A READER ASKS
What can I do to obsolete proof my video archives? Most of them are on Beta SP®. Do I need to go to a Duplication House to have copies made?
Just a few quick thoughts:
There is no real “obsolete proof” archival format.
- Beta SP® is still a very active format used by broadcasters, industry, education, media professionals and some hobbyists around the world.
- You do not need to go to a duplication house to have your Beta SP® materials dubbed (copied). Will the format be here 20-, 40- or 60-years from now is anyone’s guess.
- Most any television station, cable company, corporate facility, editing house or even your local event (wedding/party) videographers have the equipment to do this for you. The format is rather ubiquitous.
If you are looking for long-term storage of your program materials your best bet is to format hop as new formats develop. Beta SP® (A Trademark of Sony) is an analog format. An important issue with analog is that it does not copy into multiple generations well, although Beta SP® is one of the better formats for multi-generation duplication because signal quality holds up through several copies.
You should consider converting your program materials to a digital format (this is called “Digitizing”). To do this you would have your Beta SP® original digitized and placed on a DVD as a MPEG file. This is not a complicated process. You can simply go to your favorite electronics store, purchase a DVD player/recorder and connect it to a Betacam® VTR and you are on your way.
Once it is in a digital format it can maintain the visual and audio quality of the original software. This means that you can make copies of copies with little to no loss in quality.
BE READY TO JUMP SHIP
Format hopping comes in when you begin to see DVDs and MPEG formats slipping in popularity. Always go with the latest stable format to duplicate your materials. It is a lot of follow-up but well worth the effort to protect today’s program materials for generations to come. This is a big problem for still photographers. Many question if archived images taken today will be able to be opened for viewing 50, 75, 100… years from now. -33-