Digitization Workflows: Transmissive (PDF Download)


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This document discusses the theory and practice of the preservation-grade digitization of transmissive materials. While the discussion of theory is informative regardless of the hardware and software used, the discussion of practice is in the context of solutions provided by the Digital Transitions Division of Cultural Heritage.

The end-product of preservation-grade digitization is a Preservation Digital Object (PDO) that can serve as a surrogate to the original object, replacing most needs for physical access to the physical original, aiding its preservation, broadening access to its content.

Many transmissive material collections are in a precarious physical state. That places great urgency on their digitization. But while the technology available to digitize transmissive materials has radically improved in the last decade, most film- scanning references were written well before the modern era of instant film capture (a.k.a. camera-based digitization).

In this void we saw a need for a document that covered both the theory and practice of transmissive digitization written with modern-technology. Digital Transitions is a member of the ISO Technical Committee 42. There we will work with other stakeholders across the globe toward the goal of an international standard for the digitization of transmissive materials. However, such ISO efforts can take years and produce documents that must be brand/equipment agnostic, which limits their practical in-the-trenches utility. Therefore, we’ve undertaken to create this document, in hopes that it can immediately serve as a useful reference for the community.

While we are a commercial entity, our first and primary mission is to further the cause of Cultural Heritage Digitization. We hope you find that this document helps you fulfill that mission for your institution’s transmissive material collections.