Within the framework of Europeana Space a number of hackathons are organised to develop tools for using Europeana content. The Hacking Culture Bootcamp hackathon, held in Amsterdam between May 8 and May 10 this year, focused on creating multiscreen experiences with digitalized historical footage from Europeana. In the hackathon seven teams of participants from different backgrounds created new multiscreen digital tools to engage with cultural heritage. For EUscreenXL we participated with a team of six.
With this post we are starting a new series through which we would like to introduce you to projects that we observe and support. They all share the common objective – they aim to connect, contribute and create in order to bring more awareness to digital heritage. Today we give you Europeana Sounds.
Europeana Sounds – EUscreenXL sister project dedicated to sounds – has recently released a teaser video, showcasing Europe’s sound archives to be unlocked and joined online.
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
The 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!
From 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
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
On 18th July 2013, the EUscreenXL project was presented as part of the panel ‘Digital Archive Projects: Rethinking Media Studies Methodologies’ at the 25th International IAMHIST Conference held at the University of Leicester, UK. It was the second time EUscreen was present at the IAMHIST Conference, after the 24th International IAMHIST Conference themed ‘Media History and Cultural Memory’ at Copenhagen University in 2011.
Report by Berber Hagedoorn, MA (Utrecht University)
The International Association for Media and History (IAMHIST) is an organization of filmmakers, broadcasters, archivists and scholars dedicated to historical inquiry into film, radio, television, and related media. IAMHIST encourages scholarly research into the relations between history and the media as well as the production of historically informed documentaries, television series, and other media texts. The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Childhood and the Media’.
The last decade we have witnessed an explosion of available digital databases and archives, and accordingly, the development of different tools to explore these archives in new ways. The panel ‘Digital Archive Projects: Rethinking Media Studies Methodologies’ discussed the possibilities and limitations of tools to explore digitised television, newspaper and radio archives for media scholars and historians. Each paper presented a particular project, its possible use for future research and a specific case study conducted by means of the tools. The panel was chaired by Luke McKernan (British Library, London).
Berber Hagedoorn from Utrecht University presented the EUscreenXL project, which aims to overcome the fragmentation of the audiovisual heritage sector in Europe and to make a growing collection of contextualised audiovisual content accessible and meaningful for diverse types of users, from the general audience, researchers and teachers, to professionals in the creative industries. Hagedoorn paid specific attention to the opportunities and challenges of the project and EUscreen portal for academic research. As a cross-national database of sources, the portal offers access to a range of audiovisual content in different languages, connected to various historical topics. Hagedoorn focused particularly on how the EUscreen portal and the use of European cultural resources lends itself to doing comparative research on the coverage of particular topics and genres across countries in Europe.
Martijn Kleppe from Erasmus University Rotterdam discussed the PoliMedia project, which showcases the potential of cross-media analysis by linking digitised transcriptions of debates at the Dutch Parliament with newspapers, radio bulletins, newscasts and current affairs programmes. Kleppe explained the workings of the PoliMedia portal and its possible future use for media scholars, discussing how the portal will allow researchers to browse for debates or names of politicians and analyse related media coverage, as well as evaluating debates in which politicians appeared and how they were covered in the press. As Kleppe pointed out, an advantage of the PoliMedia project is that the coverage in the media is incorporated in its original form, enabling analyses of the mark-up of news articles, newspaper photos, and televised programme footage.
Jasmijn van Gorp from Utrecht University presented the project BRIDGE: Building Rich Links to Enable Television History, in which she zoomed in on two tools developed by this project for exploration and contextualisation. MeRDES (Media Researchers’ Data Exploration Suite) enables comparative analysis between two individual items from the television catalogue of the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision archives, through visualisations such as word clouds and timelines. Secondly, CoMeRDA (Contextualising Media Researchers’ Data) links different collections, including television programmes, national newspapers and television-related photographs, and enables simultaneous search across these collections. Van Gorp demonstrated how the discussed tools ‘bridge’ or build links between heterogeneous collections, therefore allowing media researchers, historians, and digital humanists to explore, analyse and compare (elements of) Dutch television history.
The discussion session highlighted the necessity of translation, in particular for transnational or European-wide archival projects. This is especially the case for EUscreenXL which, as an audiovisual online archive, is also more dependent on its metadata to allow researchers to explore the archive for relevant content. Translation and subtitling will therefore not only aid in the usability of the audiovisual content, but in improving the searchability of the EUscreen portal, too.
All presentations touched upon how analysing media coverage across several types of media forms or outlets is a challenging task for researchers. New digital tools to explore archives therefore allow researchers to study more and new sources as well as generating novel research questions. The panel enabled a fruitful dialogue with media scholars and historians, emphasizing the relevance for scholars in the Humanities to further engage in digital archival projects.
In July ’13, Berber Hagedoorn (UU) and Willemien Sanders (UU), with assistance from Vera Schoonbrood (UU Research Master student) hosted two focus groups and an in-depth interview to discuss improvements for the EUscreen portal and, more specifically, to refine user requirements. The aim was to get input from both researchers and students, who also contributed in their role as general user, on what would invite them to use the portal, and which additional functionalities, tools, and contextualization they would need to carry out research effectively.
Report by dr Willemien Sanders from Utrecht University
Researchers from the Department of Languages, Literature and Communication, the Department of History and Art History, and the Department of Media and Performance Studies within the faculty of the Humanities of Utrecht University participated in the first focus group. Speaking specifically from a researcher’s perspective, they discussed ways to better present, search, and link the content of the site.
A second focus group included students from the Department of History and Art History, and the Department of Media and Performance Studies. Both in their roles as students and as ‘general users’ of the EUscreen portal, they discussed the use of the portal for their student work as well as ways to collaborate and share.
The focus groups were followed up by a questionnaire, informed by the focus groups findings, which is aimed at assessing user requirements in a broader field of researchers and students/general users.
The meetings in Utrecht are part of a series of activities aimed at contextualizing the content of the portal for various users. These activities are carried out by different EUscreenXL partners across different countries.
Try imagining all the world’s existing audiovisual material: all the films ever made, plus the television footage ever shot, plus all the sounds once recorded – add the scientific and military observations and home videos, the (super) 8 mm recordings, the YouTube generation’s creations. Then, try to visualise not the kilometers of celluloid or optical disks or hours and lifetimes it would take to see it all, but what the possible value of all those sounds and images would be.
Do they indeed, as the author of the just released report Assessing the Audiovisual Archive Market, Peter B. Kaufman, proposes, form a sort of crude oil – ready to be refined, reassembled and made into a new creative product?
In the same way that oil, pumped from the ground, is refined and then used to fuel transportation and industry, or iron, mined from the ground, is smelted into steel and used in construction, so audiovisual materials mined from the archives form part of the backbone of information, com- munication, and our creative knowledge economy, worldwide.
Assessing the Audiovisual Archive Market
Assessing the Audiovisual Archive Market: Models and Approaches for Audiovisual Content Exploitation was commissioned by PrestoCentre, the international competence centre for digital audiovisual preservation. It explores the ways that a audiovisual archives have been “examining, appreciating, and even embracing business and commercial interactions in the digital age”. The report takes a look back at 124 years of audiovisual archiving and how the challenge of preserving moving images and sounds has reached increasing levels of complexity.
This increased complexity, not in the least caused by the advent of digital production and storage methods, leads to a mirrored exchange between the access and preservation tasks of the contemporary archive: twin missions, as Kaufman calls them, that “twist around each other like the double helix of a modern memory institution’s DNA.” The paper investigates the forms and methods audiovisual archives have been approaching to fund this double mission and how they have shifted some of their attention towards possible cooperation with businesses and even taken advantage of existing commercial opportunities.
new opportunities for cultural heritage institutions to develop business models, revenue streams, and business knowledge — and in the process gain an even greater appreciation for the role they play in media, society, and our economies today — abound. This paper, focusing as it does on such opportunities, may provide activists in the field with inspiration and support.
In order to define the value of an audiovisual collection, one needs to get a clear idea about the costs involved – by mouth of one of the interviewees, the report states that “use has begun to define value”. Inversely, an item that is not well preserved, cannot be found and thus not used by anyone, ever again. The paper stresses the importance of access as a form of open access: the value that lies in use, sharing, reuse can only be realised when unrestricted online access allows participant from different online realms can use web tools to popularise and contextualise the assets. The paper intends to suggest that in the double helix between preservation and access, “support for one is support for both”.
It also underlines the need for the audiovisual archiving field that in dealing with the multi-billion dollar business partners who are currently so important for finding, exploring, discovering and buying media on the web, the field of archives and museums needs to be well aware of its value and importance, as well al the sensitivities we share and the experiences we’ve had.
No agent has been retained to represent the interests of libraries, archives, and museums, in the way an author or musician might retain one. No lawyers have been hired to pore over the body of agreements to date and highlight best practices for the community. No working group focused exclusively on improving public-private partnerships has been assembled and charged with a mission and a deadline. If the commercial sector is investing hundreds of millions of Euros, and a hundred billion are needed, we had better get started.
The report offers 7 Recommendations and proposes the development of four new tools for a smarter (re-)use of audiovisual archival content. The recommendations are:
- Audiovisual archives should consider themselves part and parcel of the knowledge economy.
- Audiovisual archives should recognize that multibillion-dollar businesses are growing based on materials they curate; and as a result their institutions deserve to participate in the revenue these materials are generating, in the knowhow that they are contributing, and in other direct and indirect benefits these materials are making to the world.
- Audiovisual archives more than anything need something approximat ing an old-fashioned guild, where collective knowledge can come to rest, and where business savvy from attorneys, dealmakers, and others might be fielded and centralized.
- The field needs to hire, in effect, an advocate — perhaps a sanhedrin of wise men and women who can look after its collective interest and help it argue on its own behalf and on behalf of the public sector.
- When approaching business relationships, audiovisual archives should consider the arrangements from the perspective of their commercial partners, recognizing that the strongest players in the audiovisual marketplace are in the business now for the long term, making strategic rather than tactical investments in the sector.
- Archives should recognize in particular the value of their building comprehensive metadata resources and optimizing their audiovisual resources for search and discovery.
- In the audiovisual archive world, archives have been dealt a strong hand. They need to recognize that audiovisual material now and over time will be the most sought- after assets to monetize.
The reasoning behind these recommendations and the well-recommended, 30-page report, are available for download as a PDF in the PrestoCentre library.
The EUscreen collection includes thousands of items. To help users get the most from the EUscreen material, researchers, experts and members of its partner broadcasters and audiovisual archives have created a series of online exhibitions. These exhibitions cover historical events, political debates and everyday life in Europe.
The current release, visible at http://www.euscreen.eu/exhibitions.html, brings online 10 different exhibitions, some of which are divided into subchapters or strands. The exhibitions are created by archivists, researchers, and enthusiasts.
These inter-archival exhibitions add new meaning to a wonderful collection of unique television materials and make them accessible to a different and larger audience; soon, visitors will be able to create their own stories and add more connections between the richness of 60 years of television history in Europe. Expert knowledge and a fascinating range of materials combine to offer exciting exhibitions on a wide range of subjects. A fine example of such an exhibition is the exhibition Being European, which brings together source materials from providers across the continent and is divided in multiple strands that showcase what European culture and identity may signify.
The tools designed for these exhibitions allow for the insertion of multimedia materials from all the project’s content providers and link back to the original items on the site, where users can find out more about them, share the links or get in touch with the providers themselves. Many more exhibitions will become available over the next couple of months and EUscreen is working hard to get the tools ready for everyone to start creating their own exhibitions.
Second Status Report Released
EUscreen is pleased to announce its second status report Online Access to Audiovisual Heritage. In three chapters, the report gives an overview of technological developments bearing an influence on publishing and making accessible historical footage. The report discusses online heritage practices within Europe and beyond.
In a field that faces constant renewal, overhaul and additional challenges, the report means to take stock of the status of the online audiovisual heritage field. This allows the EUscreen project to measure our own strategies and technological development and allows the participating archives, broadcasters and the broader GLAM community to come up with solutions for providing access that cater to users’ needs and environments.
This document is a follow‐up on the first EUscreen status report, published one year ago.
The status report is divided into three chapters, each focusing on a different aspect of online access. Through this structure, we successively discuss three main trends regarding access, namely: 1) use and reuse today, 2) trends towards a cultural commons and 3) fundamental research in the area of audiovisual content.
The first chapter gives an overview of major developments, including access provision and use of content by the creative industries. In the second chapter we explore the topic of (sustainable) reuse of audiovisual sources as a cultural and explorative practice leading towards more open and participatory archives. Finally, the third chapter discusses European research topics that are currently ongoing in areas connected to audiovisual heritage.
We’re currently heading towards the final stages of the EUscreen project, which will conclude in September with the final EUscreen conference in Budapest. This status report comes at a time where the project needs to reflect on its position in the field and on its long-term sustainable future as a service for the various stakeholders.