Visual History Archive Restoration Project 32% Complete

Wed, 09/11/2013 - 4:22pm

Nine months into USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive Restoration project, technology staff have finished restoring nearly one third of the damaged tapes in the Visual History Archive.

Approximately 5 percent of the 235,005 tapes in the Visual History Archive needed additional repairs after USC Shoah Foundation completed its four-year Preservation project in 2012. The Preservation project duplicated and preserved every tape in the archive in a digital format called Motion Picture JPEG 2000 to prevent physical deterioration and capture the sound and video quality of the original recordings.

The 11,814 damaged tapes (4,754 interviews) have audio and/or visual problems that require additional fixing. 60 tapes (from 52 interviews) cannot be restored. For examples of the types of fixes performed by technology staff, see the video above.

USC Shoah Foundation recorded nearly 52,000 testimonies of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust on Betacam SP videotapes between 1994 and 1999. All physical media-storage formats experience data rot at some point in time; conservative estimates give shelf lives of 50 years for film, 20 years for videotape, and five years for hard drives before visual content shows signs of age-related damage. 

The project began in January 2013 and is expected to be complete around July 2014.