The content of the last 40 years of Montreux Jazz Festival Archive is stored in a collection of tapes of different technological generations, witnessing the tremendous and rapid progress in the field of media technologies. It is a well-known fact that such audio and video tapes have a limited life span not exceeding a few decades. The formats in which most of the content has been recorded have also become rapidly obsolete to the extent that it is increasingly difficult to find adequate and functioning devices that can play them. Without an urgent safeguard operation, it is likely that this collection would quickly deteriorate to the point that its content cannot be anymore used in the coming years.
The likelihood of accessing such content is also reducing day after day with disappearance of older functional devices, which often rely on high precision mechanical components requiring replacement after a number of use. Transferring the content of the Montreux Jazz Festival Archive to a medium with better reliability and life span has therefore become an urgent necessity. Among feasible solutions, storage in data tapes and hard disks are the most promising avenues. Data tapes have the advantage of being robust and enjoy a long life span, and rely on standard technologies that can detect and correct deteriorations, but at the same time they are slow and exhibit problems of delay for access of a specific content stored in such a medium. Hard disks on the other hand possess fast access features to any specific content in the collection, but enjoy a shorter life span and are a more expensive alternative. The solution retained in such situations, as witnessed from past experience in banking and insurance data storage is to use a hybrid approach where the master archive is stored in data tapes, from which a partial or full copy is extracted and stored in a secondary archive, made of a series of hard disks for rapid access.
Preservation of the Montreux Jazz Festivals content in the highest quality is one of the main objectives of this project. This is achieved by first digitizing all the content of the archive at fullest resolution feasible with the current state of the art, and by storing it in a master archive (data tapes) in an uncompressed or a losslessly compressed manner. The secondary archive (hard disks) will make use of advanced compression schemes applied to the content of the master archive, and according to the most recent digital archives standards, in order to create a high quality version of the content in the master archive, while compacting the data as much as possible. The secondary archive will be connected through a secure link to Montreux site and to a specially dedicated auditorium at EPFL, where instantaneous and real-time access to any of its content will be possible for the purpose of search and retrieval, browsing, playback, and visualization.
Digitization of the Montreux Jazz Festival current archive is a delicate and sensitive task, which should be performed by specialists. This task is performed under supervision and responsibility of EPFL. The Sony Preservation Factory based in Dax, France, has been selected to digitalize the oldest standard definition content. For digitization of other content and formats in the current archive, adequate solutions will be deployed according to the knowledge and expertise in numerical video formats, HDTV, as well as analog or digital audio.
State of the art of digital preservation
In order to allow the management and preservation of the Montreux Jazz Festival data content in the face of change, and to provide some recommendations and best practices on the topic, a state of the art of digital preservation has been done. It tries to find out what are the best solutions so far, by adressing the issues related to file formats, hardware (physical carriers), softwares for the management of the digital preservation process, and metadata.