Cultural heritage digitization

Museum grade archival equipment and expertise

Cultural Heritage imaging is rooted in the idea of preserving the past for the future. The need for digitization of historic collections in museums and libraries is rapidly growing, with increasing focus on public access, research and preservation of information for the future. Institutions with valuable collections often have a dedicated photographic studio for creating photographs of sensitive material, or for producing paper copies for researchers and scholars, protecting the original objects from wear and damage. Preserving the past for the future is often a race against time, as much of the material has a limited lifespan before it is gone forever, thus solutions that enable rapid capture are not only necessary, but often crucial.

The scope of cultural heritage digitization is to create a Preservation Digital Object (PDO), which can, for all intents and purposes, be used instead of the actual object needing to be handled. This entails that the single time the artefact is imaged, it must be imaged perfectly and to the highest preservation grade standards. All Cultural Heritage collections are unique and diverse. In order to address this diverse nature, Charles Paul Azzopardi invested in developing, implementing and delivering specialized and tailored solutions, designed to produce the best output quality, while ensuring material safety and efficient workflow. Charles Paul Azzopardi trained in New York in state-of-the-art digital cultural heritage preservation methods.

Transparent Film and Glass Plate Negatives

This type of collection includes vintage glass plate negatives, medium and large format negatives, transparencies, including 35mm mounted slides, and all other transmissive material. We cater for every size of transparency, slide or glass plate, from 35 mm strips and mounted slides, through 120 mm, medium and large format glass plate negatives up to 25 by 32 cm glass plate negatives from the 1860s.

The following institutions have entrusted Charles Paul Azzopardi with digitizing and curating the digitization needs of their archives:

  • The Richard Ellis Archive Foundation
  • The National Archives of Malta
  • The Gennadius Library, Athens
  • The Gerald Formosa Archive
  • The Quentin Hughes Archive

Uniform illumination of the materials with perfect colour reproduction is mandatory so that all color information may be retrieved during processing, sometimes involving inverting the image from negative to positive. There is a tremendous speed advantage in the instant medium format capture over scanning, which can speed up the process by a factor of 300 or more. All material is imaged up to 400 megapixels in resolution and strictly adhering to FADGI 4-star and METAMORFOZE-Strict* preservation grade standards.

*FADGI and METAMORFOZE are the international standards of the cultural heritage preservation community.

Archives and Manuscripts

An archive and manuscript collection includes documents, drawings, maps, manuscripts, photos, newspapers, musical scores, letters, post cards, and other flat objects in all sizes and shapes. This type of work often requires a “set and forget” workflow where the camera and software are set up so that large numbers of flat objects can be recorded quickly while maintaining high resolution and accurate, consistent color and luminosity. Digitization of books  requires special attention to the binding, that can be fragile, and will determine how the material can be treated in the process. This fact can sometimes be the limiting factor when looking for fast capture turnaround. Using a leveled glass plate with the camera set for fixed focus on a copy stand will accelerate the capture process, and photographing both pages at the same time with one or two cameras will increase productivity.

For details and quotes for your cultural heritage digitization projects, kindly contact me on charles@charlespaulazzopardi.com.