AP Archive Digitisation

AP Archive   |   UK

This entirely self-funded project has involved the digitisation of over 32,000 hours of film and videotape to the highest specifications, and the creation of a new customer-focussed website to host and deliver the digitised footage. A logistically complex process, with content on various formats and coming from London, New York and Washington, DC, this was a major undertaking. Prime Focus created a sophisticated workflow involving teams in London and Bangalore and delivered to AP a suite of different files for online viewing, offline editing and archiving. The new website was built with the help of customers from the UK and overseas and designed to replicate how customers need to work. The project was complete in less than two years and all content can now be viewed at www.aparchive.com. The AP Archive collection is one of the world's most important audio-visual archives of news, social affairs, sports and entertainment. Prior to this project, over 90% of the collection was only available on film or videotape. Some of the content was at risk due to degradation and format obsolescence. This bold project successfully digitised much of this content, so that for the first time, large swathes of late 20th century history is easily accessible, with online viewing and available for download on a new state-of-the art platform that is designed to match the exact workflows of researchers. The project has also preserved unique footage of some of the most important events is history for the benefit of future generations. FURTHER INFORMATION: 1. Describe the element/s used for restoration, stating gauge and nature and specific problems associated with them (up to 100 words): 26,000 hours of PAL Betacam SP and Digital Betacam tapes 3,000 hours of NTSC DVCam tapes 3,000 hours of 16mm film (black and white and colour) With up to 30 stories per tape, ingestion was just the starting point. Each story on the tape had to be identified and edited from the ingested file. These individual stories would then be transcoded and delivered back to AP. The films were stored in large boxes, containing up to 100 reels. They would need to be emptied from the box, sorted through and elements selected for digitisation. Only once this time consuming yet meticulous process took place could the prep, clean and telecine work begin. 2. State the original aspect ratio and format (up to 100 words): The PAL Betacam SP and Digital Betacam tapes were a combination of 4x3 and 16x9. The NTSC DVCam tapes were a combination of 4x3 and 16x9. The 16mm films were all 4x3. 3. Outline the restored aspect ratio and format (up to 100 words): The PAL Betacam SP and Digital Betacam tapes were converted to PAL DV25 .MOV files, in native aspect ratio, plus MP4 screeners (PAL and NTSC), MP4 web previews and a selection of key frame thumbnails. The NTSC DVCam tapes were converted to NTSC DV25 .mov files, in native aspect ratio, plus MP4 screeners (PAL and NTSC), MP4 web previews and a selection of key frame thumbnails. The 16mm films were converted to XDCam HD 422 .MXF files, pillarboxed at full height, plus MP4 screeners (1080i50 and 1080i60), MP4 web previews and a selection of key frame thumbnails. AP is committed to the policy of digitising in native formats and aspect ratios so as to respect the integrity of the original materials, and this was a key guiding principle of the project. 4. Explain where the work was carried out for each title (including labs and facility houses) and broken down where there are multiple titles in an entry (up to 100 words): The project was carried out in a multi-site environment, coordinated and managed through automated workflows from the CLEAR™ cloud and from the following facilities: Prime Focus Technologies, London, UK 1. Cleaning, Encoding and Ingest of tapes " Manual Operation 2. Cleaning, Restoration, Preparation and Digitization of films " Manual operation 3. Clip Essence, Web preview, PAL and NTSC screener generation " Automated operation 4. Auto QC " Automated operation 5. Metadata and Thumbnail generation " Automated operation 6. Packaging and Delivery " Automated operation Prime Focus Technologies, Bangalore, India 1. Tagging, Metadata update " Manual operation Operations from CLEAR™ Cloud 1. Digitization Workflows & Automation " Automated operation 2. Reporting and Notifications " Automated operation The development of the new website was conducted in the USA and London and crucially, involved a series of focus sessions involving customers from the UK, USA and Europe. Customers were asked to specify the features of their ideal website which then fuelled the design of the site and its features. Customers' workflows were mapped carefully and the navigation of the site was built to reflect them. 5. What methodology was used? (up to 100 words): The digitisation project was steered from London, where all ingestion and digitisation took place. Metadata associated with each digitised element was pulled from AP's systems and, using CLEAR™, sent with proxy versions of the elements to the team in India for tagging individual stories and updating metadata. This information was sent back to London, where individual stories were created, transcoded into a variety of video formats and thumbnails, Quality Checked and checksums created. All files were packaged and delivered to AP over a secure link. Backup/review copies were retained in Prime Focus Technologies' media centre. As well as automated reports created using CLEAR™ Whereas most digitisation projects tend to result in files being delivered in large batches on hard drives for the archive to then upload to their websites, the CLEAR™ approach meant that as each story was digitised, it was immediately uploaded to the website allowing customers to get a constant feed of `new` footage. 6. What preservation elements have been generated and where will they be stored? (up to 100 words): The PAL Betacam SP and Digital Betacam tapes were converted to PAL DV25 .MOV files, in native aspect ratio as preservation elements. The NTSC DVCam tapes were converted to NTSC DV25 .mov files, in native aspect ratio as preservation elements. The 16mm films were converted to XDCam HD 422 .MXF files, pillarboxed at full height as preservation elements. All video files are held on AP's Isilon NAS storage platform and backed up to a cloud storage system hosted by Verizon.