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.
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.
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.
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.