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January/February 2024

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Page 27 of 39

he power of audiovisual archives to illuminate history and enrich our understanding is undeniable. Yet, the fragility of these recordings and the threat of technological obsolescence makes it essential to continue to preserve them for the future. Preservation not only relies on digitization, but also on addressing modern challenges, like data size, file compression and format accessi- bility, to ensure the resilience of archives. Standing at the forefront of the vital mission of preservation is The Library of Congress (LOC). The LOC's recent decision to designate FFV1/MKV as one of its five preferred file formats for video content might seem like a technical shift, but it underscores a key moment in the ongoing evolution of AV archiving. Lossless compression: Why FFV1 outshines the competition FFV1, or FF Video Codec 1, stands out as a lossless video compression format. Unlike other compression methods that discard some data, this format keeps every pixel intact from the original video file so future generations can revisit historical audiovi- sual gems with pristine clarity. Beyond the reduced data strain and associated storage costs that its lossless compression can deliver, FFV1 excels in encoding and decoding e¬ciency. This translates to faster processing times and smoother playback, even for high-resolu- tion content, unlike computationally-de- manding alternatives, like J2K. Aligned with the Open Archival Information Systems (OASIS) model, FFV1's open-source architecture ensures long-term compatibility, which eliminates vendor lock-in and future access con- cerns, ensuring that audiovisual treasures remain accessible. Widespread adoption throughout the industry While FFV1 is gaining traction as an industry standard, the format itself is not new and has been used on major archi- val projects for years. For example, at Memnon, we've long recognized FFV1's potential as a game changer for AV pres- ervation. Witnessing the limitations of earlier formats, we've actively advocated for solutions like FFV1 and are currently using it in major projects, including one of the world's largest, currently underway in New Zealand. In 2015, Mike Casey, Indiana University Bloomington's director of technical oper- ations for audio/video, selected FFV1 as the format of choice for its media digitiza- tion and preservation initiative (MDPI), in which Memnon was a key partner. Casey made a statement at the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives' (IASA) annual conference that year, where he announced that the univer- sity was going to use the format for the initiative following research into FFV1 with several industry experts. At the time, the format lacked any real international stan- dardization, and this was the first large- scale digitization project that had chosen FFV1 as the output format, so the deci- sion was considered surprising to many in the audience. However, Casey was certain that thanks to its advantages over the main competitor (MXF/JPEG2000), FFV1 would be the right choice for that project — something which has been shown several times to be an astute decision. Beyond the Library of Congress The Library's National Audiovisual Conservation Center is home to a video lab that's responsible for creating over 17,000 video preservation files every year. As the LOC has changed its designa- tion, we'll likely see more use of FFV1 in this lab, which is a real testament to the Library's view of the format as key to future preservation and long-term access to its audiovisual media. It also means there is a major boost for the possibility of a standardization of FFV1 as a much more widely adopted format choice for long-term preservation. It's essential to acknowledge that while FFV1 is currently the focus, the AV preservation landscape remains diverse. Established formats like WAV and BWF will likely continue to reign supreme for audio, and massive migration projects already in the works using compressed formats like IMX50 and JPEG2000 reflect the diverse needs and investments within the industry. Importantly, FFV1 won't be universally adopted in all of post produc- tion because of compatibility limitations across common NLEs. Ultimately, each institution will need to choose formats that best suit their specific workflows and resources. However, the LOC's endorsement and the growing FFV1 adoption sends a powerful message: For those prioritizing future-proof, lossless video preserva- tion, FFV1 presents a compelling choice. Its combination of technical abilities, open-source accessibility and increasing industry support positions it as a grow- ing format in the evolving landscape of AV archiving. The road ahead The future of AV preservation is unfold- ing before our eyes, and FFV1 is making its way to the forefront. This format isn't just a technical update, it signifies a fundamental shift towards a more accessible, collaborative and resource-ef- ficient approach to safeguarding our audiovisual heritage. At Memnon, we're excited to be part of this journey, embracing innovation and collaboration as we work to ensure the enduring legacy of our shared cultural memory. THE FUTURE OF PRESERVATION BY DENIS MAHÉ HEAD OF GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY MEMNON HTTPS://MEMNON.COM A LOOK AT THE LOSSLESS VIDEO COMPRESSION FORMAT FFV1 T STORAGE 26 POST JAN/FEB 2024

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