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Digital Image Archiving: Half-Dozen Vendors Show Electronic Photo Library Systems

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Digital Image Archiving: Half-Dozen Vendors Show Electronic Photo Library Systems

Article excerpt

Digital image archiving

Two years ago there were none. A week ago at ANPA/TEC 91, six vendors showed systems for electronic image archiving, ready to fill the one remaining gap in all-digital photo handling for newspapers.

According to George Sinclair, electronic archiving is more important than ever with the emergence of the Kodak-Nikon filmless camera that provides images already in digital format and of higher resolution than still-video cameras.

The archiving products use optical and/or video discs. They range from systems that provide indexing and location of photos to those that also store production-quality images.

Outside of newspapers, electronic archives already had been developed to serve the needs of businesses and institutions with large collections of images, but only in the last year have several systems been adapted to or created for newspapers.

The first few appeared at the last two National Press Photographers Association Digital Photography Conferences. Systems at ANPA/TEC 91 were demonstrated by or in the booths of familiar industry vendors.

Elliot Packer showed his Instant Image Video disc image archiving system at Sinclair Communications Inc.

"We are integrating the picture desk with the library system," said George Sinclair, whose company markets two picture desks. Sinclair said that his company sells the systems and Packer sells the discs and services, in arrangement with one and possibly two wire services.

Instant Image (see E&P Feb. 1990 photography issue) utilizes video disc technology to rapidly sort of browse through image files - either by browsing images, which are identified on a text screen, or through a text screen search that brings up the corresponding images. Captions are included with the stored pictures.

"The learning curve is a few minutes," said Packer. "That's important - you don't want the computer to get in the way."

It is the system employed by The National to reference original negatives stored in labeled envelopes. Each video frame contains a different numbered image, the numbers corresponding to the numbers on the filed negatives.

Instant Image now functions with the Macintosh. In the system shown at TEC, a photo would be scanned onto a magneto-optical disc, then passed as a TIFF file to a Mac for processing in image editing and page layout programs. From the Mac, it is converted to video to assist future searches.

"In a pinch," said Packer, the video image could be used for production of small black-and-white pictures.

Unlike the National's library, the video image on the system demonstrated referred to the location of the high-resolution digital image on the optical disc.

Packer said the move to digital images does not worry him. "The more digital images they make, the better off I am because I can keep track of them."

Some discs can hold as many as 54,000 color video pictures per side. Work is under way to automate the transfer of photos from the picture desk to the video archive.

Packer said he is creating an archive of news photos for Reuters that he will periodically update and deliver to subscribing clients. Expected to become available in September, he said the monthly video disc subscription fee would probably range between $1,000 and $2,000. The fee includes about $10,000 worth of hardware, according to Packer.

Packer and Sinclair are reportedly also negotiating with Agence France-Presse.

Among the first to announce a digital, off-the-shef photo archive for newspapers was a newspaper company, Tribune Publishing of Lewiston, Idaho, which had earlier developed its own electronic text library, NewsView.

"When we came out with NewsView, we knew we'd have to do pictures," said Tribune's information systems manager Glenn Cruickshank. An outgrowth of that earlier product, PhotoView, uses the same Folio search engine employed in NewsView. …

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