Olympic archiving effort to be recognised at IBC2015

The International Olympic Committee will receive an award at IBC2015 for its work on conserving and managing its audiovisual archives through its Patrimonial Assets Management programme (PAM). The award recognises the IOC’s positive approach both to conservation and to making the archives available to broadcasters, researchers and other professionals.

Dating back to the first Olympic Games in modern times, in 1896, the audiovisual archives of the Olympic Movement include 2000 hours of film, 33,000 hours of video, 8500 hours of audio and more than 500,000 photographs, as well as 2000 archive documents and 22,000 pictures of Olympic Museum artefacts.

“The IOC’s Patrimonial Assets Management programme has helped safeguard the IOC’s rich legacy by preserving the organisation’s historical archives and bringing them into the 21st century,” said Christophe de Kepper, the IOC Director General. “It was down to us to perpetuate the cultural heritage of more than a century of Olympic history that our forebears had handed down to us. The IOC patrimony can now withstand the test of time.”

Michael Lumley, chair of the IBC Awards panel, added “This project is very important for two reasons. First, it ensures that more than a century of Olympic history is preserved for the future. But perhaps even more important it draws the industry’s focus on a subject which it is all too easy to ignore.

“Our archives risk becoming inaccessible, not just because of deterioration of assets but also because the hardware to play them is obsolete and virtually impossible to replicate”, Lumley stated. “Broadcasters, production companies and anyone with an audiovisual archive can look to the IOC’s Patrimonial Assets Management project to see a model of conservation and access. IBC is pleased to be able to draw attention to this issue through this award, as well as recognising the excellent work the IOC is undertaking.”

At the start of the project, IOC’s archivists conducted an in-depth study and found that, within just a few years, 50% of the videos would be unplayable, 20% of the faded photographs would be unusable, and there would be no audio players available for much of the collection. On the films, “vinegar syndrome” chemical deterioration was gaining ground, risking complete destruction.

A programme of conservation was set up, with leading expert bodies from around the world contributing their unique skills to the restoration, conservation and digitisation of the assets. A team of up to 40 specialist staff (loggers, technicians, engineers, a lawyer, a webmaster and project managers) was recruited.

At the same time, a new digital asset management system was implemented, with functionality tailored to the needs of a truly multi-media integrated archive, from the digitisation of physical media to the website and the distribution of digital assets.

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