Jasco Broadcast Solutions and Memnon complete Nelson Mandela Foundation digitisation project

The Memnon team handing over the digitised drive to the Jasco Broadcast Solutions team. From left to right: Neo Modisakeng - Managing Director at Jasco , Baku Morikuni - CEO Memnon, Paul Divall - Cluster Managing Director | ICT Cluster Jasco, Michel Merten - Chief Business Development Officer at Memnon, Maximus Magwaza - Account Manager Jasco

Jasco Broadcast Solutions and Memnon recently sponsored the digitisation of almost 200 tapes for the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Jasco is currently involved in a three-year project with the South African Broadcast Corporation (SABC) to digitise 150,000 hours of content. To undertake this mammoth task, Jasco partnered with Memnon – a Sony-owned company based in Brussels – on the SABC digitisation project. A global leading provider of services to digitise, restore, preserve and provide access to recordings of any format, Memnon has been in the industry since 2005 and to date has digitised over 3 million hours of content worldwide.

The Nelson Mandela digitisation initiative

One of the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s (NMF) founding principles is to create, protect and preserve a Centre of Memory about Nelson Mandela. The Centre of Memory contains an archive of Mandela’s life and times, works, and writings.

“Whilst touring the facility, Razia Saleh – director, Archive & Research, NMF – mentioned that an Australian foundation had donated tapes of Nelson Mandela, documenting, amongst other things, Mandela’s visits to Australia and his interactions with the Australian nation,” explains Maximus Magwaza, Account Manager, Jasco Broadcast Solutions. One of the tapes in question documented Mandela’s visit to Melbourne, Australia, on the invitation of a group of boys hoping to promote world reconciliation on 8 September 2000.

The tapes hold great value for the NMF and South Africa in general, but they needed to be digitised. Knowing the state of content libraries in Africa, when presented with the opportunity both Jasco and Memnon agreed that the Nelson Mandela Foundation digitisation initiative would be a project worth sponsoring.

Undertaking the initiative

A lot of time was spent verifying the inventory and what could and couldn’t be digitised: “The tapes were finally collected from NMF and sent to Memnon early this year, where they went through the digitisation process. This included processing of a test batch which allowed for the quality and formats to be agreed upon, checked and signed off by the NMF.”

A total of 195 tapes were identified as being suitable for digitisation. These were made up of VHS, Betacam, DigiBeta and MiniDV tapes. “The tapes were in pretty good shape, out of the 195 only two failed to digitise,” says Magwaza. The hard drive with the final content was delivered late in September and was formally handed over to the NMF at a special event which took place on 15 October.

What next

Despite having a fully operational plant at the SABC that is geared to accommodate bulk projects,  Jasco Broadcast Solutions is looking at the best ways to cater for smaller capacity projects – like the NMF digitisation initiative – in different formats (video, audio, film or image).

“The beauty of digitising content is that it opens up opportunities not only to preserve history, but to make it more easily accessible to the world at large and to ensure that it doesn’t remain a long-forgotten memory, but lives on for generations to come,” comments Magwaza.