Digital archive

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The Digital archive is YSTV's project for saving programs previously stored on Tape. As YSTV's archive spans from film through to S-VHS and DigiBeta, we have a few problems:

  • Suitable Machines for playing off old media are becoming harder to acquire, or to put into a working state.
  • The Current stock of over 3000 hours of tape takes up a noticeably large amount of space, both in YSTV and in other archives.
  • Health and Safety would prefer it if the tape corridor wasn't a tape corridor (although this is not a demand).
  • Tapes are deteriorating in some circumstances, and sometimes being overwritten.
  • Searching for, and subsequently using any material, takes far too long.

The digital archive aims to solve, and hopefully avoid (for some amount of time!) these problems.

Method

A single machine with two hardware composite to mpg-transport encoders is hooked up to 2 S-VHS decks, dumping the transport stream to disk for digitisation. This machine runs a python script made by Michael Cullen that both asks for names of tapes and expected lengths, whilst also threatening to either eat you, or sing! (it also runs the recording process...). A second machine with "insane" amounts of hard-drive space pulls files out of the recording machine, periodically creating DVD's with the content on them, packing files of appropriate size onto each disk to achieve optimum usage, whilst also maintaining a database of what lies on which disk.

Guest Recording Decks are acquired for the more exotic tapes, such as U/M-Matic and Beta formats. (The university's AV department have for some reason kept old players, with at least 2 U-Matic Decks known to exist.

Timeframe

With an archive of over 3000 hours, and enough resources to capture at 2x realtime, yet us only being around to insert new tapes and DVD's a few times a day, we could realistically hit 10 hours per day on average (inc weekends and holidays). This makes the project 300 days long. Who knows if we will ever finish!

future improvements

Autoloader with pictures of tapes! - As we aren't around, it would be nice to have something do the work for us!