Preserving the Television Archive

Preserving the Television Archive

An interview with Adrian Williams, BBC Preservation Manager

Adrian Williams, the BBC's Preservation Manager, explains how the BBC keeps its archive safe for future generations to enjoy.


What are the limitations of film?

With film technology, you have a number of photographs, if you like, in series that are played one after the other to represent a moving image. One of the downsides of using film is that you have to take the film stock from the camera to a laboratory and develop it using a chemical process to create a positive, which is very time consuming.

So there's very little immediacy with film. You cannot just simply remove it from the camera and have it played out for transmission straight away.

The next advance in broadcast technology was the move to video tape. Now with the move to video tape we move away from positive images and you go onto a piece of sellotape with iron oxide, with no pictures whatsoever, and it's quite amazing if you think that it takes just the magnetic properties of the oxide to record the programme and to replay it.

The advantage that you gain with this type of recording is that you can replay it immediately. There's no lengthy process in laboratories.

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