The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Film/Video
- True history with a little dramatization thrown in: Abraham Lincoln, Thaddeus S. C. Lowe, and the Union Army's balloon corps in comic book form. [via AirSpace blog, National Air and Space Museum]
- In honor of Chinese New Year, which for 2014 is the year of the Horse, the Archives of American Art highlights some equine materials from their collections. [via Smithsonian Collections Blog]
- Getting an intimate look - British World War I diaries are being digitized and made available online. [via Parallels blog, NPR]
- Where were you when I was a undergraduate studying art history? The Getty has made available over 250 artbooks for free download from their virtual library. [via The Getty Iris]
- Coming soon, in March the National Air and Space Museum will be displaying its latest restored aircraft, a "Battling Beast," the Curstiss SB2C-5 Helldiver. [via AirSpace blog, National Air and Space Museum]
- A new tool to promote reading is available from the Library of Congress, "Readers to the Rescue" is an interactive game where readers are asked to help save book characters. [via InfoDocket]
- Currently in production is the first feature-length animated film made only through hand-painted canvases, Loving Vincent, explores the life of Vincent Van Gogh. [via Colossal]
- Blank on Blank creatively animates selected the interviews from the Joe Smith Collection at the Library of Congress. [via Library of Congress blog]
- In case you missed it, this past Wednesday was Museum Selfie Day! [via The Guardian]
- Better watch out TIFF, the JPEG standard will now support 12-bit color depth and loseless compression. [via PetaPixel]
- Got some ancestors from New York City? Well you're in luck as Ancestry.com and the New York City Municipal Archives have partnered to make 10 million birth, marriage and death records available online. [via InfoDocket]
- Another great resource to tap into if you have audiovisual materials in your collections, the AV Artifact Atlas, a community-based project that identifies and documents the technical issues and anomalies that can affect audio and video signals. [via The Signal: Digital Preservation, LOC]
- Congratulations! The Biodiversity Heritage Library releases their first ibook, Every Week is Shark Week. [via Unbound, SIL]
- A video comparison of London in 1927 to London in 2013. [via Colossal]
- The gauntlet has been thrown, who wore it best comes to life at the Archives of American Art. [via Archives of American Art blog]
- Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious to say the least. The discovery of an interview of P. L. Travers, author of a series of novels featuring Mary Poppins. [via Library of Congress blog]
- Who knew what would come of some little seeds? The story of the Guinea Bean plant, its 50 foot journey to the top of the Arts and Industries Building, and 5 foot long gourds. [via Smithsonian Gardens blog]
- Just a little off . . . A news assistant discovered that The New York Times issue numbers had been off by 500 since 1898. [via The Atlantic]
- My how far we've come, 50 years ago the Library of Congress installed their first computer in the newly established Data Processing Office. [via Library of Congress blog]
- Animation rare book style, check out this fore-edge painted book from the Special Collections and Archives at the University of Iowa. [via Special Collections and Archives, University of Iowa tumblr]
- Engage with staff at the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of American History next Wednesday for Ask a Curator Day where museums around the world invite you to engage directly with curators and other staff.
- To kick off American Archives month, AOTUS (Archivists of the United States) David S. Ferriero, asks you to join him on Google+ for an Ask the Archivist Hangout where he'll be answering your questions on Tuesday, September 24, from 2–2:30 pm, ET. [via AOTUS, NARA]
- Your vote counts! The Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum invites you to vote for winner of the 2013 People's Design Award. [via Smithsonian Magazine]
- Coming up next weekend in Washington, D.C. is the Library of Congress' National Festival of the Book. [via LOC Blog]
- This weekend Bibilotech, the first all-digital public library in the United States will open in Texas. [via InfoDocket]
- Handwriting samples, birthdays, and grants - The mysterious authorship of a travelog in the Archives is solved! [via Smithsonian Collections Blog]
- In the theaters recently was the movie Lee Daniel's The Butler - A historical drama that follows the experience of an African American butler in the White House during eight presidential terms from 1952 to 1986. Eugene Allen, the subject of that movie, was interviewed in the 1990s by Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage curator Dr. Marjorie Hunt. [via Courtney Bellizzi, SIA]
Preservation of born-digital video is one of the more challenging types when it comes to digital files. As we noted in August, the Archives worked with Smithsonian Channel programs on DVD this summer. This project helped us develop workflows we are now adopting with some born-digital video.
Video on authored DVD is complicated. If you have ever viewed the files on a computer, usually you will see an AUDIO_TS folder and a VIDEO_TS folder. The VIDEO_TS folder contains VOB, IFO, and BUP files and the AUDIO_TS folder is empty. The VOB (video object) files contain the video and audio streams, subtitles, and menus; VOB is the wrapper or container. IFOs are information files or directions that the DVD player uses and the BUP files are backups of the IFO files. The video codec itself is MPEG-2 with either linear PCM, AC-3 or DTS audio within the VOB wrapper. The Archives also has received other video containers and codecs on DVDs and external drives that include MOV, AVI, MPG, and SWF formats. Workflows are to be developed for those separately.
We have seen a wide range of playback quality with these DVDs. The videos are lossy, meaning there has been compression to get smaller file sizes, resulting in some loss of data from the original production file.
The Archives’ policy is to transfer all digital files to our server and create a copy as soon as possible after receiving them. We do this because specific media, software, and hardware can become obsolete quickly, and it also allows us to determine current preservation requirements. Just copying VOB, IFO, and BUP files directly off the authored DVD breaks the menu functionality that one sees when a DVD is launched from a player or computer. Our solution has been to create a complete disk image or ISO of the DVD. This ISO file can be mounted to a computer for viewing with appropriate player software as if it was an actual DVD with the user menus in place. This serves as our preservation master.
An access copy, which should easily play back in multiple viewers on a computer while retaining menus, was desired as well. This was the tricky part, as results were mixed when testing various software programs. Either the video menu was missing or artifacts (distortion or waves in the picture) were introduced into the video. Timecodes (running time of the video) also were corrupted.
Working with the Smithsonian's Digital Asset Management System (DAMS) team in the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), we started testing ffmpeg, which is a popular and free command-line tool for converting, streaming, and recording video and audio. We successfully have been able to create one VOB by stitching all the VOB files together and then using ffmpeg to transform that VOB file into a playable MPEG-2 with an MPEG wrapper that is supported within the enterprise DAMS used internally at the Smithsonian. Ffmpeg also retains original timecode of the authored DVD from the concatenated VOB files, in addition to any original subtitles on the disc.
While the access MPEG-2 file lacks the menu’s functionality, there is a brief screen of the menu at the beginning of playback. When asked why it is important to capture the menu the answer is the information that is displayed. In the example of the baby anteater video screenshots here, its menu provides dates and times when it was filmed (at least according to the settings of the recording device), which is not always apparent from the DVD file directories.
This workflow, though, is not the final solution. Some videos on authored DVDs that were created with a Mac have not been successfully transformed to date and more research is needed. Digital preservation always will be a moving target. As tools and software change and mature, there also is the need that procedures do the same through regular evaluation to make sure the right approaches continue to be taken with digital assets.
- Digital Video Preservation: Continuing the Conversation, The Bigger Picture blog, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Digital Video Preservation: Further Challenges for Preserving Digital Video and Beyond, The Bigger Picture blog, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Born Digital Video Preservation: A Final Report, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Refining Conversion Contract Specifications: Determining Suitable Digital Video Formats for Medium-term Storage, Federal Agencies Digitzation Guidelines Initiative