The objectives of the project, simultaneously will:

>  safeguard and preserve in a very long-term this musical treasury through digitalisation

>  upgrade the digitalised inheritance through a series of ultramodern technological resources

>  provide a setting worthy of this heritage in a physical space dedicated to it on the EPFL campus

Storage – Creation of the ‘active’ archive

Amplidata, innovator in unbreakable object-based storage technology, and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), partner for the digitalization of the Montreux Jazz Festival archives, announced today that they are building a disk-based archive for the entire digital video collection of concerts recorded since the Montreux Jazz Festival's inception 45 years ago.

The Montreux Jazz Festival archives is one of the greatest musical monuments of the last 46 years. However, it would be fastidious to access this vast amount of data on digital tapes. As mentioned previously, the company Amplidata, specialize in large-scale hard-disk digital storage. They have supplied an infrastructure of 2,500 Tera bytes, thus breathing “life” into the archives and making them accessible to users. As a consequence, this will encourage the development of many research projects. The secondary format of the Montreux Jazz Festival archive will also be stored on this infrastructure displaying low energy consumption, low latency and high flow (necessary for video streaming over the EPFL network).

Long-term preservation of the infrastructure

The archiving process is a constant one. Long-term Maintenance of an archive of this amplitude is only possible with a properly designed and executed strategy. The Montreux Jazz Festival will continue to capture content that will need to be saved and preserved. Each year, the quality of the recordings will increase. This will affect the storage capacity required for the effective safe-keeping of the video content.

Currently, HD video has a storage requirement five times higher than standard definition video (SD). Memory requirements for 3D video is double this figure and some emerging video technologies, will increase this amount by up to four, eight and even sixteen times. In 2012, preliminary tests should take place at the Montreux Jazz Festival to record in 4k resolution, i.e. with 4 times more pixels per image than with HD video. With the future in mind and considering current storage requirements of research projects, the restoration and compiling of the archives (video post-production required on concert parts originally kept on different media); the amount of hard disk storage needed will be multiplied by four. It is in the present instance that planning and funding must be initiated to provide necessary resources for these future changes. In addition, many projects around the world are now taking place with the aim to reduce the environmental impact of the production process. These ways of working are gradually being made available to the public and are less expensive to implement than in the past.

Restoration of the archives

An automatic detection and correction project for common defects in the MJF archive is ready to start at the EPFL Multimedia Signal Processing Group (MMSPG). The aim of this project is to automatically detect defects in the archives and to index them accordingly. The second phase of the project would require creating methods for correcting the defects, or at least, reducing the perception of these artifacts. The project will begin in 2012 and the treatment of defects of different media used over the years at Montreux should extend over several years.

Improvement of audiovisual content

Several projects at EPFL are in the planning or development stage and aim to improve or boost the content of the archive. For example, with regards to video in standard definition SD, it would be favorable to increase image resolution and improve color rendering. The dynamics and quality of these parameters are not currently supported by today’s display technology. In the audio domain, tools are being developed to transform stereo or mono recordings into 3D sound all whilst preserving the acoustic quality of the original audio. The company "Illusonic", a startup emanating from the Audiovisual Communications Laboratory (LCAV) at EPFL, is currently working on the second generation of its products. Many researchers and startups at the EPFL are working arduously in the field of image and audio processing to offer advanced solutions for converting low quality audio-visual content to high definition 3D Surround.


In order to identify and define media, annotation is used to add information to audiovisual content (metadata). Metadata is primarily used to aid understanding and manage data more easily. Techniques of annotation, both manual and semi-automatic are planned to be used but priority will be given to automatic methods. Annotation results could be stored in the MPEG-7 format.

Search and Retrieval

The implementation of a system needed to manage search requirements for a large repertoire of audiovisual content presents a considerable challenge. The traditional method based on keyword search can sometimes be unreliable on a practical and theoretical level. A preferred alternative is the use of a high quality semantic approach similar to a Content-Based Image Retrieval (CBIR) system.

Security and Copyright

The value of the MJF archives is extremely high. Moreover, copyright regulations for the use of content can be very strenuous and must be approached on a case-by-case basis, sometimes taking into consideration each song in a concert and even each musician in a band! Since the ability to copy and share data in the digital domain is relatively easy and inexpensive, the security of the archives is crucial to this project. The security of the content, since the inception of its use at EPFL by researchers, must be guaranteed with an approach that includes a mixed software/hardware solution.

Visualization and interaction with the content

Large-scale audiovisual databases require innovative approaches for navigation and interaction with the content. Thus, some research teams are interested in the development of matrices and metrics, taking into account human perception, to measure the similarity of audio and video content. The use of these matrices would allow automatic categorization of large collections according to predefined criteria and individual music tastes. In this context, the development of new user interfaces is possible to create simple interactions which are both intuitive and visual.

Future Projects

The playback of concerts at the Montreux Jazz Lab, EPFL will be one of the first situations to valorize the 'active' archives. Further research in the fields of musicology, sound and video will also offer opportunities to valorize the audiovisual material. The archives will gradually be made available to schools and the public with the approval of ("TV Everywhere") copyright holders but also in existing Jazz Cafés (Geneva, Sydney, Zurich, London, Paris and Montreux). To date, 30 people are involved and seven laboratories provide their expertise by participating in the research of new topics of interest. Three startups and one SME are involved in the project as well as two international companies. All these partners aim to develop innovative platforms for future applications, to create multidisciplinary projects that foster creativity, to develop unique experiences for the Montreux Jazz archives, to create a unified user platform, first for demonstration purposes and then as a tool for researchers.

The precariousness of some of the magnetic recordings cries out for urgent protection. This project started with the assistance of private individual benefactors following the signature of an agreement between Claude Nobs, Thierry Amsallem, curators of the archive, and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL).

EPFL and Montreux Sounds have joined forces to create a unique and first of a kind, uncompressed archive of the Montreux Jazz Festival, with EPFL as exclusive licensee for scientific research and educational use.

EPFL hosts one of the most renowned and largest centers of excellence in digital media processing thanks to a strong team of faculty members and researchers behind many pioneering technologies in use in today’s professional as well as consumer digital media products.

The goal of this ambitious project foreseen for 60 months from April 1st, 2009 to September 30th, 2015, is to exploit the know-how and expertise of EPFL for creation of the most technologically advanced high resolution digital media archive ever produced, and doing so to set the ground for conception of novel and advanced technologies for tomorrow’s digital media, hence maintaining a key know-how in a strategically important field in science, education and economy.

EPFL is one of the two federal universities (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) in Switzerland. Among various centers of excellence, EPFL enjoys a team of world renowned experts in the field of media technologies and multimedia signal processing, making it one of the largest centers in these fields worldwide. Through years, and thanks to their research, EPFL experts have been successful in inventing some of the key technologies behind today’s products and services in multimedia, both in consumer and professional fields. Examples of such achievements include MPEG family of standards used in DVD, Digital TV, Digital HDTV, and Mobile Multimedia, the JPEG 2000 standard used in multimedia archival and digital cinema, as well as digital surround sound.

For Audemars Piguet, the Montreux Jazz Digital Project is in perfect harmony with the values of tradition, excellence and audacity that the watchmaking Manufacture has promoted since its creation in 1875. “We are especially proud to support this great cultural adventure, and to participate in the writing of a new page in the history of music, which will leave a remarkable audiovisual record for future generations” explains Philippe Merck, CEO, Audemars Piguet. The digitalisation of this masterful work, which requires the best in innovative techniques and the most recent in R&D developments, has managed to conserve its DNA and the authenticity of exceptional moments. This enormous digitalisation programme has become a reality thanks to Claude Nobs and his passion for this invaluable musical heritage, and to Patrick Aebischer, the EPFL President and the expertise of his engineers who have managed to develop appropriate technological and scientific solutions to magnify the concerts of these eternal artists.

Lack of back-up facility for the Montreux Jazz Festival archives

Today, Founder Claude Nobs underlined the urgency of properly preserving the 46 years' worth of the Montreux Jazz Festival accumulated since its conception. Through the richness of its content, this treasure constitutes an educational resource of the highest order.

The content of the last 46 years of Montreux Jazz Festival Archive is stored in a collection of tapes of different technological generations, witnessing the tremendous and rapid progress in the field of media technologies. It is a well-known fact that such audio and video tapes have a limited life span not exceeding a few decades. The formats in which most of the content has been recorded have also become rapidly obsolete to the extent that it is increasingly difficult to find adequate and functioning devices that can play them. Without an urgent safeguard operation, it is likely that this collection would quickly deteriorate to the point that its content cannot be anymore used in the coming years. The likelihood of accessing such content is also reducing day after day with disappearance of older functional devices, which often rely on high precision mechanical components requiring replacement after a number of use. Transferring the content of the Montreux Jazz Festival Archive to a medium with better reliability and life span has therefore become an urgent necessity.

EPFL hosts one of the most renowned and largest centers of excellence in digital media processing with a strong team of faculty members and researchers behind many pioneering technologies in use in today’s media products.

In addition to scientific, technological and educational impacts of such an endeavor, development of this archive will enable a reliable, long lasting, secured, and seamless access to a true and unique cultural resource for both public and educational purposes and will assist universal access ensuring that the Montreux Jazz Festival, Claude Nobs' lifetime achievement, and its rich history remain an important part of our identity for generations to come.

The precariousness of some of the magnetic recordings cries out for urgent protection.

The creation of the archive began in 1988. Claude Nobs and his partner Thierry Amsallem have recovered and regrouped all the recorded material of that time. All the audio-visual material has since been stored in the famous "bunker", air-conditioned, fireproof and waterproof construction built in 1988. There were no best practices and standards at this time, but fortunately, appropriate conditions were already taken to preserve for a long time the video and audio master tapes.

Archival preservation meets the standards and best practices defined by the AMIA (Association of Moving Image Archivists) :

a) The original master tapes are kept in conditions which ensure long-term preservation (special LISTA storage containers, security, climate standards, human controls, etc.). Only a few master tapes have been used to dub a secondary master tape for publishing.

b) Due to the obsolescence of playback equipment, the migration of content is necessary.

c) Original recording devices (starting from 1’ machines) and spare parts were saved.

d) The various techniques used for the recordings are documented.

The digitization process is operated in Paris (F) by Vectracom SA, an ISO 9001 company.

All original tapes are converted into a "standard" uncompressed digital format readable on any computer. This ensures seamless access to the archives and easier migration to next generation storage technologies. The entire patrimony is duplicated on specialized digital tapes designed for long-term storage (typically 35 years). Two copies of the digital tapes are kept in two separate locations for prevention from physical deterioration. One copy is securely stored at EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), a stable institution that can ensure the long-term preservation of these tapes. The second one is currently located at Claude Nobs’ dedicated archival space. In addition, a full lossless compressed archive is copied on a high-grade server at EPFL for direct access to the content for education and research purposes. This strategy thus guarantees a physical protection, an open and long-term way of reading the data, a clear migration path and a "live access".