Long gone are the days where a video archive meant dusty shelves full of disks, tapes or film canisters. Digital formats now dominate film and video production, and the vast bulk of post production happens in the digital domain. Raw footage, edits and the final cut are all stored and distributed as digital assets. And those that predate the digital era can be scanned right into it.
These assets may be ageless, but their stories, characters, messages or formats do get old. As video content reaches its sell-by date, convention dictates it should be shuffled off to the archive.
However, advances in storage, asset management and video distribution have changed the meaning of what a video archive is. Far from being the place where content goes to die, the modern archive supports continued use and video monetisation of assets – and the easy resurrection of past greats.
Today’s video archiving best practices
There are clear reasons why archival is an important part of media management. As live systems fill up with the videos and project files of previous seasons or releases, it can be harder to make room for this season’s content – and harder still for users to find it. When projects are closed off, it often makes sound organisational and business sense to prioritise their cheaper long-term storage over quick accessibility.
Previously that may have meant moving assets on to an offline server, or transferring them from disk to a tape archive. Often, old assets would find their way into offsite storage. And while that was always a cheap way to add a layer of data protection, recovering content could literally take days.
In recent years, however, the falling cost of disk – and particularly cloud – storage has changed the nature of the archive. In fact, with more space available in production systems and greater use of metadata to categorise and filter files, there’s less need to physically move old assets. In effect, the archive need no longer be an alternative to the live system. Instead, archived assets can simply be marked as such to prevent them cluttering up the place.
This move to seeing the archive as a ‘status’, rather than a ‘place’, enables far freer and more powerful use of assets as they age. While still providing a clear line between working files and old content, it means that older assets are just as easy to find and work with as the latest ones. At least, that’s the ideal. But not all archival systems are created equal.
Why free video archiving solutions don’t cut it
Storage is now so cheap that it can be free. For the media manager on a budget, it might seem simple to sign up for a Dropbox or GoogleDrive account and use it as a dumping ground for old video projects. We hope you don’t need us to tell you, but that’s a terrible idea.
Freemium cloud storage solutions have their benefits, but their significant downsides make them wholly unsuited to hosting an archive. Among the most obvious problems, large video assets will quickly account for the limited space of any free account. And by the time you’re on a paid account, you’re unlikely to be getting good value.
There are other serious concerns about using free platforms to host valuable business archives. For example, without powerful user management as part of your video archive software, it’s easy to lose control over who’s viewing your IP. Limited support for organising or tagging content makes it hard to recover files when you need them. And, with no service level agreement (SLA), you’ve little comeback if your archive goes offline.
Pay more to store
It only takes a moment’s thought about the value of a typical video library to understand why it’s worth paying for a video archive platform. Comprising anything from priceless sporting or entertainment footage, through corporate milestones, to unique historic scenes, the archive may be irreplaceable. Regardless, it certainly has an innate value that needs to be protected.
The best way to archive video footage is by using a purpose-built digital asset management or archiving solution. These are packed with features to help secure video libraries – even those comprising many terabytes of files. These typically include data redundancy – ensuring resilience to equipment failures or disasters – and encryption to protect assets in transit and at rest. Strong user-level access controls block unauthorised access, while opening assets up to the individuals or teams who need them.
Modern video archive solutions are tightly focused on increasing usability of the archive. For example, they often include tools to streamline whole archival workflows. These usually help people wondering how to archive video footage. For example, vendors can help create automated content ingestion routines that create richer metadata, or convert file formats or resolutions.
The video archive might comprise tens or hundreds of thousands of assets, but the best platforms offer search, filtering and organisational features that make it easy to find and retrieve video when needed.
Creating value with a cloud video archive
In recent years, the falling cost of cloud storage has massively expanded the potential of companies to share, license and monetise their video library. Cloud-based video archive software combines conventional security and usability features with the benefits of wider, cloud-enabled access and distribution. The effect is to rehabilitate the video archive – from a dusty dead end, to a highly connected, searchable, money-making resource.
Hosting the archive in the cloud helps extend the lifecycle of video assets. One example is by providing secure access to trusted production or media partners. Film and programme makers can browse licensable archive assets through branded portals, and in some cases even license content through an inbuilt basket and checkout. Here, the archive software’s rich metadata support and easy search come into their own, as content creators can quickly find the clip, themes or programmes they need.
Discover how Imagen hosts the International Tennis Foundation’s vast back catalogue, serving up archive footage to support marketing and licensing programmes.
Cloud-based video archive platforms also support wider access and distribution. For example, in powerful systems like Imagen Pro, regional distribution hubs ensure lightning-fast downloads for users irrespective of location. Again, this is a boon for external production partners who need resources in a hurry, or format sales teams who need to showcase content in new markets.
Choosing a cloud-enabled video archive platform changes your archive from a place where video goes to be forgotten, to one where it’s found, remembered and reused. Cloud video archives move from being a necessary expense, to a potential revenue source, supporting leaner, faster workflows and opening up new business opportunities. Choose the right platform and you’ll not only be protecting valuable assets, you’ll be raising their value over a greatly extended lifecycle.
Imagen’s powerful cloud-based media management helps you make the most of your archive. Discover Imagen Go, the lightweight, AI-powered platform for all your management and archiving needs.