Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Digital Imaging Standards: Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative (FADGI)

Ever wonder how the VRC arrives at its digital imaging standards? We look to technical guidelines from sources like the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative (FADGI). This summer they released the latest version of their Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Cultural Heritage Materials: Creation of Raster Image Master Files (PDF). Intended for an audience that includes "archivists, librarians, curators, managers, and others, as well as practitioners directly involved in scanning and digital capture, such as technicians and photographers," these guidelines may be very useful for photographers and artists seeking standards for archiving images depicting their original artwork. However, they will be too technical for some. As state in the introduction, "a basic foundation in photography and imaging is essential. Generally, without a good technical foundation and experience for production staff, there can be no claim about achieving the appropriate level of quality as defined in these guidelines."

The Guidelines address the digitization of still images within the realm of historical, cultural, or archival materials. The document begins with a technical overview providing details on raster image characteristics (include spatial resolution, signal resolution, and color mode), the digitization environment, assessing scanner and camera performance, and reference targets, followed by in-depth sections on imaging workflow, digitization specifications, file format comparisons, various types of metadata, storage recommendations, and quality management.

If you are a member of the Department of Art and Art History, feel free to ask us about this and other digital imaging best practices documents. Lia Pileggi, our Digital Imaging and Technology Coordinator, is available by appointment to discuss the best digitization and archiving strategies for your project. And of course, we offer free scanning services to instructors in the department.

For more information about FADGI, see their web site. In addition to their Still Image Working Group FADGI has an Audio-Visual Working Group, which hasn't yet produced an analogous Guidelines document but currently hosts a page on audio-visual Resources and Industry Standards with a lot of very helpful links.

Image: Alan Vernon. Morant's Curve - Digitized Velvia Slide film. 2010. Available from Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

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