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From passive to active use of media : 2014 Media & Learning Conference in Brussels

Author: Eve-Marie Oesterlen
Media & Learning provides a platform to those responsible for creating, promoting and using media in the classroom, on and off campus as well as in training and lifelong learning centres.

 

Media-and-Learning-2014_official-logo_whiteHeadlined ‘From passive to active use of media in teaching and learning’, the aim 2014 conference – aptly hosted by the Flemish Ministry of Education in Brussels – was to promote the sharing of best-practice, exchange of know-how and hands-on amongst practitioners. With its clear call for action, it also gave policy-makers and decision-makers the opportunity to discuss how to develop digital and media literacy in the broader context of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship and the value and impact of such skills in relation to the European work-force.
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The conference programme covered a wide variety of themes grouped around the topic of media education and literacy. 300 participants from 44 countries learned about the value of using video and new media in education and were able to dip into master classes on programming, data mining, creating media productions and educational games.

As a freely accessible multilingual media resource, the EUscreen project effectively complemented the manifold European projects engaged in media and ICT-supported learning introduced over the two days.
In the year that commemorates the centenary of the First World War, media-supported remembrance education represented a special conference highlight with showcases from Europeana, BBC , INA, the VIAA platform  and the IWU Institut Film und Bild.

 

All was wrapped up very glamourously with the MEDEA Awards ceremony, rewarding eight finalists for excellence in the production and pedagogical design of media-rich learning resources.

 

All in all a lot of food for media-related thought to take away and act on …

  

Help us enrich and curate heritage AV materials!

Author: Eggo Müller, Berber Hagedoorn, Eleonora Mazzoli, Willemien Sanders and Mariana Salgado

At the EUscreenXLconference in Rome, between inspiring talks, innovative projects and some sparks of Dolce Vita in Villa Borghese, people also participated in a workshop on Contextualization, which focused specifically on the question how AV contextualization practices can benefit best from the affordances of online publication. AV contextualization practices are a key part of the EUscreenXL project, reflected, amongst others, in an open access multi-media journal VIEW: Journal of European Television History and Culture and the EUscreen virtual exhibitions. Although several tools are currently being developed to explore and analyse digital audio-visual sources (AV), this workshop mainly focused on the next step: how to contextualize and re-use audio-visual materials online.

fig 1This activity is part of our endeavours to build a ‘contextualization community’, in the sense of a community of content providers, creators, archivists, scholars, researchers, students and the general audience, who would work and explore the audio-visual material offered on euscreen.eu. Our Core Collection will consist of ca. 60.000 historical items gathered from the audio-visual cultural heritage of 22 European countries. The purposes of the ‘contextualization community’ that we aim to achieve are to enrich and curate such content, as well as to experiment with other creative forms of online multimedia publication.

To this regard, during the workshop in Rome, possible scenarios and prototypes of contextualization strategies were introduced by the workgroup leaders, Berber Hagedoorn (Utrecht University / Luxembourg University), Willemien Sanders (Utrecht University), Mariana Salgado (Aalto University) and Daniel Ockeloen (Noterik BV). Participants then tested and challenged these models stimulating a critical discussion regarding possible (hybrid) models of online publication with AV content. In particular, participants were asked to reflect on meaningful forms of use of publication, drawing upon examples from their own practice. The task was to exchange experiences in contextualization practices and to choose one that better represents what they would like to see realized on the EUscreen portal.

fig 2As a result, participants proposed various strategic combinations of publication models and dissemination purposes, which could actively involve users, as well as encourage them to widely spread and share the audio-visual contents. Indeed, they explored innovative ways of doing research through audio-visual materials, and they suggested engaging dissemination strategies which could be appealing not only for academics but also for broader audiences. Moreover, from the workgroup discussion it emerged a hierarchy for the possible functionalities of the publication builder. In particular, three building blocks were seen as necessary elements: 1) translations and quick subtitling that contextualize and explain the AV content in different languages; 2) video collections represented in video posters, as a creative combination of video and/or sound; and 3) extra short videos, which are videos of max. 15 seconds used to illustrate a specific point. This last building block would be handy especially for dissemination purposes, since it could spread content via social media and mobile phone applications in order to engage the users on cross-media platforms. There was a general consensus on how contextualization processes are interweaved with strategic dissemination purposes. In addition to these building blocks, participants emphasized the interest in certain recurrent topics that could engage general audience, such as food and fun clips.

Thanks to the contribution of every participant we gained useful insights and ideas regarding future developments of our ‘contextualization community’ as well as the EUscreenXL publication builder, our next step. Certainly, we are always eager to receive further feedback and suggestions from all of you! If you are keen on exploring innovative forms of multimedia publication, or if you are interested in enriching and curate AV historical contents, we would love to consult you and your contribution will be highly appreciated.

Share your ideas for future developments!

Contact us:

Eggo Müller (e.mueller@uu.nl); Berber Hagedoorn (b.hagedoorn@uu.nl); Willemien Sanders (w.sanders@uu.nl); Mariana Salgado (mariana.salgado@aalto.fi); Daniel Ockeloen (daniel@noterik.nl)

 

 

Celebrating Balkans’ Memory

Author: Erwin Verbruggen

The Balkans brim with history. The Balkan’s Memory project attempted, for the last three years, to reach out and bring tools to the region to preserve it. An ambitious goal, uniting film and television archives from across all different countries in the region.

Sarajevo's old town CC-BY-SA Erwin VerbruggenIn Sarajevo, the project celebrated its achievements with a final conference, at the majestuous Hotel Europe  – home to European diplomats and others with interests in the region. Squarely positioned next to the city’s Ottoman-style old town, it was the perfect location to talk about the future of the past.

Balkan’s Memory is a project led by the French Institut National de l’Audiovisuel (Ina), the Mediterranean Permanent Conference for the Audiovisual (COPEAM), the Croatian Audiovisual Centre and the National Film Archive of Albania (AQSHF). With support from the European Commission, it set up a series of conferences and symposia in Zagreb, Tirana, Belgrade, Podgorica and Skopje (the latter also home to this year’s FIAF conference). Together they explored the various skills an audiovisual archive needs to go well into the 21st Century.

What Archives Need

Balkans' MemoryBoth Sead Bajrić and Ella Pavlovic from Bosnian broadcaster BHRT stressed the importance or re-establishing a network and links that over the years had gotten lost. As ministers Denisa Sarajlić-Maglić, Deputy Minister of Civil Affairs, and Minister of Culture Ivica Sarić stressed, especially in a time where the budgets for culture areas low as they are, it remains important to research common activities in the region. Especially in the Balkans, which experienced events that didn’t contribute to the preservation of anything, it’s most important to look ahead and apply best practices for preserving cultural objects.

As Delphine Wibaux (Ina) explained, archival practices can be summed up and taken up in a three-year project like this quite nicely. The assumption at the start of the project was that to preserve a region’s audiovisual heritage, what’s needed is a combination of political wilingness, money, knowledge & competences. Out of this assumption came 3 main actions that,  in cooperation with EBU, were implemented by:

  • Raising awareness among decision-makers on the necessity to invest in archive preservation
  • Analyzing the situation of av materials
  • Exchanging know-how between the archives.

The project set out to achieve these actions by executing complete appraisal of archives collections of PSM and Film archives and the region. Another outcome was that out of the project an operational team arose as a think tank of public service media heads of archives.

What Archives Can Learn

Sarajevo's old town CC-BY-SA Erwin VerbruggenDaniel Teruggi (Ina) set out to give an overview of the history of archival concepts and the relationship between giving access and digitizing collections. Traditional notices of archives are in direct contradiction to the digital paradigm, in which access has become the most important driver for digitisation, rather than storage and long-term record keeping. Mimi Gjorgoska Ilievska stressed the importance of archives exchanging networking & training. Examples of this need were given by Blago Markota (HRT), Dana Mustata (RUG) and ​​Christel Goossens (EBU).

Markota detailed how the Croatian broadcaster’s policies are informed by working in an international context, with domain networks such as FIAT/IFTA, EBU and the Europeana family through EUscreen. Mustata explained how the Television Studies Commission of FIAT/IFTA aims to use the gathered brainpower of media academics to inform archive collection’s selection policies and methods of providing access to the public in a supra-national setting. Eastern European content specifically is extra hidden under behind a language barrier. The commission set up a Training & Studies grant for young researchers. Its next workshop will be held at TVR Bucharest in March 2015 on the topic of Unlocking Broadcast Archives in Eastern Europe. Ms. Goossens talked about the EBU’s partnership programme, which was set up to provide EBU members who find themselves in difficulties with scholarships, consultancy and ‘solidarity packages’. The broadcasting union received funds from the EU to develop public service media broadcasters’ strengths in the Balkan region, the results of which will be presented in 2015. Ms. Ilievska closed the training part with an overview of film-related activities done by the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF), namely the Film Restoration Summer School, and the Association des Cinémathèques Européennes (ACE) , which set up a series of workshops to improve film archive management policies.

What Archives Can Achieve When They Collaborate

Saša Tkalec from the Croatian Conservation Institute moderated the panel on collaboration, in which the
European Film Gateway was presented by Aleksandar Erdeljanović from Belgrade-based Yougoslavian Cinematheque. Erwin Verbruggen explained the ins and outs of the work we do in EUscreen.

Jean-Gabriel Minel told the riveting story of how Ina built a moveable digitisation station that was shipped across the seven seas to aid archives across the French territories to digitize their collections. Snežana Radonćić from RTCG and Aleksandra Cerović from the Cinematheque in Montenegro showed a successful collaboration between their organisations for film preservation.

CC BY-SA Erwin VerbruggenThe final round table them discussed the different existing ways of financing and on which criteria they select the projects they want to support. Eriona Vyshka from the Albanian film archive  AQSHF moderated. ​Antonia Kovacheva, whose  organisation BNFA has had to move 19 times over the past decades, presented her dream of financing the preservation of film collections in Bulgaria. One nightmare came true last week, when a tabloid spread the news that one of Bulgaria’s blockbuster movies was lost – while it was simply available in the film archive. Nobody had called them to verify the story.  ​Sanja Ravlić from the Croatian Audiovisual Centre explained how she is pushing and lobbying to include audiovisual heritage in the strategy of Croatia’s  funding for digitizing cultural heritage. Camille Martin (Ina), one of the co-organisers of the conference, finally presented the Save you Archive programme, which is financed by FIAT/IFTA.

The End – A New Beginning

As such, the event was jam-packed with information and brought archive keepers together from across several borders, sub-domains and specializations. We are specifically looking forward to seeing the results of all this knowledge sharing as more open and accessible Balkan archives in the near future!

Conference notes IV: What users finally want

Author: Kamila Lewandowska

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The last session of the Rome Conference, moderated by Erwin Verbruggen, the speakers addressed the issue of user experiences with audiovisual content. What do specific target group want? How to animate users and reach new audiences? Researchers and AV professionals shared their best practices.

Teachers could use more AV content

Karen

 

Karen Vander Paetse demonstrated results of a research carried out by the Flemish Institute for Archiving with the focus on “What do teachers want?” in terms of using audiovisual heritage in the classroom. She stressed the fact that the use of AV material in the teaching process has been highly overestimated and teachers use illustrations much more frequently than clips and audio material. When teachers incorporate AV files into their teaching methods, it’s mostly because they want to better achieve learning objectives, motivate students, explain difficult concepts and improve attention span. On the other hand, teachers asked why they don’t use AV material explained that they have no time to search (22%), don’t have access to available technology (21%) and don’t know how to search (19%). More than 1/3 of the respondents said that they use the material recommended to them by their colleagues. The Flemish Institute for Archiving drew conclusions and implications from research for their own activity. In order to increase the use of AV clips among teachers the quality (not quantity!) of the material should be increased and the search process should be facilitated.

Less text, more interaction!

Rebakah Polding showed how to change a metadata-focused website into an interactive and engaging platform with AV content. The London’s Screen Archives have dramatically redeveloped their website when they realized it created no user engagement and was centered much more around text and information than the real value of the collection – video clips. They followed the examples of British Pathé, History Pin, Yorkshire’s film heritage and Imperial War Museum which were successful in contextualizing the clips and giving users hints and suggestions “what’s so interesting about this video”. They used stills to make more-user friendly environment and borrowed from Amazon which uses its own catalogue to contextualize data. They also looked into the examples of real-life institutions like Tate Modern and the way the museum visitors directly experience modern art. The new website has an entirely new interface which enables to play films directly on the homepage.

London's Screen Archive

Back to the Future

Thanks to Gunnar Liestøl we were able to truly “travel through times”.  He presented so called “situated simulations” tool, which enables to see (on a smartphone or tablet) how the place we’re situated at looked like in the past or will look like in future. t As the user moves in real space the perspective inside the 3D graphic space changes accordingly. The video shows how this incredible tool works:

Engaging the over-65s

Daniela Trevi Gennari, Silvia Dibeluto and Sarah Culhane presented the outcomes of their own research on cinema-going in Rome carried out in 2009. They explored the social experience of cinema-going by interviewing surviving audience members, analyzing their responses and contextualizing them through further archival research. Their methodology included oral history approach, statistical surveys of audiences, box-office takings, and relevant period press material. They focused on the issue of engagement with digital platform by the over-65s and highlighted the occurring trends and challenges, illustrating it with a funny video:

Using a case study of Elena, an elder lady and an active Facebook user, they concluded that “it is our aim to create an online space that facilitates discussion and interaction among users, who can enjoy a sense of community in remembering a shared past, while also engaging younger users who wish to gain insights into their cultural heritage.”

 

Conference notes III: To crowdsource a Faustian dilemma

Author: Erwin Verbruggen
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EUscreenXL gathered in Rome last week for our conference on the users and usage of audiovisual archives: “From Audience to User: Engaging with Audiovisual Heritage Online”. In this series of blog posts we fill you in on what happened.

Tom and his archives

After lunch, the conference rode on with its first day packed with presentations.

15509289377_90603a2ec7_o The slides Deutsche Welle’s Kay Macquarrie showed, opened with a colourful animation about Tom the reporter. Tom is not a big fan of the complications of his work, it seems, and would like smart technologies to help him out. Luckily, the AXES project has spent some time figuring out his wishes and aims to provide for his every search and sorting need.

The search engine uses all sorts of automation and enrichment to decrease the searcher’s time effort. It assumes that researchers have wishes fully different to those of home users and media professionals who want to reuse content. The software will be made available under an open source license for those enthused and willing to try it out.

 

AXES with Tom – If Only You Knew What’s In Your Archive!

When television is not enough

The demo Lotte Belice Baltussen and Lyndon Nixon showed, was dedicated squarely at the home user – and smart web editors. The LinkedTV project has the noble assumption that television audiences are not willing to switch off their brains when watching, but are most willing to use their smart devices to make themselves smarter too. In order to assist editors in providing a wealth of contextual information, the project searches for for that sweet spot where automatically enriched and linked metadata can provide a world of new experiences.

In the Linked Culture demo the duo showed, the Dutch version of the Antiques Roadshow was enriched with images and explanations pulled in from Europeana. During the coffee break, we saw some conversing going on between the developers in the project and those involved in EUscreenXL, so keep posted to hear if this turns into pretty new uses of our linked data pilot.

 

LinkedTV demonstration of LinkedCulture

Crowdsource this

15670785666_7263f887e0_oMark Williams took to te stage again to this time root for his own project. The Media Ecology project, or MEP in short, is a fantastically ambitious and wide ranging project that brings together researchers, librarians, archivists and computer scientists and aims to harness the powers of two library and archive buzzwords: linked data and crowdsourcing. MEP provides access to the Library of Congress via Mediathread and allows a selected group of academics to update and improve on descriptions. The archives can then harvest back metadata generated through MEP project. The project’s access point provides enhanced search capacity for the LoC’s materials, enhances search capacity for other archives and helps the academic & scholarly community help in their workflow at the same time. An important aid in this process is the use of a controlled vocabulary, which in this project is baptised the Onomy. The project makes use of a wide range of open source tools, such as the Computational Cinematics Toolkit in Python and the related Tiltfactor, doing metadata games.

The big launch

15509336028_1db2bce465_oKamila Lewandowska, Sian Barber and Rutger Rozendal all work on the EUscreenXL project. The three of them have been the main drivers behind the EUscreen portal redesign, and therefor the honour was bestowed upon them to present its feats and design choices. The new portal is made adaptive so it can be seen on all sorts of devices, search is made more intuitive and all together it boasts an editorial approach, feeding users more content in more appealing ways. Also, some important steps in providing subtitles for selected clips have been provided. Meanwhile the strengths of the portal – rich, interchangeable metadata and descriptions – are still there and improvements will be taking place over the next few months, as well as new possibilities for contextualisation. We do suggest you go there straight after reading this post to find out all that’s new and shiny: http://www.euscreen.eu

The Q&A session focused on the benefits of crowdsourcing and lessons learned in this space, including how to convince archive personnel of the usefulness of involving non-professionals in describing archive content. The presentations led one commenter to describe his response as a Faustian dilemma, where he needed to choose between using one of the many fantastic tools available but unable to solve the growing gap between their development and their integration into teaching & digital/audiovisual literacy. As far as we could understand from the panel members, they all seemed to have good trust in their visions of smarter, connected, wired, searchable and automated collections – and the people we hope will be using them.

 

Drawing made at the conference by Montse Fortino.
Pictures taken at the conference by Maria Drabczyk/Quirijn Backx/Erwin Verbruggen

Conference notes II: Archival case studies that inspire

Author: Kathrin Müllner, Maria Drabczyk
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EUscreenXL gathered in Rome last week for our conference on the users and usage of audiovisual archives: “From Audience to User: Engaging with Audiovisual Heritage Online”. In this series of blog posts we fill you in on what happened. Session II was dedicated to audiovisual stories & best practices.

Digitization, media education, live performances – all under one roof

mdrabczyk_qbackx_20141030_IMG_9377The session, moderated by Marco Rendina from  Cinecittá LUCE was opened with a presentation by Michał Merczyński, director of  National Audiovisual Institute (NInA). This public cultural institution is based in Warsaw, Poland and was set up in 2005 as a publishing house, then transformed into NInA in 2009. The focus of NInA lies on digitizing and publishing the archives documenting Poland’s audiovisual heritage and becoming a leading cultural institution in this field.

The key objective of the Institute is to enrich its audiovisual archives by creating context and making access more user-friendly. In its video on demand service, launched last year, NInA started building thematic collections concentrated on one single access point. One such example is the portal Three Composers, which was shortlisted for the FIAT/IFTA Archive Achievements Awards in 2014.

A short video tutorial explaining how to navigate through Three Composers music collection.

NInA cooperates with national and international partners specialised in film, music and theatre, Google Cultural Institute and many more. Around 98% of the content available on its main access point - NINATEKA – is free of charge. Through NINATEKA EDU – the biggest educational project of the Institute, there are more than 1700 items, special collections and additional educational recources available for teachers. Although the web is the most natural environment for NInA’s activities, the Institute engages in various programmes in the real world to create an interest in the use of digital archives and to engage the end users.  With a new venue to be opened in May 2015, NInA keeps being in transition between the analog and the digital era and tries to link the old with the new. After Michał Merczyński’s presentation a shared feeling was visible among the audience: we may not be able to pronounce any of the names or tools but NInA surely got us engaged!

Breaking News: 1914 can still inspire!

mdrabczyk_qbackx_20141030_IMG_9397From Poland to France. After a packed and inspiring presentation about a freshly set up AV institution Laurent Duret from Les Films d’Ici took us on a journey into the past. The aim of his long-term, interactive and in-depth narrative project 1914:Breaking news was to bring back the collective memory from the First World War. As the understanding of the events of 1914-1918  obviously differs in France and Germany, a decision was made to focus on these two. Even though the contract for the project was signed in Berlin in 2009, it took Mr. Duret and his international team of historians, archivists and museum experts four long years of research before the documentary was finally finished. All scenes in the film were inspired by 14 diaries from all over Europe, in order to get a broad view of the daily life of the time. In cooperation with ARTE and various newspaper publishers in Europe, the material was broadcasted on a mobile website first, that kept a calendar of daily events leading up to the war. Only later was the documentary shown on television.

1914 Breaking news trailer from Laurent Duret

In order to attract wider attention of various target groups in an innovative and interactive way, Mr Duret and his team drew special attention to shareability and presence on social media. Moreover an online music quiz was developed in which users had to find out if the lyrics of a particular song belonged to a 1914 pop song or a contemporary hip hop song from 2014. This website had over one million unique visitors and about 30 million people saw the documentary on TV. 1914: Breaking news is a marvelous example of digital storytelling and shows how to engage millions of people with a challenging topic, depicting one of Europe’s darkest times.

A DIVE in Digital Hermeneutics

mdrabczyk_qbackx_20141030_IMG_9395Lora Aroyo from the VU University Amsterdam added an academic perspective to the conversation by holding the last presentation of the session with a special focus on digital hermeneutics and the CrowdTruth platform – a framework for crowdsourcing ground truth data. The aim of the project is to get the data to train, test and evaluate cognitive computing systems. In terms of user engagement, the question for Aroyo remains: how to make this engagement possible in a more scalable and reusable way? In contrast to the common approach – namely asking experts – engaging a large crowd allows different interpretations (harnessing disagreement) and annotations. The CrowdTruth workflow involves three main steps: exploring and processing input data, collecting annotation data, and applying disagreement analytics on the results.

Mrs. Aroyo pointed out that when in a museum, people are guided through exhibitions. On the internet, they are left to themselves. A support is missing. The web is chaos! The argument led Lora Aroyo swiftly to the second part of her speech, in which she presented the DIVE browser - developed to provide innovative access on heritage objects from heterogeneous collections, using historical events and narratives as the context for searching, browsing and presenting of individual and group objects. DIVE is supposed to help people in their online exploration and research. Its interface invites users to continue their explorations by “diving into” a topic and get to infinity of exploration. DIVE is definitely a wonderful “How to…” approach on user engagement – you should want to try it for yourself.

 

Drawing made at the conference by Montse Fortino.
Pictures taken at the conference by Maria Drabczyk/Quirijn Backx

Our First Physical Exhibition in the Freedom Express Campaign

Author: Maria Drabczyk
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On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a unique exhibition entitled ‘Roads to 1989. East-Central Europe 1939-1989.’ was launched in the German capital. The exhibition documents the complicated process through which this part of Europe regained its freedom from communist dictatorship. The exhibition is part of ‘Freedom Express’, a social and educational campaign organised by ENRS, ministries responsible for culture in Poland, Germany, Hungary and Slovakia and local partners. EUscreenXL Consortium and Europeana are partners of the project.

DSC_9775The exhibition concentrates on the various ways in which civil liberties were limited in the former communist block and on attempts made to regain them. It focuses especially on the question of what connects and divides remembrance of the events that preceded the fall of communism in Central and Eastern European. The content of the exhibition reveals a story of the different faces of freedom. Individual parts of the exhibition are devoted to freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion and belief, economic freedom and other themes.

EUscreenXL contributed to the exhibition by creating a unique, moving and historically meaningful video production. It includes archival content that shows important and commonly recognizable personalities and events from the political transformation time in Europe of 1989 and depicts crucial social phenomena also typical for the period. It represents one of the first try-outs of the EUscreen Network activities aimed at reaching new audiences and stepping out of the online world by preparing a physical exhibition.

The video was created by EUscreenXL partners – Deutsche Welle, The Lithuanian Central State Archive, RTV Slovenia, Czech Tevision, National Audiovisual Archive of Hungary, National Audiovisual Institute of Poland (in collaboration with Video Studio Gdańsk), and The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision.

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The exhibition will be shown on 4-10 November on Dorothea-Schlegel-Platz – a square located close to the historic Friedrichstraße train station, which, between the years 1961 to 1990, served as a railway border crossing between East and West Berlin.

After Berlin, ‘Roads to 1989’ will be shown this year in Brussels (14-24 November) and Warsaw (28 November-15 December).

Alongside the European tour of the exhibition, its digital version is also available at: http://1989.enrs.eu/exhibition.

 

Freedom Express is asocial and educational campaign organised by the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity. Its first part was a study trip whereby a group of young artists, journalists and historians visited Solidarity’s Gdańsk, then Warsaw, Budapest, Sopron, Timisoara, Bratislava, Prague and Berlin. The trip’s agenda of meetings, workshops and artistic activities was made possible thanks to the cooperation of a number of institutions involved with 20th century history.

More information is available at www.freedomexpress.enrs.eu

You can also follow the event on Facebook.

 

Source: ENRS press information and own materials.
Photos: Krzysztof Dobrogowski, Copyright: European Network Remembrance and Solidarity

Conference notes: The Three R’s of Archival Video

Author: Erwin Verbruggen
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EUscreenXL gathered in Rome last week for our conference on the users and usage of audiovisual archives: “From Audience to Users: Engaging with Audiovisual Heritage Online”. In this series of blog posts we’ll fill you in on what happened.

Last week was a busy one for audiovisual archivists! The week in which we celebrated  the World Day of Audiovisual Heritage saw no less than six events related to our moving image heritage – not to speak of the International Federation of Television Archives‘ world conference in Amsterdam, which we visited the week before. In Mexico, the SIPAD symposium was teaching a generation of Latin-American archivists how to care for AV heritage. In Switzerland, EUscreenXL partner EBU, the European Broadcasting Union, gathered a group to discuss the technical merits of archival operations, the importance of metadata (including for EUscreenXL) and strategic questions such as whether public broadcasters have a duty to provide archives.

Drawing made at the EUscreenXL Rome Conference by Montse FortinoIn Spain meanwhile, the Europeana network came together to discuss how it would update its ways of collaborating to continue being the hadron collider for cultural heritage. And as Ina’s training team was teaching novices to the field how to take care of moving image materials in its FRAME series, and the Federation of Film Archives’ executive committee met in Stockholm, we, archivists and academics linked to the EUscreen network, joined each other in Rome to discuss topics, tools and triangulations around giving access to broadcast and moving image materials that have withstood the tests of time.

The Rome conference we set up filled two days – one in which we focused on stories and examples from the field, and one in which we spent discussing in various workshops. Meanwhile, the conference was also the location for the General Assembly of the EUscreen network and for scholarly activities, such as a meeting of the European (Post)Socialist Television History Network and the editorial board of EUscreen’s VIEW Journal of European Television History and Culture. So in a nutshell: a lot of words being exchanged, a lot of bonds reinforced and a lot of ideas shared. This was truly a week in which the famed double helix of preserving and giving access to audiovisual heritage, as Peter Kaufman so eloquently put it once, was at the heart of the conversation.

Archives on YouTube

Italy’s Ministry of Culture has a representative for film culture. That is in and of itself a remarkable feat and – if you ask us – a sign of being an utmost civilized nation. Mr. Nicola Borrelli opened the conference, stressing the importance of film and audiovisual heritage for the country and mentioning it as one of the most important issues of the current Italian presidency of the European Union. Our morning speaker on the first day was Mr. Roger Felber.

An example of a clip British Pathé made more Relevant to contemporary audiences by changing its title.

 

Picture taken at the conference by Maria Drabczyk/Quirijn BackxMr. Felber is a British business man with an impressive track record, whose investment group owns the British Pathé collection. His opening talk may seem like a strange choice for EUscreenXL. Why put all this effort in developing a portal such as EUscreen to then open your arms to organisations who use YouTube? While it is true that the series of projects and collaborations that brought forth EUscreen predates the existence of the video mogul , it is of course no stranger to EUscreen’s members. Various organisations, such as Cinecittá LUCE, TV Romania’s archives and Sound and Vision, have made substantial amounts of video available through Google’s platform. While for archival curation many of us question its lack of rich metadata, for example, there are obvious advantages to using the platform – audience reach being high on that list. What we hoped to learn from Mr. Felber was how this reach can be seen, thought of, explored and improved upon.

The Three R’s

His experiences did not disappoint. As Mr. Felber admitted, his organisation does not move without it resulting in “cold, hard cash” – an approach that the mostly public service directed organisations in EUscreen are less prone to. Mr. Felber relayed the steps his organisation had taken to publish its 95.000 videos online in one go. After discovering many of their films had already made it online via private persons’ interests and unvetted activities, the organisation decided to make the jump. YouTube has a robust advertising scheme and a fingerprinting algorithm that allows content owners to redirect the advertising income from third party or individual uploaders they would’ve otherwise missed out on. A win-win situation for British Pathé’s rights holders.

Mr. Felber then – without the use of PowerPoint or presenter’s notes – kept his audience captivated with his story of how the group focused on creating impact with the collection. He bundled British Pathé’s lessons for audience reach in a maxim consisting of three R’s: Regularity, Relevance and Reliability. Publish materials with a dependable regularity, make them relevant to the people who need to see them and make sure you can be considered a reliable source.

An important lesson for British Pathé – and a rather frightening idea to the researchers in the room – was that changing the titles of the videos made them more find- and clickable – a lesson mirrorred by recent developments in the publishing world, where ‘clickbait’ titles and title-focused enterprises such as Upworthy are all the rage.

British Pathé puts music under all its silent clips, unlike this film fragment from the Cinematek in Brussels.

 

Picture taken at the conference by Maria Drabczyk/Quirijn BackxIn the panel that followed suit, project coordinator Eggo Müller welcomed Sonja de Leeuw and Mark Williams at the table to discuss specific parts of the online delivery process. Topics included questions such as audience specificity – a general audience consisting of many smaller niche audiences – and the true meanings of audience engagement. Markedly different were the approaches to media the academic researchers in the room voiced – their primary concern is that of the untouched, true original.

Another hot topic for discussion – recurrent in the EUscreen family – was that of allowing free access to a collection that is used for footage licensing. The balance was decidedly positive: besides generating extra income via YouTube’s advertising, the British Pathé collections have become much more known because of its publication, and footage sales have increased in never before served territories.

Linda Kaye closed the Q&A session with  a comment on the resources of the metadata. In British Pathé’s tumultuous history, its original paper archive was once tossed in the bin, rescued from there and now available for researchers at the British Universities Film and Video Council. A challenging anecdote to close this session, that reunites the need for a broad audience reach with the importance of the daily grinds and duties of archive operations.

 

Drawing made at the conference by Montse Fortino.
Pictures taken at the conference by Maria Drabczyk/Quirijn Backx

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