Historic films include coverage of Vietnam War, Manson murders

The Associated Press has unveiled a new video archive platform that will allow customers to easily access, buy and license newly digitized video online, including rare 16mm prints previously held in long-term storage.

AP began digitizing its 70,000-hour back catalog in February and now aims to process 32,000 hours of videotape (into standard definition) and 16mm film (into high definition) by mid-2013, adding onto the 10,000 hours it had processed previously.

The historical 16mm film stock comprises 3,000 hours of news from 1963 to the mid-1980s, featuring coverage of subjects such as the Vietnam War and the Charles Manson murders, among a slew of other topics. Part of why AP decided to tackle the difficult process of digitizing 16mm film to HD video lies in the high expense and inconvenience to customers, who previously had to do it themselves, according to AP Video Archive director Alwyn Lindsey.

“Customers have often been reluctant to incur these costs, which has meant that lots of great films will not have been used by producers,” Lindsey said, adding that “news companies have tended to prioritize their tape-based video rather than film-based video for digitization, as it’s cheaper and less complex.”

The video platform itself streamlines the search process for customers and offers online downloads of AP video content. Pricing for the downloads will depend on specific licensing, though Lindsey says the rate for most domestic rights will be $40 per second. Subscription services will also be available.

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