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Survey about Future Archive File Format

As you all know the TI/A recommendation is meant to be backward oriented. TIFF files that are already stored in archives should be made readable in the long term.

Now we try to find out what are the needs of archives for future image preservation.This survey aims at people in archives who are responsible for long term preservation of digital media. Based on a Last Minute Proposal from Macus Müller-Oertel (see http://intranet.ti-a.org/open-discussions/general-discussions/last-minut... on this pages) we ask you to speak your mind.

To us it is basically about these topics: Is compression important for you, if yes, is only lossless compression acceptable, or is there also a need for lossy compresion? How about color profiles? Is sRGB sufficient or would you like to have a broader spectrum of colors? Is there also a need for other color systems as CIELab, YCrCb, etc.? How about a transparency channel?

What metadata integration do you need, plain text, XMP container or what? Is there a need for the original filename? Should the file contain a checksum of the pixel stream? MMO proposes web friendliness. Do you agree?

Furthermore: Should audio and video be included in such a archival format?

These are only some examples. Please pick out the topics that are most important for you and feel free to add new ones which you regard essential for your workflow.

We look forward to your answers and proposals!

Best regards, Erwin



Briefly from my real world experience:

  • An ideal archival format for small and/or poor archives should includes both audio and video.
  • Fixity checking is a must for many archives.
  • Also Y′CbCr is needed.
  • IRL the alpha channel is often used for another porpose than transparency: e.g. it stores the infrared information from a scan for the following restoration process.

Hope this helps! Reto


Hi Reto This helps indeed. Thanks. Erwin


Some additional information to my points (in the same order):

  • Many small and/or poor archives I know do use containers like MOV, AVI and MP4. The chose depends often on the region on Earth and on personal preferences, but in my experience it’s rearly the result of an analysis. They use it for video, for audio and for both video and audio combined. Therefore an archival replacement format would easier be implemented when it offers the same capabilities.
  • Fixity checking becomes more and more popular, because the archivists can immediately understand the benefits and because it can be implemented in an automated way in their existing workflow. It just delays a wee bit, but doesn’t slow down the processes in place.
  • There is a lot of «video» content out there. And the archives are dreaming since the beginning of digital of one single format that allows to store both «film» (I mean single-image-based content, which is mostly RGB or RGB) and «video» (stream-based content as Y′CbCr). Therefore a new archival format will have a much higher probability to be adopted by the community if both are possible.
  • To use the α-channel for storing e.g. the infrared channel is actually an abuse. Yet this is indeed the reality in the restoration field. On the scanner side e.g. Scanity from DTF (aka Prasad) and ARRISCAN from ARRI use this mechanism. And on the software side e.g. Diamant from HS-Art Digital Service or DRS Nova from MTI Film.

Best regards, Reto


Hi Reto, very informative. 

I totally agree with you on formats serving still and moving images would be adopted by the community. Are there other opinions? 

More voices from the 'silent majority'?

Best regards, Erwin


Since Erwin mentions my Last Minute Proposal I want to clarify, that I was thinking about enhancing TIFF as an image file format when I wrote the proposal last October, not about creating some universal archival format.

Regarding audio and video I do not see a need to duplicate the efforts of the Cellar working group (https://datatracker.ietf.org/wg/cellar/charter/).

Best regards, Marcus