Planning Process

Planning for the preservation of a single-channel video work--or a collection of works--is best approached by breaking down the process into a series of steps, as described below. There is a logical progression to these steps--first determining the overall scope of the collection or project, documenting condition and establishing priorities, the remastering/migration itself, and the necessary followup steps that conclude the process.

The basic procedures outlined below can serve as a guide to the drafting of a preservation plan tailored to the needs of your project, and to your available resources. The preservation plan is an invaluable tool, not only for keeping a project organized, but also as a way of demonstrating to potential funding sources what your needs are, and what goals you intend to accomplish.

For more details on these procedures, see the single-channel video preservation Best Practices of this website.


If working with a collection of tapes, begin by gathering basic information--number of tapes, age range, titles, general condition. For single tapes, gather as much information as is known about the tape. Research should include attempts to find other copies of the work, where applicable--has someone else already done preservation work on this title? More detailed cataloging, using an existing database template or a customized application, can be done later in the process, as staffing and funding permit.


Inspect the physical condition of each tape as you inventory and prepare it for long-term storage. Identify tapes that will need more immediate attention and determine if the tape is a high, mid or low preservation priority. Document your observations and assessment in paper condition reports or in your catalog.


Are your storage conditions appropriate for videotape? Proper storage conditions will give you a window of time to properly document tapes and first preserve works that need immediate attention, while keeping the lower priority tapes stable. The best long-term storage temperature is approximately 50°F and 24% relative humidity, with little fluctuation--but if you cannot maintain this ideal, any improvement in conditions will help.

Preservation and Migration

Re-master or migrate tapes onto an archival format creating a preservation master. Currently, Betacam SP and Digital Betacam are considered archival formats. Migrate the first generation original or generation closest to the original in order to get the highest quality preservation master possible.

Quality Control

Be prepared to invest a large amount time in the quality control process. If you outsource your tape to a vendor, it is standard practice for a lab to conduct quality control on re-mastered tapes. However, it is always best practice to perform your own quality control upon receipt of tapes from the vendor.