Archiving Tomorrow 2015

The conference is to bring together Archivists, Curators, Academics, Film Makers, Owners of Small & Specialised Collections of Audio Visual Materials, Editors, Producers, Directors, Technologists, Industry, Researchers and Archives of all size and form, to discuss, debate and learn about the in-depth revolution that is the transitional period between Film and Digital.

Through interviews and presentations, workshops and panels with producers, commercial & regional archives, television channels, research and development teams, technologists, academics and projects, we look to examine all aspects of filmmaking, from capture to edit, visual effects to colour correction, preservation, distribution to archive and archive to screen

We explore the legal implications of this, the economics behind the business of film, access, the past, the present and the future.

At this moment in time when digital and photochemical filmmaking coexist, our aim is to explore and discover more on exactly what has been gained, what is lost, and what the future might bring.


Keynote 1 Bill Thompson

Bill Thompson is a well-known technology journalist and advisor to arts and cultural organisations on matters related to digital technologies. He appears weekly on Click on BBC World Service radio and writes a monthly column for Focus magazine.

He is Head of Partnership Development for the BBC Archive, a member of the boards of Writers’ Centre Norwich, Britten Sinfonia and The Collections Trust, and a Visiting Professor at the Royal College of Art.

Bill's talk was a wide-ranging consideration of the role of the BBC and the value of broadcast materials to the public. He began by posing a series of questions that colour current debates about the public use and attempts to open up the archive for broader public use.

1. How can the BBC make content available?
2. How can it use the internet to do this?
3. How do we handle this new collective online experience?

This last question was important because this is a genuinely new landscape and is not something that is instinctive or culturally programmed.

In terms of what the BBC is trying to do he then outlined several key initiatives that allow for ideas and approaches to be developed.

1. The Space Project- ( )

" Set up by the BBC and the Arts Council of England, The Space is a free public space, a not-for-profit public service for artists and audiences around the world."

It has produced several commissions, and the one Bill highlighted was the documentary project From the Sea to the Land Beyond- a collaboration between BFI archives and the band British Sea Power . The Space also contains a project to digitise the DJ John Peel's music library. ( )

2. The Imperial War Museum Great War TV series historic interviews project.

3. The BBC Research Education Space (RES) Project ( )

"The Research & Education Space (RES) is a project being jointly delivered by Jisc, the British Universities Film & Video Council (BUFVC), and the BBC. Its aim is to bring as much as possible of the UK’s publicly-held archives, and more besides, to learners and teachers across the UK."

He then moved to discuss the value of the archive and the role it plays in everyone's lives- it is our national memory. He also reflected on the difficult and 'second-class' status of moving image archives in relation to the reforms of culture and the disproportionate funding available for museums and libraries- a difficult asymmetry in support.

He then moved on the consider many of the issues that colour progress being made. The idea of the Archive itself was seen as problematic- and its associations with the past and distance needed to be overcome. We need to look forward to ways in which the idea of the archive is made contemporary and resonant. We also need to address issues around rights, reputational risk, formats, indexes and a severe lack of resource. All these issues currently ensure that most content is ' held mute'.

As a first step forward Bill advocated the inclusion of media archives within more traditional definitions of heritage institutions and more joined-up collaborative working. He also pointed to the difficulties of a long tradition of fragmented collecting.

He then turned his attention to some of the immediate threats facing the sector and what he regarded as the key blocks on progress.

1. Increasing infrastructural costs- especially in the face on new 4k and 5k technologies.
2. The tendency to want to collect and preserve everything will very quickly overwhelm.
3. The need for unified systems- catalogues, architectures etc.
4. The potential of loss - digital decay and instability.

He concluded by affirming the BBC's commitment to leading on these ideas and looking for collaborative and open solutions.

In the following discussion he recommended a recent article by Jemima Kiss on the idea of the Digital Public Space

" The Digital Public Space would be, in principle, equally accessible to anyone regardless of status or income, safe and private, and operating in the interests of users not of the ecosystem itself. Creative assets – artworks, archives, films, books, photographs – could be reused and redistributed within the space, an antechamber to the main internet, but only for non-commercial use."

He also highly recommended the Warwick Commission Report- The Future of Cultural Value.

"In November 2013, the University of Warwick launched a one-year Commission, chaired by Vikki Heywood CBE, to undertake a comprehensive and holistic investigation into the future of cultural value. A diverse group of cultural leaders, supported by academics from the University of Warwick, were invited to gather together the evidence and arguments to create a blueprint for the future of investment and engagement in our cultural lives. The Commission’s report brings together the findings of a series of public and private meetings with artists, creative and cultural professionals, economists, business leaders and other stakeholders, backed up by targeted research. Commissioners have worked with departments across the university to engage with new research and evidence with the aim of developing new policy thinking and practical recommendations that will enable the flourishing and long-term sustainability of culture and creativity in Britain in a competitive and challenging global landscape."

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From the Sea to the Land Beyond- a film commissioned through the BBC space project.
(see The Space

Also see Wikipedia :

Extract from article:

From The Sea to the Land Beyond: Britain's Coast on Film is a documentary feature film directed by Penny Woolcock, with an original soundtrack by British indie-rock band British Sea Power. The project was originally produced by Crossover and Sheffield Doc/Fest as part of The Space project from the BBC and the Arts Council England. The film was edited by Alex Fry.

The world premiere was at the Crucible Theatre at Sheffield Doc/Fest in June 2012, with British Sea Power playing the soundtrack live. It has since been performed at the BFI Southbank,Latitude Festival, Sundance London, at Doc/Fest 2013, and under the hull of the Cutty Sark.The film with recorded soundtrack was shown on BBC Four's Storyville on 18 November 2012, and released on DVD on 21 January 2013. The soundtrack album was released on 2 December 2013.

The film explores a century of life on Britain's coastline, using a mixture of black and white and colour footage from the BFI National Archive stretching back to the earliest days of movie making. It explores social history, life in wartime and peacetime, women's history and the rise and fall of fishing and shipbuilding.

The earliest footage is taken from Blackpool at the start of the 20th century. There's a carnival procession with floral floats and a placard about the suffragettes. A swimming race takes place with everyone dressed in evening wear complete with top hats, watched by boats of spectators, also in fine attire. Women are shown repairing nets and gutting, salting and packing herring. They also dangle off the sides of cliffs to collect eggs.

The film includes early footage from the Mitchell and Kenyon film company; early Peter Greenaway; and footage from Marion Grierson, the sister of British 'docfather' John Grierson. Wartime footage shows RMS Mauretania, troops practising trench manoeuvres, synchronised marching battalions and women priming and loading bombs. In more peaceful times, families enjoy the simple pleasures of the seaside, with palmistry and phrenology available on the beach. Up-to-date footage of the British at play includes a wind and rain-lashed Blackpool with holidaymakers battling the elements. RNLI lifeboat and helicopter rescues are shown, highlighting the bravery of those involved. The life of the docks is explored, from bustling workplaces to the redevelopment of the London Docklands.

Before its debut Woolcock said it was the only film she'd made that was “unstressful to watch" and called it “a beautiful and poetic experience".

From the Sea to the Land Beyond was produced by Mark Atkin for Crossover and Heather Croall for Doc/Fest.

Doc/Fest’s archive and music offering last year From The Sea To The Land Beyond was addictive, and performed well for Storyville on BBC Four.

The soundtrack was released as a studio album titled From the Sea to the Land Beyond under Rough Trade Records on 2 December 2013. British Sea Power were commissioned to write and perform the soundtrack because of their love of nature and wildlife.

As the film begins, plaintive keyboard chords are joined by trumpet, cello and a crescendo of drums and cymbals. The music ebbs and flows with the elements depicted in the film.

The music is made up of reworked moments from the band's back catalogue, for example elements of the tracks 'Carrion', 'No Lucifer' and 'The Great Skua', along with specially written material.

The title of the film and the soundtrack is drawn from the song The Land Beyond from the album Open Season.

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Another British Seapower and British Film Institution collaboration around Robert j. Flaherty's 1934 film Man of Aran.

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DVD cover of the film From the Sea to the Land Beyond.

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Dj John Peel - See this report by Joe Boyd as he jumped at the chance to go through John Peel's archive.

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Digital Public Space - A masterclass with Bill Thompson, BBC

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Simonp — 6 years ago

This was the first keynote of the conference and really opened up some of the key themes for the day.