Amanda Moore and James Cole are
leading the effort to digitize and
preserve the archive of over 40 years of
Austin City Limits (ACL) episodes
produced by KLRU-TV, Austin PBS. The
ACL catalog includes more than 550
hour-long episodes as well as thousands
of hours of unaired footage from
well-known and obscure musical artists
and groups from the past 42 years.
KLRU-TV, Austin PBS created Austin City Limits (ACL) 42 years
ago and has produced it ever since. ACL is the longest-running
music series in television history and remains the only TV
series to ever be awarded the National Medal of Arts. ACL
offers viewers unparalleled access to featured acts in an
intimate setting that provides a platform for artists to deliver
inspired, memorable, full-length performances. The program
is taped live before a concert audience from The Moody
Theater in downtown Austin and distributed to PBS stations
across the country with select distribution worldwide including
the UK, Australia and Brazil.
The pilot for Austin City Limits was shot in 1974.
Willie Nelson performed. The production was
recorded in Studio 6A on the University of Texas
campus, and the stark, no-frills environment
became the ethos of the show. Just two SD
cameras were used to shoot the entire show.
Over time more cameras were added, with HD
cameras being used beginning in 2007. The final
copy of each episode, along with countless hours
of unaired songs and alternate camera angles,
were then stored away.
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones - Photo courtesy of KLRU-TV, Austin PBS. Photo by Scott Newton.
As the Austin City Limits archive
grew, the videotapes used to store
programming and related content
were slowly deteriorating.
Recovering, cataloging, and preserving this treasure trove of
thousands of hours of one-of-a-kind musical performances for
future generations was the challenge facing Amanda, James and
the rest of the KLRU staff. Determined not to lose their unique
archive, KLRU created an internal project to digitize, restore, and
preserve the entire Austin City Limits video library from 1974
onward. The challenge facing Amanda and James was to do all
of this on the austere budget of a PBS station.
Foo Fighters cover the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Photo courtesy of KLRU-TV, Austin PBS. Photo by Scott Newton
The archive consisted of 4,000 hours of videotape, so the first
step was to prioritize the content to be recovered. That was
difficult, as who’s to say if the 1992 Bela Fleck and the Flecktones
performance should be restored before The Fabulous Thunderbirds
1984 episode. Complicating the prioritization process was
the condition of the videotapes. Some were deteriorating more
rapidly than others; you might have only one shot at digitizing
the aging material.
As the material is digitized, the KLRU staff will store a version of
their newly digitized files in the cloud. From the cloud, they
reasoned, they could easily distribute a copy of the content to
licensees and potentially replace their current hodgepodge of
delivery systems. In addition, cloud storage will be an integral
part of their goal to ensure the long-term security of their
irreplaceable assets by serving as one of the archives for all their
KLRU compared different cloud storage providers and chose Backblaze B2.
Backblaze provides the high performance, ready access cloud storage
KLRU needed at an affordable price for both storage and distribution.
In addition, Backblaze B2 pricing is straight-forward. There are no pricing tiers or hidden fees, which makes
forecasting costs much easier and more predictable.
Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years "Not Fade Away"- Photo courtesy of KLRU-TV, Austin PBS. Photo by Scott Newton.
The project started with an outside vendor digitizing the Austin
City Limits videotapes. The newly-digitized episodes were
ingested onto KLRU’s internal servers, reviewed for quality, and
scheduled for cleanup as necessary. The finished files were then
tagged with the attributes KLRU deemed necessary to retrieve
the information at a later date. Finally, the newly minted digital
media files, episodes and related materials, were ready to be
uploaded to B2, but there was a problem. KLRU found that the
Internet connection available to them was not very fast or
reliable. It was fine for office work, but high volume media
uploads were another thing. Since any future connection
upgrade was expensive and months to years away, KLRU
needed another solution.
Backblaze provided KLRU with a Backblaze B2 Fireball, a data
ingest device for securely migrating large amounts of data to the
B2 cloud. KLRU was able to load 40 terabytes of digitized
media from their local storage system to the Fireball and ship it
Once there, the data was securely downloaded to
KLRU’s B2 account. The entire process proved quicker and more
reliable than using KLRU’s current Internet connection.
Ben Harper - Photo courtesy of KLRU-TV, Austin PBS. Photo by Scott Newton
Once the media files were loaded to B2, the KLRU staff connected their purpose built media
access and distribution system to the data by using the B2 APIs. The system uses locally stored
proxies for the initial presentation of the requested content and then accesses and downloads the
high-resolution files stored on B2 as needed.
The ultimate goal of Amanda, James, and the rest of the KLRU team, is to have the entire catalog
of Austin City Limits episodes and related content preserved for future generations. Backblaze is
helping by providing KLRU with the affordable cloud storage they will rely on to keep their
unique cache of digital content secure and available for years to come.
Backblaze is honored to have the opportunity for B2 to store and
preserve one-of-a-kind performances from Stevie Ray Vaughan,
Johnny Cash, The Flaming Lips, Coldplay, and many others now
being digitized, restored, and preserved by KLRU.
Coldplay & R.E.M - Photo courtesy of KLRU-TV, Austin PBS. Photo by Scott Newton.
About Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage
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