EUscreenXL on the Future of Archives at NECS 2015

Author: Eleonora Maria Mazzoli
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The 2015 NECS Conference took place this year in Łódź, Poland on 18th-20th June. Every year NECS, the European Network for Cinema and Media Studies gathers a significant number of scholars, researchers, media professionals and archivists from all over the world. The theme of the conference was “Archive of/for the Future” and certainly, it could not be more appropriate and relevant for EUscreenXL. Thus, a team of EUscreenXL representatives participated to the event presenting an entire panel session on “Perspectives on the Contextualization of Audiovisual Online Archives: Access and Publication Formats.” The ‘dream team Łódź’ was represented by Mariana Salgado from Aalto University, Berber Hagedoorn and Eleonora Maria Mazzoli from Utrecht University, and Dana Mustata from Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.
 
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Local Radio and Television Records from Public Media Stations Across USA To Be Made Available to the Public

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The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB), a collaboration between the Library of Congress, WGBH Boston and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, launched a new website at americanarchive.org on April 7, providing the public with access to a collection of American public radio and television content dating back to the 1950s.

These audio and video materials, created by more than 120 public broadcasting organizations across the United States, have now been digitized and preserved, and will be a resource for scholars, researchers, educators, filmmakers and the general public to delve into the rich history of public broadcasting across America.
 
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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 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

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