The International Olympic Committee will receive an award at IBC2015 for its work on conserving and managing its audiovisual archives through its Patrimonial Assets Management programme (PAM). The award recognises the IOC’s positive approach both to conservation and to making the archives available to broadcasters, researchers and other professionals.
Dating back to the first Olympic Games in modern times, in 1896, the audiovisual archives of the Olympic Movement include 2000 hours of film, 33,000 hours of video, 8500 hours of audio and more than 500,000 photographs, as well as 2000 archive documents and 22,000 pictures of Olympic Museum artefacts.
“The IOC’s Patrimonial Assets Management programme has helped safeguard the IOC’s rich legacy by preserving the organisation’s historical archives and bringing them into the 21st century,” said Christophe de Kepper, the IOC Director General. “It was down to us to perpetuate the cultural heritage of more than a century of Olympic history that our forebears had handed down to us. The IOC patrimony can now withstand the test of time.”
Michael Lumley, chair of the IBC Awards panel, added “This project is very important for two reasons. First, it ensures that more than a century of Olympic history is preserved for the future. But perhaps even more important it draws the industry’s focus on a subject which it is all too easy to ignore.
“Our archives risk becoming inaccessible, not just because of deterioration of assets but also because the hardware to play them is obsolete and virtually impossible to replicate”, Lumley stated. “Broadcasters, production companies and anyone with an audiovisual archive can look to the IOC’s Patrimonial Assets Management project to see a model of conservation and access. IBC is pleased to be able to draw attention to this issue through this award, as well as recognising the excellent work the IOC is undertaking.”
At the start of the project, IOC’s archivists conducted an in-depth study and found that, within just a few years, 50% of the videos would be unplayable, 20% of the faded photographs would be unusable, and there would be no audio players available for much of the collection. On the films, “vinegar syndrome” chemical deterioration was gaining ground, risking complete destruction.
A programme of conservation was set up, with leading expert bodies from around the world contributing their unique skills to the restoration, conservation and digitisation of the assets. A team of up to 40 specialist staff (loggers, technicians, engineers, a lawyer, a webmaster and project managers) was recruited.
At the same time, a new digital asset management system was implemented, with functionality tailored to the needs of a truly multi-media integrated archive, from the digitisation of physical media to the website and the distribution of digital assets.
The project took seven years to complete, with a total of 100,000 hours of combined work including cataloguing, indexing, technical operations and IP rights clearance. Every day, 40 to 125 photos and 15 to 20 hours of recordings were processed, with each one scanned, digitally cleaned, repaired and colour corrected as necessary.
Today, the business-to-business website for the IOC archives, The Olympic Multimedia Library, is visited by 1200 professionals each month, as well as by in-house IOC staff.
The IOC PAM programme was based at the movement’s headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. The most valuable films – a quarter of the collection – were restored, digitised and written to new film by Protek in the USA, with the rest of the films cleaned and reconditioned by Reto Kromer in Switzerland.
Where the IOC still had video players, it digitised its recordings itself, with older formats sent to Vision Global in Canada and Sony in France. Audio recordings, as well as half of the video collection composed of diverse old video formats, were handled by MEMNON in Sweden and Belgium. To cope with the massive number of photographs, the ones needing most work were handled by the Swiss Institute for the Conservation of Photography, with the rest sent to Onasia in Thailand.
The digital asset management systems integration was led by RS2i, with technology partners Amberfin, Front Porch Digital and Ninsight. The opportunity was taken to allow a federated search across all the assets by a tagging using a single common knowledge base which required an ontology covering more than 400,000 search terms and concepts, developed by Mondeca. The paper archives were also integrated using ScopeArchiv system, and the asset management was also extended to include some 20,000 museum objects in a solution provided by Zetcom.
The PAM programme may be finished, but the IOC’s commitment to its patrimony remains very much a work in progress. Each Summer Games, for example, adds about 3500 hours of video and 40,000 photos.
The award will be presented as part of the IBC2015 Awards Ceremony, which takes place at 18.30 on Sunday 13 September, in the Auditorium in the RAI Centre.
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Conference: 10 – 14 September 2015
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