Oscar telecasts preserved

The USC Digital Repository announced on Thursday that it will be maintaining and preserving a 320-terabyte collection of audiovisual materials that has been created by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences throughout the last 50 years.

The collection, filled with thousands of hours of footage, documents the history of the Academy through the Academy Awards ceremony, the Academy Film Archive’s digital restoration projects and other events and projects.

The Academy Film Archive, which was established in 1991 and aims to support the preservation and restoration of film as well as the study of motion pictures, has become one of most extensive film collections in the entire world.

The Digital Repository is an initiative that brings together USC Libraries, the Shoah Foundation, and Information Technology Services. The current arrangement between the Academy and the Digital Repository will focus on preserving the collection for the long term.

“[The] purpose of the Digital Repository is to use the technology infrastructure of ITS and the Shoah Foundation, and the metadata and collection experts in the libraries to make a business out of preserving and making accessible huge digital collections that no one else can do,” said Hugh McHarg, associate dean of planning and communications for USC Libraries.

McHarg went on to note that the work being done among these three USC institutions is unlike that at any other in the nation.

“There is no other partnership at a major institution like the USC Digital Repository,” McHarg said. “It brings together the expertise that the Shoah Foundation has with the videos and audio of the Holocaust survivors’ testimonies; it brings together the expertise of the ITS and the high computing performance center. [It also] loops in the expertise of the libraries of cataloging and creating meaningful metadata so that people can find and discover these things now and in the future.”

In a press release, Director of the Academy Film Archive Michael Pogorzelski noted the importance of maintaining film history.

“Preserving the history of cinema in all its forms always has been a prime concern of the Academy,” Pogorzelski said. “That history lives in film reels, movie posters, lobby cards — and now, digital files. We need to preserve our digital history alongside our celluloid heritage for the next century and beyond. That’s what this project with USC is all about.”

In addition to the technological aspect, part of preserving the collection will include extensive cataloging, so that in due time, people will be able to find the information they need and use it in a meaningful way.

“It is one of the biggest collections in the Digital Repository to date,” McHarg said. “It is a pretty prestigious thing to have under our care.”