About the Digital Collection Project

Bo Diddley, 1973
Bo Diddley, 1973

The idea of preserving the Monterey Jazz Festival collection took root in 2002, and efforts to see it through have been ongoing ever since. Limited catalog information, physical degradation of the original media, and obstacles to maintaining equipment for analog playback and duplication made accessing the materials both cumbersome and potentially damaging. It was clear that the collection needed to be digitally reformatted for preservation and access.

A collection survey was carried out in 2002-2003 by Stanford University Libraries preservation staff. After physically inspecting two-thirds of the holdings (approximately 1000 sound and moving image items), information gathered from the survey was used to develop a multi-year plan, in collaboration with the Monterey Jazz Festival, to digitize and catalog the archive. Over $350,000 in grants were awarded together by the GRAMMY Foundation, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and Save America's Treasures, and in early 2006, the project formally began.

Digitizing the Audio Recordings

A total of 800 audio tapes -- 589 ¼" analog reel, 25 ½" analog multi-track reel, 155 DAT, and 31 audiocassettes -- was selected for reformatting based on the uniqueness of recorded content as well as the media's format and physical condition. Fantasy Studios (Berkeley, California) was contracted to perform the audio digitization work. Working in batches of approximately 100 items, audio engineers prepared each tape for digital capture. The sound on each analog reel was digitized on a Digidesign Pro Tools system (v. 7.1 LE) to create uncompressed preservation master files in the Broadcast WAVE format (24-bit, 96 kHz).

Original DAT recordings were captured as uncompressed Broadcast WAVE files at their original encoding specification (16-bit and 44.1 or 48 kHz). From each of these master files, a production master file was derived (16-bit, 44.1 kHz in WAVE format). Project staff created CD listening copies of the sound recordings for use by researchers at the Archive of Recorded Sound.

Digitizing the Video Recordings

Bo Diddley, 1973
Wynton and Branford Marsalis, 1983

Videos recorded before 2005 that had been identified as the masters or sole copies were flagged for preservation reformatting. VidiPax LLC (Long Island City, NY) was contracted to perform the video reformatting. A total of 233 video tapes were digitized: 15 1-inch open reels, 53 U-Matic cassettes, 17 VHS cassettes, 2 Betamax cassettes, and 156 BetacamSP cassettes. After inspection and cleaning, each tape was digitized to create a preservation master as an uncompressed video bitstream (10-bit, 4:2:2, 225 Mbps, Standard Definition, NTSC) and audio bitstream (16-bit, 48 kHz, 1.55 Mbps) wrapped as a QuickTime file. An MPEG-2 derivative (video: 4 Mbps, 4:2:0, 8-bit, 720 x 480; audio: 384 Kbps) serves as the production master file for each original recording.

The vendor recorded the preservation master files in triplicate sets on LTO-3 tape storage media for delivery. Upon receipt at Stanford; each set was promptly sent to geographically-distributed storage locations. DVD copies were created for use by researchers at both the Stanford University Archive of Recorded Sound and the Monterey Jazz Festival.

Content Description and Quality Control

After the digitization process was completed, archivists at Stanford reviewed each audio and video file in order to assure the quality of the digital conversion, as well as created detailed database records describing the contents of the recording.

Preserving the Original Materials

The original materials were returned to Stanford for preparation for long-term storage. In cases where the original housings provided inadequate protection from dust or other foreign matter, items were rehoused into new, sturdy archival enclosures. All of the originals were placed in acid-free boxes, inventoried, and sent to the Stanford Auxiliary Library 3, a remote storage facility with optimal environmental conditions for the long-term preservation of library materials.

Preserving the Digital Files

Files and metadata produced in the course of the project are archived in the Stanford Digital Repository, the preservation system developed at Stanford for long-term management of digital resources of enduring value to research and scholarship.

Future Preservation Efforts

In 2006 the Monterey Jazz Festival ceased recording the annual concerts to tape, and began to create digital audio file masters instead, marking yet another turning point in the evolution of the collection. The "born-digital" raw audio recordings from present-day festival concerts are now regularly deposited into the archive at Stanford where they are preserved and accessible to the public.

While a transition to a digital video format for preservation is in planning, video documentation of the Festival performances continues to be recorded to BetacamSP format. The BetacamSP tapes, as well as any newly-uncovered, historic recordings of the Monterey Jazz Festival added to the collection at the Archive of Recorded Sound, will be digitally-reformatted for preservation and access as part of a larger, programmatic effort to ensure ongoing access to audiovisual media collections at Stanford.

All photos courtesy of the Monterey County Herald