When the construction of Centennial Hall, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s first major building to be digitally controlled, took place, the university saw the analog writing on the wall. It embarked on a multi-year initiative to transform tens of thousands of hours of video footage into searchable digital files.
Part of this digital migration was to begin phasing out analog VHS players and replace them with digital solutions, particularly with online digital playback.
More than 5,000 tapes containing historic footage of early La Crosse history of the 1900’s; visits from U.S. presidents, recently Pres. Bill Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama; footage from the 1986 Kennedy Symposium featuring cabinet members of the administration; PBS documentaries produced on campus; and historic vintage football films from the 1950’s are being transferred to digital video files.
“Videotapes have a shelf life of only 30 to 40 years. Each day the videotapes sit there the magnetic particles are flaking off the polyester base. Many of the videotapes from our shelves haven’t been played in 10, 20 or 30 years,” said Jim Jorstad, director of academic technologies.
The footage is being encoded, processed and meta-tagged and eventually imported into Mediasite Enterprise Video Platform so that it can be easily watched and managed with the click of a button.
With Mediasite, everything is indexed, making entire video libraries searchable and saving immeasurable time.
“The tapes are essential for research. Adding search capability via Mediasite creates a dynamic database for all our video, and that information can be priceless,” he said.