Digitising audio and video recordings

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This page is a translated version of the page Digitaliseren van geluidsopnames en video's and the translation is 100% complete.
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Just like paper documents, you can also digitise the analogue video and audio recordings in your archive – but this is a complex task that is usually best outsourced. In this article, you’ll learn:

  • Why is it better to outsource the digitisation of video and audio recordings?
  • What information should you register in advance?
  • What is meemoo?

This section looks at how to go about digitising analogue audio and video recordings in more detail. For more general information about digitisation, please see the High-quality text and image digitisation section. The general requirements for high-quality digitisation (sufficient storage space, descriptions, reproduction quality and file format quality) also apply here.

Outsource if you can

It’s much more complex to digitise video and audio content than text documents or photos. So if you want high quality, it’s best not to do it yourself – unless you really know what you’re doing – and to choose to outsource instead. Your TRACKS partner will be happy to help you find a suitable digitisation partner, draw up quality requirements and monitor quality control.

For more information about outsourcing, please see the Outsourcing a digitisation assignment section.

Make sure you have sufficient storage space

Suppose you spend a lot of money digitising your videos, which you then save on a hard drive. What happens if the hard drive gets stolen? Or you drop it...?

All kinds of things can go wrong with your digitised archive, so you need to make sure your digital files are saved securely. At the very least, you need a good back-up strategy. See the tool How do you make a back-up? for this.

When you digitise videos, make sure you have sufficient storage space to save your master files, which can be very large. Videos in the commonly used FFV1 master format can easily be 45-50 GB per hour of video! (Source: Scart)

Describe in advance

Digital reproductions lose a lot of value if you don’t know the original piece of work they came from, or when they were made or by whom. You should therefore keep full records of what is being digitised and where originals can be found.

It’s best to document and describe the collection that you’re going to digitise before you start the actual digitisation process. Another option is to do it during digitisation, but you need to make sure you’ve fully considered how you’re going to go about this in advance. You can record the descriptions in a spreadsheet such as Excel or – if you have the required knowledge – in a database. It’s preferable not to use Word or unstructured text formats.

For more general information about this, please see the High-quality text and image digitisation section.

You need to pay careful attention to what format you’re using to save your video and audio content. This determines exactly how the digitisation process will take place, so you’ll need to know for your discussions with the supplier.

You can find specific information about registering and describing audiovisual content in the Identifying and describing audiovisual content section. The Know Your Carrier website can help you identify your video and audio carrier formats.


Arts organisations may qualify to have their audio and video recordings digitised by meemoo, Flemish Institute for Archives, which helps cultural heritage and performing arts organisations to digitise their audiovisual content. It can also store the large master files produced by video digitisation. Please contact meemoo or ask a TRACKS partner for more info.

If you are eligible for digitisation by meemoo, you can enter into a collaboration with meemoo.

Read more

Basic information

Meemoo reports

You can find significant observations and conclusions in a number of meemoo reports of various digitisation projects carried out in the past. These can be useful reference documents if you want to set sail with a digitisation partner to digitise a specific type of carrier.

Go to meemoo publications (filter by ‘Digitising’ category).

Authors: this article was originally based on text by Eline De Lepeleire (Het Firmament), and revised by Wim Lowet (Flanders Architecture Institute) and Bart Magnus (meemoo)