Video Components

The costs of video preservation are determined by a relatively small number of variables. These variables include the format of the original tapes, their condition, their length, the desired destination format, and the level of restoration desired. Reviewing these variables, in consultation with a vendor, provides the necessary information for determining a clear and workable budget.

When dealing with a vendor, discuss each of these points, and get an idea of how each may affect your total cost. A questionnaire detailing the steps needed to work successfully with a vendor can be found here (PDF file.) Further information about each of these variables can be found on our Best Practices page.

Destination Formats

Finally, the formats to which you want your materials transferred can affect your cost. What master format do you want for preservation, and what format do you want for viewing copies? Digital Betacam and videotape, for example, can cost as much as $100 a tape, depending on vendor markups. In general, this is one variable for which your vendor should be able to give you exact figures.

Quality Control

An often overlooked item to consider is the cost of quality control. Each new tape should be reviewed for quality when it is returned from a vendor. Checking such things as running time, audio and video quality, and chaptering on DVD copies, for example, takes a great deal of staff time. Costs for this review should be figured into the project from the beginning.


It is also very important to calculate storage needs as part of your 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 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.