The Indian Approach to Audiovisual Digitisation and Digital Preservation

[photo credit: Civil Service India]

Curious how India’s preserving its cinematic history?

Check out Issue 49 of the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) Journal. The issue just dropped yesterday and features the article Joining Forces in Audiovisual Digitisation, Digital Preservation and Access: The Indian and the Flemish Approach, co-written by Irfan Zuberi (of India’s National Cultural Audiovisual Archives or NCAA) and Brecht Declercq (of Flanders’ Flemish Institute for Archiving or VIAA).

In collaboration, the two archives together confronted one of the biggest obstacles that film preservationists face: “degralescence, ” (h/t Mike Casey) or the combination of degradation (deterioration of an audiovisual work’s physical media) and obsolescence (how and when physical carrier formats for media – ranging from silver nitrate film stock, to VHS tapes and laser discs, to MiniDiscs and beyond – are already if not at risk of becoming obsolete because of sharp declines in the popularity, use and availability of their playback devices). Degralescence can be intimidating for film preservations because there’s often only a finite amount of time to digitize works before their original physical format becomes obsolete.

We admit this article might be a bit “inside baseball,” but for the librarians and archivists out there – and the inquisitive, as well! – this is a detailed and fascinating deep dive into how two very different film archives joined forces against a figurative villain of film preservation.

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