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Guidelines: File Format Comparison Projects
Still Image and Audio-Visual Working Groups

Drafts under development.
The two FADGI Working Groups are exploring file formats for still images and video. The explorations are using similar, matrix-based tools to make comparisons relevant to preservation planning. The matrixes compare a limited number of formats in terms of roughly forty factors, grouped under the following general headings:

  • Sustainability Factors
  • Cost Factors
  • System Implementation Factors (Full Lifecycle)
  • Settings and Capabilities (Quality and Functionality Factors)

The Working Groups plan to post drafts of these documents during 2014, seeking comment and discussion. We encourage participation in the development process by other interested parties. Please send us your comments.

The still image format-comparison effort is led by the Government Printing Office with significant input from the Library of Congress and the National Archives, and it is studying formats suitable for reformatting (digitization). The formats being compared include JPEG 2000, JPEG (DCT), TIFF, PNG, and PDF, and several subtypes. The findings from this project will be integrated into the Working Group's continuing refinement of its general guideline for raster imaging. refinement of its general guideline for raster imaging.

  • Part 1. Detailed Matrix (unified large table) (PDF) Posted April 17, 2014.
    • This table presents all of the information in a single table to facilitate comparisons. All pages after the cover are intended for printing on 11x17-inch paper. Part 2 provides the same information on multiple, easily printable pages.
  • Part 2. Detailed Matrix (multi-page) (PDF) Posted April 17, 2014.
    • This document presents the information on multiple, easily printable pages. Part 1 provides the same information in a unified table to facilitate comparisons.
  • Part 3. Narrative and Summary Table (PDF) Posted April 17, 2014.

The video format comparisons will complement the Working Group's active contributions to the finalization of the MXF AS-07 application specification for preservation and archiving, a version of which has been adopted by the Library of Congress as their video preservation format. As the finalization of AS-07 continues, members of the Working Group have expressed interest in evaluating alternate digital file formats as interim measures, as appropriate to certain classes of content, or as suitable for organizations with more modest technical circumstances.

The Working Group's starting point is a useful 2011 report by George Blood for the Library of Congress titled Determining Suitable Digital Video Formats for Medium-term Storage. Meanwhile, our format comparisons will support the ongoing work of the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives as they draft a general guideline for video preservation.

Formats to consider when reformatting videotapes. This activity is being led by the National Archives and Records Administration, and it will compare target formats to consider when reformatting analog and digital videotapes.

  • Draft document forthcoming

Format considerations when ingesting born-digital video. This activity will survey the common media-independent video formats received by archives, looking at both the file wrapper and the essence encoding. It will also evaluate formats like DV videotapes, where the underlying essence can be transferred in media-independent fashion.

  • Draft document forthcoming

Authored DVDs. This activity is primarily concerned with appropriate practices for preserving content on write-once authored DVDs, a media type sometimes produced in oral history and grass-roots production projects, and a format that may be included in organizational records that are transferred to an archive.

  • Draft document forthcoming

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Working Groups

Still Image Working Group
This group is involved in a cooperative effort to develop common digitization guidelines for still image materials.

Audio-Visual Working Group
The goal for this working group is to identify, establish, and disseminate information about standards and practices for the digital reformatting of audio-visual materials by federal agencies.

Last Updated: 1/7/2013