The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is using Digital Rapids’ StreamZ media ingest and encoding systems for the board’s ongoing initiative to digitise and archive their tape-based library of over 200,000 programmes.
Six dual-channel StreamZ systems are in operation, digitising content from 12 industrial video tape machines under the control of a Neptune automation system from Pebble Beach Systems. The robust and versatile attributes of the StreamZ systems made them an ideal choice for this enormous task. Key considerations in the selection of StreamZ for the project were the encoders’ configurability to the exacting compression parameters for the BBFC’s requirements; the ability to generate MPEG-2 master and Windows Media browse versions of each video tape simultaneously in real time; optional logo overlay capability for the browse material; and the availability of a comprehensive custom development API to enable complete frame-accurate remote automation of the encoding process.
The BBFC, established in 1912, is the independent body responsible for approval and certification of cinematic releases, DVDs, videos and computer games in the United Kingdom. During its lifetime the BBFC has amassed a huge archive of VHS tapes containing copies of the material it has classified. With an obligation to maintain copies of all versions of movies submitted for certification in perpetuity, it is the BBFC’s duty to ensure that the contents of those video tapes can be accessed long after they are able to play them back. The new initiative will bring BBFC’s archived video material into the digital domain, allowing the BBFC to meet their contractual commitments and to improve productivity.
A custom interface developed by Pebble Beach using the Digital Rapids API allows their Neptune automation to synchronise the serial control of the S-VHS machines with network-based control of the Digital Rapids encoders. The overall system has been integrated by Sun Microsystems and incorporates ingest and archive management capabilities that the BBFC have deliberately kept separate in order to allow simple future integration of new video formats and ingest methods. The scalable nature of the system ensures that additional storage or ingest capacity can be added without significant modification to the existing system.