Silver Trak Digital co-hosts Second Media Migration and Preservation Forum in Wellington

Digital media migration specialists Silver Trak Digital co-hosted the second media migration and preservation forum in Wellington New Zealand earlier this month, in conjunction with NZ Film Archive and NZ On Air. The forum, officially entitled 'Digitised: presumed preserved — Has digital technology changed anything? Or everything?' was attended by over 120 delegates from Australia and New Zealand and had international archiving and preservation authority Jim Lindner as its keynote speaker.

Lindner, who is also the founder of System for Automated Migration of Media Assets (SAMMA) Technologies, CEO of Media Matters and sits on the executive board of the South East Asia & Pacific Audio Visual Archives Association (SEAPAVVA) opened proceedings with a look at the current state of archives and archiving strategies, quickly concluding that a significant number of assets were under threat from natural degradation and a general apathy toward comprehensive preservation strategies.

Lindner was followed by a session panel on 'choice' which started with Lewis Brown, senior policy analyst from the NZ National Library who spoke about the 'Creating a Digital New Zealand' digital content strategy that is in place at the NZ National Library and beyond, highlighting some of their concerns and issues around the preservation of national assets.

Brown in turn was joined on the panel by Jamie Lean, Director of Operations at the NZ Film Archive who spoke at length about the human factor in major digitisation projects and the stresses involved. He drove home the importance of comprehensive cataloguing and diligence in the details of any archive.

After lunch the delegates returned to a panel on 'methods' hosted by Joe Kelly, Migration Manager of Silver Trak Digital, Scott Houston, Manager of the NZ Super Computer Centre, Matt Aitken VFX Supervisor for WETA and Nick Booth of WETA archives.

Joe Kelly gave a presentation on the importance of the immediate action that is required to migrate and preserve some of the world's most important media assets. Kelly, a 25-year veteran of the broadcast and archiving industry, used examples from both industries to prove a very well received point on the need for good migration and preservation strategies.

Matt Aitken and Nick Booth gave a real insight into how WETA, one of the world leaders in digital filmmaking, was handling its media migration and preservation issues. Aitken explained how WETA is often asked to retrieve raw material from an archive in order to complete a new DVD of extras or extended editions of its movies. Booth covered their range of in-house digital restoration techniques that have been used on many recent films. Both concluded that without digital migration and preservation solutions, much of their work would have been lost.

The afternoon session was in the form of a forum where Jim Lindner and all the panellists sat to answer questions from the audience. With a packed theatre of archiving experts, the questions came thick and fast and centred around the next stages of digital media migration and preservation.

Jim Lindner, spoke of the dangers of inaction and the positive sides to the financial argument for digital media migration to which Joe Kelly added, "Put simply, a one hour Digi Beta tape costs about US$30 to buy, thus content is priced at US$30 per hour. An LTO-3 data storage tape costs about US$70. However, you can store up to 400GB (uncompressed) of data on one LTO3 tape and bearing in mind that one hour of standard definition content using Lossless Motion JPEG2000 is around 35GB in size, this makes the cost of archiving on LTO3 media about US$6 per hour. This means to save exactly the same information and quality using the traditional practice and videotape media is about five times more expensive than the data alternative. Not to mention that Digi Beta will naturally degrade plus the fact that the only way to archive is to make another copy. A vicious circle where the only winners are the tape manufacturers."

At the end of the forum there was a special two-hour presentation on Silver Trak Digital's DAMsmart! digital media migration solution using SAMMA archiving systems. Delegates were given a detailed insight into DAMsmart's automated and scalable processes and how they incorporate the sophisticated analysis of video and audio signals, compression, dropouts and constant monitoring and testing in real time.

Frank Stark, Chief Executive of the NZ Film Archive, said, "The forum has been a wonderful success. We are delighted that industry experts like Jim Lindner and the Silver Trak Digital team have been able to come and make the day so valuable. We very much look forward to next year's forum."