The AFL has one of the largest sports video archive collection in the world. Some videos date back to the 1909 Grand Final where South Melbourne beat Carlton. How do you preserve and share such a piece of history with the world?

For many years, the AFL had been storing its video archive on physical tapes and film canisters locked in temperature-controlled vaults. The physical nature of the ageing, delicate and fragile tapes and films, and the manual content retrieval process was a significant risk to these national treasures.

There was a big problem with this –

  • Managing the video archive was inefficient and relied on skilled technicians to access the vision. The short life of the physical tapes meant the AFL could eventually end up losing footage forever.
  • Distribution and reproduction of tape footage as short clips and stories was challenging as it was not scalable for digital consumption in multiple video formats.

With each match taking up around 120GB of storage (up to nine matches are played every week, creating over 1TB of data) plus additional non-match content, the AFL’s ever-expanding catalogue is an issue that grows bigger day by day.

Telstra Purple and Telstra Broadcast Services banded together with Telstra’s Strategic Collaboration Agreement with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to take on the challenge.

The AFL engaged Telstra to digitise the video archive catalogue. The objective was to digitise the on-premises videotapes and film and migrate them to AWS so that the archives can be searched and retrieved easily, on-demand.

Bringing Telstra Purple’s expertise to the game

The first phase of the project began with digitising the tapes with DAMsmart, who specialise in audio-visual digitisation. The tapes were securely transported and prepared for AV extraction and saved as high-quality digital files.

Using AWS Snowball (a petabyte-scale data transport service), around 500 TB of extracted digital video footage was uploaded and stored using Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3).

Telstra Purple configured the AWS cloud services for AFL to manage their digital video archive. It also implemented a media asset management (MAM) platform, Dalet Flex, so that AFL could meet its on-demand and multi-platform distribution requirements.

Telstra Broadcast Services provided an end-to-end Platform-as-a-Service solution to the AFL, bringing together all aspects of the Digitisation, and the connectivity to support the MAM platform hosted on AWS.

This solution helps the AFL to address the risk of losing their assets due to ageing and physical damages to tapes, frees up infrastructure which was used as vaults for storing these tapes and automates the content search and retrieval process.

With on-demand archive clip request workflow and metadata, the AFL can reproduce and redistribute some of the best moments in the sport’s history for richer digital and social engagement. It also enables the AFL to grow the sport by bringing the rich history of the game to a global audience