February 18, 2021 | by Hannah Storch
For years, Pixel Acuity has been at the vanguard of cultural heritage imaging. Automations and advances in technology have allowed us to explore the limitless possibilities of digitization solutions and revolutionized the way that we approach cultural heritage collection digitization. By capturing images using RAW rapid capture and utilizing our DT PixelFlow software to automate derivative generation, output directory structures, and deliverable packaging, we are able to make digital image processing and packaging more efficient and effective than ever before, allowing our team to focus on delivering the highest quality product to our clients.
RAW Rapid Capture Derivative Generation
Using rapid capture digitization software and equipment, Pixel Acuity’s digital imaging technicians are able to capture an image in a RAW format. This enables us to preserve all of the information recorded by the sensor at the time of capture and does not require compression, which would result in a loss of image information. By working with RAW files and using advanced cultural heritage imaging software, the digital imaging technician is able to alter settings such as sharpening or cropping and set parameters for usage without making changes to the underlying data in the RAW file.
This type of RAW digitization increases efficiency as it allows for the use of RAW files for capture, editing, and quality control, resulting in a much faster workflow than that typical of most traditional scanning systems, which directly create TIFFs or JPEGs. With RAW rapid capture and the addition of the automated DT PixelFlow, we are able to produce a vast array of derivatives from this RAW image, not solely tiffs or jpegs.
DT PixelFlow has allowed us to automate much of this final stage of processing and derivative file generation and packaging, making it faster, more efficient, and more effective. PixelFlow enables us to produce a wide array of file types, color profiles, and additive metadata, Optical Character Recognition (OCR), and file validations.
We work with our clients to determine exactly what deliverables they want and how they should be delivered. Just like a restaurant, we have an extensive menu of options and we help them select from those menus, offering our own experience and suggestions but of course always deferring to their preference; we can even take “off-menu” orders, customizing a new option just for them.
Deliverable files for cultural heritage imaging can be categorized into those intended for preservation and those intended for access files. The nomenclature our clients use for these two kinds of files can vary – we would refer to the first as Preservation Digital Objects but some clients prefer Preservation Master files or other terminology. Preservation Digital Object files are created at high to maximum capture specifications and may capture additional information about the original beyond the content itself, such as further details about the image like embedded metadata.
These Preservation Digital Object files are created to such a high standard that they could essentially take the place of the original material. For that reason, these Preservation Digital Object files often do not undergo significant processing or editing and can be used by the client to make other copies for reproduction or distribution. For these Preservation Digital Object files, the standard is to receive either 8-bit/16-bit tiffs or raw files, which our PixelFlow script is able to generate in an edited (fully cropped and deskewed), partially-edited (cropped to include an ISA object-level color target), or fully-unedited (not cropped or deskewed) preservation master file.
The very thing that makes a Preservation Digital Object (aka Preservation Master File) valuable is its very high quality and lossless compression, which is also what makes it less practical for most access purposes. Access files can be used for web viewing or sent out as they are for online reproduction or to scholars for research. Using DT PixelFlow, we are able to expand our offering beyond JPEGs and PDFs, to include a standard JPEG, an 8-bit JPEG 2000, a 16-bit JPEG 2000, a PDF, and an ISO-standardized format PDF/A, which is more specialized for use in the archiving and long-term preservation of electronic documents. These types of files are currently available using DT PixelFlow, but our repertoire is constantly expanding and can include derivatives beyond these upon request.
File Validation Packaging and Directory Structures
DT PixelFlow can also offer various forms of delivery validation. Checksum file validations act as a list of a folder’s contents and ensure deliver completeness while JHOVE validation, which provides format-specific identification, validation, and characterization of digital objects, acts not only as a list of items within a specific folder or delivery but also as confirmation that the file is a correct version of its purported file format. PixelFlow can generate these two methods as well as BAGIT and other forms of file packaging and validation, which can ensure that there are no corrupt files, missing folders, or incomplete deliveries.
File packaging can vary based on the needs of the institution. Some clients prefer a specific hierarchical structure that adheres to their internal organizational structures or Digital Asset Management System (DAMS), while others prefer a structure broken down by file type.
For instance, during one of a client institution’s artist collection projects, we developed a directory structure that would best work for their DAMS ingest needs. In this case, the delivery was organized with an overarching parent folder for the collection/artist’s name and then further broken down by box, folder, and then individual items. This enabled the client to see items grouped together within their folders and boxes while keeping separate each item so that they could view sketches, sketchbooks, and art materials as unique items as well as holistically within the collection.
DT PixelFlow is able to comply with any and all directory structures and our technical team assists our clients to define these in advance.
Capability and Customization
DT PixelFlow allows us to automate time-consuming processing steps and tailor file deliveries and directories to the needs of our clients. These derivatives and deliverables are just the tip of the iceberg for DT PixelFlow capabilities and client customization. To learn more about the potential of PixelFlow, check out our other articles about Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and metadata generation. Learn more about our cultural heritage imaging services here.
We were recently tasked with digitizing and preserving a special collection in partnership with the Mennello Museum in Orlando, Florida. The Mennello Museum holds the Melanson Holt Collection, displaying the works of a variety of artists, including indigenous artists, portraying the American southwest.
This American Paintings collection illuminates the land and people of the American southwest, “document the awe-inspiring desert light, remote lands, and extraordinary way of life in the changing American Southwest through their inventive forms of printmaking and painting alike” (Mennellomuseum.org).
Through the power of Phase One, we were able to bring this collection to life with the advanced Phase One iXH Cultural Heritage camera. Our founder and CEO, Eric Philcox, documented the entire experience to share with the Cultural Heritage community.
Thank you to our event partners Digital Transitions Cultural Heritage and Phase One Industrial.
We are excited to announce the grant advisory board for the Pixel Acuity Artificial Intelligence in Cultural Heritage Exploratory Research Grant (PA ArCHER Grant). The granting advisory board is comprised of a small group of experts from Pixel Acuity, Digital Transitions, and RIVER ai, and some of the leading experts in cultural heritage digitization community. This board will oversee the entirety of the grant process for the PA ArCHER Grant project. See more below to learn more about the background of our grant advisory board members.
Meet the board
Todd Swanson | Digital Imaging Manager | J. Paul Getty Trust
Todd is the Digital Imaging Manager for Getty Digital at J. Paul Getty Trust. He strives to help guide, foster, and create sustainable and meaningful data though strategic digitization and digital projects by utilizing and implementing best practices and guidelines, as well as actively exploring new and emerging technologies to help meet the current and future needs of the Cultural Heritage Community.
Bethany Davis | Digital Processing Coordinator Librarian | University of Iowa Libraries
Bethany leads the in-house digitization program, focusing on rare books, special collections, and archival material, at the University of Iowa Libraries. During her seven-year tenure, the program has expanded its staffing, infrastructure, and services while receiving nearly a half-million dollars in grant support for digitization projects. She holds a Master’s in Library and Information Science from Kent State University. The University of Iowa Libraries system consists of seven libraries, holding more than 5.7 million volumes including more than one million locally digitized items in the Iowa Digital Library and Iowa Research Online. The University of Iowa is one of the nation’s premier public research universities, with 11 colleges offering internationally recognized programs in disciplines ranging from otolaryngology to fiction writing, printmaking to space science, hydraulic engineering to dance. Iowa draws nearly 33,000 students from more than 114 countries and all 50 U.S. states and employs about 29,500 faculty and staff.
Luciano Johnson | Associate Chief Librarian | The Frick Art Collection and Frick Reference Library
Luciano Johnson is the Associate Chief Librarian leading the Preservation, Imaging, and Creative Services cluster at The Frick Collection and Frick Art Reference Library. He has been working in imaging and preservation for over 15 years, including helping to establish an institution-wide digital preservation policy and program, managing digitization and its technical infrastructure, digital asset management, and promoting and providing access to digital collections through technology-driven projects. Most recently, his role has expanded to include leading the graphic design team at The Frick. His primary interest is the intersection of the activities of preservation, digitization, visual design, and technology. In particular, the application of these disciplines in solving the problems of educational and cultural heritage institutions. Currently, he is on the advisory board for an AI and computer vision focused symposium organized by The Frick Art Reference Library and MOMA on the topic of “Technological Revolutions in Art History.”
Doug Peterson | Head of Research and Development | Digital Transitions
Doug is the Head of R+D and Products at Digital Transitions. He has a BS in Commercial Photography from Ohio University and has worked on the technology side of high-end digital imaging his entire career. He is the lead author of the Digital Transitions Digitization Guides, has presented multiple Short Courses at the IS&T Archiving imaging conference, and is Digital Transition’s liaison to the ISO where he works on improving standards for preservation-grade digitization.
Eric Philcox | CEO | Pixel Acuity
Eric is the CEO of Pixel Acuity, the service wing of Digital Transitions. He has a BS in Photographic Imaging from Andrews University and managed the Digital Imaging Unit at New York Public Library prior to opening his own digitization company. Pixel Acuity is a recognized thought leader in digitization workflows, quality control, and project management.
Ankur A. Patel | Co-Founder and Managing Partner | RIVER ai
Ankur is the co-founder and managing partner at River AI Consulting. Formerly, Ankur was the Vice President of Data Science at 7Park Data, a Vista Equity Partners portfolio company. Prior to 7Park Data, Ankur led data science efforts in New York City for Israeli artificial intelligence firm ThetaRay, one of the world’s pioneers in applied unsupervised learning. Ankur began his career as an analyst at J.P. Morgan, and then became the lead emerging markets sovereign credit trader for Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest global macro hedge fund, and later founded and managed R-Squared Macro, a machine learning-based hedge fund, for five years. A graduate of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, Ankur is the recipient of the Lieutenant John A. Larkin Memorial Prize. He currently resides in New York City. His latest work is Hands-on Unsupervised Learning Using Python: How to Build Applied Machine Learning Solutions from Unlabeled Data.
Brady Wilks |Grant Manager | Pixel Acuity and Digital Transitions
Brady is the acting grant manager for Pixel Acuity and Digital Transitions. Additionally, he consults on digitization management and contract writing. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in Photography from the Academy of Arts University where he was later a member of the adjunct faculty. Brady is an artist, author, and educator with over 20 years of photographic experience in historical photographic processes, contemporary art, and digitization. He is the author of many white papers and an Alternative Photographic Process book by Focal Press. For many years he has been managing and leading digitization efforts for private projects and federal contracts. Brady will be serving as the primary point of contact on this grant.