Documenting and Archiving File-Based Video


Published on | This session will familiarize participants with the importance of documentation and archiving, as well as outline the best practices when documenting, organizing and managing media from production, through post-production, and beyond. Additionally, this session reviews essential safety and security questions to consider throughout all stages of the production as it relates to documenting and preserving media and associated materials.

WITNESS Training Curriculum - part of module 4

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  • Use photo that demonstrates how documentation can have evidential or informational value beyond its immediate use in a campaign. This illegal prison site, for example, was demolished after this video was made. Documentation such as this video are now the only records of its existence.
  • Basic definition of transcoding: converting a digital file from one encoding (i.e. file format) to another. This is often done to make your file compatible with your software or device, or if you need to adjust the size of your file.
  • Documenting and Archiving File-Based Video

    1. 1. Documenting and Archiving File-Based Video WITNESS invites you to use, remix and share this curriculum.  All materials are under Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial ShareAlike 3.0 License.  You can also find more video advocacy training materials at 
    2. 2. Objective <ul><li>Familiarize participants with the importance of documentation and archiving. </li></ul><ul><li>Outline how to best document, organize, and manage media from production, through post-production, and beyond. </li></ul>12/13/11
    3. 3. Overview <ul><li>Documentation and archiving: what and why </li></ul><ul><li>Documentation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Set up, on-camera, and post-production </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Offloading media & making back ups </li></ul><ul><li>Organizing your media </li></ul><ul><li>Exporting outputs & derivatives </li></ul><ul><li>Rights & re-use </li></ul><ul><li>Inventory & cataloging </li></ul><ul><li>Storage & retention </li></ul><ul><li>Working with an external archive </li></ul>12/13/11
    4. 4. What is Documentation? 12/13/11
    5. 5. Why Document Your Video? <ul><li>To record contextual information, necessary to make sense of raw footage. </li></ul><ul><li>To record any security restrictions on content. </li></ul><ul><li>To enable verification, which increases the reliability, credibility & trustworthiness of your footage. </li></ul>12/13/11
    6. 6. What is Archiving? <ul><li>Related to documentation, archiving means: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Collecting your documentation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Arranging or organizing your files </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Describing your footage in a catalog </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Preserving your footage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Providing access to your footage </li></ul></ul>12/13/11
    7. 7. Why Archive? <ul><li>To safeguard your content in a controlled environment to ensure the integrity and authenticity (i.e. evidential value) of your footage. </li></ul><ul><li>To keep track of media folders, files and related documentation, including security/rights information, over time. </li></ul>12/13/11
    8. 8. Why Archive? <ul><li>To allow you to identify and retrieve your content. </li></ul><ul><li>To ensure technological usability of your footage. </li></ul>12/13/11
    9. 9. Why Archive? 12/13/11
    10. 10. On-Camera Documentation <ul><li>Set the accurate Date and Time on your camera. This information will be embedded in your media files. </li></ul>12/13/11
    11. 11. On-Camera Documentation <ul><li>Optional: Some cameras also allow you to set/retrieve geographic location, but keep in mind potential safety and security issues. </li></ul><ul><li>Disable this feature if security is a concern. </li></ul>12/13/11
    12. 12. On-Camera Documentation <ul><li>Informed consent: Document interview subjects giving informed consent. </li></ul>12/13/11
    13. 13. On-Camera Documentation <ul><li>Identities: Unless there are security risks, subjects should identify themselves on camera by name (including spelling). </li></ul><ul><li>The interviewer/camera operator should also identify themselves. </li></ul>12/13/11
    14. 14. On-Camera Documentation <ul><li>Context: The interviewer/camera operator should provide a detailed on-camera description of the event, including the date and location. </li></ul>12/13/11 “ T his is Ray Ibarra. The date is July 17, 2005. I am at the Arizona border 25 miles southwest of Tombstone, Arizona, working as a legal observer to monitor and deter vigilante activity against migrants. ”
    15. 15. Offloading Media <ul><li>The process for offloading media will depend on the camera, computer operating system, and software you use. Familiarize yourself with the specifications for each. </li></ul>12/13/11
    16. 16. Offloading Media <ul><li>Depending on what editing software you are using, you may need to transcode (i.e. change the format) your footage before you can edit. </li></ul><ul><li>If you transcode, keep a copy of your original files. </li></ul>12/13/11
    17. 17. Back Ups <ul><li>Always have a back up copy of your footage! </li></ul><ul><li>When offloading and re-organizing media on a drive, for example, keep the original footage on the camera. </li></ul><ul><li>Delete from camera only after you have created a back up elsewhere. </li></ul>12/13/11
    18. 18. Back Ups <ul><li>After you have organized your files, create a back up separate from your editing drive. </li></ul><ul><li>Back ups can be stored on less expensive media such as external hard drives. DVDs can also be used, but they are less reliable. </li></ul>12/13/11
    19. 19. Organizing Media - Files <ul><li>Re-naming files: You may need to rename files to avoid having duplicate filenames in your project (e.g. two files named VID0001) </li></ul><ul><li>Tip: you can rename files in batches using a third-party application or editing software. </li></ul>12/13/11
    20. 20. Organizing Media - Files <ul><li>Keep the original filename in the new filename. Add the date shot (and location and creator, if necessary). </li></ul>12/13/11
    21. 21. Organizing Media - Files <ul><li>Tips: </li></ul><ul><li>Be consistent in how you do your re-naming. </li></ul><ul><li>Do not use any special characters (e.g. @#$%&*:”’<>?/) in your filenames </li></ul><ul><li>Use yyyymmdd or yyyy-mm-dd format for dates </li></ul>12/13/11
    22. 22. Organizing Media - Folders <ul><li>Organizing Folders: Organize media files into folders. </li></ul><ul><li>Use a system that retains the original order and makes sense for your project, such as by date, location, and creator. </li></ul>12/13/11
    23. 23. Organizing Media - Folders <ul><li>Tip: Original order preserves the contextual meaning of the footage and its value as evidence. </li></ul>12/13/11
    24. 24. Organizing Media - Folders <ul><li>Naming Folders: Name folders in a consistent way based on how you have organized the files, e.g. Date _ Location </li></ul>12/13/11
    25. 25. Documentation - Summary <ul><li>Create a Media Summary for each folder. </li></ul><ul><li>Media Summary - written documentation that includes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Background / context </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Detailed description of purpose </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Names and affiliations of subjects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Security or safety restrictions </li></ul></ul>12/13/11
    26. 26. Documentation - Summary <ul><ul><li>Create a Summary form. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>- Example: Media Summary Template </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Even if you do not have a standard form, record the information somewhere (handwritten note, email, etc.) </li></ul></ul>12/13/11
    27. 27. Documentation - Summary <ul><li>Essential information to include in a Media Summary: </li></ul><ul><li>Date - The exact date – or dates – on which the video was shot. </li></ul><ul><li>Locations - The exact location or locations in which the video was shot. Be as specific as possible. </li></ul>12/13/11
    28. 28. Documentation - Summary <ul><li>Camera Operator/Organization – The source of the footage. </li></ul><ul><li>This information allows you to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Establish the chain of custody </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Contact for further information about the footage if necessary </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Testify to the accuracy or credibility of the footage </li></ul></ul>12/13/11
    29. 29. Documentation - Summary <ul><li>Description – A complete summary of the footage both visually and in terms of what it is about. </li></ul><ul><li>Highlight any significant content or quality issues. </li></ul><ul><li>Include the names of any people or groups being interviewed or shown. </li></ul>12/13/11
    30. 30. Documentation - Summary <ul><li>Security Restrictions - Is any of the footage restricted in any way? Should any names, faces, or locations be disguised? </li></ul><ul><li>Consents - Consent forms or on-camera consent should be obtained for all interviews and subjects and submitted with the footage. </li></ul>12/13/11
    31. 31. Documentation – Log <ul><li>Create logs of your video files/clips. </li></ul><ul><li>Log: A detailed, often shot-by-shot or verbatim description of the footage contents. Also called a “transcript.” </li></ul><ul><li>If you do not have time to log everything, just log the most important footage or interviews. </li></ul>12/13/11
    32. 32. Documentation – Log <ul><li>Create a log form. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Example: Log Template </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Basic elements: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Clip Name </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Time Code </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Visual Description </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Audio / Transcription </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Image / Sound Quality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Restrictions </li></ul></ul>12/13/11
    33. 33. Documentation - Log <ul><li>Time Code: an electronic signal that identifies each video frame. Used to synchronize and for reference throughout post-production process. </li></ul>12/13/11
    34. 34. Documentation - Log <ul><li>Not all cameras use time code. If there is no time code, simply use the time counter on your viewer to log. </li></ul>12/13/11
    35. 35. Documentation - Log <ul><li>Shorthand for describing shots: </li></ul>12/13/11 <ul><ul><li>ECU Extreme close-up </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CU Close-up </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>MS Medium shot </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>LS Long shot </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>WS Wide shot </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>VS Various shots </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>NAT Natural sound </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>EXT Exterior </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>INT Interior </li></ul></ul>
    36. 36. Exporting Outputs <ul><li>Export a full quality file from your editing software for your Master . </li></ul><ul><li>Create and export an additional full quality version without text or music. </li></ul><ul><li>Save your edit project files. You will need them to re-edit or make changes to your video. </li></ul>12/13/11
    37. 37. Outputs - Derivatives <ul><li>Derivatives: files derived from your Master for various uses (e.g. DVD, web upload, portable device) </li></ul><ul><li>Refer to recommended specifications for your intended use. </li></ul>12/13/11
    38. 38. Outputs - Derivatives <ul><li>Some specifications to look out for: </li></ul><ul><li>Video encoding (codec) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. AVC/H.264, divX, mpeg-2, DV </li></ul></ul><ul><li>File format </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. .mov, .mp4, .avi </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bit rate </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. 8 Mb/sec </li></ul></ul><ul><li>SD or HD </li></ul>12/13/11
    39. 39. Outputs - Derivatives <ul><li>Some specifications to look out for: </li></ul><ul><li>Aspect ratio </li></ul><ul><li>or </li></ul><ul><li>Frame size </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. 480x720, 720x1080 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Frame rate </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. 25 fps, 29.97 fps </li></ul></ul>12/13/11
    40. 40. Repurposing Footage <ul><li>Consider they ways that your footage can be re-used: </li></ul><ul><li>To create alternate or updated versions of your video </li></ul><ul><li>In your future video advocacy campaigns </li></ul><ul><li>As evidence in legal proceedings </li></ul><ul><li>By other human rights defenders </li></ul><ul><li>By news organizations reporting on your issue </li></ul><ul><li>As an educational or research resource; part of our historical memory. </li></ul>12/13/11
    41. 41. Repurposing Footage - Rights <ul><li>Ensure that the possibility of re-use is included in the informed consents you obtain. </li></ul><ul><li>Keep track of rights and security information so that you do not inadvertently re-use or share restricted materials. </li></ul>12/13/11
    42. 42. Repurposing Footage - Sharing <ul><li>You can allow others to use your footage in a controlled way through: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Co-ownership </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Traditional licensing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Creative Commons or other open licensing </li></ul></ul>12/13/11
    43. 43. Co-ownership <ul><li>You co-own the footage with others. </li></ul><ul><li>Decide whether co-owners can: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>can modify and re-use footage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>can distribute or provide copies to others </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>can allow others to modify and re-use footage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>can license footage for revenue </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>need to credit the other when footage is re-used </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Etc. </li></ul></ul>12/13/11
    44. 44. Traditional Licensing <ul><li>You allow producers, filmmakers, or broadcasters to re-use your footage under strict conditions. </li></ul><ul><li>You charge a fee (flat rate or per second) for what they use. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Example: WITNESS Media Archive rate card </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Licensees need to be able to search and preview your footage. </li></ul>12/13/11
    45. 45. Open Licensing <ul><li>You share footage more freely than with traditional licensing. </li></ul><ul><li>You make content easily available and allow others to re-use it under certain conditions. </li></ul>12/13/11
    46. 46. Open Licensing <ul><li>Creative Commons defines several types of open licenses that you can choose from: </li></ul>12/13/11
    47. 47. Inventory or Catalog <ul><li>Inventory : a list of all your media with some essential information (e.g. name, location, rights). </li></ul><ul><li>Catalog : systematically arranged records that describe your media in detail. Enables you to identify and retrieve footage. </li></ul>12/13/11
    48. 48. Inventory or Catalog <ul><li>At minimum, create an Inventory of your media. If you have more time, create a Catalog. </li></ul><ul><li>Basic inventory example: </li></ul>12/13/11
    49. 49. Inventory or Catalog <ul><li>Choose a medium that suits your organization and how you want to use the information (e.g. paper, index cards, Excel, Access, etc.). </li></ul>12/13/11 Image: HURIDOCS
    50. 50. Inventory or Catalog <ul><li>Decide what information you want to keep, and structure it in a consistent manner. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Instead of free-text, use a form with fields. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Record information in a standardized way. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use consistent syntax. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use a controlled list of terms. </li></ul></ul>12/13/11
    51. 51. Inventory or Catalog <ul><li>Record information that is accurate and reliable, or indicate clearly when it is not. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. “Date: 2010-10-19 [Approximate date]” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Keep it as simple as possible! </li></ul>12/13/11
    52. 52. Storage and Retention <ul><li>Keep the highest quality copies of your footage. </li></ul><ul><li>Make at least one back-up copy, and keep in a different location. </li></ul><ul><li>Store media in a secure, clean, cool, relatively dry environment. </li></ul>12/13/11
    53. 53. Storage and Retention <ul><li>Check your saved files periodically to make sure they are still readable. </li></ul><ul><li>Create new copies in up-to-date formats every five years or when necessary. </li></ul>12/13/11
    54. 54. Working with an Archive <ul><li>If you cannot archive your materials on your own, consider collaborating with an archive partner. </li></ul>12/13/11
    55. 55. Working with an Archive <ul><li>Potential local/national archive partners include: </li></ul><ul><li>Formal archives (independent, national, university) </li></ul><ul><li>Human Rights / Legal advocacy groups </li></ul><ul><li>Research or educational institutions </li></ul><ul><li>Media producers or distributors </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural memory organizations </li></ul>12/13/11
    56. 56. Working with an Archive <ul><li>Potential international collaborators: </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural or educational institutions like universities and museums </li></ul><ul><li>International archiving organizations (e.g. ICA, Archivists Without Borders, HURIDOCS) </li></ul><ul><li>Commercial managed storage services online </li></ul>12/13/11
    57. 57. Working with an Archive <ul><li>Considerations: </li></ul><ul><li>Trustworthiness </li></ul><ul><li>Collecting Focus </li></ul><ul><li>Ownership </li></ul><ul><li>Access / Restrictions </li></ul><ul><li>Staffing & Infrastructure (for storage, preservation, access) </li></ul><ul><li>Deposit Logistics </li></ul>12/13/11
    58. 58. Summary <ul><li>Documentation and archiving are important. </li></ul><ul><li>Supplement video with on-camera documentation, a media summary, and logs/transcripts. </li></ul><ul><li>Back up your video. </li></ul><ul><li>Re-name your files if necessary. </li></ul>12/13/11
    59. 59. Summary <ul><li>Organize your files into folders that reflect the original order. </li></ul><ul><li>Export and save your masters. </li></ul><ul><li>Create derivatives as needed. </li></ul><ul><li>There are many ways to re-use your footage. </li></ul><ul><li>You can share footage with others through co-ownership and licensing. </li></ul>12/13/11
    60. 60. Summary <ul><li>Inventory or catalog your footage. </li></ul><ul><li>Store and maintain your media properly. </li></ul><ul><li>If you cannot archive yourself, work with an external archive partner. </li></ul>12/13/11
    61. 61. Documenting and Archiving File-Based Video WITNESS invites you to use, remix and share this curriculum.  All materials are under Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial ShareAlike 3.0 License.  You can also find more video advocacy training materials at