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Old March 3rd, 2014, 08:11 PM   #1
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Options for preserving memories

I've been asked by a client to digitize his thousands of paper photographs and figure out a way to preserve them for a long time for his family. This is the first time that a client of mine is preoccupied with the idea that his paper pictures will fade with time, as some have already faded, they can be easily destroyed by a fire or other accident, or simply thrown away the next time his kids move and need to downsize. He does not trust high volume digitizing services, especially since some of them ship the paper pictures way out east to be digitized, so I will have to do it all myself (no, he did not back off when I quoted him my price).

The first phase is easy: I am purchasing a good quality scanner with built-in image restoring capabilities - decided to buy the Epson Perfection V550 and scan the pictures to JPEG - I consider JPEG as having the best chance to be readable in the long run by a Windows/OSX/iOS/Linux/Android or whatever OS comes next. I do realize that some images will need further enhancement in Photoshop, but from what I saw online, the V550 does a very decent job.

Next, I will organize the digital pictures in folders by year/month/event or whatever system the client wants. Will give him a master on a solid state hard drive, and two copies for his two daughters (I even suggested cloud backup in addition to HDs).

Lastly, the client would like to put these pictures on some sort of media that would allow those interested to view them on a display. Initially he asked me to put them on DVDs but after I explained him that DVDs are on their last leg in addition to being low resolution, he asked me to look for a better option.

And this is where I need some brainstorming. What are my options? I did some reading and based on that I am inclined to make full HD 1920x1080 progressive MP4 slideshow video files (again, it seems like MP4 has the best chance to be readable by computers in the future) and put them on the same hard drive, PLUS make BluRay discs... but the consensus is that BluRay does not seem to be a format with a long life either.

What does the smart community suggest?

Thank you,
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Old March 3rd, 2014, 08:47 PM   #2
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Re: Options for preserving memories

LTO tape is used for archiving enterprise data and that would be my first choice for data archiving since it has the highest probability of being readable on a 50 year time horizon. An IT services company should be able to migrate your hard drive data to tape. The tapes can be placed in sealed containers and stored in a salt mine etc. There are some archival DVD discs being produced but you're right about the ability to read them over the long term.

Also consider printing to archival paper. Current ink technology is much more stable that dyes in C-prints.
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Old March 3rd, 2014, 10:11 PM   #3
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Re: Options for preserving memories

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ervin Farkas View Post
Lastly, the client would like to put these pictures on some sort of media that would allow those interested to view them on a display. Initially he asked me to put them on DVDs but after I explained him that DVDs are on their last leg in addition to being low resolution, he asked me to look for a better option.

And this is where I need some brainstorming. What are my options? I did some reading and based on that I am inclined to make full HD 1920x1080 progressive MP4 slideshow video files (again, it seems like MP4 has the best chance to be readable by computers in the future) and put them on the same hard drive, PLUS make BluRay discs... but the consensus is that BluRay does not seem to be a format with a long life either.
I'm interested in hearing what the options are myself. One thing is for sure, we are in a tremendous acceleration of mushrooming technological advancements where the pace of change has to be anticipated. I don't think you'll be able to have one solution that will last indefinitely. It will probably be a process that is repeated every 5 to 10 years. You may have to archive the entire computer system (which would have the software to output and display your material). Maybe that could be something as simple as a tablet that could access a hard drive or flash drives or cards. It would have to have an external power source since who knows how long the internal battery will last. Maybe two tablets for some redundancy.

HP advertizes the vivera pigment inks as non-fading for 200 years. That far outpaces the durability of electronics. You would also need high quality acid free photo paper and a lot of space in a climate controlled environment.That would make the ultimate backup system to your viewable digital copies.

You might want a scanner with a dmax of 4.0 instead of 3.4 for the best dynamic range in your colors and shades of gray. My old Epson 4990 does that, so new scanners should have that capability.
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Old March 4th, 2014, 01:29 AM   #4
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Re: Options for preserving memories

I would recommend you take a look at using the SilverFast software, and make use of the archiving options that it gives you.

Having a copy on LTO tape (previous comment) is also a good idea.

SilverFast Archive Suite :: LaserSoft Imaging

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Old March 4th, 2014, 01:42 AM   #5
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Re: Options for preserving memories

I have lg burners that can burn "m-discs" that claim to hold data up to 1000 years, now I won't be that long around to find out and I"m sure the disc can be damaged in the same way as a regular dvd but if you safely store it away this can be a very safe alternative to any other backup solution.
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Old March 4th, 2014, 06:29 AM   #6
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Re: Options for preserving memories

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Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post
I have lg burners that can burn "m-discs" that claim to hold data up to 1000 years, now I won't be that long around to find out and I"m sure the disc can be damaged in the same way as a regular dvd but if you safely store it away this can be a very safe alternative to any other backup solution.
I too have been following that technology, but my concern isn't with the longevity of the media but the rapid pace of technology and high probability that the reader technology will be long gone at the end of my long term time horizon (ca. 50 years). I would certainly use it as an additional backup and as a medium of choice for passing on family video archives.
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Old March 4th, 2014, 11:08 AM   #7
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Re: Options for preserving memories

Ervin,

The first thing I would do is see if you and your client can edit the thousands down to a hundred or two. Just the REALLY important ones. Otherwise you'll be scanning the rest of your life. For all but the most choice photos, why not set up a tabletop of randomly placed photos, then use a slider or something like that and video them. Sometimes an interesting effect while covering a lot of ground.

I just finished archiving everything I shot (edited of coarse) pre-digital. All my RISD art skool stuff, drawings, paintings, everything, so I have given this much thought over the past two years of this gigantic project.

The first consideration is what size do you scan stuff at. I came to the conclusion that I would not scan anything larger in dimension than how I originally printed stuff. So most of my scans are either 10 or 14 inches widest dimension. But some will argue that "what if you want to make a billboard outs that" and my answer is to hell with that. I'm guessing that viewing my stuff when I'm dead and gone would be mostly online anyway.

Transparencies I decided most would be 10-14 inches. Everyhting is 300dpi. Black and white I scan in grayscale NOT RGB, and at 16 bit, color at 24 bit, mostly for the latitude. Profile Adobe 1998.

I had lots of Polaroid SX70's, which I scanned at the same size as the polaroids, 300dpi.

Again I know there are resolution junkies out there that want huge files "just in case". My files range in size from 45mb grayscale to about 100mb for color.

I'm not sure I'd do JPEG unless they are lossless. I chose to save my files as tiffs. I thought about Photoshop files, but because of the CC thing, I wondered what would happen if someone came across my archive and didn't "subscribe" to Photoshop CC. No guarantee with tiffs either, or anything for that matter.

I agree with the comments that updating the archive might be an on-going process. After I'm gone, not my problem.

After scanning a million pictures you are left with the task of organizing: key wording, metadata, etc. I did this all in Adobe Bridge CS 6. My key wording is very basic: Year, place, media type, family, friends, and so on.

As I get close to the end of this PITA, I will export an XML file of the Keywords from Bridge, and include that along with a README file of some sort stating some guidelines of the archive. One that comes to mind is that anyone going through the archive to always make COPY of the image from the archive and then work with that, leaving the original intact.

What I've been doing lately is editing all my assignment work. Anything older than five years old, I've been going in and doing a major re-edit of job from past where I shot hundreds of digital files for each job, and narrowed them down to a half dozen or so. I seldom have had a client call me for something older than a year or two. And if they need anything further back, then they would only get what I think is the best shot. Some clients just have a bad eye when it comes to selecting the right file for their project, which jeopardizes their client and considering me to work with them again, I digress.

Many of my old jobs are from clients that 1- are out of business, 2- Have since lost a particular client that they had me work on, 3- Art director, CD no longer with company, and so on. Just something to consider.

I also have DVD's of the shoot, but I've had many go bad over the years, even with duplicates and triplicates. I don't trust anything.

Video files present their own challenges, and like some have mentioned, LTO is good, but still costly.

I plan on having three backups: two in my studio, and one off site that I will update yearly.

Sorry for the long post, but after doing this for a while, t's something I know.

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Old March 5th, 2014, 12:43 PM   #8
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Re: Options for preserving memories

I would also think of more than one storage medium and more than 1 format. Think about the rules of three that people use for backup. At least two types of media and 1 off site storage. So maybe tape, high-end dvd and hard drive. Then I would think of different formats as well. Maybe Tiff, BMP, PNG and JPG.
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Old March 5th, 2014, 12:49 PM   #9
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Re: Options for preserving memories

Jonathan, it is not my decision what to scan and what not to scan, and no, I will not suggest that to the client. He wants all of them scanned, I scan them all - he pays for all.

David, as mentioned in my original post, I already planned on returning the pictures on three drives that will go to 3 different people in 3 different locations. I may add TIFF copies...
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Old March 5th, 2014, 01:22 PM   #10
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Re: Options for preserving memories

Drives lose their lubrication over a period of years and decades. Conventional recordable media like DVD has an aluminum substrate that slowly oxidises, a 4 to 15 year life is common.

How long-lived will Amazon be? How about Rackspace?

Multiple drives and LTO tape are all well and good, and I'd do all that, but cloud storage with Amazon's S3 Glacier service is *very* inexpensive... and then they do the backups, equipment replacements, upgrades to the latest, most reliable storage, etc.

How about $0.01/GB per month? I use some S3 storage, haven't tried Glacier yet, but if I wanted to hedge my bets about physical media I'd be seriously considering adding cloud storage to the list.
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Old March 5th, 2014, 02:52 PM   #11
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Re: Options for preserving memories

There's two separate issues here. One is archive format/media. The other is a viewer and this is the one you were asking about. I suggest separating the decisions. Store the photos on whatever. For viewing, buy an iPad, generate 4K proxy versions of the photos and put them all in iPhoto. Enable iCloud. Add an AppleTV or similar DLNA device as needed. The photos will stay in hi res JPEG but can be organized whatever way the client wants. You could even teach them to do it. If in the future, a different mechanism is desired for viewing, the photos are still there organized into folders. If you put them in an Mp4 or BlueRay, you've concreted the viewing experience and lost the photos except for the archive.
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