The Preservation and Digitisation Plan (PSN) of Ina’s archives, launched in 1999, focused on the early television and radio collections, as the obsolescence and physical deterioration of certain formats, often unique, threatened their survival. From the outset, the Plan included the photo archives.
At the time, it was estimated that half of the archives were threatened. This amounted to 220,000 hours of television, and 300,000 hours of radio. These figures – already huge – were then revised upwards. In all, the Plan included some 335,000 hours of television and nearly 500,000 hours of radio.
The nature of the threats varied. The chemical deterioration of nitrate film, 16 and 35 mm films, sound tracks affected by a form of decay known as “vinegar syndrome”, and one-inch B video tracks. The physical or mechanical deterioration affects radio disks, films and magnetic radio tapes (deterioration of the editing tape).
In addition, formats become obsolete as do the machines that read 2-inch videotapes, 1-inch C and three-quarter–inch video cassettes. Programmes recorded on to a unique carrier are also particularly vulnerable. This concerns as many as 90% of radio and 60% of television recordings.
Preservation consists in copying the radio or television programme from an older analogue format to a contemporary digital format, to ensure long-term preservation and facilitate its use. Preserving films involves first restoring the film’s mechanical state, e.g. re-doing editing joins or repairing the perforations on the side of film.
Digitisation, meanwhile, consists in transforming (encoding) a document into an IT file, which can be accessed on line on a server. The files are compressed to varying degrees depending on the desired quality: viewing quality or a quality that can be used by professionals.