Royal Holloway launch of EUscreen portal – 4th April, BBC Television Centre

By Dr Sian Barber – Postdoctoral Researcher, RHUL

The EUscreen portal was launched by Sian Barber and Rob Turnock from Royal Holloway, University of London on Monday 4th April at BBC Television Centre to the Southern Broadcast History Group. This group comprises a number of broadcast historians, senior academics, archivists and industry professionals drawn from 8 different British Universities, the BBC and the British Film Institute.

As well as the launch of the EUscreen portal, this one day event saw detailed debates and discussions about current work in the field of Broadcasting history, notably radio in America, Germany and Britain in the 1930s and Broadcasting policy in the 1980s which fore grounded the importance of users and citizens as active listeners and viewers.

Showcasing EUscreen.eu
For the EUscreen launch, Rob Turnock gave a brief introduction to the project, highlighting the possibilities of the site as a research resource as well as one for teaching and learning. Rob explained the role of Royal Holloway within the project and mentioned some of the challenges encountered on the project so far and the way in which the project team have worked to overcome them. Particular attention was paid to how the portal will focus upon the needs of users and the issues faced in integrating differing metadata schema and providing the necessary contextual information to a disparate range of users. Rob also mentioned the Virtual Exhibitions and the e-journal which will allow for interactive discussion around the content and increase dissemination activity, and would be of great interest to the Research Group.

This discussion of the project was followed with a demonstration of the portal. Rob highlighted three different ways of searching the portal; basic search, advanced search and searching by language. Much attention was given to the detailed metadata which accompanies each individual record, and the way in which the fourteen historical topics provide a structure to the portal which promotes easier searching and filtering.

The explore function was also demonstrated to show how content on the site could be filtered by genre to see what exists in different categories. Rob also drew attention to the list of languages currently available, noting that a much wider range of languages will exist in the next version of the portal. Rob also stressed that in the next release, the portal will have increased functionality and greater interoperability.

Following the presentation, questions were raised about the rationale behind the e-journal, what kind of content it would include and when it would be published online. There was also further discussion about the range of content providers who were involved in the project and if other material from different content providers could be added and integrated at a later date. These queries promoted a broader discussion of the project as a whole and many expressed interest in looking at the portal in more detail and for research and teaching purposes.

EUscreen welcomes a new associate partner

The EUscreen consortium is being expanded with the Nasjonalbiblioteket from Norway. With Norway included, 20 European countries are contributing to the EUscreen project. The Nasjonalbiblioteket has a collection of manuscripts, special collections of books, music, radio and TV programmes, film , theatre, maps, posters, pictures, photographs and newspapers that reflect the Norwegian culture. For EUscreen, they will provide content related to Norwegian television.

The EUscreen project is always interested in a possible cooperation with audiovisual archives and other cultural institutions. If your institution is interested, please contact EUscreen.

Conference: Video Vortex #6

Date: 10-12 March 2011
Location: Amsterdam

The Video Vortex events come back to Amsterdam. Organized by the Institute of Network Cultures, and in a top cultural venue, Video Vortex 6 offers artist presentations (performances, screenings and talks),  hands-on workshops, the launch of the upcoming  Video Vortex Reader II, and a 2-day symposium:

Conference Themes

Friday, March 11
Online Video Aesthetics
Platforms, Standards and the Trouble with Translation Civil Rights
Online Video Art
Book launch: Web Aesthetics, by Vito Campanelli

Saturday, March 12
It’s Not a Dead Collection, it’s a Dynamic Database
The World of Online Video: Country Reports
In Conversation with artist Natalie Bookchin
Online Video as a Political Tool
Book launch: Video Vortex Reader 2

About Video Vortex

The Video Vortex project aims to contextualize these developments by tracing continuities and fault lines across recent decades in artistic, activist and mainstream activity. Contrary to the way online video is frequently understood and presented as something entirely new, it has long threads woven into the history of visual art, cinema and documentary production. The rise of the database as the dominant form of storing and accessing cultural artefacts also has a rich tradition that needs exploring. As a platform for artists, film and video professionals, and researchers, Video Vortex responds to this emerging field, and offers a crucial space for the exchange of knowledge and experiences.

Since 2007, Video Vortex events, conferences, workshops, and exhibitions have taken place throughout (and outside of) Europe, and includes the publication of the first Video Vortex Reader (2008), and the second one being published March 2011. With this program, the Institute of Network Cultures in Amsterdam, and its project partners, have been initiating and facilitating a deep study of online video in its diverse forms and uses, and further, its impact both on, and within, the information society.

Film Heritage, Digital Future: Practice and Sustainability for the Film Archive Sector

Press release by the BUFVC

A one day event for professionals in film and TV archiving.
Friday March 4th 2011
Organised and hosted by Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research
Birmingham City University
Margaret St Campus

What issues are facing film and other audio-visual archives? What are the immediate challenges for archive holders of cuts to public funding and threats to intellectual property in a digital age? How is our film heritage to be sustained and used? What kinds of collaborations might support the legacy of UK film and prompt innovation and best practice?

This event offers an opportunity for those with a professional interest in the film sector to hear about best practice in a range of public-funded projects and to share insights and ideas about the challenges for the audio-visual archive sector in the digital age.

The event will be anchored by the presentation of a range of innovative projects funded by Screen West Midlands under the Digital Film Archive Fund. Since the launch of the fund by Film Council in 2009, these projects have created new archival material, investigated and repurposed existing material, reaching new audiences and prompting engagement with archive issues and cultural heritage. As the projects seek to secure their legacy, develop and expand their scope, the issues they face will provide a prompt for discussion.

The event will feature contributions from BBC, SWM, MACE, EUscreen, workers from a variety of archives and from the education sector. EUscreen will be represented by Dr. Rob Turnock and Sian Barber, postdoctoral researcher both from Royal Holloway, University of London. They will be presenting their paper “From archive to online user: EUscreen and the challenges of creating access to European television content.”

The programme of the event contains presentations, screenings, opportunities for networking and discussion of current challenges in the sector.

Refreshments and lunch are provided.

RSVP: paul.long@bcu.ac.uk

National Library of Sweden and the Swedish Film Institute launch new web site for moving images

By Christopher Natzen

On February 10 the new web site Filmarkivet was launched by the National Library of Sweden and the Swedish Film Institute. On the site you have the opportunity to see unique archival moving image material that otherwise is rarely accessed. The web site contains mainly shorts, non-fiction films, news-reels and commercials: films that reflect the transformation of Swedish society over the last century. Some 300 films are now available, a figure that will be doubled before the end of 2011.

‘Rundfunk und Geschichte’ publishes report on the first EUscreen International Conference

By Dana Mustata

The German journal ‘Rundfunk und Geschichte’ will publish in their upcoming issue of February 2011 an extensive report on the results of the first EUscreen Conference that was held in Rome in October, 2010. Aimed at an academic audience, the report makes an overview of the main discussion points at the conference and emphasizes the challenges, inspiration and added value that the online availability of audiovisual sources brings to historical research.

Based on the talks held in Rome, the report entitled ‘Contextualization and the Critical Use of Online Audiovisual Archives’ acknowledges the changes that the field of the humanities and history and media studies in particular, are undergoing in the face of the growing availability of online audiovisual sources. As several key-note speeches suggested, these changes bring along a series of challenges to traditional ways of doing research and conventional methods of interpreting history. The report reflects on the conference talks that proposed possible solutions to such challenges. Challenges regarding online audiovisual material are experienced not only by researchers using these online sources, but also by the content providers making these sources available as well as by audiovisual heritage platforms such as EUscreen. The important concern at stake here is how to present online material to different categories of users, an issue discussed by several speakers at the conference and reiterated in the report. Borrowing from several discussions throughout the conference, the report also puts forward ways of stimulating creative re-use of online audiovisual material among different users.

The report constitutes a step further in disseminating the discussions held at the first EUscreen International Conference among other academic platforms. We hope that such dissemination will increase awareness among the academic community concerning the added value that online audiovisual collections offer to doing research and concerning practices of using digital audiovisual material to research purposes.

Advise the European Commission about digitalisation of and access to cultural heritage!

The Reflection Group has been asked to advise the European Commission about how to accelerate the process of digitalisation and access of cultural heritage. The Reflection Group is an independent group of 12 members, which started in 2008 and advises the European Union in various longer term matters. For this particular subject on cultural heritage, the group has set up a questionnaire to consult the field and gather there expertise.

“This consultation is launched by the Comité to feed its reflection and subsequent recommendations. As the cultural sector is undergoing a revolutionary transition worldwide, Europe is looking for innovative solutions to reap the social and economic benefits of the technological advances. The Comité des Sages is therefore seeking your views on key issues of this process, including on the sources of funding for digitisation, the exploitation models of content digitised with public funding or on conditions governing public-private partnerships for digitisation. You are invited to respond to the consultation by 30 September 2010. The Comité des Sages will analyse the responses and a follow-up hearing is scheduled to take place in Brussels on 28 October 2010.”
(IPM website )

The questionnaire can be found here

The EUscreen content selection policy and the future user

EUscreen will provide access to a critical mass of audiovisual content (>30,000 items) and it’s metadata, covering the history of European television. With such a large amount of data, a content selection policy is essential to provide meaningful access. The EUscreen content selection policy has been developed in the first six months of the project and the final policy has been presented to the content providers during the Mykonos workshop in June. This policy will not only influence the work of the content providers, but also the user experience.  We’ve invited Sian Barber, Postdoctoral Researcher  from Royal Holloway University of London (workpackage leader for WP3, content selection policies) to outline the content selection policy in more detail and to explain the benefits of such a policy for future users of the EUscreen portal.

The EUscreen project content selection policy is comprised of three strands: the 14 historical topics, content provider virtual exhibitions and comparative virtual exhibitions. The aim of this ambitious, multi-strand approach is to offer something sophisticated and multi-layered to draw upon the strengths of the various content providers. The approach will allow archives to showcase material from within their own collections which fall outside the parameters of the historical topics. Yet what are the implications of this policy for users, and what benefits does it offer to them?

Site users will be able to see the outcomes of the content selection policy within the 14 historical topics which will account for 70% of content in EUscreen and a great deal of which will be mapped from Video Active. However, the innovation with EUscreen is that each content provider will also contribute material to their own virtual online exhibition which will allow them to fully utilise material and content from their own archives. These individual exhibitions will account for 20% of EUscreen content and will allow each archive to play to its strengths and present the best of their material which has not been included within the 14 historical topics. Such an approach will enable content providers to support their own content with a range of still images, documentation and text. For the users, the individual exhibitions will highlight the diversity and breadth of material within the project and enable them to explore and examine the material and collections presented by individual archives and discover new information about the collections and their accompanying metadata.

Example of the content selection policy in Video Active

Perhaps the most innovative part of the content selection policy, both for users and for the project as a whole, is the decision to offer the final 10% of the content in the form of two comparative exhibitions. The topics for these exhibitions will be decided upon by a working group which comprises representatives from content providers, technology partners and academic partners. The topics selected could be a detailed consideration of TV history offering perspectives from different countries, or an in-depth focus on a single concept, such as minorities, or outsiders. Each content provider will contribute 5% of their total content to each comparative exhibition and the content itself will be shaped and developed by an editorial and curatorial team in order to pose questions and raise key issues. For example, a comparative exhibition on the topic of the European Union might compare material from Poland, Ireland and the Netherlands and examine reactions to joining the European Union. The exhibition could also utilise audio visual and textual material to examine what being part of the European Union means for different countries and what this in turn suggests about patriotism, nationalism and European identity. Such an exhibition will offer to the user a range of information, but will also link the content to broader discursive issues, topics and themes.

Through this innovative content selection policy and multi-strand approach, EUscreen will cater to a variety of end users, offering accessible audio visual content to teachers, lecturers, researchers and students but also drawing out comparisons between different collections, items, content providers and countries. These comparative elements, along with the opportunity offered for individual archives to showcase their material, moves EUscreen beyond a site simply for accessing information and indicates a new way for audio visual material to be curated online. Users will not simply be able to access and view the material but to respond, engage and contribute to the material and to the wider issues and questions raised by the diverse site content.

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