Could the video disc offer a new way to store large amounts of moving and still images for the future?

Director of the Audio Visual Centre at University College Dublin (UCD) Michael Foley explains how the computer operated laser disc video system works.

This basically is the disc version of video.

Across each video disc, there are 55,500 grooves or revolutions which is 36 minutes of play in real time. The disc can be used to store still images as well as audiovisual content.

One of the main advantages of this new technology is the ability to easily access images and videos.

It's an incredibly fast medium for accessing individual slides.

Individual slides on the disc can be easily identified through the use of the computer based search facility.

One practical use of the technology at UCD is to store slides from the folklore collection. The discs provide a way of digitally preserving images from the physical slides. Slides fade over time in the same way as video tape so the technology provides a useful tool for preservation. The folklore collection combines both still images and video on the same discs.

Production of the master disc, however, comes at a high price, about £2,500. However, the reproduction costs are very low and hundreds of reproductions can be made for about £10 each.

Work is ongoing in Japan to produce domestic laser disc players that will be able to record and playback. The Domesday Project in Britain is also experimenting with putting the digital information on the disc along with the images and maps.

This episode of 'Visual Eyes’ was broadcast on 23 July 1986. The presenter is Dave Fanning.