Standards Review

Digital Asset Management: Video Standards


  • Copyright FAQ (Coming soon!)

Questions regarding the legal use of digital media are answered in a Copyright FAQ and such use must be guided by several policies and procedures that include the College’s Intellectual Property Policy, and Information technology policies.  Misusing those rights places both you and the College in jeopardy.  “Fair use” standards for visual materials are especially rigorous, and you must be certain that the intended uses in your digitization project do not infringe on the rights of others.

Return to top

One of the strengths of digitizing resources is that it makes those resources accessible to many people.  However, that strength can become a weakness if proper security is not put in place.  In addition to institutional security practices there are several different strategies that should be built into any digital project.

  • access to archival master files should be limited.
  • workflow should prevent any changes to the master files.
  • derivative files should be the ones delivered to users. 
  • there should be a clear copyright statement attached to all files

Security Standards

All faculty, staff, and students must comply with Bowdoin’s Information Technology policies as outlined under the heading "College-wide" at

Return to top

Budget Standards

  • Purchase of videos - varies greatly, between $30.00-$200.00 per video (not including public performance rights), depending upon vendor/title
  • Hardware and software – contact IT
  • File storage – contact IT
  • Staff time - when beginning a video conversion project, you should consider that it can take up to 4 hours per 1 hour video to scan, edit and manage. Moreover, video conversion uses a significant amount of processing power and special equipment might be needed depending on the analog video format. For these reasons, we recommend investigating outsourcing options for video conversion projects. Consult with IT to identify reputable vendors or obtain recommendations or referrals.

Return to top

Software and Hardware Standards

Because computer models, peripherals, scanners and software versions change so quickly, it is important that you contact IT to get the most recent standards.  The staff will assist you in selecting the correct equipment for your project.

Return to top

Metadata Standards

To promote reliable searching and basic media and file management practices, Bowdoin College recommends the use of the Public Broadcasting Core (PBCore) descriptive metadata standard for moving images.  This standard is based on Dublin Core (see Bowdoin recommended metadata standards for digital still images) but has greater complexity, incorporating more technical fields and the ability to encompass description of multiple physical and digital formats of the same media item. The PBCore allows for a wide range of detail, from very simple to extremely specific. Use of the PBCore standard assures consistency and reliability for indexing, retrieving, and managing data for immediate applications and over time.

See for more detailed descriptions and examples.

PBCore element
DC Element
Descriptive and Administrative Metadata
Metadata record ID
Unique ID of record of metadata descriptions for a media item Record ID in digital asset management system; may be automatically generated
identifier (01.01)
No equivalent
Metadata record creator
Agency, institution or individual that assigns Metadata record ID Bowdoin College Library
identifierSource (01.02)
No equivalent
Date created
Date of capture/creation Filming date, digitization date; 2008/08/04
identifier (01.01)
No equivalent
Creator or Author
An entity responsible for the creation of the work Filmmaker; director
Formal name given to the work or brief caption for untitle work Eskimo Life in South Greenland; Bowdoin College Commencement
title (02.01)
Administrative control
An entity responsible for the content of the work Peary MacMillan Arctic Museum
IP Rights
Information about the copyright and related intellectual property rights Name of copyright holder; terms defining use and governing access to the work
Brief summary of the content of the work Free text narrative of the contents and/or context of the media
Description (4.01)
Topic of the content Topical keywords or controlled vocabulary
An entity responsible for making the work available A person; a department or office; the College
Primary language of media's audio or text French, Anglo-Saxon
Intended audience Class no.; project name
Location of media URL; shelf location
No equivalent
Technical Metadata
Media Identifier
Unique identifier of media item such as file name or call number BV583
formatIdentifier (25.25.1)
Media Identifier Source
Agency, institution or individual that assigns Media ID Bowdoin College. IT
No equivalent
Physical Format
Physical medium MiniDV, DigiBeta, DVD
format - medium
Digital Format
Identify format of media item as it exists in digital format mpeg; QuickTime
Media type
General descriptor of the kind of media Video; Moving Image
Generation of Media
original, master, copy Preservation master, original footage
Format Standard
Identify larger system/technical standard within which media exists NTSC, PAL, MPEG, QuickTime
relation - conformsTo
Format Encoding
How information in media item is compressed, interpreted or formulated MPEG-1
Real Media
Frame Size
For digital files, size in pixels 480i > 720x480 interlaced scan;
1080p > 1920x1080 progressive scan
format - extent
Aspect Ratio
Ratio of horizontal to vertical dimensions of frame 4:3
Recording Equipment
Equipment or software used to create media Make and model of camera; name and version of software
Local Use - No Equivalent
Local Use - No Equivalent

*M= Mandatory          R=Recommended          MA=Mandatory, if applicable          O=Optional

Return to top

File Storage Standards

Please call IT to discuss file storage needs.

Return to top

File Naming Standards

  • Length: 32 or fewer characters, including the extension
  • Include three letter extensions (e.g., “.tif”)
  • Use only one period in a file name, and position it before the three-letter extension; if there is no extension, then do not use any periods in the filename.
  • Use only the characters from the following sets: a-z, 0-9, hyphen ( - )
  • Use all lower case letters

Return to top


Physical Format Standards

The miniDV format, because it both produces a high quality image and has been widely adopted by manufacturers and users of consumer-level video equipment, is the recommended video format for Bowdoin College students, faculty, and staff.  The miniDV tape uses high density magnetic media to record digital video and audio tracks, with tape contents easily transferable either to a PC or to a Mac platform using an IEEE-1394 (Firewire) cable.

Bowdoin College Information Technology and the Library’s Language Media Center support miniDV playback and editing, and the Library’s Special Collections and Archives is able both to play miniDV tapes and to convert these tapes to other formats (e.g. DVD or VHS) for distribution or for classroom use.

Recommended Tape Length

MiniDV tapes, similar to previous digital and analog video formats, allow information to be recorded on a magnetic film that is bonded to a plastic tape base.  As with earlier formats, the thickness of this film and plastic base varies with the length of the tape housed in the cassette, with longer tapes having a thinner magnetic coating and plastic base.  Because the thinner magnetic coating on longer length tapes is more susceptible to wear from the record heads on miniDV cameras, and because the thinner plastic base on longer tapes is more susceptible to stretching and deformation from recording and playback, it is recommended that members of the Bowdoin community use only tapes 83 minutes and shorter (when recorded on a camera’s highest quality SP setting) to assure that recorded material is not damaged through repeated recording and playback.  It is also recommended that new tapes be used whenever recording an event which is intended to be archived (see Archival recommendations below).

Recommended Audio Setting

To ensure better compatibility among miniDV playback devices, it is recommended that miniDV cameras have their audio set to 16 bits.  Selection of higher bit depths can jeopardize audio playback on some machines.

Digital File Format Standards

These recommendations are based on established format protocols currently used to deploy media content to the Bowdoin Web site and other Web-based applications. I.e., Blackboard, e-Reserves, iTunes U, Podcasts, Bowdoin web site.

Recommended Media Containers

Bowdoin's baseline standard for both open and commercial software video formats is based on MPEG-4 Part 14. MPEG-4 Part 14 is a multimedia container format standard specified as a part of MPEG-4. It is most commonly used to store digital audio and digital video data, especially those defined by MPEG, but can also be used to store other data such as subtitles and still images. Additionally, MPEG-4 Part 14 also allows streaming over the Internet and is compatible with current server hardware installed at Bowdoin. The official filename extension for MPEG-4 Part 14 files is .mp4, thus the container format is typically referred to as MP4. The only exception to Bowdoin's baseline standard for an open audio format is MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3, more commonly referred to as MP3. MP3 audio is used to guarantee successful delivery of digital audio to the widest variety of computer platforms and mobile devices, such as MP3 players, iPods and cellular phones.

Recommended Software Platform

Quicktime is the recommended software platform for encoding and decoding of media content, but other encoders are freely and openly available to encode media into the recommended containers. Additionally, Quicktime is freely available to the public for both PC and Macintosh computer platforms and is currently the most used encoding engine for mobile video and audio devices (such asiPods). Quicktime also allows Bowdoin to leverage server side solutions, such as Apple's Podcast Producer, to automate the encoding, and deployment of media content in support of web related applications.

Return to top

Distributing Digital Video

MiniDV is not suitable media to be used for distribution.   Like its predecessors, miniDV tape is recorded on by a set of record heads inside the camera that magnetically encode digital information.  Not all camera manufacturers use the same tracking settings to encode information to the tape, however, and it is possible that video shot on one model or brand of miniDV camera may not play back on different equipment.  These tracking problems can be compounded by tapes which have been stretched through repeated use, and unlike analog videotapes, whose contents may still be viewable despite tracking problems, miniDV tapes are unforgiving, with slight tracking errors often rendering images unviewable.  In addition, there are user-selectable camera settings – most notably audio bit depth – which can affect playback when using different miniDV devices.  Consequently, users of miniDV video equipment should never assume that a tape they produce will be viewable on other people’s equipment.  When distributing video shot on miniDV tape alternative formats, such as DVD or as a computer file (see recommendations below), are recommended.

Return to top

Archival Recommendations

Although miniDV tapes are the preferred format for capturing video images, this technology is not ideally suited to archival preservation.  Magnetic media is inherently unstable and will, over time, begin to decay, thereby compromising the integrity of the source material.  In addition, given the “all or nothing” nature of digital recording – data is either readable or it is not – relatively minor tape decay or deformation caused by repeated use can render miniDV tapes unviewable.  This is unlike analog tape recordings, which may exhibit image distortions (e.g. static, color loss, or loss of tracking) when the tape has begun to decay or has been deformed, but, depending on the severity of the distortions, still allow the possibility of viewing damaged source material.

In order to minimize the risk that video of an event is lost due to decay or damage of the miniDV master tape, members of the Bowdoin community are recommended to preserve digital media in more than one format.  A DVD can be used as a short term back-up for a miniDV master, but because DVDs are created using a compression algorithm, which produces video of diminished quality from the original, and because DVDs are prone to “bronzing” as the inner foil is exposed to air and playback is compromised, DVDs should not be used as the primary archival storage media.  It is recommended that in addition to the miniDV master, a computer file of the video also be maintained (see recommendations below).

Return to top

File Extension Standards

MPEG-4 (.mp4, .m4a, .m4b)
MPEG-4 audio and video files generally use the standard .mp4 extension. Audio only MPEG-4 files typically use the standard .m4a extension. Digital audiobooks are typically use the .m4b extensions

MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 (.mp3)
MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 audio files use the .mp3 extension.

Download-able Video (.mov)
Video purposed for download on the Bowdoin web site and related web applications should make use of Quicktime and the .mov extension to offer the best possibility of successful playback.

Streaming Video (.mov)
Video purposed for streaming playback on the Bowdoin web site and related web applications should make use of Quicktime and the .mov extension to offer the best possibility of successful playback.

Streaming Audio (.mp4)
Audio purposed for streaming playback on the Bowdoin web site and related web applications should make use of Quicktime and the .mov extension to offer the best possibility of successful playback.

Mobile Video (.m4v)
Video purposed for download and viewing on mobile devices (Such as iPods and iPhones) should make use of Quicktime and the .m4v extension to offer the best possibility of successful playback.

Mobile Audio (.mp3)
Audio purposed for download and listening on mobile devices should use the .mp3 extension to offer the best possibility of successful playback.

Return to top

Project Planning Standards
Use of Basecamp, a powerful web-based project management tool is strongly recommended.  To set up your project, contact 
The plan should specify the following:
Who will acquire, process and catalog the images or videos
The approximate number of images or videos
Who will use the images or videos
How the images/videos will be accessed and by whom
How the collection will be searched and sorted
What copyright restrictions apply
How many hours the project will require
What hardware and software, (if any), needs to be purchased.

Return to top