[WEB4LIB] Formats for audio/video in electronic theses

Raymond Wood raywood at magma.ca
Sun Jun 17 22:38:46 EDT 2001

On Sun, Jun 17, 2001 at 03:26:17PM -0700, you remarked:
> Hi,
> Like many universities, we are finally having to confront the submission
> of totally electronic (i.e., "born digital") theses. We are now preparing
> to accept our first one, which contains a small amount of video and audio
> material.
> What formats do other univeristy libraries recommend for video and audio
> clips that are part of electronic theses? Medium-term access (5-10 years)
> is our immediate goal -- we admit that we will very likely have to migrate
> material to newer formats as time passes. These theses will be distributed
> over the web and not tied to any specific file storage medium.
> I've looked at the EDT 2001 Conference website and some of the resources
> linked there, looked at the Web4Lib Reference Center, and probed the web
> in a number of other places, not finding much by way of recommendations
> that parallel the standard advice of storing images in 600 dpi TIFFs.
> >From what I've gathered so far, some form of MPEG for video and possibly
> MP3 for audio would be my best bets because they are based on an open
> standard (MPEG is part of ISO). However, I haven't spent enough time nor
> am I enough of an expert to recommed what MPEG specifications we should
> adhere to in accepting multimedia as part of electronic theses.
> I'd love to hear from some others who've already tackled this problem.

I haven't already tackled this problem, but here's my 2 cents...

Recommendation:  Avoid proprietary formats
Interesting timing with this question - the open source 'Ogg Vorbis'
audio format has just today released its version 1.0 offering.  It is
considered to be technically superior to the MP3 (Pro) format, and is
unencumbered with *any* licensing or patent issues.  It only makes sense
to go with a non-proprietary format for digital audio archiving IMHO.
See http://www.vorbis.com/ for more info on Ogg Vorbis.

As a matter of interest, I came across the following exchange today in
one of the forums discussing the Ogg Vorbis release:

   Will writes: 
   "WMA8 sounds better and it's smaller in size."

   WMA8 is a proprietary format, Will. The beauty of ogg
   vorbis is that it's Free. Not just free in terms of
   "don't cost nothin", but free as in the sense of
   "nobody can take it away from you". Proprietary
   formats must never be allowed to become standards
   (and no, I'm not putting down Microsoft or their
   products). Why? Because they lock one in to a
   proprietary platform. For example, I cannot listen to
   Media Player files on my Linux system. So if I
   nevertheless wish to hear them, I must either use
   Windows or hope that Microsoft releases a Media
   Player for Linux (cold day in hell). Now, let's take
   something like RealAudio. This has been ported to
   Linux. But what happens if Real suddenly decides to
   stop supporting Linux? Or Windows? Or Macs? My point
   is, we are at their mercy. This is hardly the stuff
   on which to build a standard.

Food for thought...
P.S. I would avoid both WMA8 and RealAudio for much the same reasons
cited above.
P.P.S. Not sure about video formats, but MPEG sounds like a good bet.

That's not gibberish...  It's Linux. - Byers, The Lone Gunmen

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