Any library migration project will have at its heart the same important matter: budgetary considerations.
When scoping a library migration for a client, we hear a lot of references to waiting to press the “Go” button. Invariably this means convincing those who hold the purse strings to commit to spending the money you need to service your archive.
For an organisation to press the Go button there are a number of budgetary considerations, as well as other factors, to take into account. These will vary in terms of their priority and significance according to each individual project. We have outlined some of the most most common below, in the hope of helping you address some of these issues for your organisation and ease the path to pressing that Go button.
Of course, the cost of a library migration cost is important. Especially for large archives, the prospect of this undertaking can seem daunting and one that you would expect to be very costly.
But this is a common misconception when it comes to digitising your legacy content. Achieving economies of scale through measures such as scaled-up architecture, automation, and agile project monitoring – and even the cost-effectiveness of being located out-of-town – LMH can deliver at very affordable price points. Often a return on investment can be achieved in just 12 months when set against the cost of physical storage alone, to say nothing of any monetisation revenue.
Knowing what content your archive actually contains can be almost impossible. Organisations have long-since done away with the old VTRs you need to check a tape. Information about duplicates, dubs, euro variants, rushes or missing parts is only available in the records. Even that can be sketchy, depending on how well they’ve been maintained, or if you even still have access to them.
Trying to sort out the metadata you do have can be one option to help decide what you might digitise. But it’s a time-consuming one as it relies on laborious man hours going through everything. What usually happens at this point is that it’s deemed just too complicated to do anything and the status quo remains. Your archive content remains on the shelf, gathering dust, slowly deteriorating and delivering no benefits to your business. Worse, it is probably costing you space and money to have it sat there.
Library inventories will often be in physical form, or possibly as an electronic database. Using these physical records, along with things like spine labels and record reports, to sift through your inventory can yield decent results and help you slim down the number of assets you choose to migrate. But it’s not really an effective or efficient way to maintain – or indeed utilise – your archive in the long-term. Digitising your assets and hosting them in an easily accessed cloud environment is by far the most sensible option. It allows you and others to readily view, curate and, crucially, leverage and monetise your content.
It’s true that some storage facilities will charge you to retrieve your assets. We can often assist with this, especially on larger-volume projects. With a recent expansion of our facilities, we can now hold over 100,000 tapes on-site. This allows us to store your assets free of charge for the length of the project or sometimes even longer. Once the project is finished, we can help dispose of the tapes in an environmentally friendly way, helping you meet your green obligations.
Continuing to store your assets physically in storage facilities is simply throwing good money after bad. Your content will remain largely unusable, certainly for any VOD platforms, while it is not in a digital format. Your storage costs will not reduce at all. And the condition of your tapes will only be deteriorating. Added to that, the costs associated with supplying ingest services can only ever increase. It is a matter of supply and demand. So the longer you delay, the more the project is likely to cost in the end.
Mass library migration is a peculiar mix of old and new. The youngest, most modern tape machine – an HDCAM SR – is now 10 years old. These machines are rare – sometimes very rare – commodities, while the skill sets to fix and maintain them are just as rare. VTRs have to be hoarded and stored for years, with non-working models being harvested for spares to service migration projects, and the number of machines left in working order dropping all the time. Eventually they will be so hard to find that the charges for using those that do still exist will be necessarily high. And once the point comes when the machines are obsolete, then your content becomes obsolete too.
Ultimately, the most important of all your budgetary considerations is whether you can afford not to begin your library migration project.