Archive Achievement Awards 2021
At the FIAT/IFTA World Conference 2021 held online the Archive Achievement Awards were attributed to four particularly interesting projects, outstanding archival initiatives that have improved significantly the ways in which the archives are preserved, managed and used.
The FIAT/IFTA Archive Achievement Awards yearly reward initiatives bring the professional preservation and management of audiovisual archives higher. The Archive Achievement Awards are developed by FIAT/IFTA, the international federation of television archives. Members of FIAT/IFTA can nominate their own organisation, or they can nominate a person or organisation with whom they have collaborated to bring the project to a successful end.
The FIAT/IFTA Lifetime Honorary Award 2021 is assigned, at the unanimous request of the EC, to Roberto Rossetto.
Since 2014 FIAT/IFTA has also given a special Lifetime Honorary Award to a person with special merits for FIAT/IFTA and the field of audiovisual archiving as a whole. This year the jury honoured someone…
Since 2014 FIAT/IFTA has also given a special Lifetime Honorary Award to a person with special merits for FIAT/IFTA and the field of audiovisual archiving as a whole. This year the jury honoured someone…
“who has been involved in the most important audiovisual archive in his country since the eighties, that is for more than thirty-five years. We are talking about someone who, thanks to his particular strategic talent, was able to ensure that the archive always received enough attention and was able to develop any project that it needed.
Thanks to this talent, this archive is today a world top player, because it combines a particularly high percentage of preserved programs with a great innovative strength and exceptional creativity in telling the stories residing in the collections. In this archive the directors have come and gone, but the man we want to honour today has always been there. The strength of his influence therefore also resides in continuity. The archive for which he worked is today one of the best preserved radio and television archives. Thanks to this man, it is now also one of the best described archives in the world.
The man we want to honour today is not very talkative, but when he speaks everyone listens. Because we know that what this man has to say is determined by nothing more than professionalism, competence and the belief that the archives of public broadcasting belong to the national heritage. And in the country where he lives, the concept of national heritage has a value that it has almost nowhere else in the world.
The man we are talking about has also worked extensively for FIAT/IFTA, for almost 17 years, as a member of the Programs and Projects Commission and as a member of the Executive Council, but above all as Treasurer, a role he has taken on from 2008 to 2017. During that time, the federation’s accounting was professionalized and the financial situation improved dramatically. He was also always willing to help colleagues from less privileged countries by providing them with suitable playback equipment. Last but not least, he was the promoter of two very successful, indeed unforgettable, FIAT/IFTA world conferences, in 2011 in Turin and in two 2018 in Venice.
FIAT/IFTA, RAI and by extension the international community of radio and television archives owe a lot to this man. There is therefore no doubt about his well-deserved place in the gallery of honour.
The FIAT/IFTA Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 is assigned, at the unanimous request of the Executive Council, to Roberto Rossetto.”
Meet the winners!
AI Algorithms for Media Cataloguing in ATRESMEDIA GROUP
by Eugenio López de Quintana, ATRESMEDIA
The constant increase in the volume of media received in television archives, and the growing demand for granularity in image searches, makes essential the use of automatic cataloging technologies.
This project includes the use of Artificial Intelligence Algorithms in the ATRESMEDIA Archive but integrated into the MAM-DAM System and fully incorporated into the daily workflows and operations of cataloguing and searching.
The scope covers the following types of content :
- Video materials based on statements by two or more consecutive speakers from
- Raw camera recordings or parts of a program.
- Complete programs that have a subtitle file.
- Photographs with predominant appearance of people.
More than 16.000 hours of video material and 200.000 stills have been already processed
The general approach is not exhaustive but progressive according to the real possibilities offered by the algorithms.
However, the project is not just a mere technological renovation. The objective of ATRESMEDIA with the use of AI is to transform the professional profile of the television archivists who work in the Group.
This will involve progressively phasing out manual work for some tasks as segmentation and description of people’s statements, on one side, besides the people recognition.
The hope is to redirect these resources towards new activities with the potential to add greater value, such as generating fresh content from archive materials, creating virtual universes of knowledge through ontologies that allow navigation in queries, and anticipating the information needs of users based on the news. In short, it is hoped to move from processing content to generating content and information.
- Automatic speech recognition
- Automatic text punctuation
- Speaker segmentation
- Content segmentation
- Voice activity detection and signal-to-noise ratio in voice segments
- Automatic subtitle resynchronisation
- Face detection and recognition
This project has recently received the 2021 Quality and Innovation Award from the Spanish Society for Scientific Information and Documentation, SEDIC, in its XV edition.
FactFox – A Reliable Fact-checking Tool and Database to Support Newsrooms and Social Media Managers.
by Maria Fuchs, Bayerischer Rundfunk
“Which Lockdown regulations are valid from 28th of April in Bavaria? Who will be vaccinated first? And is the whole pandemic one big hoax?” – These and a vast amount of similar questions are asked over and over again by the public through the different social media channels of Bayerischer Rundfunk (Bavaria’s public broadcasting service).
The newsrooms were looking for a time- and capacity-saving solution to store reliable answers to these questions, so that social media managers wouldn’t have to research the same topics multiple times. From the beginning of the pandemic in spring of 2020, a team of archive specialists developed a workflow to build up a database consisting of precise abstracts answering the most important questions in regards to Covid-19. The result is a growing collection of valuable information accessible for the whole editorial staff through the browser extension FactFox.
At the beginning of the year 2021 the project was expanded to also collect information about the upcoming parliamentary elections in autumn of 2021. At the start of every working day the FactFox-Team is on the hunt for relevant topics. They screen the relevant news outlets and take into consideration viral topics that have come up through social media monitoring.
All the daily topics are gathered and put into a shared document – the team then meets in a short video-conference and discusses why they think it is necessary to include the question and the corresponding explanation into the FactFox-database. The agreed upon topics are then written up, double checked, verified and saved in the database. The primary and secondary sources are linked in every abstract in case the person researching wishes to read the background information as well. This also guarantees a transparency of our source material.
The journalists and social media managers can access the information whenever they need it via the browser extension. If they want to check a statement or a question in the comment section of a social media post for example they only need to mark one significant keyword, click right once and select the FactFox fact-checking option. They then are directly lead to a relevant factual entry in the database. Due to the 24-hour news cycle, there are constant changes in reporting. That is why we take care and time to update the existing facts in the FactFox-Database so they stay relevant.
by National Film Archive – Audiovisual Institute
The project was based on six negative and screening positive 35mm acetate prints held at the FINA archive, affected by different and specific types of damage caused by incorrect use of storage or due to errors in the original analogue copying process in 1980s, that resulted in a very darkened image. The only digital version available was a low definition TV file, digitized on a telecine from the screening copy. Eventually, a duplicate negative, affected by quite intense over-exposure on the right-hand side of the image, was used for the digital restoration of the image and the missing frames were supplemented with the positive material. No nitrate elements of the film have survived.
The condition of the sound was equally bad, with continuous scratches and distortions. As the sound negative turned out to be highly damaged, the same dupnegative with a multi-soundtrack and lacks of sound and image synchronization, became the sound source for the restoration. The film crew used a new, at the time, sound system, called Aga Baltic, that introduced the use of dubbing technique and re-recording technique for audio postproduction, particularly useful in combining layers of dialogue and music mixing. Unluckily, the new sound technologies in combination with laboratory tape processing caused many technical problems, thus the sound restoration was a very demanding task. There is still a clear difference in the timbre of the sound of dialogues recorded on spot and the dubbed ones, which could also be easily recognized in some parts of the film as still being out of sync.
The restoration brought the film back for audience in an fully accessible, 4K resolution digital format, with clear images and pure, audible dialogues. In previous versions, both analogue and digital, a few particularly important dialogues – indispensable to follow the plot – were completely inaudible. Moreover, film researches were able to identify 11 actors, unrecognizable in the first digitised version, due to unclear, unfocused, and darkened image.
The restoration work of both the image and sound commenced in July 2019 and was held by FINA’s team of 25 specialists from the archive’s Digital Restoration Laboratory located in Warsaw, under the guidance of TOR Film Production, which today exists under the name of Documentary and Feature Film Studio (WFDiF). The project was funded by the European Regional Development and the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
GMI XML creator
by Martijn van der Vliet, Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
It’s always been a challenge for Sound and Vision to import multiple records in bulk into our archiving system without the help of our IT department. Our archive system makes use of a Generic Metadata Importer; metadata and files can be ingested in large quantities using this so-called GMI. The GMI requires XML files and in order to create XML files an employee needs certain technical skills. To overcome this problem we designed and built the tool “GMI XML creator”, so anyone can import big sets of records.
The aim of the project was to create an tool that allows anyone without technical knowledge to create xml files that can be read by our archive system.
The tool was built on an existing excel sheet that can convert excel into xml (using VBA). The biggest challenge was to find a way to make the GMI xml creator “user friendly” and usable for different scenarios without the intervention of the IT department.
To make this possible we created an Excel Sheet with a few different tabs, to go through the process in steps. In the “fields” tab the user can choose what kind of import he/she wants to do. For example: the creation of metadata only or import metadata + a video file. After this the user can choose which metadata fields he/she wants to use. After choosing the correct fields the user continues on to the next tab.
On the “data” tab the user can add metadata. Every row will become a record and every column is a metadata field. Because the user made a selection of fields he wants to use, the data tab only shows these fields instead of all the more than 250 possible fields. Since we use Excel the user can easily paste metadata from a list he/she received from the archive creator, tenant or other employee.
When all the metadata is in the sheet the user can create the set of xml files with the press of one button. Now the user moves the xml files to the watch folder from the GMI and the import start.
The project was a great success. Since we delivered the GMI xml creator tool, more than 30,000 records have been created by our Media Managers team. The tool is now used for all kinds of projects. From creating 10 records for a small acquisition to ingesting thousands of files for a Tenant.
The Great World Theatre – Salzburg and its Festival
by Beate Thalberg, ORF
In the 100th anniversary year of the Salzburger Festspiele the documentary “The Great World Theatre” looks behind the scenes of the celebrated festival and explores its history throughout the upheavals of the 20th century to the present day. The historical figures who created and shaped the festival for 100 years, including founder Max Reinhardt, writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal, composer Richard Strauss and conductor Herbert von Karajan, take centre stage in a compelling narrative in which past, present and future collide.
The director Beate Thalberg has chosen an entertaining setting for the captivating review of a century of artistic excellence: an elegant dinner in Leopoldskron Palace, where the Festspiele began in 1920. The central protagonist is palace butler Franz Swatosch, who guides the viewer through the complex history and relationships that helped make the Salzburger Festspiele what they are today. Swatosch is both at the heart of the narrative and above it, providing behind-the-scenes historical perspective and a personal take on the often-complicated characters that make up the festival universe. Time is a fickle thing here, as founders and stars of various eras converse with their modern counterparts.
After the conflagration of World War I, Max Reinhardt and his associates are determined to establish a cultural festival with a political and social message, a celebration of international unity and art as a means of promoting peace. It is this very philosophy that, just a few years later, endangers both the festival itself and its creators. The avant-garde, modernist approaches on display in Salzburg during the 1930s provoke fury among Europe’s right-wing nationalists, and the political and artistic resistance demonstrated by celebrated figures such as Arturo Toscanini garners support from around the world.
After the Second World War the festival becomes the subject of political intrigue that eventually costs the new director, composer Gottfried von Einem, his job. He is succeeded by Herbert von Karajan, despite the celebrated conductor’s questionable loyalties during the war. Karajan rejuvenates the festival while limiting its political overtones, attracting celebrated artists like the conductor Bruno Walter and Hollywood stars including Hedy Lamarr, Marlene Dietrich and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. What had begun as a European festival of culture soon becomes an international powerhouse of classical music.
These days, the Salzburger Festspiele have returned to the political and social ideals of the founders while continuing to play an important role on the international cultural stage. “The Great World Theatre” tells the story of this spectacular history using original quotations from central protagonists within a fictional narrative framework that allows for arguments, agreements and exchanges of ideas across years and decades. The butler Franz Swatosch, like any good butler, is always at hand to help by providing context, joining the viewer in eavesdropping on the disembodied guest’s voices as they recall the compelling history of one of Europe’s most renowned cultural events.
60 Years Sport Weekend
by Sammy Neyrinck, VRT
In the late summer of 1960, Sport Weekend was broadcast for the first time. Since then it has been one of the longest-running and most popular television programs on the public broadcaster. In four episodes a bird’s-eye view is taken of the image-rich history of Sport Weekend, which is now six decades young, together with the presenters of the past and present.
This second episode takes a closer look at the pioneering years: from the golden sixties to the late eighties of the last century. Archive and interviews with Hugo Symons, Carl Huybrechts, Mark Uytterhoeven, Frank Raes, Louis De Pelsmaeker, Alain Coninx, Ivan Sonck, Dirk Abrams and Dirk De Weert.
Corona, and in particular the first wave in March/April 2020, opened a gap in the sports summer of 2020, but also brought many opportunities. The sports editors of VRT and the VRT archive joined forces and now had the time to highlight the story of 60 years of Sport Weekend! It was an intense period with searching for suitable (digital or not already digitized) visual material, devising the format, arranging recordings coronaproof in different settings, putting together a clever montage with beautiful effects, solving rights issues,… and best of all: lots of memories to pick up and put together.
The series really exudes the atmosphere of that time: how did the sports journalists work then, how innovative were they at times, which moments have stayed with them, … just like the fashion and music of that time reflected in every episode, …
Thanks to the digitization in the past 20 years, the VRT archive was able to offer a solution and ensured that the public that watched Sport Weekend in large numbers all those years could once again enjoy the images of that time, as well as the tasty stories from our unsurpassed presenters from then to now.
The evolution of the program, from the 60s to the present day, everything is contained in these 4 episodes!
Coventry Cathedral: Building for a New Britain
by Mark Macey, BBC
Coventry Cathedral: Building for a New Britain is a 74-minute documentary made for BBC Four as part of BBC Television’s contribution to Coventry UK City of Culture 2021.
In November 1940 German bombers destroyed much of the city centre of Coventry and reduced the city’s medieval cathedral to rubble. Just 22 years later, in May 1962, a new cathedral designed by Basil Spence was consecrated on the site. Built in a bold modern style, incorporating the ruins of the old cathedral and adorned with a wealth of modern artworks, Coventry Cathedral is recognised today as one of Britain‘s greatest post-war buildings.
Presenting a wealth of rarely-seen archive in an innovative style utilising a split-screen visual language, the film has no presenter but employs voices from yesterday and today to tell the story of the new cathedral and of the times in which it was created.
Provost Howard made a commitment to rebuild the cathedral immediately after the air raid. He did so in a spirit of reconciliation which is expressed in the words “Father Forgive” engraved in the walls of the preserved ruins. In 1951 the architect Basil Spence won the competition to design the new cathedral, and despite the opposition of the local council, shortage of funds, and major architectural challenges, the new building was consecrated in the presence of Queen Elizabeth just a decade later.
Plain and unadorned as a building, the Cathedral contains works of art commissioned by some of the major artists of the 1950s. Graham Sutherland designed a vast tapestry of Christ in Glory, John Piper and Patrick Reyntiens created a glorious multi-coloured window for the bapistry, and John Hutton carved angels and saints into a huge glass screen for main entrance.
The cathedral was a key element of the post-war reconstruction of Coventry, which also saw the city create an innovative pedestrian precinct, build many new homes, schools and hospitals, as well as open a new theatre, the Belgrade, and the Herbert Art Gallery.
The film features sequences filmed in the new Cathedral during the Covid-19 lockdown of 2021 but it largely comprises a wealth of rarely seen archive film and television to tell the story of the cathedral. The archive comes exclusively from the years 1940 to 1962 and includes vivid footage of the bombing raid, recorded in a German newsreel, and of BBC Television’s outside broadcast of the 1962 Consecration Service.
Director John Read filmed the construction for BBC Television from the mid-1950s to the cathedral’s opening, and the 35mm colour footage from the final documentary An Act of Faith (1962) is a central source for the programme. Kenneth Clark, who was later to present the BBC’s series Civilisation (1969) made an outside broadcast report just before the opening for the ITV company ATV.
The film also draws on footage shot by the builders John Laing as a record of their construction work and on an extensive record of the process commissioned by the cathedral authorities which has remained unseen for 50 years.
Make Film History (BBC)
by Mark Macey, BBC
As cultural heritage organisations digitise their collections and increase public access, moving image portals like the IFI Player, RTÉ Archives, BFI Player and BBC iPlayer provide audiences with virtual screening rooms to view their shared audiovisual history on demand. But the creative reuse of moving image archive material remains problematic, beset by questions of copyright law, rights clearance and “fair dealing” exceptions, and an archives sector without a standardised framework to open up access to this material for creative reuse by young filmmakers in education. Young people cannot access this material without significant funding from film funds or broadcasters to pay commercial license fees.
The Make Film History (MFH) initiative, launched in early to mid 2020 addresses this problem by providing a new, sustainable model for the creative reuse of archive material by young filmmakers for educational purposes. The project offers audiovisual archives a low-risk framework for long-term collaboration with stakeholders working with young filmmakers in education. It explores questions of how to license archive material to young filmmakers for creative reuse in education and widen access to hidden culturally diverse heritage; how to encourage educators and schools to engage with this material and integrate archive-inspired filmmaking projects into digital literacy and creative arts programmes; how to develop a code of best practice for educators around the licensed and unlicensed use of copyrighted audiovisual material in the classroom and through schools, colleges, universities and training schemes developing new talent in the creative industries; what kinds of archive content can deepen students’ engagement with the curriculum; enriches learning journeys and provides a voice for under-represented areas of the community and explores how creative reuse of our collective audiovisual history be effectively shared with the community.
UK project partners are the British Film Institute (BFI), BBC Archive Editorial and Northern Ireland Screen. Irish partners are the Irish Film Institute (IFI). Collaboration of British and Irish partners facilitates cross-border knowledge exchange and resource-sharing. Other network participants include regional archives, film festivals and training organisations, who draw on regional hubs of archive material to develop workshops and archive-led filmmaking projects, while also collaborating with international partners on collections themed around borders, migration and other thematics of mutual interest. The project includes three early career researchers – a Co-I and two post-doctoral researchers. The initiatives are funded by AHRC and the Irish Research Council. The project team have long track records of working with archive material on creative projects.
Hundreds of films and programmes which cover a variety of genres, time periods and themes. Partners will continue to add hundreds more pieces of content over the next years to come. Around 75 UK colleges (FE) and universities (HE) with film-making and media departments so far signed up to the MfH initiative. Once licensed by an educational institution (for the next 10 years), the films can be downloaded by tutors for use in the classroom, on campus or online. Students browse the project website, choose an archive film to respond to and request download access to the film, integrating clips of up to 2 minutes into their own documentaries.
SRF Timelines – the biography tool
by Christian Vogg, Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen SRF
TIMELINES is a joyful access to the deep waters of SRF archives – available online. The user types in a date, preferably a birth date and the tool offers an almost random selection of audios and videos along your life-line. It starts with “this happened on your birthday”, and continues to “this was your childhood”, “teenie-time”, “finally adult!”, and so on, till “you are retired now” and, finally, “current developments”. As a special feature TIMELINES also offers also content “before you were born”, reaching back to the 1930ies for the oldest content available online from SRF archives.
Basically, the tool explores more than 1.3 million files which are all online on Play SRF, the Mediathek of SRF. Almost half of them are videos, spanning over 80 years of Swiss and world history. In the data pool some 500 items are marked as “milestones”. The search algorithm has a preference to find and display them prominent. But in total TIMELINES is a random view into archives, it is not a simple search engine. And this exploratory mood even comes with a sort of a drug addictive flavour.
At every single “anchor point” on the individual timeline a maximum of 5 audios and/or videos is shown. Additionally, at every hit a similarity search can be conducted, showing again 5 similar items. And so on and so forth. At the end of the timeline the user might switch over to Play SRF, the video (and audio) platform of SRF, for a specific search.
In order to narrow down the selected content there are several filters available: on content categories, on Swiss regions, on audio/video.
Of course, every timeline can be shared via WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook or via the user’s email-account. A QR-code offers the same functionality.
As a special feature TIMELINES is also available in other languages: in Romansh, and soon in French as well. An Italian version might come at a later stage. This gives the tool a real national colour in a country with four official languages.
The technical clou in the background is that for the first time archive metadata were merged with metadata from the video-audio-platform Play SRF. Only this enables the search index to have enough valuable hits for any given date back to the first half of the 20th century. Part of these “connections” between archive metadata and the corresponding video/audio were retrieved with sophisticated technical measures. And part of them were already known because of the so-called archive-opening-process. Under this regime SRF archives continuously re-publish online old linear programs – if the rights are cleared. The Swiss media law encourages SRF to do so, stating that the media company shall make all its broadcasted content available to the Swiss public.
For years this official order was followed by putting thousands and thousands of videos (and lately also audios) online. But as the search engine of Play SRF is optimized on a seven-days-catch-up routine, most of the precious archive items were never found. Therefore, TIMELINES is the solution to uncover this treasury to the public.
The application is also available for the public in the Swiss National Museum in Zurich on specially configured tablet computers.
BBC Motion Graphics Archive
by Mark Macey, BBC
The BBC Motion Graphics Archive is a showcase of the history and development of motion graphics across the BBC in the history of broadcast and programme-making, and includes examples of opening titles, promotion trailers, stings, idents and programme content sequences. Archive currently covers the period from the 1940s until the early 2000s and it can be researched in a variety of ways eg by programme title, channel, named designer, genre, decade. We have worked closely with around 150 BBC graphic designers who have shared invaluable knowledge of the techniques used to create the works over the years. The Archive is for anybody interested in design, motion graphics or cultural and television history. The material can be streamed or is downloadable for non-commercial educational or research purposes only under the terms of the BBC’s Content Licence for the Motion Graphics Archive (link to agreement on the homepage).
The Archive is not intended to be an exhaustive selection of examples but it will expand over time to show contemporary professional practice commissioned by the BBC. We are aiming to bring the archive up to the present day by the end of 2021. These will include a series of interviews with designers talking about their work, as well as images of a collection of digitised artefacts which shows the design and production processes used. Motion Graphics has become an important study discipline at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in numerous academic institutions UK wide. The Archive demonstrates the increasing importance of the role of motion graphics in television today in the promotion of channel brands and in engaging, entertaining and informing the viewer.
Since launch in 2020, a number of PhDs have been created using the archive as its focus. Examples of feedback from users below:
- At the start of the last lockdown they released all sorts of set pictures and stuff to use as zoom backgrounds. Whoever’s doing this archive stuff is doing a wonderful job.
- This is great, and the background information about how they were conceived/produced is interesting stuff. Nice to see this stuff presented factually.
- It’s a triumph that for the majority of the entries, they have a step by step description of how the graphics were made. Who on earth remembers that much detail decades later?
- If you are in need of a procrastination tool today may I suggest the new BBC Motion Graphics Archive of TV opening titles and such? You’re welcome.
- Had a look at this the other day, was quite lovely to see again a few sequences from my youth. Hopefully this resource can inspire the next generation of TV makers to be similarly creative, make something that’ll stick in the mind like these did in mine!
A strong public service collaboration between the BBC and Ravensbourne and an opportunity to showcase archive content in a unique way – to evoke nostalgia, to recognise the academic potential of the archive and to inspire a new generation of designers, archivists and media historians, particularly as the BBC approaches its centenary – and beyond!