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Media Archiving Tips

Media Archiving Tips

An accurate and easily accessible catalogue of your organisation's media- video, stills, clippings, awards- can save many hours of pain and stress when you're creating subsequent presentations.

If you haven't started already, here are our recommendations for creating the most useful and efficient media archive. I'm assuming that you want to do this yourself and not engage a professional archiving service who will do the job most efficiently but may not be within your budget.

1) Where is it?
Having a great collection of media is pointless if no one knows where it is. In Bob's cupboard? On the main server? On that hardrive that HR use?

Decide on one central location that is obviously identified and accessible to everyone who may require it. The material may well be in hard copy formats, like audio tapes, print photos and certificates, especially if created in the pre-digital age. By all means retain these originals in a fireproof location (again, one that every relevant team member is aware of) but before this you must "digitize" every item. This means scanning images (film as well as prints) and converting audio material into digital files.

There are many free/cheap digitising hardware/software combinations, starting with your basic colour copier/scanner, and I'll cover file formats shortly.

2) What's it called?
IMG_34456.jpg means nothing unless you can visually identify that file. Make life easier for everyone and decide on a file-naming convention for all digitised material. In this way anyone with the ability to use Google will know how to head in the right direction for what they require.

As a starting point you might use [Media type]_[Department/Client]_[file description]_[#], e.g VID_InternalComms_Volunteer Day 2012_001, where VID is video. IMG or PIC can represent still images, and AUD can represent audio files. You might be even more detailed and include LOG (logo) or SS (screenshot).

The point is that if someone is now looking for video of an internal communications initiative they can filter or search by those keywords to narrow down that search and hopefully find exactly what they're after.

3) How can I access it?
Depending on the confidentiality of the material and perhaps its data size your organisation's intranet may be the most appropriate repository for this material. However another option is a 'cloud-based' storage such as Google Drive or Dropbox. Most have a free option for limited amount of data (up to 5GB for instance) and for a nominal subscription you can increase this to suit your needs.

The benefit of a cloud-based archive is access by any approved person from anywhere with an internet connection. You can share specific folders and files on a project by project basis, or you might share the entire archive with a contracted producer or researcher for a limited time so that they can source the material they require. Another benefit is that cloud-based archives will generally have built-in backup, whereas if you're archiving on your own drives you'll need to back these up offsite yourself for safety's sake.

4) What format is it in?
You want to digitise your material at the highest possible quality and in a common format. "Capture" hardware for computers is dirt cheap nowadays and will come with software for digitizing video and audio material. The simplest hardware options will plug into the USB or Firewire port on your computer and the cables at the other end are fed from your playback device.

For still images this probably means scanning at a minimum of 300dpi up to 1000dpi and saving in a format such as JPEG, TIFF, PNG or PDF at the highest quality setting available.

For video material coming off tape or film (though you'll probably require the services of a professional duplication company for the latter) you should 'encode'/digitise to MPEG-2 or QT (QuickTime) at the highest possible data rate and frame size.

Audio material from tapes or records should again be digitised at the highest possible data rate into a format such as MP3 or WAV (the former compresses to smaller files, the latter are larger but better quality).