UK based independent film library Huntley Film Archives started digitising films providing viewing of exceptional quality through their website. Films with colour correction and simple logo banner were viewable. However, ‘very early on a major broadcaster successfully circumvented our viewing method, zoomed past the banner and running time-code and broadcast one of our films. We never saw a penny.’
Robert Dewar Commercial Director at the company picks up the story: “So, we sadly decided to digitise lower quality viewing copies. Viewing copies are made from our good old Steenbeck viewing tables, but colour correction, scratch reduction and adjustments to tone and scale are no longer carried out. We have protected the middle of the screen with a ghost image of our Huntley Film Archives logo.
What can you expect from a viewing copy, and how does that compare to what you would eventually see at the time of master delivery?
To reassure you, here are a couple of ‘Before’ and ‘After’ examples (above). All versions remain low resolution, and eventual Master quality will be significantly better than that seen on the After version below, but this should give a part-way demonstration of what is achievable.
The techie bit – We currently export our films as MPEG-4 files.
These files are 640×480, which is a relatively low res compared with other websites. With our current software we are unable to customise our export settings, and have to rely on what is standard with each file type, according to our programme. So our finished resolution is set by the parameters we need the file type to meet (ie, aspect ratio, frames per second, etc), It is also limited by what is realistic for us to upload with our current server space and hosting abilities.”
3100 films are digitised to date and with around 75 films being made accessible weekly – ‘another 77000 to go’