Revised version of IASA-TC 06, Preservation of Video Recordings

Announcing the new version. I am pleased to report that a (slightly) revised version of IASA-TC 06 Guidelines for the Preservation of Video Recordings is now available for free download at the IASA website. An initial version of TC 06 had been posted in 2018, with an invitation to interested specialists to comment. The editors, in consultation of the IASA Technical Committee, revised some sections during 2019.  The follow-on process of design and PDF preparation is now complete.

What changed?  One significant change is an increased emphasis on the widespread, successful adoption of the digital target format consisting of the Matroska file wrapper and the lossless FFV1 encoding. The description in part B.3 of TC 06 cites recent (although probably not the very latest) iterations of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) specifications for this wrapper and encoding, in the familiar Request for Comment (RFC) format. Indeed, the Matroska/FFV1 target format is very popular in memory institutions.

Part B.3 also provides an update on the alternative target-format specification that brings together the MXF file wrapper and lossless JPEG 2000 (and other) encodings. Formerly referred to as AMWA AS-07, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) has now published this specification as SMPTE RDD 48. TC 06 notes, however, that this digital target format has not seen much adoption.

The second significant change in the 2019 version of IASA-TC 06 is the rewrite of several segments within part D, Planning, Setup, and Workflows for Video Digitisation, especially those concerned with quality control. Like many other sections of the guideline, these segments do not represent an engineering how-to. Rather they take the form of an essay sprinkled with specific examples to clarify the points being made. Overall, part D aspires to give persons planning digitization projects, facilities, or the selection of a service-bureau contractor a sense of the preservation-production field and the range of technology issues to consider.

Finally, the most numerous changes to IASA-TC 06 represent a fresh round of copyediting. The resulting fixes address many features of the 2018 version that aggravated readers but were not fatal to the underlying content.  For example, some tables of content sent you to the wrong page.  Meanwhile, dozens of hyperlinks in footnotes--ones that line-wrapped--did not successfully connect to their target webpages.

Most of these copy-editing infelicities have now been fixed, although the passage of time will certainly mean that some links will lead to "no such page" browser error reports (in the jargon of the trade, 404 errors). In light of this, we added this advice to our bibliography (part E, page E-2): "Some of these links are no longer active. In many cases, missing documents can be found by keying the title in a search engine or by searching for the URL in the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.

Personal reflection. Looking back on the drafting of the guideline and its subsequent revision, this writer sees that the sections named above, B.3 (target formats) and D.1 (facilities, workflow, quality control), remain the most volatile in terms of their content. For this reason, they will be the most likely segments for future updates. For example, the authors of part D.1 confess that they did not try to keep pace with the latest technology evolution (revolution?) in video production facilities, the transition from serial networks in the old, Serial Digital Interface (SDI) sense to packet-based media networks like those used for information technology. There is, at least, a very long footnote on this topic on page D-16.

In contrast, fewer volatile topics are discussed in sections like B.1 (The Video Signal and Bitstreams: Format and Features) and part C (Video Carriers and Signal Extraction). We trust that these text segments will offer longer shelf life.

Before you reach for your keyboards to begin rewriting the volatile sections, however, let me call attention to what is missing altogether: guidance concerning the preservation of file-based digital video content. This blog announces a fresh version of Edition I of the video preservation guideline. We started on this effort in 2009 (!). By 2015, so little progress had been made that the Technical Committee agreed to divide the planned publication into two parts: Edition I on (mostly) the preservation of analogue tape recordings and Edition II, concerned with digital video, especially video digital-file (not tape) formats.

Some volunteers have started in on Edition II.  Other contributors will be welcome: contact IASA Technical Committee chair Lars Gaustad (