USC Shoah Foundation has a large collection of interviews with survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides. Old physical media formats are susceptible to damage from fires to improper storage and USC has had to deal with this. The tech department at the foundation has figured out a painless way to restore and even improve the quality of footage from the damaged media.
Remembering history and being able to hear first hand accounts of events (no matter how horrific) can only help humanity. If we forget our history we are likely to repeat it.
Ryan Fenton-Strauss, video archive and post-production manager at ITS, was tasked with researching video restoration techniques currently being used in the motion picture industry. He found that there were very few existing options for restoring tape-based material.
“It seemed terribly unfortunate that after a survivor had lived through the Holocaust and poured his or her heart into a testimony, that parts of it would be lost due to a technical problem during the recording process,” Fenton-Strauss said.
However, Fenton-Strauss had an epiphany while sorting family photos with Google’s Picasa tool. He noticed that Picasa’s facial recognition software was so powerful that it could recognize his six-year-old daughter as a baby.
“I realized then that if we could automate the process of identifying the “good” and “bad” images using image recognition software, then we could correct some of our most difficult video problems,” Fenton-Strauss said.