Speaker 0 00:00 Hi, welcome to the workflow show, Chesapeake systems, media production technology and workflow therapy podcast. I'm your host, Jason Whetstone, senior workflow engineer at Chesa. In today's world where everything's digital and digital is everything. We focus on speed, bandwidth, IOPS and latency. And we focus on storage density. Simple tasks like just viewing an image on a screen are a delicate dance of orchestrating the movements of ones and zeros. Between drives, file systems, routers and CPU use. The pool of engineers who understand and support these digital technologies is growing at an amazing rate. Right? Price has come down and efficiency goes up, but not so long ago. Things were a bit different. Our immediate technology was based on light passing through cellulose film. Eventually the light became digits. The film became polyester tape and the light was replaced by a magnetic arrangement of particles on that tape.
Speaker 0 00:54 Or maybe the tape was an optical disc and the arrangement of particles was an arrangement of peaks and valleys carved by a laser. So these physical formats of storing our video, audio and images, how long can we expect them to last in ideal conditions? And what about not so ideal conditions. They require devices and equipment to play the media contained on them. What does it take to maintain that equipment and who can maintain it if these media storage formats can't last forever, what's it look like to preserve the content contained on these media or transition the stories and images contained in these older formats to more modern storage formats. And why should we care? Is the juice really worth the squeeze? Well that's what our discussion here today on episode 42 of the workflow show. We'll focus on joining us in our podcast studio today and the basement of the Jesse churches. Emily halavais, national accounts manager with preserved South. Hi Emily. Thanks for joining us.
Speaker 1 01:52 Hi. Thanks for having me.
Speaker 0 01:54 And also with us today is our own Louise Scheidler business development East Chesapeake system. Say Louis. Pleasure to be back Jason. So I'm just going to start by mentioning that um, the last time we had Louise on the workflow show, her last name was different. So you would just want to shut us some light on why that might be the case.
Speaker 1 02:12 Yes, I am. Off the market. I'm a married woman now. Congratulations. Just a past our half a versary as we say, six months.
Speaker 0 02:21 Awesome. Very good. Very good. All right, so let's talk about media preservation. So Emily, tell us your story. What is preserved South?
Speaker 1 02:30 Right. Well, my, my individual story and the preserved South story are both somewhat interesting. So my story is I was a news producer person dictated news network. And during the recession I had the audacity to get pregnant and uh, was told that I was not going to be brought back after maternity leave. And, um, and this is the 2008. This is 2009 at this point. Yeah. And so a friend of mine who was an engineer at a company called Crawford, um, she said, look, I know this is not really what you're interested in doing, but we have, we're hiring for migrators to digitize the world wrestling entertainment collection. Um, and so at 36 weeks pregnant, I interviewed for a job and agreed to start working as a Migrator a few weeks after I had my daughter. Um, after about three months of digitizing the WWE archives and learning about as much about wrestling as I wanted to learn
Speaker 2 03:37 A new foray, I would imagine, unless you were secretly a long time fan now completely new,
Speaker 1 03:42 Uh, I moved into the sales department and, um, I was, I was always kind of fascinated with what other collections might be out there that would be a need of preservation. So then flash forward to, uh, November of 2017, we were told by our, the owner of our company that they would be closing our division, uh, which was rather heartbreaking for all of us and for a lot of our clients. Um, but by January of 2018, um, we started preserved South. So Bert Jones, a back porch broadcast reached out to me and he decided he wanted to take on this industry. And, um, we started piecing it together and came up with a company name and, uh, brought our team back on. So now we've, we've been able to bring back a good majority of our team, um, and, uh, we're able to keep providing the same services. So, so sounds like relatively new organization, but some team members there that you've been working with for awhile. Right. So the majority of our team has, uh,
Speaker 2 04:48 At least a decade experience doing this very particular work, but also decades of experience working with tape formats over the years. I man, I like to think of preserved South is the Phoenix out of the ashes on the digitization front. Cause I was talking to a few clients, a mutual clients that they were looking at digitization projects and had proposals out and were looking at Crawford is potentially fulfilling that for them. And then we're suddenly, uh, feeling a little under the lurch. And so then I had already known Emily and we were chatting. So then when I could tell a few of them, Hey, stay tuned. Right. And Phoenix was actually one of the names that we floated.
Speaker 1 05:29 That's really cool. So what does, I mean, what does your facility look like? Well, yeah, it's like I got all kinds of questions, right? So, um, our facility, I think our square footage is about 9,000 square feet. We're in basically a warehouse. Burt, who is our, uh, chief engineer. He owns the buildings. So anytime we need a new room built, he brings his father-in-law over who happens be a contractor and they put up new walls. Gotcha. So need to doubt other tenants. Right, exactly. Uh, well we did that at the beginning. We had to kick out the previous tenants that were in the building cause, um, you know, Burt had back porch broadcasts, but that was a relatively small footprint in the space that he had. So he leased the space out to another company. And so by January, uh, we were like, you guys have to go.
Speaker 1 06:22 And now we, uh, we take up the entire space. I mean, back porch still has a small footprint within the building, but, uh, there are tapes everywhere. Uh, sure. So, um, we've got, uh, we've got a large room dedicated to video migration where we work on a lot of the cassette based media and like one inch tapes and you tapes and beta tapes, more of your like ubiquitous, uh, you know, broadcast formats that, uh, you see often. And then we have a smaller space that's dedicated to audio engineering, um, where primarily we're working on, um, professional master two inch, 24 track, half inch, four track, two track, lots of quarter-inch and lots of audio cassettes. But we can handle every, almost every audio format and we're looking at expanding that space as we take on new jobs. Uh, we just added a new room for our quad machines. So we have a dedicated space for two inch quad. Wow. Then we have lots of warehouse for tape storage and of course around the other side of the building, we have our film scanning room. We have our film prep room, we have our, uh, resolve suite where we do all the film coloring. So, um, yeah,
Speaker 0 07:41 So the tape storage, that's just like some warehouse in the middle of hot Atlanta, Georgia, right?
Speaker 1 07:46 Yeah. Well, what we have, we're actually just North. We're in Buford, Georgia. But um, yeah, I mean from the street. You would never guess the kind of work that we're doing.
Speaker 0 07:54 No. But you see what I'm getting at though, like it's, it's probably like all climate controlled industry, right? Right.
Speaker 1 08:00 Yeah. We've got the little floormates that you have to walk, you know? Yes.
Speaker 0 08:05 Yeah, yeah. Very good. So why is all that important? Like why do you need all that? Just for our listeners? I mean, we have a, we have, we have an interesting base of listeners because, you know, varying, varying technical knowledge, varying, um, entry points into the industry. So we have some new, you know, we have some people that have been the industry for a long time that are going to understand, you know, obviously just we're talking about this. Yes, we need to talk about it, but some, some of our listeners are probably like, why do we need to talk about this? We got all this digital stuff.
Speaker 1 08:31 Well, my tastes are just in my basement at home in a box, in a moldy corner. Right. That's fine. Right, right. Well, when you look at the bulk of our collective history from the 20th century, um, the majority of it, or a large portion of it was recorded on tape. Uh, or film. So there's that, the unique aspect about these is that you need a third party carrier in order to view what's on the tape, right? You can't, it's not like a photograph where you can pick it up and you can look at it. You need a device in order to play it back. And so without this as a service, we're going to lose all of that content. We're going to lose all of that history. And so just from a broad viewpoint, this whole industry is extremely important in maintaining our collective history.
Speaker 0 09:22 Right? And one of the things I sort of mentioned in the opener here was who can maintain these devices? I mean, I, I used to do a little bit of that working as a second engineer in Nashville, you know, just the whole process of aligning and <inaudible> for those of you don't know what that is, it's a large, uh, it's about the size of a washing machine. It's a 24 track, analog tape recorder, reel to reel, and uh, aligning each one of those 24 tracks with the right tones and azimuth and all this bias. And all these things that I don't think anybody should have now. Just kidding. But, uh, yeah, it's, it's, it's a skill. It's a skill that I can't imagine there are a lot of people that know how to anymore how to align these decks. I mean, I, you know, you'd probably be surprised, I'm sure there's still a lot of facilities that are still using these formats because they're still, there's nothing wrong with them. They're still good. But the convenience and the speed at which we can get content out there with recording and say pro tools or logic or whatever, it's just, you know, that's what people are doing these days. So, yeah, I imagine that you have a lot of these decks in these, these devices in your facility and you probably have engineers to maintain them. Right?
Speaker 1 10:29 Right. So when you look at what this industry provides, we're kind of up against this obsolescence issue. And that comes in various different forms. One is the tape itself or the film itself degrading. The other is the availability of these decks that are in working order. Um, and so not only do you have all of the devices that are going by the wayside, but you also have the talent, like you mentioned the talent to actually repair these things. And so it's a people issue. It's a, it's a, um, equipment issue and it's a tape issue, right. On the people side of things. We are extremely fortunate. So our sister company is back porch broadcast. Um, their entire business is built on maintaining these old decks and providing service and support for the decks and the encoders. And so we've got five engineers in house who that is their exclusive job to not only maintain our decks, but also provide that as a service to other organizations, including some of our competitors to help support this industry.
Speaker 0 11:37 Gotcha. So the equipment, the media, why is all this important? I mean, you know, I've got like, like Louis said, I've got my tape stored in a box somewhere, you know, I may or may not ever need them again. You know, I've moved on like why do I, why? Why should care.
Speaker 1 11:54 Yeah. Well, you know what I mean at that answer's going to be a little different for every organization. Um, we work with universities who that is their primary goal is preservation of this content, right? That's one of their mission statements is preservation of content. If you look at a lot of sports organizations, doing those highlight reels from years past is a big part of maintaining that fan base and energizing that fan base. Uh, homecoming happens every year, right? Those sizzle reels. Yeah, exactly. Uh, you look at corporate history so you know, who can forget new Coke, uh, and even that, so if you watch stranger things, if you happen to watch last season, new Coke made a feature in stranger things. So I think it's always important for people kind of at our core to reconnect with our past and understand where we came from. Um, and for each organization that's going to have a little bit of a different answer, maybe a more personal answer to them. Even with your, your own home movies that might not be relevant to somebody down the street, but it's relevant to your past and your history and maintaining that. So yeah. And these formats won't last forever.
Speaker 0 13:07 Right, right. As we, as we mentioned, I mean I think there's, there's a, there's a perception that anything that you want to watch, you can just find it on YouTube and you know, Oh, contraire that content came from somewhere, but it was probably, I mean, a lot of the, especially the older content that, that you're looking for on YouTube definitely came from some of these formats and was digitized and put into some sort of a, you know, content network or ma'am or something like that to get it available to people so that you could find it on YouTube. Right.
Speaker 1 13:39 Maybe I'm jumping ahead, but very curious on if are highlights or what's the coolest thing you've digitized or hidden treasures that you came across, which I would imagine might vary in your workforce of different cultural touch points and moments of what's a historically meaningful moment or would touch off with different people. Yeah. In fact, I knowing I was coming here today, I took a little survey of our migrators to find out what their favorites were. Many of our migrators said working on eyes on the prize, if you're familiar with the eyes on the prize documentary, that collection was really important to them. Um, listening to the full interviews of like Stokely Carmichael and Alex Haley was really profound to them. Another big one. We've been working with Austin city limits to digitize their collections. So we started with the videotape collection and now we're working on the audio tape.
Speaker 1 14:32 And I mean you can't really be 1976 Willie Nelson. Right? So, yeah. So for me personally, one of my favorite collections is working with the university of Florida to digitize some of the, cause I went to university of Florida working on with them to digitize some of their collections, um, and seeing some of Gainesville history and things from back home so that, you know, we've digitized oral histories from Holocaust survivors and you know, all of these civil rights icons, interviews with them. Well, it's really different for everybody. It's really also a privilege to work on. So many of these collections we're working on the TCM collection. So all of these classic movies that your, you know, your grandparents talked about. Oh yeah, I definitely have friends like cult following level enthusiasm for TCM. Right, right. So, you know, it hits on everybody in different spots, but I think we're all really grateful to be able to do this work. And I don't think there's a day that goes by where there's not some kind of unique, Hey look at this or Hey, listen to this.
Speaker 0 15:37 Right?
Speaker 2 15:38 The competition for who gets to digitize what? Like I'm just envisioning you have a giant whiteboard of here's all the projects and like, uh, you know, run the gauntlet, throw some elbows, get your name up there first.
Speaker 1 15:49 Right. Well not that, but certainly when I'm, when I'm looking at jobs I think, Oh, you know, Danica is going to love this one.
Speaker 0 15:58 Great. I mean what we're really getting at here I think is just this whole discovery process of like, you don't even really know what you have a hundred percent. I mean, you probably have some idea of what's on these, you know, what's on these tapes or on these reels. But yeah, I mean like once you get it, you know, get it going. It's like, wow, there's so much stuff here. What can we do with it?
Speaker 2 16:16 And thinking a commonality with other guests and folks in industry that here, the digitization piece is kind of an upstream part, a different way. We were talking about the shop from most of our folks who are working much more computers, software servers, but the common thread of the enthusiasm for the content. We've talked in the past, the people who work in financial data are healthcare, medical records. They're not getting super jazzed about, Oh, this medical record that I organized and this database of all of these prescription medicines, but Hey, I'm working on WWE, civil rights pioneers. These kinds of things. That enthusiasm and interest in the content flows through our industry generally, which I think makes it
Speaker 1 17:00 A lot of fun. Yeah. Yeah. It's a really, it's a, it's a fascinating industry to be a part of. Uh, and I think we're all grateful to be able to continue working in this field.
Speaker 0 17:12 Great. So what are some of the, so we talked about some of the cool stuff. What are some of the like really challenging things you've worked on, even if it's like a, you know, degraded tape or you know, talk, talk a little bit about,
Speaker 1 17:23 Yeah, so I'm always, let me put it this way. It has been a long time. It's been a few years since I have been surprised by a format. Uh, I have been exposed to so many different formats at this point that I can pretty much identify things on site. So the latest one that really threw me was, um, a client had P X L tapes. Okay. I don't think I've ever even heard of those. Right. So most people haven't. I have not either until I did a little research and found that the PXL camera was made by Fisher price and now, and it used standard audio cassettes, like your classic Maxell 90 minute tapes to record video. Wait, what exactly. So very intrigued. What organization was this? A professional organization? I mean, who was recording on Fisher price? I don't know. Maybe this was some skunkworks thing.
Speaker 1 18:31 Um, it was, it was in somebody's private collection, I'll put it that way. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, and essentially because the tape is so small, you're only recording about three minutes of video and the video quality is a Bismal. It is terrible. And you know, nobody's coming up with new ideas on how to migrate it. So you have to source the original camera and then if you source it, you're lucky if all the components in the camera still work. So then you've got the repair time to get it fixed and then you've got to, you know, connect it to your encoders to get in and get it to play back and record a signal off of it. So, uh, we have not moved forward on it yet. I'm hoping that we do just for the experimental side of things, cause it's a pretty cool story to tell.
Speaker 1 19:21 And so this was just two weeks ago and it's been a few years since I've been surprised by a format. So maybe this is going to open the flood Gates. Now all of these, the home movie makers, you know, the four year old savant that have been in hiding, that have their whole troves at home right now, they're going to come to preserve. So that's right. That's right. So, uh, yeah, I mean there's certainly those sorts of challenges that just the uniqueness of some of the tape formats and you know, out there kind of formats that we come across. Um, the bigger challenge that is more present with a lot of collections is, um, is, uh, the actual condition of the format. So what can happen to these formats? Right. And where are they coming from? Where are people storing these currently, perhaps in advisedly?
Speaker 1 20:12 Yeah. So again, that varies wildly. I mean, you know, you, you sometimes I get a little heartbroken, uh, because you come across these really valuable, historically valuable collections and they're in really poor storage conditions. Like an old piano. Yeah. That breaks my heart. Exactly. It's a musical instrument. That's right. Yeah. I'm sorry. Continue. Well, my grandfather was a Steinway piano tuner. I feel you on that one. Um, yeah. And so, you know, sometimes we find content basements of buildings. Um, sometimes it's, you know, out in hallways, it's in stadiums where it shouldn't be. It's, you know, in stadiums. Well, you look at the sports content, right? You look at athletic departments, you look at,
Speaker 2 21:06 That's the only place they have to, where did the video folks get pushed into the basement at the end, right
Speaker 1 21:13 In the attic. Right. So, yeah. So, um, sadly, oftentimes that's where content is being stored
Speaker 2 21:21 And, and, and climate controlled environments, right? Like dry climate controlled environments being, I'm being sarcastic,
Speaker 1 21:28 Right? Uh, yeah. You only wish, uh, so, uh, you know, of course we do work with a lot of universities and they do have all the climate control conditions. The goal would be to get them all into a setting where they are cared for. Um, but as we've discussed, that's not often the case.
Speaker 2 21:46 And again, what do you have there? You know, what do you have in that collection? Right. Does anybody know? Right, right, exactly. Oftentimes, yeah,
Speaker 1 21:53 They don't, it's a whole discovery. Digitization, is it
Speaker 2 21:57 Discovery phase? Yeah. Which ties into what do we have, what is it worth, uh, connected to what I think we're going to get to talking about funding and what is the value of this and getting funds to actually do the digitization. And I know a lot of places have climate controlled volts and things, but often there's a charge for that. Okay. So if athletics you want to store your archive here, it's this much for access to our climate control. Right? And if there's not a sense of what's on there, ah, okay. We're not, we're going to cut that from the budget. That doesn't make sense for it. Yeah.
Speaker 1 22:32 Spending our money, unfortunately having an internal advocate who understands the value of the collection and the history is really important to moving these projects forward. Um,
Speaker 2 22:42 Something we talk about on the show a lot is, is the stakeholder having that person that's sort of, that's their baby and the organization has taken care of that content.
Speaker 1 22:51 Right? Exactly. But so in terms of condition, uh, even when the tapes or films are stored in good condition, they're still subject to degradation, right? So, uh, with magnetic tape there's something called sticky shed. And that happens sometimes just because of the formula of the tape. Uh, not necessarily because of how it was stored. So that's particles shedding off of the tape as they age. Yeah. So what magnetic tape is a plastic backing with magnetic oxide that has the signal on it. And if you don't mitigate it before you play it back, the oxide literally sheds off the tape. And I can tell you from experience watching that is, it's very hard to watch. I can imagine. And so, uh, what we do to mitigate sticky shed or binder hydrolysis, if you want to get particular, we actually use professional grade food dehydrators and so we have an entire wall of food dehydrators in our warehouse that we put tape.
Speaker 1 23:56 And depending on how bad the sticky shed is or how old the tape is or what sort of tape it is, uh, cause you know, we, we've gotten pretty good at identifying particular formulations and how subject they are to sticky shed. We'll bake them anywhere from eight hours to sometimes two or three weeks. Um, and that process leeches, the moisture out and rewinds the oxide to the plastic backing. So this is a, this is a process that happens in dry heat, right. In dry heat. Gotcha. Okay. Yeah. So what kind of, just curious, what kind of temperatures are we looking at? Like a hundreds or something pretty low, I would imagine. Typically like one 20. Okay. Yeah, yeah. Very cool. Yeah. So there's that. Then of course, if you have your tapes or film stored in poor conditions, then you may be subject to other elements like mold.
Speaker 1 24:52 And that is something that we're seeing way more often than we used to. Mold can be remediated, but you know, again, you're just adding another layer of cost to getting this content to play back stabilization, getting these assets into a location where there is some sort of climate control or safe environment where they can be stored as really important. Gotcha. Yeah. Gotcha. Okay. So again, storing the formats is one thing. Just making sure they're safe and stored in ideal conditions, at least as close to ideal conditions as we can get. But what about, um, you know, let's, let's get into that sort of topic of what do we have? What's on, what's on this media? Should we digitize it? Like what's the, you know, yeah. What's that look like? So, um, that's a big question for a lot of people. Should we digitize it? Is there a way that I can look at it before I digitize it to know if I want to digitize it?
Speaker 1 25:44 And unfortunately I have to tell a lot of people, you know, the whole process that we have to go through in order to get these tapes to play back for me to tell you whether or not you should digitize it. Congratulations. It's done. Just do it, just do it. And then you can decide if it's valuable enough to keep or not. Um, you know, and everybody's different. Again, every organization has a different motivation, different needs. Um, I, I always kind of put it out there that we don't really know what's gonna be valuable in 50 years. We don't know what's going to be valuable in a hundred years. And so if there's any question about should you keep it, I usually err on keep it, especially if storage data storage is not an issue. It doesn't seem to be here in 2019. Um, we keep hearing about how much data there is out there and how much storage there is out there. So, you know, it doesn't seem to be a huge issue. Why, you know, the whole, the old moniker of
Speaker 0 26:44 Tape is cheap. I think drives are cheaper, the cloud is cheap, you know, uh, in relation to like what it costs to say reshoot something or do a reenactment of something that you think happened or something like that, you know?
Speaker 1 26:59 Yeah. Even pro con of is it worth keeping the, what happens if you don't keep it and then you want it later and the cost of storing it weighed against the potential of wanting that in the future is generally a pretty easy calculus. Right, right. And you know, you can't always tell a book by its cover. Right. It's very true with tapes and film, we come across often tapes that have been mislabeled. You know, you have to be able to see the content in order to make those determinations. Oftentimes we had one client who had a tape labeled as a cooking show. And upon digitization we realized it was a long lost interview that they thought that they actually lost. Um, and it turned out it was an interview between Curacao Coppola and George Lucas. Um, that was, you know, this priceless interview that you can't recreate and they thought they'd lost it 20 years ago. So turned preserved South, saved the day. Yeah. It turns out it was just mislabeled.
Speaker 0 28:01 And that's actually a really amazing story when you think about it. I mean, you have this gem that you didn't even know you had and you assumed it was lost, you know? Can you imagine how those folks felt when they realized what they had?
Speaker 1 28:13 Oh, right, right, right. Exactly. Yeah, there was much rejoicing,
Speaker 0 28:16 I'm sure. Yeah. Um, so, so that, that sort of return on investment, right. That's kind of hard to qualify cause it's a little bit of a risk sometimes. Sometimes we know, we know what we have and we know, you know, okay, we want to, you know, we want to make this available to a larger audience, but sometimes it's, it's a little bit of a risk. You've got the chance of mislabeling, you've got the chance that the S, you know, we just won't be able to get to what's on the, on these old media. So speak to that a little bit, like the, the whole risk of the return on investment and how do we sell that to, you know, within our organization?
Speaker 1 28:48 Yeah, I mean, that's a big, it's a big question and it's a big struggle for a lot of organizations. Again, you know, universities, that's their directive. Their directive is to preserve this content. So they already have kind of built in buy-in, uh, where ROI is not necessarily a factor for them. But then you have other organizations, production companies, corporations, sports agencies where they have to really put some numbers around preserving this content. Um, so the ROI can come in a lot of different forms. We have one client who relaunched a network. So they took all of this old content and they now have a new television channel. We have other clients who do OTT. So over the top television making this content available. So not only is preservation a key component of a of this, but also access is a key component of a lot of this, and that's where a lot of the ROI comes in, is access. So providing access to this content so that they can sell it. The questions of how that gets done, that varies within a lot of organizations. Yeah. So just
Speaker 2 29:58 On that and thinking about OTT and kind of a double value in legacy content of the nostalgia factor of, Hey, from the vault, things that you haven't seen since your childhood or you were thought were lost. Now you can see that appeal factor as well as we'd see all these reports all the time about Netflix and Apple and how many billions of dollars companies are spending to produce original content. You compare that to the cost of digitization. I'm guessing you can do a digitization project for under a billion dollars. Yeah. Although I'll take your billion dollars. So then weighing the relative cost of net new production versus digitizing something that already exists, that's a bargain to fill up that content library.
Speaker 1 30:42 Right, exactly. And so if you have a network, you have 24 seven time to fill archival content. A great way to do that. If you have a, you know, some clients have a volt and you pay for special access to that vault to see that historical content. The other Avenue that we're seeing a lot more of is documentary production. So we are getting a slew of requests for archival content to be digitized and incorporated into documentaries, which is also really fun. It's really fun to see producers use this content and tell stories around the content and make that content relevant to today. So how do those
Speaker 0 31:23 Opportunities come to you? Do you have a production company or producer come to you with like here's all the stuff we have on this particular person or whatever that we're doing a doc on?
Speaker 1 31:31 Yeah. Typically what happens is we have a relationship with an institution or organization that holds the content and that organization feels comfortable with us digitizing that content. And so they'll make the introductions to the producer and from there we'll put an estimate together and work with them to get the content digitized. But usually the entryway is through the organization itself who owns that content and wants to send it to someone they feel comfortable using.
Speaker 0 31:59 Okay. So that's actually that that leads to a point I wanted to, to sort of talk on which was that the cost of something like this, I mean we obviously don't want to get too deep into, you know, what's it going to cost cause it's gonna vary like you've mentioned before with with every other aspect of this is really gonna vary from client to client and project to project. But it sounds like this doesn't have to be a huge monumental thing. You can start with something that's really, really important to you. Or at least you know, Hey, we've got these reels, we think there's some really good stuff on here, some really important stuff on here. Let's do those first and see how it goes. Maybe generate a little bit of excitement within the organization around it.
Speaker 1 32:36 Yeah, I always advocate for starting somewhere. You know, we hear that term analysis paralysis by analysis. It is a very real thing here. Um, and so I always say, let's just start with one reel of film. Let's start somewhere. Let's start with a small batch. Let's start with a few tapes. And most organizations have some sense, okay. If their archive is an entire room, they don't know 90% of that, but they probably know this one box man, the stuff in there, right? That's the, that's what we really need. So start with that one box. You know, let, let's, let's just throw like a range out there. What's, what does a small project look like for preserved South? Like something like that. Is it 10 grand? Is it something, Oh, it's much smaller. Smaller, right, right. Yeah. I mean to start a pilot project or something like that, it's typically in the, you know, two to 300, maybe a thousand dollar range.
Speaker 1 33:39 I mean, yeah. You know, everybody's pilot project is a little bit different, but you know, we do work a lot with people who are just getting started and it's one reel of film that's maybe going to cost them $250 right? So, and even to the point you work with personal collections, right? Individuals can come to you with their home movie collection of here's Christmas day from every year of our kids' childhood, right? So this is at an accessible price point for individuals, right? I mean it can get a little bit heavy for individuals, but again, what value and a lot of that is a, you know, an intrinsic value. What value are you placing on that content? We actually, going back to the meaningful content that we've digitized, we worked with a person who, uh, had their own film collection. It was a film collection from of what they shot from Vietnam.
Speaker 1 34:32 And this person happened to be in the same unit as my dad. And so when we were going through all the color correction, I sat down and watched all of it. And sure enough, my dad was in the footage. I know. I know. And I could, I was only a quick shot of the back of his head, but I was like, there's my dad. That's amazing. Yeah. Yeah. So we do and uh, you know, the home movie collections are really, uh, they're obviously very personal to a lot of people, but on a broader scale, these are collections that kind of form our societal history. Right? So you can learn a lot from home movie collections that you wouldn't necessarily learn from the Coca Cola archives. Right. You get to see what people were wearing back in the sixties. You get to see what was important to them. Film back then was expensive. So they were shooting what was valuable and important. You know, not like today where you pick up your phone and you're taking pictures of what you ate, you know, what your meal was or any random stuff that you see on the, they were all very well kind of thought out.
Speaker 0 35:42 Yeah. Cause they had to be because they had to write, they didn't have a phone with gigabytes of store. You know, we walk around with these things that we take for granted all the time. Right. Uh, but yeah, I mean when these formats were around and they were actually like being used, you know, in the mainstream or at least by the professionals tape wasn't cheap then the devices weren't cheap. So you had to be very judicious about what kinds of content you were capturing.
Speaker 1 36:06 Right, exactly, exactly. And you know, sadly there in the nineties and odd, there was this phase of film to DVD and now we're seeing that optical disks like DVD are facing more obsolescence issues than the film itself. And so I think that is because that's,
Speaker 0 36:29 You know, that's something I think when these formats became popular, when the disc sort of optical disc formats became popular, CDs, DVDs, that was like, the whole point was like, Oh, the last,
Speaker 1 36:38 Oh, I distinctly remember in my childhood and we purchased our first CD player and my dad talking about CDs and saying they're basically indestructible. The only thing that can happen is they can melt, like don't stick it in the oven. I distinctly remember this. It was hailed as this, yeah. Oh, you know, nothing can harm these discs. It's so much better
Speaker 0 37:00 Disc player, which are like, you know the CDs that are the size of a vinyl record,
Speaker 1 37:05 Right? Well, I'll put it this way. It was really good marketing on the half of the optical disc makers and that marketing persists today. So consider this year PSA, any amount of collection at home and CDs and DVDs. Yeah, so I worry that a lot of folks probably throughout their film now that it was on this handy dandy DVD and Oh by the way, the quality is also much poorer. Pretty awful because of the compression, right? Right. It's five megabits per second where a film, you know, you can, you can bump 16 millimeter film up to four K if you want, and it still looks decent.
Speaker 0 37:44 Let's just put that five megabits per second into perspective. I mean that's, that's a lot of times and a media asset management platform that is a, a decent rate for web streaming proxies, right? So this is just the content that you're able to view. So you can determine whether you want to maybe restore something from an archive. It's, you know, it's basically just what you look at, you know, on your screen.
Speaker 1 38:07 Yeah. Nowhere near the native capture what people are doing, craft editing in very lightweight. It is for access. And that's it
Speaker 0 38:17 Mainly, I think, correct me if I'm wrong, but you're talking about with these DVDs, for example, you're talking about some of the devices that that shot directly to a DVD and not necessarily like DVDs that you could buy it blockbuster back in the day or rent a blockbuster back in the day, right? You're, you're trying to preserve original content, right?
Speaker 1 38:35 Yeah. R
Speaker 3 38:36 Our, uh, and that goes again into a whole nother layer of decision making, right? Is the content original. Um, we work with clients who have their own original content, so we're not looking at preserving your DVD collection. Um, it's time that you get onto Netflix. I actually, I just passed by a blockbuster video last week and I was like, Oh wow, I needed to stop and take a picture of this. It's like the last remaining building in the contiguous United States.
Speaker 1 39:09 We kind of touched on it there. The file type decision making process is another area where we get a lot of paralysis by analysis. So, um, what does that mean exactly, right? So typically when I'm uh, consulting with clients, I look at what are their motivations behind digitizing this content? Is it for preservation? Is it for repurposing, is it for access? And typically the needs fall into all three categories, a little bit of this, a little bit of that, right. And so there are different file types for each different layer of use case. When you say file types, are you talking about like sort of digital storage formats? Right? So when you capture the file, what kind of, what kind of container are we going to store it on? What Kodak are we going to use? That's exactly right. That's exactly right. So on the preservation side, you know when it comes to film, we're looking at anything from DPX files to you know, to K ProRes files to FFT one files, which is a new format that's popped up on the video side.
Speaker 1 40:15 Uh, the library of Congress has been backing JPEG, Mo lossless motion JPEG 2000 as there a standard format. But then you also have uncompressed formats and you have again FFE one which is popping up a lot and all of those have the characteristic of being high bit rate file. So essentially what you would see when you're playing back the film is what you would see in the file. You're getting as much information out of that format as you possibly can to preserve the content in its highest form possible. Gotcha. They all do come with high data rates. So you know, we've estimated some collections that once digitized would come out to be, you know, a petabyte and a half of data once it's complete. Um, so that sort of decision making of how can we digitize this content so that downstream we can maintain it is a big question. It sounds definitely like a right sizing thing which we talk about with clients and even again, workflow popped in my head that it ultimately does come down to workflow and what is your intended use for this? And okay, the library of Congress is using this format, which is great because their mandate is maintain
Speaker 2 41:34 The archives, what's till the end of the Republic and 4,000 years after or something like 50 years or something like that. Yeah. So there's definitely the end of the Republic is in there, so they are definitely looking longterm, multigenerational. This needs to last, which is fantastic. However, comma, if you're a corporation, a movie collection, a nonprofit, yes, your history is also important, but you're probably not on level of the Republic. So, and you probably don't have the funding, so let's make prudent choices where you, you mentioned three or four options that are all high bit rate, very high quality preservation level, we'll get the job done.
Speaker 1 42:16 Right, right. And, uh, when thinking about these projects, you really have to think about, I mean, think about your own photograph collection at home, right? Is it in any sort of order? Do you know what you have? How do you have it stored or is it just or is it really just a mess? So you have to think about it from an organizational perspective of how can I maintain this over time? What are the things I can put into place to help maintain this collection over time? And will those organizational methods and storage methods persist when I'm not there anymore to take care of this collection
Speaker 2 42:56 And even maintaining over time funding over time as well. This is a very common thing we talk about with customers and uh, archive yes is a great one. Just the word archive. And if people think, Oh, I'm gonna write a check once I've taken care of archive, check it off the list. No archive is an ongoing process. And uh, when I talk with folks and talking about getting funding and okay, if you're fighting tooth and nail for one time budget item, this needs to be a permanent line in your budget for maintaining, expanding, preserving the archive. If you don't have larger buy-in organizationally for the value of this thing called the archive. And what it is is
Speaker 1 43:38 That's not good underscore underscore exclamation points. I mean, I cannot express enough that there's also this misunderstanding that migrating this content is a onetime thing. You have to look at migration as being a routine process. So we're putting these files onto what we're putting them onto LTO tape, we're putting them onto hard drives, we're putting them on, you know, you're ultimately putting them onto your servers. What are your, where are you putting this content and how are you making sure that that content, let's say you go with LTO tape is continually being migrated so that you can maintain control over that content. Um, and there are costs associated with it. Again, if you're creating a petabyte and a half of data from your project, I don't care how cheap storage is, there's going to be a big figure attached to that on a monthly basis.
Speaker 0 44:33 Sure. So that's really, yeah, that's really what we're speaking to here, I think is just, you know, it isn't a line item for one project. You know, what does it take to maintain, you know, one and a half or several petabytes of LTO tape. Uh, eventually that is taped. What are we talking about here? We're talking about preserving tape. So that is tape, right? It's a different format, but it is tape and it has all the same problems that tape comes with. So, so then what? We're migrating to another LTO format, another generation of LTO. Right,
Speaker 2 45:01 Right. I always like to go back to the house analogy that when you buy a house, it's an investment. When you close and you sign the check and everything, you don't not spend another dollar on your house. Right. My husband and I bought a house this year. We immediately started a maintenance fund and in upgrades fund, we're going to need a new roof. We're probably going to want to paint in the future. It's the same thing with these collections. It's not one time, okay, we're never spending another dollar on it. There's upkeep as well as improvement.
Speaker 0 45:31 And, uh, my personal view is that I think we as a society would do well to adopt this method of thinking to other areas of our lives, to many areas of our lives. In fact, like say, I don't know, infrastructure. Like we don't build the roads once we have to maintain them, right. Or healthcare. Sure, sure. But we're not going to get political, so this is great. Um, so it all ties together. It does. That's the important, that's the important point I think I'm trying to make here is that it really does all tie together.
Speaker 1 46:00 Yeah. And, and I often, especially when I'm talking to an archivist or somebody who you know, is kind of, has been tasked with these projects, I often say, you need to bring in it into this conversation because you are about to dump however many terabytes of data onto them. Not only do they need to know to expect it, but they need to understand what this content is and how best they may have ideas about how best to preserve it. They may have their own ideas of where to put it on the servers or what needs to happen to it.
Speaker 0 46:39 Purity implications of having that content within your network,
Speaker 2 46:43 Especially if it's physical security, if this has all been in a vault in one room, is pretty straightforward. Put a lock on the door who has, you know, two people have keys to that lock. Usually it's not the standard security people, it's like the closet off wherever. Now suddenly this is, these are on storage servers that are networked. There's a whole other, which has great advantages as we've talked about. Access for the content also comes with a whole range of ripple effects in security around that.
Speaker 0 47:13 So now that that content is digital and it's, and it's part of your digital collection, let's say, maybe it's in your ma'am, uh, maybe it's in your, uh, your cloud or your tape archive there safely. What, you know, what, what does it look like to maintain that and keep that going? How we back that up and make sure that's safe because it becomes, you know, that's your investment now is that digital content. So it's just like any other digital content that you would produce.
Speaker 1 47:38 Right, right. And having a backup, I mean that, that component of it is so important because hard drives sometimes don't spin up, right? Servers sometimes fail to is one and one is none. Right? Uh, and then tapes you're facing similar issues, you know, I mean, I don't want to get too out there, but there is fear about solar flares, you know, not entirely unfounded. Right, exactly. And so, right, so you got to have plans for backup. You've got to have this content in multiple places, in different locations. My advice typically is, uh, at least two different types of media, whether that's the cloud and something local or tape and drives, you know, servers and backup tape. And then if you can do the geographical separation, um, that's another huge component so that if there's a hurricane right in your location, how is your archive going to be protected from the elements? So,
Speaker 0 48:51 Right. And also I just, I mean I think we should, it is worth putting a finer point on getting it involved as early as possible or IAS or whatever your technology division as, especially if you're talking about an organization where media and media production is not like your bread and butter. Right? Because in those situations, uh, dealing with a petabyte and a half of data that may be more data than your, it is currently managing at the moment. So yeah, get them involved early.
Speaker 1 49:20 Right. And a lot of people, a lot of organizations I should say, they're not used to this type of data. They are used to a bunch of word documents and Excel documents that have altogether a very small footprint. These data footprints are very large and they're cumbersome files sometimes and they need a level of expertise that is a little bit different from just storing, you know, corporate documents.
Speaker 2 49:50 Yeah. And most it departments worth their salt will readily recognize this. And I say multiple times a week, this is why Chesapeake systems exist. Exactly. That we are taking that burden off of it. It has plenty to do with their regular tasks. Don't working with them to make sure you get what you need. Don't make them pivot away from their core skill set and learn this fringe when the fringe is all that Chessa does and what we focus on and partnering with it as being an extension, uh, and helping them out with this, uh, sometimes pesky content. We will actually
Speaker 0 50:26 Be talking about very subject in a future episode of the workflow show. So stay tuned for that. The subject will be sort of working within your organization with your, uh, with your it department and trying to keep that relationship good because we want that relationship to be good. Right? So, so Emily, how much time do we have? Like these, these formats are getting older and degrading day by day. Like what, how much time do you
Speaker 1 50:50 Chickens? It's just the clock ticking time is running out. Yeah, it kind of varies by format, but the going thought is we have another good 10 years to get this content. So a lot of times it's not a lot of time. The way I like to think of it is if you look at a bell curve right now, we're kind of at the top of that bell curve when it comes to, um, the quality, the availability of the formats and the tape decks and the engineers and the cost to get it done. We're at a point where it's relatively inexpensive and all of these materials are still available for us to be able to play back the content. But we are on the downturn of that. Right. So we are looking at, again, engineers dying off. I mean, I hate to put it that bluntly, but everybody gets older and finding these VTR engineers and service engineers, you know, they're, it's a graying workforce as you had previously said. Exactly. Exactly. The decks are harder and harder to find. Uh, and then repairing those decks and finding the materials to keep them up and running is harder and harder to find. Um, and then you, again, you have the issue of the actual formats themselves deteriorating. So by all estimates, we look at another decade of this being available to digitize, but it's not going to get any cheaper than it is today.
Speaker 0 52:20 Okay, good point. So if this is something you're thinking about, maybe something you know you need to wait for a budget for, but you should be thinking about that now.
Speaker 1 52:29 If you are not, if this is not on your radar, you need to get it on your radar. If this is something that's on your radar and you haven't had any kind of support and buy in, you need to start working on those. You need to start building your case to get it done. Uh, you need to find the advocates within your organization who are going to champion these projects.
Speaker 2 52:52 Yeah. Even thinking lead times, we talk about that a lot of the client is always like, okay, from order approval, then how soon can I be using it? Which I guess we can talk about those. But then I often say before the PO, there's an extensive process of getting many ducks in a row. Only a small part of which is specking out exactly what you need to buy. And so similar thing of specking out the exact formats and how you're going to do it of even what you're talking about organizationally, deciding what's valuable, how are you going to transport
Speaker 1 53:26 This all decisions on that side. Who are the stakeholders, who cares about this? Right, right. Yeah. And so there is, there is some lead time, you know we are actively running multiple projects all the time and so you may be ready to move on your project but we won't be able to get it in to the queue for a couple of months. And so there is a window of time that you have to use to plan these projects out. Make sure you have budget allocations, make sure that you're ready to receive the content when it's done. Making sure, you know, we didn't talk about metadata. That's a whole nother question around talk about metadata. The ways we have failed, we have failed. So what about that? Like what's the metadata like? Yeah, so metadata. So now you have a bunch of files digitized. Great. Right now, how are you going to sort through thousands of files and figure out what's, what are you really in a better position?
Speaker 1 54:27 Okay. All of your tapes were in this closet somewhere. Now there's a hard drive sitting on your desk. Yeah. Yeah. So metadata, the metadata component, the search and find component of this is also really important and something that you need to figure out how to budget in and what the needs are around your metadata, you know, especially when it comes to descriptive metadata. Is it an audio collection? Can you, can you get transcripts made from your audio collection? There's a lot of really great automated tools out now that are improving rapidly when it comes to transcription, but even like facial recognition and object recognition, what sort of details are you wanting to get out of these collections that would be helpful in your curation of this content? Also a huge area to be wary of. The paralysis by analysis.
Speaker 0 55:18 Yeah, sure. Well that we find, we find to be, uh, I would say we, we, we tend to advise our, especially our ma'am clients that, you know, it's, it's better to just get started and get started with the metadata that you already know and, and not go too crazy with it. And then, you know, you can always refine and make changes and make it better. But yeah, that is a great point. Um, so start where you are. Start right? Start where you are and what do you see? So, so you talk about, um, you know, some of these we just talked about, uh, AI and machine learning on some, you know, in a previous episode. So, you know, what do you see your clients doing with this content? Like in that respect, you see them going right to, um, say like facial recognition and speech to text transcription and things like that. Um, like do you talk, do you, do you consult with your clients about that kind of stuff? Or,
Speaker 1 56:08 I do to some extent. This is also just fun. That side of the business is just fun. The technology part of that is fun. And also a little bit scary, but, um, so on the video side, you know, again, they're cost associated and so we're not really seeing a lot of clients go down the rabbit hole of the object or facial recognition yet. I see that coming. What I do see, uh, are a lot of other open source tools that are being used or university built tools like ohms that are being used to provide transcripts for say oral histories. Um, and those are being used often.
Speaker 0 56:51 Yeah, I would, I would think that at the very least, the transcript, the sort of speech to text transcript would be very useful to have for some of those content. Um, I, for, for any content really, but, uh, especially this where, you know, we may have hours and hours and hours of content that we've just never seen before. We know we have it, but we've never seen it or heard it or whatever before. So yeah, I imagine that would be.
Speaker 1 57:12 Yeah. And, and there are a lot, there's a lot of work being done around, um, dialects and really starting to dial in some of those accents and different languages and getting the tools to work with what your collection is. So, you know, a collection that's Appalachian oral histories will not be the same. You're not going to get the same results necessarily from your standard transcription than you would from a collection of, uh, from New York, right. If your percentage of accuracy is going to be quite different, right. Um, understanding what some of the terms are, you know, uh, that are unique to those languages are sure are needed. And so I think the tools that are out there are getting better at dialing in some of the unique aspects of different dialects.
Speaker 0 58:03 Sure. And I mean, once we have this content in a platform like a media asset management platform, you know, we, we can really kind of do with it anything that we need to do with it. So you, we, we just talked about metadata. What about workflows? What about automation, automated workflows, transcoding delivery, those kinds of things. So obviously we see the, you know, we, we talk about these, these kinds of workflows all the time on the show here and you know, obviously we, we can see why we would want to do that. There's, there's tons of value there.
Speaker 1 58:30 Right. And then, you know, and if you want to get the ROI, you have to know what you have.
Speaker 0 58:35 Yeah, exactly. All right. So with that I would like to wrap our episode, Emily halavais, national accounts manager for preserve South. Thank you for your time today. Emily.
Speaker 1 58:43 Thanks so much for having me. This was really fun.
Speaker 0 58:45 Yes it was. And I'd also like to thank my coworker Louise Scheidler business development East for Chessa. Thanks Louise. You're quite welcome Jason and thank you, our listeners so much for listening to the workflow show and we really hope you like listening to the podcast as much as we enjoy creating it. If you have any questions or concerns or anecdotes or stories about media asset management or media preservation or media storage, infrastructure integrations, uh, any of the affirmation technologies we would love to hear from you. So email us[email protected]
and as always, you can visit our website anytime chessa.com thanks for listening. I'm Jason Wetstone.