Buckaroos in Paradise: Ranching Culture in Northern Nevada, 1945-1982

Building the Digital Collection


Most of the online collection Buckaroos in Paradise has been derived from the laser videodisc The Ninety-Six: A Cattle Ranch in Northern Nevada, published by the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in 1985. A later portion of this document tells the story of the videodisc project, as recounted by Carl Fleischhauer, emphasizing the rationale for the presentation of film and video footage in segmented form and explaining how the archive of 2400 still photographs was assembled. The conceptual structure of the videodisc has been carried over to the World Wide Web. The online environment has provided the producers with computerized tools that made it easier to provide hyperlinking between elements and a computerized database, thus integrating the collection beyond what had been possible on the videodisc.

A variety of sources were used to produce the digital files for the Internet. The videodisc's audio tracks were used create the WAVE format audio files, while the RealAudio format files were derived from the WAVE files by means of digital processing. The videotapes used to produce the videodisc--the so-called "premaster" tapes--were used to produce BetaCam format video copies, which were then sent to Crawford Communications in Atlanta, Georgia, to create the digital video files. The character-generated titles for some of the clips were retained for the digital files, albeit with a superimposed recording data, while new titles were created for a number of other segments.

Still photographs treated as analog video frames have inherently low resolution; some experts suggest that the resolution of an analog video frame is roughly equivalent to a digital image with a resolution of about 300x225 pixels. This fact, as well as other exigencies in the production process for the videodisc The Ninety-Six, meant that the 2400 still photographs had been poorly reproduced in 1985 and the team decided to rescan them for the Internet. The new scans were produced in 1998 by JJT Inc., of Austin, Texas, the Library's pictorial image contractor. The company's scanning setup brings together a digital camera manufactured in Germany with JJT's custom software.

In keeping with the Library's practices, an uncompressed archival or master file was produced for each photograph and drawing, as well as three derivative files. Beginning with the new pictorial image contract awarded to JJT in 1997, the level of resolution employed for the Library's archival pictorial-image files has risen dramatically from earlier levels, now ranging from 3000x2000 pixels to 5000x4000 pixels, depending on the types of original materials. The Folklife Center wished to indicate to researchers that the images have not been cropped and a small portion of the cardboard mount for each color slide is included in the scan. It was not practical, however, to remove the mounts, which would have exposed a small additional portion of the image on the film.