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Neptune takes charge of BBFC archive

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has invested in Pebble Beach Systems' Neptune automation for a new facility built to digitise its entire video archive. With a legal obligation to retain copies of all material that has been certified and a library of 200,000 VHS tapes BBFC is aiming to create a permanent digital archive before players are no longer available or its tape stock becomes unplayable.

With an obligation to maintain copies of all versions of movies submitted for certification in perpetuity, the BBFCs is duty bound to ensure that the contents of these video tapes can be accessed long after they are able to play them back. The new facility will bring BBFC's archived video material in to a digital domain, allowing the BBFC to meet their contractual commitments and to improve productivity.

Pebble Beach's Neptune automation allows the simultaneous ingest of material from 12 VTRs distributed across three ingest positions. Using a custom interface to Digital Rapids' API Neptune is able to synchronise the serial control of the VHS machines with the Ethernet control of Digital Rapids encoders to create MPEG and WM9 versions of each video tape in realtime. Quality Control of both files is carried out using Pebble Beach's 'Browse Markup' application wherein clip metadata is added and grading carried out before the media files and the quality data is on passed to BBFC's internal traffic system.

The Pebble Beach Neptune system is fully redundant to maximise productivity. The system has being integrated by Sun Microsystems and incorporates ingest and archive management facilities that the BBFC has deliberately kept separate in order to allow simple future integration of new video formats and ingest methods. The scalable nature of the system means additional storage or ingest capacity can be added without significant modification to the existing system.