RAI Teche XClope Audio Project
by Danila Komar, RAI
The archive of Rai Teche audio media includes more than 250000 physical media including ¼ inch open reel tapes, DAT, vinyl records. The material contained on these supports has an extraordinary cultural and historical value. Preservation and use of their contents is one of the mission of Teche RAI.
Some of the 1/4-inch tapes were digitized more than 10 years ago with some obsolete acquisition stations, others are still being acquired with the station developed by the Rai Research Center (CRITS) 10 years ago. One of the goals of the XClope project was to make the digital file acquisition stream independent from the media digitization station.
The XClope Audio project had the ambition to merge the identifying and descriptive metadata of more than 100000 programs, recorded on this various media, and to allow the access to the digital material, hidden in the archives for years. This access to the media is possible to the entire RAI through its Multimedia Catalogue (CMM Teche). The digital entries can now be reused for creating new content and used for research by those who study the history of radio, society and culture in general.
From an editorial point of view, the contents of this audio archive can be categorized into 3 large groups: music, radio programs( including news) and raw material. The other goal achieved with the XClope Audio project was to allow digital files not digitized with the CRITS station to be added to the workflow, thus allowing the acquisition of DAT tapes, vinyl records and audio files in addition to the ¼-inch open-reel tapes. All these materials that through the Xclope workflow reach the documentation, which enriches the media with descriptive metadata, and the RAI multimedia catalog from which they are therefore usable by all RAI employees.
The material contained on these supports has an extraordinary cultural and historical value.
The hours of material recovered and made available so far amount to more than 35000 hours. The project developed with a Microsoft SQL Server database and written in the .NET Framework 4.5 C# language has both rewritten old applications and their functions and added new functions and made more performing some steps of the production flow (e.g. the creation of the audio waveform, the scanning of paper material).
The project also implemented the (optional) low-quality file normalization feature to be provided to the CMM according to EBU standards, thus making audio files, whose original quality for reasons of physical deterioration is bad, audible and documentable. High-quality files can be restored with professional software (iZotope RX6). The XClope website can provide links for download the .mp3 and .wav files from the digitization archive. This feature is enabled only for restricted roles and user profiles.
Teche is trying to make the multimedia objects in its catalog connected to each other, imagining to create what we call “circular browsing” between objects. We mean with circular for e.g. the possibility of relating the audio files of the Radio Dramas recordings and the PDF files of the scans of the scripts, allowing the user to read the script interpreted by the actors while listening to the play. Another example of this link among the objects in the catalog can be to read the PDF of the scan of a musical score by listening to its performance by an orchestra or in the case of programs, read the scan of their lineup. In this context, XClope has provided and continues to provide the audio files to be connected with the other objects in the catalogue.