Technology helps FamilySearch hit major milestone


Published: Saturday, Sept. 12 2009 12:17 a.m. MDT

who manages the family history work in the Americas. \"There's a well-thought-out process to help us allocate our very limited human

resources to gather those records.\"

Once records are identified, Family History

Department employees work with various churches, municipalities, archives and

governments to acquire or create copies. Most institutions welcome Mormon efforts.

\"We have a good reputation as an organization that cares about the

records as much as the archivists do,\" said Steven L. Waters, strategic

relations manager for Europe. \"In general, they are thankful to have an

organization like ours that puts so many resources into preserving


After the negotiations are finalized, an area is set up on-site

where the cameras are used to create digital images of the historical

documents. The process can take from a few weeks to several years,

depending on the size of the collection, the type of documents being

copied and the workers' experience levels.

With cameras similar to those used by NASA and in other industrial

settings, workers produce an image at a high resolution of 50

megapixels, or 50 million pixels. Adjustments to the cameras'

technology, made by church camera specialists, increase their


\"Some of the best high-quality cameras would take 300,000 pictures

and die,\" said Larry Telford, camera operations manager for the Family

History Department. \"A typical camera operator might take half a

million images in one year, and we expect ours to last four or five

years or more.\"

In addition to the camera, each unit requires a computer, a camera stand and special software.

\"(The software) dCamX was designed by in-house engineers to do the

hard work while the operators do the easy work,\" Telford said.

It makes operating the cameras easier for the church employees,

missionaries and contractors who handle them. Step by step, it guides

operators through calibrating the camera. Through a computer

connection, the image is processed and displayed on the monitor, so the

operators can ensure that the image is of the highest quality.

Every image that is captured undergoes an in-depth audit involving

cropping the image, recording metadata, quality control and other

improvement processes to ensure quality images.

Once a project is complete, up to a terabyte of images and

information is transferred onto an external hard drive and mailed to

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