Lifecycle Management of Released VI Records

Article 3 min
Visual Information professionals create a great deal of content within the DoD every day around the world. It's easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of imagery (Visual Information) your shop produces. You need a plan that outlines the lifecycle management, accessioning requirements and local archival management procedures for your VI products that ensures you not only stay in compliance with regulations and procedures, but have access to your visual content months and years later.

You are responsible for conducting proper VI product lifecycle management from their creation onward. It is critical you understand the terms associated with VI lifecycle management before you even begin. Review the definitions below from NARA Records Management Key Terms and Acronyms.

  • Disposition – Instructions for what is to be done with a record that is no longer needed to support agency business. There are two types of dispositions for records:
    • Temporary – Records with a temporary disposition that will eventually be destroyed or deleted when all relevant business needs have expired.
    • Permanent – Permanent records that contain historically significant materials, provide evidence of agency accomplishments, or document important events in national history, and as a result, will be preserved by NARA.
  • Metadata – Data describing stored data: that is, data describing the structure, data elements, interrelationships and other characteristics of electronic records.

It's also important to note that although the PA/VI community colloquially refers to their local collection of VI imagery as an "archive," the only official archive is NARA. Be sure to use the correct terminology to prevent confusion, especially when speaking up the chain of command.The VI manager, which might be you, the PAO or another content creator, ensures that tasks are completed:

  1. Conduct a review of VI records for:
    1. Record type: Temporary vs. Permanent (refer to VI Record Schedule and VI Record Schedule Summary for more information).
    2. Release status: Released vs. FOUO (refer to Understand All the Guidelines for Release for more information).
  2. Prepare permanent & released VI for uploading and publishing to Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) (refer to DoDI 5040.02 & DoD Visual Information Style Guide).
  3. Maintain a local digital collection of your VI products for your own purposes (each shop manages its VI according to its needs and resources; a good recommendation is that units maintain a local collection consisting of the last 3-5 years of their released and selected content).
  4. Conduct disposal of temporary records according to the VI Records Schedule.

Graphic shows VI asset management responsibilites of assessing and selecting VI content by categorizing VI by record type and release status then accessioning selected VI record to DVIDS by the cut-off date. Then continuing to maintain the local collection.
Complete these tasks to properly manage your VI content and local collection.
Photo by: PAVILION
VIRIN: 210310-D-PA656-0001

VI Content Assessment

Your visual information shop will accumulate numerous types of VI content— those that represent the final product (e.g., photo, video, poster), as well as supporting VI assets needed to create that final product (e.g., b-roll, graphics, audio).

According to the DoD VI Records Schedule guidance, you should assess and triage all of this VI content into three record categories:

  1. Public-facing permanent records to be uploaded and published to DVIDS.
  2. Non- public-facing permanent records to be uploaded and published to DVIDS.
  3. Temporary records.

Upload & Publish Permanent Records

Permanent records provide important documentation of DoD activities (including its combat and non-combat activities) and capture significant information visually and in the metadata.

All VI products categorized as permanent and cleared for public release should be uploaded and published to DVIDS. Products that directly support the intent and message should be public-facing. Put all other products in the non-public-facing section of DVIDS. From DVIDS, some VI products will be selected and accessioned to NARA according to the VI Schedule.

Upload your permanent records in a timely manner. The following table gives guidance on when to transfer permanent records according to the DoD VI Records Schedule.

Table reviewing cutoff instructions by type and description
VI Type Description Cutoff instructions
Significant Still, Motion and/or Audio Recording Combat Visual Information DoD VI that documents various types of events and activities related to (including pre- and post-) combat operations, missions and engagements with an enemy within a joint or non-joint (service-specific) environment and/or terrorism attacks, events or acts. Transfer as soon as possible, no later than one year from the date of creation.
* If classified VI or covered by identifiable FOIA exemption restrictions, DIMOC will cut off such materials annually and confer with originating DoD offices as necessary.
Significant Still, Motion and/or Audio Recording Non-Combat Visual Information DoD VI that documents various types of events and activities related to regular, non-combat DoD operations and missions. Transfer as soon as possible, no later than one year from the date of creation.
Mission-related News Reports and/or Broadcasts by U.S. Military Components & Defense Media Activity DoD VI includes service-specific broadcasts for television, radio and online display/feature. Such records may also include those news reports and/or broadcasts that were originally created or a composite creation from within DoD. Transfer as soon as possible, no later than one year from the date of creation.
Graphic Visual Information – Posters - Published relating to the mission and history of the Department of Defense DoD VI that highlights a DoD program/message or may seek the interpretation of the viewer to grasp the pertinent information and possible message, including unit seals, montages, icons, logos, composites, displays and exhibits. Transfer two copies of each printed poster in hard copy form, or, if the hard copy does not exist, digital form immediately after publication.
Graphic Visual Information – Military Service & DoD Component Specific Magazines Soldiers, All Hands, Airman and Marines -- but not excluding other DoD component magazines that feature useful information on operations, equipment, education and training, sports, entertainment and policy. Transfer immediately after publication.
If no electronic copy exists, transfer a paper copy.
Digital Artwork Digital artwork that captures combat artwork or other art relating to the DoD mission and history. Transfer digital files within one year of artwork completion.
Mission-related Motion and/or Audio Recording Visual Information Productions A complete linear or non-linear interactive motion and/or sound recording presentation developed according to a plan or script, designed to achieve specific training or communication objectives. Transfer immediately upon completion of production.


Store and Maintain Local Collections

Despite the fact that DVIDS acts as a VI cloud collection, it can be helpful to have a local collection for records less than five years old. You never know if you'll need to show proof of ownership, or if you want to be able to reuse or repurpose files or if any other interested parties or stakeholders may come looking for the material.

How or what you use to store your collection depends on your budget and may include one or more of the following options:

  • CDs or DVDs
  • External hard drives
  • Server storage
  • Cloud storage

Make sure there is a backup plan for your VI storage. Regardless of where you maintain your local collection, you should implement a standardized digital folder structure system to help ensure others can efficiently access and navigate your VI content catalog.

Delete Temporary Records

Temporary records do not significantly document DoD activities because they are duplicative, excessive in coverage, of poor quality, lacking in metadata/caption data or relating to routine subjects. You can delete these types of records immediately or after a pre-determined time frame to free up space.

Use the following table for guidance on what constitutes a temporary record according to the DoD VI Records Schedule.

Table of VI types and their description that constitute a temporary record
VI Type Description
Non-significant still, motion and/or audio recording VI
  • Duplicative
  • Excessive in coverage
  • Not usable for lack of metadata or for relating to routine subjects not reflective of DoD mission
Non-significant news reports and/or broadcasts by U.S. military components & DMA
  • Duplicative
  • Excessive in coverage
  • Not usable for lack of metadata, sound effects, relating to routine subjects not reflective of DoD mission
  • Acquired broadcasts from commercial, network, non-DoD sources
Copies or draft versions of graphic VI (posters)
  • Duplicate copies (beyond the required) of published posters
  • Published posters lacking adequate metadata
  • Published posters that do not relate to the DoD mission, but instead promote campaigns common to most government agencies (e.g., donations, blood drives, health fairs, etc.)
Copies or draft versions of graphic VI – military service & DoD component-specific magazines
  • Duplicate copies (beyond the required) of published service-specific and other DoD component magazines
  • Lacking adequate metadata
  • Preliminary designs, sketches, drawings, layouts and other production materials used in creating the magazines
Original physical artwork & copies of digital artwork
  • Original artwork relating to DoD mission & history, including combat artwork or other art in various mediums
  • Extra copies of digital artwork and photographs of original artwork
Non-significant motion and/or audio recording VI
  • Duplicative or excessive in coverage as related to particular types of training, weapons systems, etc.
  • Not usable for lack of metadata
  • Relating to routine subjects not reflective of the mission
  • Acquired productions from the commercial, network or other non-DOD sources


Example Scenario

You created 100 still images while documenting a training mission.

You return to your shop and begin to assess your imagery. As the content creator, it is usually up to you to perform quality control, which includes deciding what images best represent your mission and the message you are trying to convey.

You conduct a quality check and deem 10 photos as unusable because they are out of focus or overexposed. Five are duplicates of another image. These 15 are temporary records and can be deleted.

You're left with 85 VI records that are cleared for public release. From these 85, you select 10 images that best encapsulate the event and support your communication efforts. These 10 selects will be featured on your unit's DVIDS page. The other 75 permanent VI records also get uploaded and published to DVIDS, but they are not included in the featured section of your DVIDS page. The 10 images that you selected to be featured on DVIDS will also become part of your local collection and available to you for the next 3-5 years.

You never want to find yourself in a situation where you need an image but can't find it, or worse, realize it was deleted. Maintaining a local collection is critical to your duties as a VI content creator and VI manager.

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