On Audio-Visual File Formats

Online lecture given at the “Biennial Audio-Visual Archival Summer School (BAVASS)”, hosted by FIAF, on 20 September 2021.


The presentation will take us on a journey into some of the science behind digital. We start with some fundamentals on digital audio and digital video (container, codec, raw data). Then we will delve into examining different formats for different purposes (preservation master, mezzanine and dissemination formats). We will see how to choose the file formats that best fits a given concrete situation, and how to manage them over a long period of time in the real world.


  • The presentation’s slides (PDF, 5.2 MB, MD5 = 5918eb7780d63808fab87fad0d99c3a3).
  • FADGI (Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative, USA)


Having graduated in both mathematics and computer science, Reto Kromer became involved in audio-visual conservation and restoration back in 1986. He has been running his own preservation company, AV Preservation by reto.ch, and lecturing at the Bern University of Applied Sciences, the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and the Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola in Donostia (San Sebastián). His current research includes colour spaces, look-up tables and codec programming and emulation. Previously he was head of preservation at the Cinémathèque suisse (the Swiss National Film Archive) as well as a lecturer at the University of Lausanne. He served as an AMIA board member during two terms. His work has seen him honoured with an inaugural JTS Award.