Nokomis & District Museum

Digitization of Video Tapes

Posted in Collections by Kathleen Watkin on October 18th, 2018

By Kathleen Watkin, MAS Advisor


Why Digitalize?

Many museums have video tapes in their collections. Whether they contain images of the community’s 1987 Santa Claus parade or the private home videos of a local celebrity, these videos contain a wealth of knowledge and memories for the community. However, with changing technologies, these videos are no longer accessible. Preservation of the information on the video tapes is important and thus migration of the information into a newer more accessible format is key. The best option for preservation of video tapes is to digitally migrate to data files. This is because data files have greater flexibility and can be stored and played on a variety of media sources.

Outsourcing the Digitization

While you can digitize the media yourself, lack of appropriate equipment and knowledge is problematic. It is recommended that museums use professionals to transfer the video tapes from its traditional to digitalized form. Professional services have the high-end equipment and software for high quality and/or highly valuable recordings. They are also better equipped to deal with problems associated with the age and wear and tear of the video tapes from multiple showings over the years.

What to look for when Outsourcing:

When outsourcing, there are certain questions that need to be asked and details that need to be sorted in order to ensure that the digitization goals of your museum are met. These include:

It is a good idea to do some trials with the outsource organization to test for quality and for satisfaction with the end product before committing to a larger scale project.

Selection of Material to be Digitized

First check to make sure that the material has not been previously digitized or an acceptable digital copy does not already exist. Based on your institution’s mandate, you need to decide what videos are valuable and should be preserved. Digitalization is not a minor effort and thus this is an excellent time to review your collection and remove materials that are no longer needed. Gone are the days where collecting and preserving everything is acceptable.

Prioritizing for Digitization

Once the decisions have been made on what is to be digitized, the next step is to prioritization. Prioritization is important because funds are likely limited.  Prioritizing what should be digitalized first can be difficult. The Canadian Conservation Institution has the following table to help you prioritize digitalization.

Digitization Companies

What follows is a list of digitalization companies used by Saskatchewan Museums to digitalize their video tape collections:

In Saskatchewan:

Don’s Photos:

JW Digital Archiving:

Out of Province:

JEET Video Productions (Edmonton, AB):

Hamilton Media Solutions: (Hamilton, ON):

For More Information, See:

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