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Crowdfunding the costs of having 'Dreamzone' and 'Dreamcast Arena' scanned

Discussion in 'General Sega Discussion' started by Lozz, Feb 26, 2023.

  1. Lozz

    Lozz

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    Hello all!

    Apologies to the admins in advance if this breaches any rules or conventions - I don't think it does, but an still quite the newbie here.

    In recent months I have been on a bit of a mission to document and preserve Dreamcast magazines (I.E. have them scanned and shared publicly). Well, I now have a full run of 'Dreamzone' and a near-full run of 'Dreamcast Arena' in my possession, and I am turning to the community in the hopes that we can crowdfund the £450 needed to get these things professionally scanned. I have happily paid for the mags themselves (which will be destroyed to allow for full page scanning) but am sadly not loaded enough to cover the scanning costs too.

    Full details (which should answer the most common questions) and the opportunity to donate are available on my GoFundMe page: https://gofund.me/58328960

    I appreciate this won't be everyone's cup of tea, and many won't have money to spare on frivolities like this, but if you are able then any and all donations would be most welcome.

    I'd also be eternally grateful if the link can be shared around to any folks who may be interested.

    Cheers,

    Lozz
     
  2. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Sorry I forgot to respond to this.

    I don't know if it's an optional extra, but you shouldn't need to pay for OCR - it can be done for free (and archive.org will do it automatically IIRC). I think most use Tesseract - it's a bit of a faffy process to set up (which is why there's nothing on Retro CDN) but a lot of my recent PDF uploads have an OCR layer and it seems to be pretty good (at least for Latin scripts).
     
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  3. Hivebrain

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    You could buy a pretty nice scanner for £450. You'd have to do all the scanning yourself though of course.
     
  4. Lozz

    Lozz

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    Thanks for the tip. Although OCR is a relatively small part of the cost, it is good to know I can cut that part out. That will make the funding goal a little more achievable for sure.

    One aspect that I'm still a little unsure about is whether I should be trying to get TIFF files as well as PDFs. The lowest quote I have is from Storetec, and their rep claimed I could get TIFF files at no extra cost, in addition to the PDFs at 300dpi. However, I'm wondering if they have made a mistake, as a separate quote I have from Oxford Duplication Centre was £480 for PDFs only with OCR, and more than £2,000 if I wanted TIFFs!

    Initially I had assumed that getting the TIFFs would be essential, as this would allow folks who are so inclined to clean-up the scans. However, if it's going to be prohibitively expensive then I may have to just stick with the PDFs only.

    Any other guidance on how I should be instructing the scanners to carry out this job (or indeed anything else of relevance you can think of!) would be highly appreciated.

    I also happen to have acquired some other Dreamcast mags that are not preserved yet, but which I can take care of by myself on a regular A4 scanner (Dreamcast Magic, DC-Tips, DreamWave). I think I'll publish an article over on the Dreamcast Junkyard shortly to give an update on everything and try and rally folks around to get the project progressing

    Sorry, to clarify, that last post was in response to Black Squirrel. Took so long writing it that Hivebrain's came in before I posted!

    Hivebrain - do you have any recommendations? I think I'd be willing to give it a go with an ADF scanner, but these European mags are pretty hefty in dimension and so it would need to be something that could handle larger than A4. I could definitely get an A3 flatbed for £450, but I'm afraid I can't commit the time needed to scan 5,100+ pages that way.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 3, 2023
  5. Hivebrain

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    If they won't fit in an A4 scanner, then you're right that a flatbed would be the only option. I've been after an A3 document scanner for a while and haven't found one. There's a range of large scanners (the biggest is A0) by Colortrac that I really like the look of, but they're £2000+ new which is obviously out of the question.
     
  6. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Others might have a use case for TIFFs. We don't, but we're not in the business of super mega hyper achiving where every pixel matters.

    Pretty much every magazine scan on Retro CDN consists of a load of JPEGs wrapped in a PDF "container" for easier reading (and then you can add OCR and whatever to make it even nicer). It's incredibly similar to a ZIP or RAR file - Adobe and others like to pretend this is a fancy feature you need to pay for, but there are free tools for converting to and from a set of JPEGs and a PDF (without any lossy compression along the way):

    https://retrocdn.net/File:JPEGtoPDF.7z
    https://retrocdn.net/File:PDFImageSplitter.7z

    Other than the physical act of putting pages in a scanner and getting the information into a computer, the time consuming bit is cropping and rotating the images to make sure the pages line up. The PDF-making bit is easy (if you know how... which I do).


    If you want raw versions that people can edit, a better plan would be to opt for 600dpi. With printed media, 600dpi can be overkill, because this is more "dots per inch" than the printer that printed the magazine could cope with, so the only new information you're getting over 300dpi is fine details in the paper texture. However 600dpi is a better canvas to work with, because edits at a lower resolution can noticeably distort the image. 600dpi scaled down to 300dpi gives you the benefits of super sampling while not losing anything of importance (some even edit at 1200dpi then resize to 600dpi).

    JPEGs are lossy by design, but as long as you're saving at a reasonable quality setting, at high resolutions the information you're losing covers the tiniest specs of dust. TIFFs try to preserve the image in full, including data that nobody cares about, and you usually get massively inflated filesizes for the priveledge (remembering that if you scanned the page again, you won't get exactly the same results because of inaccuracies in the equipment and environmental things and whatever. Hell a different scanner will give you totally different results because there's different ideas on how to handle colour and asdjhkfasdkjhf).


    I'm not an expert on preservation standards though.
     
  7. Lozz

    Lozz

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    Thanks Black Squirrel, that's really helpful. You might not be an expert, but you're clearly more knowledgeable than me, so it's appreciated.

    All I am really aiming for is to get the magazines scanned, with the copy in a clear readable state and the images to be of a reasonable quality. That will allow the majority of folks who want to read the mags (a small pool I know!) to do so satisfactorily, and my fellow Dreamcast obsessives to use the contents for their various projects.

    If it is feasible, I'd like the scans to be up to a standard that is close-ish to that expected by preservationists, or at least, for the images to be in a state where they can be edited/cleaned-up by those who wish to do so. However, this is very much a secondary objective.

    At this point it's looking like I'll go for a high-quality JPEG scan, with these files then combined into issue length PDFs, and OCR applied post-scan.

    Thanks once again. If anyone else happens to come across this and have any advice, then please do pass it on.
     
  8. Gryson

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    I've read your crowdfunding page and your statement that you've been unable to find any volunteers to scan your magazines.

    Have you specifically asked Gaming Alexandria for help? They have a Discord channel linked to on their website. They work with the Video Game History Foundation to scan gaming magazines for preservation purposes. At the very least, someone there should be able to point you in the right direction. They're located in the US, but it would be a far better use of that crowdfunded money to ship the magazines there.

    If you are going to use a business-oriented document scanning service, expect the worst. The magazines will almost certainly have to be re-scanned in the future. 300 dpi is just not going to cut it for preservation purposes, and you can expect poorly trimmed binding with cut off content, page bleed-through, and every other preservationist's headache. And charging extra for TIFFs? That's a serious red flag, so avoid that company.

    If you are still unable to find help via Gaming Alexandria, I encourage you to consider scanning them yourself. Yes, it is time consuming, but you should approach it from a long-term perspective. Get in the habit of doing just 10 pages per day, and you'll have it all done in less than two years. And you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you preserved something for future generations that would otherwise likely have been lost.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2023
  9. Lozz

    Lozz

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    Thanks for your considered input here Gryson. It's much appreciated.

    No, I haven't spoken with Gaming Alexandria yet. I'll be sure to drop them a line now though.

    Re: VGHF. One thing that made me hesitate in sending these particular mags their way is that they are currently only scanning duplicates. Given that they don't currently have these titles, or indeed many of the other DC mags I'm hoping to scan in due course, I assume it would be the case that they will sit in their physical archive/library until duplicates arrive (which, given the European origin of these mags, may frankly be an awful long time). I'm sure they have perfectly good reasons for taking this stance, but personally I want to see these mags made available as widely as possible, particularly for those in the (lively) Dreamcast scene that can make use of the contents (for things like writing retrospectives, investigating unreleased titles, or researching any other number of things).

    Also, my understanding from what I've read on the RetroMags forum is that the scanning that VGHF are undertaking has been outsourced and the results, while good, are therefore not up to the really high standards that some volunteers are able to produce via home flatbed scanning.

    I think I'd be willing to undertake the scanning myself, but realistically only with an ADF scanner. This wouldn't produce as high a standard output as flatbed scanning, but may at least bump up the quality a little compared to using a scanning service, as I could take time to calibrate the settings, re-scan pages as necessary etc. I think I could probably hire a decent scanner for a week, book a couple of days off work and give it a crack. I've sent some requests for quotes out just now.

    Bit of a rambling post, but that's where I'm currently at. Once things are firmed up a little more I'll post an update on the GoFundMe and elsewhere.
     
  10. Hivebrain

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    If you'd like, I could scan the larger magazines on my A3 flatbed. It's a Plustek Opticslim 1180 which seems to produce decent-enough scans. I'd just need to remove the staples, but the pages themselves could be kept or returned to you.

    I do also have an ADF scanner which I've found isn't as fast as you might think in practice. Every time you time scan something, there's a chance of a dust particle getting on the glass, which ruins subsequent scans. So you end up doing a lot of checking images for white lines and cleaning the scanner.
     
  11. Lozz

    Lozz

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    Thanks for your generous offer Hivebrain. I've been mulling over the various bits of advice I've received and decided to have a crack at doing the scanning myself. I've just managed to purchase a well-reviewed Fujitsu A3 scanner, which has both flatbed and ADF functions, for £200 second -hand (plus the petrol to pick it up). I'm also keeping my eye out for a reliable heavy duty paper guillotine. I'll update my GoFundMe with this information and a much lowered target as soon I have set the scanner up and know it's fully working.

    Once I have a feel for how much work is involved, I may reach out to send some mags your way to help spread the load. At present I have 42 oversized DC magazine issues that need scanning ('Dreamzone' and 'Dreamcast Arena'), but also a dozen or so issues that are A4 or smaller ('Dreamcast Magic', 'DreamWave', 'Dreamcast Express', and 'DC-Tips'). I'm hoping I may be able to get others in the Dreamcast scene to donate unscanned mags too once progress starts to show on those I've listed above.