Creating and Archiving Born Digital Video Part II. Eight Federal Case Histories



Introduction ; Creating Born Digital Video Case Histories ; Archiving Born Digital Case Histories ; File Characteristics Comparison Table


This is one of four documents examining aspects of the current practice for creating and and archiving born digital video at selected institutional members of the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative Audio-Visual Working Group. 

The three companion documents are: 

• Creating and Archiving Born Digital Video I:Introduction (Version 1.0, 9/8/14)

Creating and Archiving Born Digital Video III: High Level Recommended Practices (Version 1.0, 9/8/14)

Creating and Archiving Born Digital Video IV: Resource Guide (Version 1.0, 9/8/14 


This paper presents eight case histories that explore the current state of practice in six U.S. federal agencies working with born digital video. The eight case histories are organized into two groups: Creating Born Digital Video and Archiving Born Digital Video. Each case history details the project deliverables, technical specifications and includes the background of the institution, the collection as well as the goals and lessons learned.


The goal of the three Creating case histories is to encourage a thoughtful approach from the very beginning of the video production project, before even shooting the video, which takes sustainability and interoperability into account because choices made during the file creation process will have impacts on the long term archiving and distribution processes. They reflect Recommended Practices which illustrate the advantages of starting with high quality data capture from the very start. Each case history focuses on a different problem set. LC-AFC-CRHP (Library of Congress American Folklife Center Civil Rights History Project) describes the challenges of creating a large collection in a short timeline. NOAA-OkEx (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Okeanus Explorer) describes how space limitations on board ship required adjustments to the capture and storage workflows. VOA-MMAM (Voice of America Metadata for Media Asset Management) describes the metadata workflows within their in-house systems.


The five Archiving case histories tell the story of bringing the born digital video files into managed data repositories for long term retention and access and explore the issues which emerge when the born digital video objects arrive at the archive. They include the challenges of dealing with diverse formats, understanding and documenting relationships among the video files and related objects, and metadata. A major topic for this case history set is the technical characteristics of file formats: how to identify and document what formats comes in to the archive, when are changes to the file attributes needed, and what are the impact of changes to the format and encoding. Each case history focuses on a different problem set. LC-NAVCC-VEF (Library of Congress Packard Campus of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center Video Evergreen Format) describes the rationale for normalizing all video files to a single evergreen format prior to repository ingest. LC-WebArch-YouTube (Library of Congress Web Archiving You Tube Harvesting) describes the challenges of harvesting digital video from YouTube. NARA-BRCC (National Archives and Records Administration Base Realignment and Closure Commissions project) addresses the complexity of making bundled heterogeneous files ready for repository ingest and access. SIA-DVD (Smithsonian Institution Archives Authored DVD project) project details the process of harvesting video files off authored DVDs. SI-DAMS (Smithsonian Institution Digital Asset Management System) describes the complex challenges of bringing digital video files and related objects into a centralized digital asset management system.


Each case history includes the following sections: Summary, Author, Institution background, Collection background, Case history details, Summary of video and audio data technical specifications, Relevant recommended practices, When following recommended practices is not practical and Lessons learned. The last section of this document contains summary tables of the file specifications implemented in the case history projects.



This assembly of case studies offers a rich trove of information on how archives confront the growing deluge of incoming digital born material. By including decisions made, practices enacted and lessons learned from a diverse range of collections, it offers a rarely found level of detail on how actual archives are managing digital collections, their different methodologies as well as the justifications for the choices made. The coupling of the use cases to the recommended practices (and honesty in when following such practices proved impractical) drives home how best practice recommendations are implementable while also illustrating that sometimes ‘good is good enough’ as long as the archive can present a justifiable business case for its final choices.

It is recommended that the reader start with the introduction document.

Beth Delaney