Acquiring Video


Acquisition refers to the process of receiving video and metadata from a source and adding it to your collection. Your aim at this stage is to acquire your materials in a complete and intact form. Actions you take at this stage are critical to the later usability and preservation of your video.

A Scenario: Inundated with Videos

The Elections Monitoring Center wants to collect reliable videos that document the aftermath of recent elections in its country in order to report to the international community, and to retain for the historical record. Fortunately, the days following the election were widely documented on video by news outlets, ordinary citizens, and the Center’s own staff. There are so many videos, in fact, that the Center is overwhelmed by the quantity.

Rather than try to collect every single video about the election, the Center decides to prioritize videos that best meet its purposes. It decides to acquire only videos whose source they can confirm; that they have the rights to re-use; and that emerged from electoral districts in which news media were not present.

Some of the most important video documentation was shot by ordinary citizens. In order to ensure the authenticity and reliability of these videos, the Center asks citizens to submit their original files if they can, and to fill out a metadata form with their names, district, and other information.


Check for viruses

Malware like viruses and Trojans can spread through the Internet or on portable devices. Protect yourself from inadvertently acquiring malware by using virus detection software, and only downloading or opening attachments from known and trusted sources.

Try This: BASIC

There are many commercially available virus scanners. Some free virus scanners include ClamXAV, Immunet, and ClamWin.


ClamAV is an open source anti-virus engine for detecting Trojans, malware, viruses, and other malicious threats.

Protect sensitive information

Find out from your sources if there is any sensitive information in your video and metadata that needs to be kept confidential (e.g. names, locations). You should acquire and retain this information but restrict access and store securely as needed.

What’s Next

Deciding What to Keep
Setting criteria for what to keep.

Acquiring Raw Video and Metadata
Best practices for getting raw materials complete and intact.

Acquiring Edited Video and Elements
What to keep from your edits.

  • Decide what you will—and will not—collect and save; create a selection policy based on your goals and needs.
  • Acquire unaltered original files whenever possible.
  • Acquire all available metadata and related documentation about your videos.
  • Check your acquired files to make sure you have copied or downloaded them completely and correctly.
  • Do not rename video files if they have their original camera-given filenames.
  • Maintain the chain of custody by documenting the source, time, date, and location of your acquisition.
  • For edited videos, acquire a high-quality master whenever possible.
  • For edited videos, acquire production elements like project files and graphics.
Key Concept: Selection Policy

A selection policy provides clarity on what you will acquire and what you will not.
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Key Concept: Authenticity

Maintain the authenticity of a video when you acquire it by collecting the intact original file(s) and the metadata that comes with it.
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Key Concept: Chain of Custody

Your acquisition forms a part of a video’s chain of custody.

Document your acquisition, so that an unbroken chain can be traced all the way back to the source.
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Key Concept: Completeness

Be sure that you acquire all of the files needed to create a complete record, as defined by the purpose or requirements of your collection.
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Key Concept: Original Order

You may or may not receive video files in the order in which they were originally created, but you should restore the original order after you acquire them.
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Key Concept: Integrity

Ensure that no loss, tampering, or file corruption occurs during the process of acquisition.
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Key Concept: Original File

Always acquire an exact copy of the file created by the camera with no alterations to content or technical specifications, unless doing so is impossible.
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Key Concept: Metadata

Metadata may be embedded within a video file, or it may be a separate document. It is as important to acquire a video’s metadata as it is to acquire the video itself.
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The Archiving Workflow

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