Open-Source Tools for Audio-Visual Archives

At Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola in Donostia (San Sebastián), Spain, from 16 to 19 May 2023.

Table of Contents


The class begins with an introduction on file formats. Building on this the students will practically explore free and open-source software, such as:

  • ffmpeg, HandBrake and Audacity for in-depth file transformation
  • MediaInfo and ffprobe for technical metadata extraction
  • QCTools and astataudit for quality control
  • AEO-Light for sound extraction from optical tracks and
  • DCP-o-matic for DCP encoding and file extraction

as well as various media players, including VLC, mpv and ffplay.

Resources on infrastructure and workflows for film and video digitisation will be presented and discussed, taking account especially of solutions which can be implemented in difficult environments at little expense and of solutions which can be automatised.

An overview on data preservation and migration, as well as disaster planning and recovery, will round off this class.

The lecturer is Reto Kromer.


Tuesday 16 May

  • Organisation, PDF, 2.5 MB
  • On Audio-Visual File Formats, PDF, 6.3 MB
  • A Quiz on Audio-Visual File Formats, PDF, 63 KB
  • Used commands #1

Wednesday 17 May

Thursday 18 May

Friday 19 May

  • A Brief Overview of QCTools, PDF, 448 KB
  • Before the Restoration, PDF, 5.9 MB
  • Analogue and Digital Preservation in Difficult Times, PDF, 3.3 MB
  • Used commands #4
  • Answers to the Quiz on Audio-Visual File Formats, PDF, 51 KB
  • Sound noise reduction

Free and Open-Source Software

CLI = command-line interface
GUI = graphical user interface

Media Players
Metadata Extraction
File Transformations
Quality Control
Policy Implementer, Checker, Reporter and Fixer
Optical Sound Extraction
DCP Encoder (and Player)
The Bridge between Still Image and Stream Formats
“Tool, language and decoders for working with binary data”
  • fq (CLI)