EUscreen at the SITIS conference in Bangkok

Author: Willemien Sanders
Photo source: willemien sanders

In November of last year we joined the SITIS conference in Bangkok where we presented our ideas on the contextualization of AV content, and the new publication formats currently being developed for our portal, among them our Video Poster: a new and exciting way of presenting and sharing videos (and text) online.

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Conference Notes: Content in Motion | Curating Europe’s Audiovisual Heritage: Session 4

Author: Sian Barber
Copyright: National Library of Sweden

Opening & Session 1 | Session 2 | Session 3 | Session 4 | Session 5 & Closing Keynote


The fourth session of our #EUscreen15 conference, “Curating (Hi)stories”, discussed the role of AV material in scholarly research and education, including the design of interactive teaching materials and online platforms. The session included talks from Peter B. Kaufman on visual education; Elsa Coupard & Claude Mussou on curating history with French audiovisual archives; and Steven Stegers on moving images in history education, and was opened and moderated by Dana Mustata, University of Groningen.

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Conference Notes: Content in Motion | Curating Europe’s Audiovisual Heritage: Opening & Session 1

Author: Anna de Bruyn, Sian Barber
Copyright: National Library of Sweden

Opening & Session 1 | Session 2 | Session 3 | Session 4 | Session 5 & Closing Keynote

Thanks to everyone who attended the 2015 international EUscreenXL conference. We hope you had a great time with us in Warsaw!

In this series of blogposts we’re re-visiting the conference and bringing you the details you may have missed, or wish to refresh. This first article covers the opening talks by Michał Merczyński and Eggo Müller, as well as the presentations of Harry Verwayen on Europeana’s framework for measuring impact, Liam Wylie on curation and dissemination at RTÉ, and Alicja Knast on enriching exhibitions with the audiovisual.

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‘Audiovisual Culture, a bridge to the future’ – a report from the FIAT/IFTA conference in Vienna

Author: Andy O’Dwyer, Dana Mustata, Maria Drabczyk
FIAT/IFTA conference in Vienna

Photo by Andy O’Dwyer: Students recording an interview with speakers at the event.

FIAT/IFTA, the International Federation of Television Archives holds an annual world conference to bring their members together. At these events contemporary issues are addressed through presentations and workshops.

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Report on the Final EUscreen Conference, Part 2 of 2

EUscreen organised its final conference on September 13 and 14, focusing on Television Heritage and the Web. We looked back on lessons learned, showcased the achievements of the project and looked at the road ahead. This conference report wraps up the conference topics and debates and was jointly edited by Brecht Declerq, Florian Delabie, Berber Hagedoorn, Yves Niederhäuser, Elke Poppe, Katja Šturm and Erwin Verbruggen. Presentations and video recordings of the conference will be made available over the next days at the conference overview page.

Presenting the Virtual Exhibitions

The last presentations of the first day of the conference discussed the virtual exhibitions that were recently published on the EUscreen portal. These online exhibitions aim at helping visitors find their way throughout the mass of materials and sources available on the portal and providing more stories and background info linking together its contents. During this latest round of presentations, we were presented with the future of the exhibition builder, a tool built specially to create and manage the exhibitions on EUscreen. A second point for discussion was the editorial work to put them online and their use as sources for television history researchers.

Mr. Ockeloen and dr. Barber presenting the EUscreen exhibition development (Photo: Miklós Varga)

This last aspect was presented by Dr. Dana Mustata, from the University of Groningen. She began with the personal thought that she considered herself an analogue researcher in a digital world, wherein she realised that historical television items are often displaced and decontextualised when they are published online. Online archives have been pre-selected by archivists and are placed on websites with limited information or historical context. Dr. Mustata proposed methods and a historiography to be developed to use online sources. She first highlighted the phenomena, practices and processes of Europeanness and trans-nationality in television history, then explained how she prefers to present this kind of collaborative practices as visible agencies, so that it could help rediscovering neglected aspects of television history. Mustata concluded her presentation by stating that the scientific value of EUscreen could be increased with a collaborative platform through which experiences could be shared and could contribute to writing television history.

As dr. Sian Barber from Royal Holloway, University of London, presented, the editorial process to choose/select media to be published into the exhibitions follows the lines of such an intricate collaboration. The main purpose of the exhibitions is to give meaning to content through collaborative work between researchers, content providers and technological partners. Working together with these groups allows researchers to better understand the process of content selection, while content providers get the opportunity to show their archives in another way and to highlight new aspects of their collections. dr. Barber concluded with a presentation of the selection process that was used on some of the online exhibitions that have recently been released . Daniel Ockeloen from Noterik completed this presentation by showing the technical challenges of the exhibition builder, which has been custom-built within the project to create and manage exhibitions that include the various video sources and the descriptive information on EUscreen.

Workshop: Best-Practice Applications

Ms. Šturm and mr. Lavrenčič from RTV (Photo: Miklós Varga)

On Friday the Final EUscreen International Conference continued with opening and welcoming by Sonja de Leeuw, who introduced the two EUscreen best-practice applications showcased by TVR (Romania), RTV (Slovenia) and RTBF (Belgium). Due to unforeseen circumstances, keynote speaker Jamie Harley was not able to attend.

Irina Negraru from TVR and dr. Dana Mustata presented their personal experiences working with content within the television archive of the Romanian public broadcaster. Both emphasised the lack of content concerning social issues, sexual revolution or any other sort of socially related items during the Nicolae Ceaușescu era. They discussed the necessity of de-westernalizing and reevaluating the existing frameworks and concepts that emerged out of a Western reality. Together, they emphasized the need to redefine television research methods in future television history writing by adding new theoretical concepts that emerge out of Eastern histories.

Katja Šturm from RTV Slovenia carried out the second presentation in this morning slot. She illustrated a successful project in which audiovisual materials of a national broadcaster are reused and contextualised. In 2011, RTV Slovenia created a special web portal 20 Years of Slovenia to honour the country’s 20 years of independence. The online portal includes content from three media sources: television, radio and multimedia contributions. The next step was implementing the involvement of the general public on one side and of TV crews, journalists and reporters on the other to personalise the portal with their own memories and personal stories. The portal is now available in Slovenian only, but we recommend perusing through the portal with the aid of online translation tools to discover the wealth of national content and personal experiences that lie within.

Mr. Nemes from Kitchen Budapest (Photo: Miklós Varga)

Xavier Jacques-Jourion presented how his broadcast institution, the Radio Télévision Belge Francophone has performed a number of web experiments and has fine-tuned an application that links television archive material materials to the broader web of knowledge that is the internet. After concluding that for many access portals that have been built in the past it’s often more difficult to find the framework than the original videos that were on them, the broadcaster set about developing a browser that unites the raw archive data with information sources on the web. Instead of creating new separate web projects, they now intend to create a rich interface to support researchers, journalists and production assistants to go through the collection and discover unexpected sourrces. We’ve talked extensively on this blog about the power of the semantic web and Xavier’s GEMS example is a compelling next step into applying this theoretical model to a day-to-day application. For more info about this technology, take a look at Europeana’s video What is Linked Open Data or at the EUscreen LOD page.

The conference was closed by Hungarian curator Attila Nemes, who founded Kitchen Budapest, which is a new media lab that focuses on innovative research into fields as varied as mobile communication, digital storage and online content. His contribution focused on the use of digital media to improve people’s private lives, thereby including private materials and gathering information on how focus groups such as little children or the elderly go about using digital and moving image technologies and can use them to improve personal bonds, facilitate family communication and aid their daily dose of happiness.

Overall, the conference gave a healthy overview of the playing field in which EUscreen operates. It showed that the project has constructed both a technological platform – one that provides a place where unique content is gathered and contextualised for different groups of users – and a network of people from different backgrounds with a shared interest in providing access & context to historical audiovisual materials. In this double sense, EUscreen has a challenging task in a time where media outlets are rapidly changing and next steps to take in the years that lie ahead.

Related posts

Report on the Final EUscreen Conference, Part 1 of 2

EUscreen organised its final conference on September 13 and 14, focusing on Television Heritage and the Web. We looked back on lessons learned, showcased the achievements of the project and looked at the road ahead. This conference report wraps up the conference topics and debates and was jointly edited by Brecht Declerq, Florian Delabie, Berber Hagedoorn, Yves Niederhäuser, Elke Poppe, Katja Šturm and Erwin Verbruggen. Presentations and video recordings of the conference will be made available over the next days at the conference overview page.

Television Heritage and the Web

Prof. Spigel responds (Photo: Miklós Varga)

The first EUscreen conference, held in 2010, focused on selecting and contextualising historical audiovisual media through links with existing sources on the web. The second conference, in 2011, focused on use and creativity in the audiovisual domain. This third conference revisited these topics and further developed related ideas, based on individual contributions in the field. It was the final conference in multiple ways, as Prof. Dr. Sonja de Leeuw, who led both EUscreen and its predecessing project Video Active, announced that she would step down as the project leader. A celebrated television scholar, she chaired most, if not all of the previous EUscreen conferences, and opened this Budapest conference with a warm welcome and remarks on the current status of television research and the role of the EUscreen project.

Keynote speaker prof. Lynn Spigel started off the conference with an outline of her upcoming book, which focuses on the visualisation of mass culture through personal archives. She researched the representation of television sets in mass-media (magazines, ads, etc.) and family snapshots. Advertisements and snapshot photographs represent very specific and individual ways of incorporating the television set as an everyday object. The images in family albums seem to document an inversion of the use of TV – instead of “watching TV”, the set becomes an accessory for personal performance instead. Throughout the ‘50 and ‘60s, people adopted televisions in many and unintended ways and used it to condense, stage and amplify the individual and the family life. On nowaday’s online platforms, snapshots of television sets with a personal, sentimental as well as a commercial value aggregate to become a shared popular culture that merges analogue nostalgia and digital culture.

Wilfried Runde leads an interdisciplinary R&D-Team with 14 people at Deutsche Welle that follows and analyses trends and major changes in the media world. One of these changes is the shift from linear TV consumption to ways of media consumption that don’t depend on timely or spatial constrictions. Social media clearly play a key role in this context. The main interest for the media production industry is in the take-over of breaking news by social media platforms such as Reddit), which are faster than mainstream media could ever be. Social media changed the attitude of media consumers in that they no longer are looking for news but assume that relevant news will find their way to them. The question now for media corporations is what they can learn from these changes. Runde sees one of the answers in data-driven-journalism and sees a form of “data-tainment” emerging. In the discussion it was pointed out that data-driven journalism has to approach data as critical as it approaches other sources for journalistic research. As long as the basic methods of critical journalism are kept in place, contemporary technology allows journalists to do their work faster, working with data collections as a new source.

Wilfried Runde

Wilfried Runde (Photo: Miklós Varga)

Prof. Eggo Müller is not only a renowned television scholar, but will from March on lead the follow-up project EUscreenXL. His presentation Television Heritage Online: From Accessible to Participatory Archives focused on the participation imperative. The engagement of users with online television content, from sear

ching to commenting, offers new possibilities that archivists could explore. In this context, Müller discussed Isto Huvila’s notion of participatory archiving of which the fundamental characteristics are “decentralised curation, radical user orientation and contextualisation of both records and the entire archival process“. As there are very engaged people documenting TV heritage out there, participatory archives could provide the platform where users become contributors to archives and archivists act as moderators and supervisors of this process.

The subsequent round table concluded that many fascinating stories can be told from the archives with respect to how objects are found, researched and presented. Making this ‘implicit’ knowledge ‘explicit’ could provide a good starting point for putting participatory archiving into practice.

EUscreen Showcase

András Kovács (Photo: Miklós Varga)

András Kovács (Photo: Miklós Varga)

Looking back on what has been done, drawing the lessons and building bridges to the future were the aims of the afternoon session of the first conference day. EUscreen’s seven work package leaders got the opportunity to each shed some light on the achievements of their part of the project. Vassilis Tzouvaras and his team at NTUA faced the challenge of creating interoperable solutions to the heterogeneity of metadata. It’s a nice example of a day-to-day problem in audiovisual archives that in theory has long been solved theoretically (there’s broad support for EBUcore for example), but remains tough in practice. Marco Rendina from the Luce archives in Italy reported about the conferences and workshops that spread the word on EUscreen and connected the scholarly, educational, technological and archival groups that cooperate in the project. With a record of three conferences, eight workshops and three extra workshops at the annual FIAT/IFTA conferences, EUscreen has found a wide response in the designated archive user communities.

Rob Turnock from Royal Holloway discussed EUscreen’s activities on information and access. His challenge was to bring the project and all the valuable content to the web in such a way that they made sense as a whole. A well-developed content selection policy and a common metadata scheme (based on EBUcore) provided the toolbox to get the job done. The final result is a real tour de force: 40.000+ items online, two comparative exhibitions, 11 virtual exhibitions made by individual content providers and, last but not least, two editions of the open access online journal (one to appear in October).

A web site is nothing without its audience. András Bálint Kovács from Eötvös Loránd University led the work package that researched and enhanced the user experience, which aimed at education, academics, reuse and the general public. András and his colleagues managed to translate the remarks of the educational sector into an easier and more attractive user interface for EUscreen. Differing IPR issues between countries and target groups remain challenging and will certainly roar their heads again in EUscreen’s successor, EUscreenXL. Pelle Snickars from Sweden’s National Library stressed the diversity of needs amongst user groups. His main challenge was to unite and target the comments of different users, coming from different perspectives.

The final work package focused on disseminating the project’s results and attracting a growing audience. Erwin Verbruggen from the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision presented EUscreen’s activities on this level. Results were disseminated at more than 150 events and in more than 200 articles. EUscreen’s technical coordinator Johan Oomen, from Sound and Vision provided the conference audience with some future perspectives on the follow-up project, EUscreenXL, which will involve 32 partners from 22 European countries.

Prof. de Leeuw opens the conference (Photo: Miklós Varga)

To conclude, EUscreen’s ambitions are all but limited. The creation of an open platform for the European audiovisual heritage collections can hardly be called a walk in the park, but is a big step that connects broadcasters from different cultural and economical backgrounds all over Europe. Media creators and broadcaster’s archives are in the middle of a massive cultural and institutional shift, in which traditional restricted access is challenged and models for openness are explored. The EUscreen project provides these archives-in-transition a platform to share experiences and learn form each other what models for providing access, content and context may or may not work. The shared goal is to build and improve upon an environment that provides the best experience for those users wanting to explore the rich cultural treasure troves they each hold.

Screen Media and Memory

The conference was hosted at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa

Report on the 2012 NECS Conference, Lisbon, Portugal

Every year NECS, the European Network for Cinema and Media Studies, brings together a remarkable amount of archivists and scholars from all over the continent. After London, Lund and Istanbul, the 2012 NECS conference ‘Time Networks: Screen Media and Memory’ took place in Lisbon on 21-23 June. Several of the papers given over the course of this three day event were particularly relevant to EUscreen.

Report by Erwin Verbruggen and Berber Hagedoorn

Television in Transition

A number of papers paid specific attention to the medium of television. Scholars from the Centre for Television in Transition (TViT, located at EUscreen partner Utrecht University) focused in their papers on forms of user engagement as ‘spaces of participation’, arguing how new forms of television not only use online media as platforms for distribution, but television programmes and website interfaces form new frameworks of interaction between producers, programmes and audiences. Eggo Müller addressed forms of participatory television in the Dutch TV Lab, which presents pilots for future shows on Dutch public television. Abby Waysdorf examined fan interaction and the emergence of a ‘television canon’ on the pop-culture website The AV Club. Karin van Es‘ paper focused on how constructions and constellations of liveness are at work in the US talent show The Voice. Berber Hagedoorn discussed how, as spaces of participation, multi-platform TV documentaries such as the project In Europe can offer new dynamic ways in which cultural memory is ‘performed’.

Unstable Television Histories

Dana Mustata presenting at the 'Unstable Histories' panel

In her paper on PhD research carried out at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, Andrea Meuzelaar (University of Amsterdam) incorporated practical encounters with an archival institution. As an archive, the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision relates how media discourse has changed towards Muslim inhabitants. By choosing and applying descriptions and keywords in particular eras, not only the media but also the archive itself reinvigorates that era’s discourse towards Islamic inhabitants.

The panel ‘Unstable Histories: The Problem of Seeing and Understanding ‘Old’ Television in the Digital Age’ informed the gathered media scholars about the EUscreen project and how the portal can be a tool for contemporary television research. Erwin Verbruggen from the Netherlands Institute of Sound and Vision explained the origins and contents of the project, and argued how EUscreen is defined by its blend of academic scholars, technologists and archives. Dana Mustata (University of Groningen) and Berber Hagedoorn (Utrecht University) zoomed in on the challenges of providing online access to television history: Mustata focused on the fact that many TV historians today are actually analogue researchers in a digital world, while Hagedoorn concentrated on contemporary strategies in online projects by means of which television history can become a powerful cultural resource for ‘TV users’. Liam Wylie from Ireland’s broadcaster Raidió Teilifís Éireann concluded this panel with a presentation from the perspective of the archive, and why it is rare for academics – or the general public for that matter – to gain full access to television archives. Head over to the EUscreen slideshare page to flip through our presentations.

Copyright and Remix

During the panel on ‘Copyright and Remix’, digital pirates entered the scholarly debate. IPR remains an ever-important topic for audiovisual libraries. May we even say: the begin-all and end-all of access undertakings. EUscreen has therefore set up a workshop and several documents and reference libraries related to these issues. During the panel, Anne Kustritz (University of Amsterdam) pointed out the bittersweet irony of large film companies creating movie franchises about thieving pirates who sue fan boys and -girls that craft remixed fan fiction about those very same thieving pirates. Katherine Groo (University of Aberdeen) brought up remix as an addition to the academic toolkit: media scholars are very much focused on words and discourse, but in examples such as this particular remix of filmmaker D.W. Griffith’s work, elements of continuity editing are explored in ways that words cannot. Her article on the topic of remix can be found in the first issue of the new journal FRAMES.

Melancholy is Analogue

Audio Cassette as a Design Object, MUDE Museum, Lisbon

By far the most ‘swinging’ presentation was provided by keynote speaker Andreas Fickers (Maastricht University) in his lecture on the transistor radio as an analogue memory machine. Fickers presented a cultural history of this plastic medium through songs and lyrics of ‘transistor memories’, emphasizing the analogue melancholia that marks our current media landscape and thus ‘investigating the complex relationship between the materiality of memory machines and their work as technologies of memory’.

In a related context, Richard Misek (University of Kent) presented the paper The Algorithmic Image about his current research into timelines as a driving force for audiovisual media. New algorithmic video and web technologies are changing properties and ownership of those timelines that before were situated in the sacred realm of post-production houses or film studios. His example of ‘web-friendly director’ Vincent Morrisset’s video Sprawl II, which he made for the rock act Arcade Fire, showed how algorithmic tricks opened up the rhythm of the film to the influence of the viewer, who thus becomes a participant in the creation of  his/her own viewing experience.

Another ‘melancholic medium’ discussed at the conference was the home movie. Researchers from the Amateur Cinema Studies Network (ACSN) presented several papers – from approaching contemporary home movie technologies through the lens of amateur culture (including Skype as a contemporary form of the home movie) to the changing status of home movies in a digital and networked culture. In this context, Susan Aasman (University of Groningen) argued in her paper From archival desire to performative pleasures how contextual integrity has gotten lost – for example, a personal home movie is now part of the world of YouTube. Paradoxically, the internet now also offers new possibilities for contextualisation.

To conclude, the conference provided insight into historical and theoretical work relevant to the EUscreen project and was a great opportunity to talk about EUscreen to media researchers in Europe. At the conference, the NECS network launched the first issue of its scholarly journal NECSUS which is worth a look. NECSUS currently cooperates with the EUscreen-hosted Journal of European Television History and Culture on the practical embedding of audiovisual materials in online scholarly publications.

Scholarly publications at the registrations desk

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