Image Processing Reference
Let's say it is 2 years after you've launched a major multimedia-based Web site, and
through cost-reduction exercises, you gave up logging the incoming material and just
encoded it for delivery via modem , and then discarded the originals.
When your marketing people strike the deal with a broadband portal to deliver your site
as a major broadband experience, just how are you going to re-encode all that content?
That is when you say, “If only we had kept the originals and built ourselves a media
database to track and manage it all.” But the situation gets worse than that. Much worse.
You have important and very complicated rights issues with media. Maybe your rights to
use some of the clips have expired and they ought not to be visible on your site. Rights are
sometimes granted only for modem delivery and either specifically exclude broadband or
omit it. That gives the legal experts an opportunity to argue for additional payment. Some
rights are clear and the media can be repurposed immediately. But how would you know
which is which? In the words of the Ghostbusters, “Who you gonna call?”
Effectively, the only archives you have are that rather scratchy looking, modem-quality,
postage stamp-sized, frame-dropped, pixelated mess on your streaming server , and
because your finance people talked you into saving money at the outset, you are going
to reap the results of a very bad business decision.
Maybe your business will recover from that. But in all likelihood it won't, not without
spending an awful lot of time and money reworking some content over again. And
that assumes you are still able to find original master tapes—and get the rights to use
The moral of this story is to think ahead to what you might be doing in the future—not
just next year but 5 and 10 years from now.
Getting Out of the Mire
The solution is to institute a media audit and try to trace where the originals of some of
that footage are. The avoidance strategy in the first place would have been to build a
media database even if it was manually operated. Keeping track of the location of every
master copy of a clip and any compressed instances of it requires a reliable record-keep-
ing system. Diligence is the only way to track the provenance of your media. Given that
the originals are stored online somewhere, it is possible to set up some automation to load
and transcode them one at a time without any human intervention. You have to plan way
ahead, anticipate future needs of your content, and maintain archive-quality copies reli-
ably. If they are compressed at all, they should be stored using a lossless compression for-
mat so that a transcoder is able to down sample to any format that is required. You cannot
transcode up to a higher-quality format and not see some artifacts as a result. At best you
can blur them to hide the worst effects.