In today’s know-it-all entertainment climate, it would seem that no aspect of business is off limits. Yet there is one key element that tends to elude discussion: how Hollywood protects its valuable intellectual property from destruction or theft, especially in the digital age when hackers are so prevalent.
Archiving is the backbone of content security for preserving the rich history of entertainment around the world, and in many cases the slogan is simple: save or perish.
The Variety Intelligence Platform has taken a deep dive into the topic with a data-filled special report, Entertainment Archiving, presented by Leader in Physical/Digital Asset Preservation Iron Mountain Entertainment Services and this companion webinar.
Media Analyst and VIP+ Correspondent Heidi Chung met with IMES CEO Lance Podell, VP of Technology Denis LeConte, and archivist and records management expert Anthony Jackson will cover the ins and outs of content preservation.
So where are today’s creatives in terms of preserving their legacy for decades to come? Ironically, according to Jackson, it was the pandemic that helped to understand the need for proper conservation.
As the world closed in at home and became greedy for content, studio teams normally involved in archiving and distribution were suddenly in the spotlight, he says. “The heads of archives started being called into the CEO’s office and asking, ‘Hey, all this physical content that we had – can we digitize it and put it on our streaming services?’ “
Now that the average consumer understands the importance of archiving, Jackson emphasizes two key points: “We are truly preserving cultural history for future generations… [film or master recording] was 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago, will no longer stand the test of time if we don’t digitize it.”
Despite a relatively recent increase in resources for once-tiny media company archival teams, Podell says many studios and artists have long known best practices for preserving their assets using the premium archival services that Iron Mountain offers, including digital imaging, data recovery and transfer. data.
The actual processes of archiving have advanced significantly in recent decades with the development of new technologies and the birth of cloud storage, which IMES’s Leconte considers both a blessing and a curse.
On the positive side, he says, the advances provide more storage capacity and more bandwidth to attack “mountains of archives.” He credits the advent of machine learning for allowing “metadata to be collected that wasn’t really thought about when assets were created, so it helps to figure out what’s important.”
As far as the “curse” goes, industry advances can be a double-edged sword as preserving the legacy of old assets becomes more of a challenge. “As technology advances, there are hundreds of formats,” says Leconte, “and the technological decisions that are made when an asset is created really affect its future life.”
The “new,” of course, always brings with it unforeseen obstacles. One of the “mistakes of civilization,” says Lecomte, is that until the end of the 20s.th centuries, archives of content were “human visible… they were optical” – as in libraries with surviving paper copies. Then “humanity moved on to archival media, which required equipment.” In the case of video cassettes, he adds, “a lot of attention has been paid to archiving the tapes, but not as much attention has been paid to archiving the equipment for reading those tapes.” And this is a problem that today’s archivists face every day.
The bottom line, Chung points out, is that it’s critical for studios, production companies, and artists to protect their work, so all these issues need to be addressed. And that includes both preserving existing assets and monetizing the content that resides in their repositories. Is all this protection worth the cost? Jackson puts it succinctly: “Companies [and artists] who get it, get it, and they have a percentage of their budgets set aside for proper archiving.”
All members of our commission agreed with this. So if you’re consuming content and respecting the work of the past, that’s one facet of Hollywood worth understanding. Necessarily see our special report after rewatching the webinar and stay tuned for more VIP+ panels.