Sharing Your Video

Providing Videos to Users

After users find videos in your collection, you need to provide the content to them in some form. The best delivery format will depend on what the user needs and their circumstances. Some users, for example, will only want to view the video online. Others will want a broadcast-quality copy. Some users may have unreliable Internet and electricity, while others have high-speed broadband.

Video Sharing Formats

The archival concept of “generation” refers to the relationship between a copy of a video to its original. A single video can have multiple generations of copies, such as an original, a preservation master, a duplication master, a use copy, and a preview. Usually, a change in generation implies that the video has been transcoded into a different format (as opposed to being an exact copy of the original). Having multiple generations of a video therefore does not replace having backup copies of your original. Rather, its purpose is to allow you to use the video in different ways.

Generally, you will provide users with a use or preview copy, which is generated from a duplication master or directly from the original (if the original is in an easily usable format). The format of the use copy depends on how the video is going to be used, and the user should provide you with specifications. A news outlet might require a broadcast-quality MPEG-2 file, for example, while an academic researcher might request a DVD. YouTube prefers an H.264/mp4 file. In some cases, you may be asked to provide something other than a use copy, such as copy of the original for a court case, or a copy of the duplication master for a distributor.

Try This: BASIC

xmedia recode is a free GUI for ffmpeg.

Try This: BASIC

MPEG Streamclip is a free video player, editor, and converter.


ffmpeg is a free collection of software that can transcode many video and audio formats.

See the section on “Transfer” for more on how to upload or send your videos.

  • Identify your key users, how they want to be able to find and access your videos, and if any controls need to be put on usage.
  • Create a finding aid — in the form of a guide, list, index, and/or catalog — with appropriate access points to enable your users to access your videos.
  • Make use copies from your duplication masters or originals as needed, in the format your user requires.
  • Control access to your collection, if necessary, to protect the identities of those in high-risk situations or to respect privacy.
  • Assume that anything you share or put online can be made public or used without your permission or in a way you do not agree with.
  • Be sure you have the legal rights to provide access.
Key Concept: Informed Consent

There are potential consequences to providing access. This is why you obtain informed consent when you film.
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Key Concept: Generation

Provide your users with use copies generated from your duplication master or original.
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Key Concept: Finding Aid

A finding aid is the tool that you provide to your users to help them find what they are looking for.
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Key Concept: Findability

A key aspect of providing access is making it easy for users navigate and locate what they are looking for.
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The Archiving Workflow

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