Although preparing the budget for a videotape preservation project can be daunting, the costs are actually determined by a relatively small number of variables. These variables include the original format, condition, and program length, as well as the desired destination format and level of restoration. Reviewing these variables in consultation with a vendor will provide the information needed to create a workable budget.

Each of the following points should be discussed with a vendor to have an accurate idea of the project's total cost. (See our questionnaire (PDF file) detailing the steps needed to work successfully with a vendor.)

More information about each of these variables is available on our Best Practices page.

Destination Formats

The desired format types for master and viewing copies will also affect a project's overall budget. Digital Betacam videotape, for example, can cost as much as $100 a tape, depending on vendor markups. In general, this is one variable for which vendors should be able to provide exact figures.

Quality Control

In creating a budget, many preservation clients often overlook the cost of quality control. On its return from the vendor, each new tape should be reviewed for quality. Checking such things as running time, audio and video quality, chaptering on DVD copies, etc., takes a great deal of staff time. Costs for this review should be figured into the project from the beginning.


Finally, it is crucial to include the cost of storage needs in a budget. In planning a preservation project, archivists sometimes overlook the need to provide for what will essentially be a doubling of their storage requirements. Moreover, storage conditions [internal link to Best Practices] should not be forgotten. The substantial investment of time, money, and effort that a preservation project entails should be backed up by storage that will allow the new masters to last as long as possible.