If we look back over the last 30 years, media firms would have accumulated anything between 50,000 and 300,000 hours of material; this figure excludes the millions of hours of content from large-scale projects that exist in various formats. Many businesses have already realised the importance of digitising their content as every media faces different forms of aging issues, from shrinkage on film to delayering and sticky shed syndromes on magnetic tapes, resulting in loss of important data. Furthermore, with regards to the support from manufacturers most of these companies have stopped producing video tape recorders (VTRs) and after-service support.
In the era of unlimited digital distribution and new low cost content production, the archive gives media providers with long standing histories - a competitive edge which is a unique source of content and differentiation. Many of our client rebroadcast the digitised materials or use online players and OTT channels to re-commercialise or reconnect to the audience. We also see an increasing number of documentary movies largely based on digitised footage and archival content with growing success like ‘The Beatles – Eight Days a Week’ or ‘The 24 Hour War’.
A recent report published by Ernst &Young, stresses on the urgency of digitising, describing it as follows: ‘’Digitisation is a step change even greater than the internet. Exponential technology advances, greater consumer power and increased competition mean all industries face the threat of commoditisation.’’
Digitisation is not just about transferring physical data but about faithful reproduction of the analogue original into a digital asset that is ready for distribution on other platforms.
So what are the key benefits of digitising your content?
- Preserve content assets for future generations - Digitised content can be re-used in new media channels to help public organisations showcase visual evidence of history.
- Increase accessibility of archives - Digitisation makes it easier to access files by being a mouse click away.
- Reduce costs by saving space - There is no need to keep physical archives at data centre conditions anymore or to transport files and documents from A to B.
- Generate revenues and increase user engagement - The archival content has been rediscovered as a high quality and low-cost content platform.
- Support with compliance - Digitisation will help to meet the requirements for retaining audio-visual evidence.
- Managing expenditure - The cost of inaction can lead to high expenses for spare parts, equipment and labour.
With regards to concerns on security of content, digital archiving is as secure as your digital environment and requires management of its lifecycle as does your IT infrastructure. However, there are many options in the digital world, cloud service being one such option. Many archival organisations follow a multi-tier strategy in terms of long-term preservation of file formats and storage medium.
As an organisation that has been active in the field of digitisation and digital archive preservation, we understand the power of collaboration. This has also led to new market opportunities for advanced media asset management and digitisation solutions for media companies, broadcasters and institutions around the world.
Baku Morikuni is co-CEO, Memnon Archiving Services S.A., a Sony Company.