The archives of public broadcasters, commercial and regional television stations, and cultural heritage institutions contain countless hours of film, video and audio material. Much of this audiovisual material is at risk of loss because the carriers are damaged or the specific playback equipment is no longer readily available. To prevent this, VIAA sets up digitisation projects in which we work closely with our partners. A high-quality approach with economies of scale is central here.
The digitisation process and preservation of audiovisual material is often complex. In the video below, we explain briefly how VIAA works.
Since 2013, VIAA has set up various digitisation projects. Each project focuses on a specific type of carrier, such as VHS, audio cassettes, and wax cylinders. The order in which we work is determined by the risks that a type of carrier is exposed to. On top of that, we also take the planning and priorities of our partners into account.
The audiovisual carriers face different risks, but each type of carrier also has its own biggest threat, such as:
What can be found on a carrier depends on the technical capabilities of the carrier, among other things. Shellac records only contain professional recordings, as the production process makes home recordings almost impossible. Audio cassettes, on the other hand, were specifically developed for private use. Each content partner has its own focus in terms of content. For instance, the Letterenhuis mainly deals with audiovisual material from author archives, whilst the regional television station Ring TV focuses on news footage from the areas around Brussels.
VIAA is planning similar digitisation projects for vinyl, DVD, CD, HDCAM and various DV formats in the near future. We will also digitise a range of diverse carrier types, of which only a small number have been inventoried. In the area of films, we will focus on film carriers that are at risk. There are also a number of projects that require a more specific approach, such as 8 mm films or the film collections on the List of Flemish Masterpieces.
Do you have questions about the audiovisual material in your personal archive? We developed a useful website to help you! On knowyourcarrier.com, you can find out how to identify audiovisual material and whether it has any heritage value. You will also find tips for a sustainable digitisation and preservation of your own heritage, supplemented with fun facts and illustrated with photographs.