News

Unbelievable stats from our project to “clean” every video file

Posted by: Kate Torgovnick May
Some of our tape collection.

For Project Cleans, we’ve gone through 3,595 tapes of original files. Here, one of the shelves where these tapes are stored. There’s VHS, BetaMax, LaserDisc—you name it.

A while back, we told you about a big initiative underway in the TED office: Project Cleans. Essentially, we are taking each and every one of our 1,800+ talk video files and stripping them of the text and add-ons that were originally baked in, re-encoding the video, and saving the “clean” files in a new media back-end. Cleaning up these files is incredibly tedious — but it’s absolutely necessary, so we can share our talks around the world through our growing list of partners on the web, TV and radio, each with different needs, in 105 languages. Project Cleans will allow us to share our content farther and wider than ever before, without adding to the workload of our moderately small staff.

This project is big. Shockingly big. Below, just a few of the numbers involved in this process:

50. The number of members of the TED staffers who’ve been in some way involved in Project Cleans. That’s about 1/3 of the company across the production, distribution, partnership and editorial teams.

10. The number of freelance video editors working on the project.

1. A single brave freelancer has watched every single talk in our library for archival and quality control.

475. The number of hours he spent doing that over the course of seven months.

1035. The number of talks that are somewhere along the pipeline of getting cleaned.

703. The number of talks still to go.

10,500. The number of individual file components for our 1,800+ talks.

430. The number of hard drives backed up during this process.

40. The number of big boxes crammed full of tapes that we had to pull out of storage for Project Cleans.

3,595. The number of tapes contained in those boxes.

11. The number of types of media formats in those boxes. This includes 1,372 DVDs, 615 VHS tapes, 182 Betamax tapes, plus uncounted miniDVs, HD Cams, CDs, D-Betas, U-Matics, DVCAMs, DVC Pros and S-VHSs. And LaserDisc.

2 years. The length of time that this project has been in the works, total.

5 months. The length of time before we expect to finish.

1 petabyte. The amount of storage TED bought for 2014 so that we’d be set for this project. To put that in scale, that’s a million gigabytes or about 1,000 terabytes.

745 terabytes. The amount of storage we’ve used so far.

A look at one shelf of our drive and tape library. Photo: Michael Glass

A look at one shelf of our drive and tape library.

One of the 40 boxes of tapes we pulled out of storage for Project Cleans.

One of the 40 boxes of tapes we pulled out of storage for Project Cleans.

TED staffer Michael Glass surveys boxes of tapes from the TED Archive.

TED staffer Michael Glass surveys boxes of tapes from the TED Archive.