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How to make your media library more accessible

By: Lydia Bird

The tragedy of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami in 2011 had a huge effect on organisations creating video content, when Sony’s manufacturing plant operations were suspended. This sparked panic amongst broadcast, production, and postproduction industries, due to shortage of tapes for camera masters, rushes, dailies, and LTOs required for archiving. Whilst Sony were able to resume production, we have seen a decline in magnetic tape production. HDCamSR is no longer made by Fuji, and 2017 marked the end of VHS VTR production. This emphasises a very real issue with the longevity of physical formats in the world of video creation and preservation. If you do not have an imminent preservation strategy, the future looks precarious for your content.

Each organisation will have different priorities when it comes to the future of their archive, and digitisation of physical assets stored on and off site. Protecting your assets will come at a cost, and whilst we are used to relying on ‘freemium’ services (low-cost solutions that provide enough of a service to ‘get by’), time has come to invest in your library.

Benefits of digitisation include: disaster recovery, generating income, searchability, and security – when implemented correctly. Unlike physical storage, digitisation repays the time and cost involved; many times over.

Digitisation is the first step to making your content accessible, it’s all well and good to clear out your tape library – but if you lock it away on an LTO tape, you’ll have to revisit this project again in a matter of a few years. Obtainable digitised content offers a valuable communication tool across a variety of channels with customers, sponsors, and broadcasters. It is particularly useful across social media – to interact with trending topics, and the ability to share content with stakeholders more efficiently.

Whilst digitisation may wield an abundance of benefits, the means of delivering and distributing this content to your stakeholders can be extremely time consuming. Digitisation is only one part of the preservation strategy, albeit a significant one, as the demand for quality content increases. Digital technologies are changing the landscape of archiving and storage, from how records are being accessed and, increasingly, how they are being preserved.

Tapes will continue to degrade, with players and tape heads in short supply, and storage space at a premium, it’s time to ensure your precious content is digitised and given a digital future.

Premium Content Requires a Premium Solution

Rights holders are progressively moving away from freemium solutions for cloud hosting and file transfer, which were acceptable in the early days of digitisation as they provided a short-term fix with little financial implication. Many of these free solutions serve a purpose and if they’re free, why should you pay for premium? For starters, visitors are not engaging with your brand, they’re engaging with a third party.

YouTube may be sufficient for smaller libraries and for those not perturbed by risk. FTP sites are useful for exchanging files between computer accounts, however they lack the granular search functions and most do not allow you to preview content before download. You might have a happy finance team, but are you building a positive experience for your stakeholder? Is this a positive promotion of your organisation?

More and more businesses are beginning to recognise the importance of optimising their libraries for a digital audience. After all, they have already invested in the production, distribution, storage and preservation of their archive, why should they stop there? Archive rushes and masters can hold a commercial value when presented to the right audiences, and even better when they are clipped and packaged for a specific purpose. Digital optimisation unlocks this potential and allows you to maximise the full value of your video.

Imagen helps production companies to commercialise and distribute their programme libraries more easily via a secure, self-serve B2B content portal. Our customers include BBC Worldwide, Channel 4, Endemol Shine, Reuters and Premier League. Our content management platform is also used by the Ministry of Defence and preserves collections of national importance for Imperial War Museums, British Library and BFI. With a suite of advanced features including clipping, controlled access, compatible file formatting and social-media publishing, Imagen offers the most powerful tools for media managers and the best experience for your audience.

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