National Archives of Australia
Video and Audio Tape Digitisation
The National Archives of Australia (NAA) has responsibility under the Commonwealth Archives Act 1983 for the preservation, conservation and storage of all Commonwealth records, including the archival resources of the Commonwealth.
The NAA audiovisual collection includes approximately 82,500 hours of audio recordings and 124,500 hours of video recordings held on obsolete magnetic tape formats. All forms of video and audio recordings held on magnetic tape are now obsolete, and if these formats are not digitised within the next few years, they will be lost forever.
NAA conducted a Request for Tender in late 2016, with the aim of forming a panel of expert service providers who could undertake mass digitisation of magnetic media formats to ensure these valuable collections are preserved for future generations. DAMsmart was contracted to provide specialist media conservation and mass digitisation services for a period of 3 years, until December 2019.
NAA have identified a minimum of 82,500 hours of audio recordings and a minimum of 124,500 hours of video recordings that are held on obsolete recording formats. Over 200,000 hours of Commonwealth recordings held on magnetic tape will require digitisation for preservation and access over the next few years.
DAMsmart was selected as an NAA preferred digitisation supplier and we were subsequently appointed to undertake the digitisation of a significant volume of NAA’s magnetic video and audio tape collection within a 5 month period from early 2017.
The collection of approximately 15,000 video tapes and 5,500 audio tapes was temporarily relocated to Canberra for the duration of the project.
An intensive cleaning and preparation program was developed and undertaken to address those carriers that were in poor condition to ensure the best possible replay and signal recovery.
The collection was digitised using a mix of automated tape handling and semi-automated workflows. All content was recovered and two digital profiles were created for both the video and audio content – Lossless JPEG2000 and MPEG4 H.264 for video, and Broadcast WAV for audio.
DAMsmart developed a rigorous physical and file-based quality control workflow that delivered preservation compliant files with accompanying quality control reports for all tapes. The collection was delivered back on LTO6/LTFS ready for incorporation into NAA’s digital preservation platform.
© DAMsmart 2022MC3 Design