We recently had a question on our users’ forum asking for advice on cataloguing a smartphone app. Here are some general tips about cataloguing born-digital objects, as well as some notes on multimedia material that you might only have in analogue form (such as reels of film).
Link the digital files
You can link any kind of digital file to Vernon CMS, and/or link to one or more web pages with material that relates to the object. When linking images, sound or video, Vernon CMS will automatically import metadata from the file so that you have detail including creation dates and equipment, dimensions and duration. All other files will open in the default player set for that file type on your computer.
For example, for a smartphone app you could link still images of the app, a trailer video, the app download file, and perhaps a link to web-based source code repository if you have the source code.
Use the standard object record fields
Vernon CMS includes many fields which can be used to catalogue multimedia material, including born-digital files.
Object Type: a simple description of the type of material. e.g. Sound Recording, Smartphone app.
Measurements: if you don’t have duration as metadata directly in the digital file then running time can be recorded in our standard Measurements field, capturing hours, minutes and seconds. Digital file sizes can also be recorded if KB/MB/GB are set up as measurement units. So, you might note the download size of a Smartphone app.
Size Category: film stock is usually stored in standard can sizes. These sizes can be notes in the Size Category field.
Display Requirements: a description of the equipment required to play the recording or to use the app.
The Physical Aspects screen includes fields for:
Format: e.g. Digital Video Disc, 35mm colour film, iOS app
Sound: e.g. Dolby 5.1
Scale: e.g. 4:3 or 1200px x 900px.
Add user defined fields
Vernon CMS’ number formats include support for timecodes, either as hours:minutes:seconds or hours:minutes:seconds:frames. An example use is to add fields for Timecode Start and Timecode End to record details of clip taking from a longer audio or video file.
Other examples of user defined fields that sites have created include Special Features (for noting features available on a commercial film release or special attributes of a software package or app), Technical Details (for noting details such as the DVD Zone or Video codec).
Vernon CMS Awesome Adzebill release (Sept 2017)
The next major version of VCMS includes dedicated fields for timecodes. The new edit table has fields for Timecode Title, Start, End, Duration, & Notes, and can be used to note the start and end time or duration of interesting clips or titles within a longer audio or video recording.
Carriers versus Titles
Large audio or video collections often include multiple copies of the same recording. Each copy is often referred to as a Carrier. An example would be film, which the organisation may hold as a 16mm master copy, and as an analog VHS and digital DVD copy for lending.
Vernon CMS supports the splitting of the catalogue detail in a title record and multiple related carrier records. The title record captures the intellectual description (the title, who made it, when and where was it made). The carrier records describe details of the copies (what format are they in, where are they stored, what loans and conservation work have they been involved in). This is a more complex structure and is only necessary when large numbers of duplicate copies are managed. The standard Object -> Group & Member screen manages the relationships between titles and carriers, usually as Related Records.