay Area Video Coalition, New York University Digital Library Technology Services, and Stanford Media Preservation Lab.

Sarah Stauderman and Paul Messier
Video Format Identification Guide
An invaluable tool, complete with color photographs, format obsolescence ratings, and a glossary of terms. Created with the assistance of the American Institute for Conservation's Electronic Media Group and Jim Lindner/VidiPax.

Texas Commission on the Arts
Videotape Identification and Assessment Guide

Digital Video


Arts and Humanities Data Service
Preservation Handbook: Moving Image by Gareth Knight & John McHugh, 27 July 2005

The NINCH Guide to Good Practice in the Digital Representation and Management of Cultural Heritage Materials
While chapter seven specifically addresses Audio/Video Capture and Management, other sections of this guide provide information relevant to digital video and preservation, such as the appendices on equipment, metadata, digital data capture by sampling and a very extensive bibliography. Produced by the Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute (HATII), University of Glasgow, and the National Initiative for a Networked Cultural Heritage (NINCH). 2002.

A/V Archive Digitization & Storage Guide from PrestoSPACE
Includes nine tutorials and several analysis tools.


Digital Audiovisual Archiving (DAVA)
"Focused on the digital transformation and preservation of audiovisual material"

Books and Articles

Jerome McDonough
Preservation-Worthy Digital Video; or, How to Drive your Library into Chapter 11 [PDF]
Paper presented at the AIC Electronic Media Group 2004 meeting in Portland, Oregon.

Charles Poynton
Digital Video and HDTV

Judith Thomas
"Digital Video, the Final Frontier." In Library Journal netConnect. January 2004.

Howard D. Wactlar and Michael G. Christel
"Digital Video Archives: Managing Through Metadata." In Building a National Strategy for Preservation: Issues in Digital Media Archiving. Washington, DC: Council on Library and Information Resources. 2002.

Projects, Workshops, and Initiatives

Dance Heritage Coalition's Digital Video Preservation Reformatting Project
EVIA Digital Archive
"The EVIA Digital Archive project is a joint effort of Indiana University and the University of Michigan to establish a digital archive of ethnomusicological video for use by scholars and instructors."

Getting to Disk-based Lossless Digital Video Preservation
A one-day meeting held at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, MD in August 2005. Includes link to presentations and discussions.
Managing Digital Video Content
Documents from a two-day workshop on current and emerging standards for managing digital video content. 2001.
The Open Video Project
Preserving Digital Public Television
A project of Thirteen/WNET, WGBH, the Public Broadcasting Service, and New York University; funded by the Library of Congress. Includes a list of related reports and documents.
Training for Audiovisual Preservation in Europe
"Under the Culture 2000 programme of the EU, TAPE is a 3-year project for raising awareness and training by expert meetings, research, publications and workshops." Includes a searchable database of literature references to resources on preservation and digitisation of audiovisual materials.

"Five institutions . . . established the Video Development Initiative (ViDe) in 1998 to identify and prioritize digital video development issues." Offers access to resources on video, especially metadata, and includes a publication titled, "Digital Video for the Next Millenium", which "provides an overview of digital video on demand -- the underlying technology, the client/server capabilities currently available and development areas for the near future."

Formats and Standards

AAF Association
Advanced Authoring Format

Bruce Devlin
MXF -- the Material eXchange Format [pdf]

Video Interchange Standards (NOTE: This URL points to the Diffuse site preserved by the Internet Archive in June 2003.)

Library of Congress / National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program
Format Descriptions for Moving Images

Motion JPEG 2000
An Evaluation of Motion JPEG 2000 for Video Archiving by Glenn Pearson and Michael Gill.

Research Report on JPEG 2000 for Video Archiving by Ian Gilmour.

Lossless Video Compression for Archives: Motion JPEG2k and Other Options by Ian Gilmour and R. Justin Dávila.

Official MPEG site
MPEG Pointers and Resources
MPEG-2 Overview

Universal Preservation Format
An early effort initiated by WGBH-TV

Adam Wilt


Electronic Media Group (EMG)
A specialty group of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC).

Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI)
EAI, which houses and distributes one of the country's largest historical collections of independent video, has a preservation program and sponsors IMAP.

Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC)
The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) was formed by the Joint Committee on Inter-Society Coordination (JCIC) to establish voluntary technical standards for advanced television systems, including digital high definition television (HDTV). ATSC suggests positions to the Department of State for their use in international standards organizations. ATSC proposes standards to the Federal Communications Commission.

Independent Media Arts Preservation (IMAP)
"A service, education, and advocacy consortium, IMAP was organized in 1999 to ensure the preservation of independent electronic media for cultural and educational use by future generations."

International Federation of Television Archives (FIAT/IFTA)
The International Federation of Television Archives (FIAT/IFTA) is a non-profit association of television archives, set up on June 13th, 1977 in Rome by the BBC, RAI, ARD, and INA.

National Television & Video Preservation Foundation
" . . . an independent, non-profit organization created to fulfill a long-standing need by raising private funds and providing grants to support preservation and access projects at institutions with television and video collections throughout the United States."

Presto Space
Involving a number of European partners, "the project's objective is to provide technical solutions and integrated systems for a complete digital preservation of all kinds of audio-visual collections."

Southeast Asia-Pacific Audiovisual Archive Association
"SEAPAVAA . . . is an association of organizations and individuals involved in, or interested in the development of audiovisual archiving in a particular geographic region - the countries of Southeast Asia . . ., Australasia . . . , and the Pacific Islands."

Resources at other sites

Ampex Virtual Museum and Mailing Lists
Resource contains:

See also Stanford's Silicon Valley Archives

Mailing Lists
Ampex mailing list
Archives in Conservation OnLine
AMIA-L is an e-mail discussion list sponsored by the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA). It is intended to facilitate communication among AMIA members and professionals in related disciplines interested in issues relevant to the association, to archival issues involving all aspects of moving image materials and moving image archives, and to any related technologies or special interests of the profession. Appropriate postings from AMIA non-members are welcome, and subscription to AMIA-L is open to the public.

To subscribe to AMIA-L, send the following message to Listserv@LSV.UKY.EDU:
Subscribe AMIA-L Your Name
Archives in Conservation OnLine

[Search all CoOL documents]