Strategic Priority 3: collecting and preserving

Developing and preserving our national collection is at the heart of what we do. We are driven by a curatorial model, relying on the expertise of our curators to interpret, analyse and apply their collection knowledge to collection development, programming and preservation priorities. We are also recognised internationally as a place of technical audiovisual preservation expertise, which underpins our ability to ensure that collection materials are preserved for future generations.

Outcome: The national audiovisual collection is developed and preserved to the highest curatorial standards.

Table 3: Strategic priority 3: Collecting and preserving
Objective Initiatives/strategies to achieve against outcome and objectives, 2017–18 to 2020–21 Target 2017–18 Result 2017–18
Objective 3A
Continue to develop a rich collection that represents the diversity of Australian culture
3A.1 Implement NFSA Collection Policy 2016–20 Collection Policy implemented Achieved
3A.2 Continue targeted collection development including analysis and deselection 60,000 acquisitions made in the reporting period** 72,944
Objective 3B
Manage the national audiovisual collection to recommended international standards to ensure its digitisation and ongoing accessibility
3B.1 Preserve collection content through sustainable practices for storage and environmental conditions (passive preservation) 230 years average collection lifespan* 296
3B.2 Preserve the collection through active digitisation, format-shifting of content and data migration (active preservation) 8000 titles preserved and made accessible* 16,872
10% of the preservation collection digitised* 16%
3B.3 Accession the collection in line with best practice to ensure the integrity of our data 100,000 items accessioned (in the reporting period)* 134,931
Objective 3C
Establish partnerships with the creative sector to increase awareness of the value of our audiovisual heritage and connect established creators and their work with emerging creators
3C.1 Further develop mutually beneficial, long-term industry relationships to ensure maximum exposure for the national audiovisual collection Five national partnerships Achieved
3C.2 Expand funding body partnerships to ensure lodgment of all new funded Australian moving image and sound productions with the NFSA. High-level advocacy through industry forums to support this approach Continued development of funding body partnerships Achieved
3C.3 Expand current oral history and career interviews program with contemporary and influential film, broadcast and recorded sound identities 60 oral histories collected 66
Criterion source: Corporate Plan 2017–18 to 2020–21 page 9 and PBS page 161 *PBS 2017–18 target

Objective 3A

Continue to develop a rich collection that represents the diversity of Australian culture

3A.1 Implement Collection Policy 2016–20

Target Result
Collection Policy implemented Achieved
Criterion source: Corporate Plan 2017–18 to 2020–21 page 9 and PBS page 161
 

What we achieved

Our revised Collection Policy was successfully implemented in March 2017. It sets out the guiding principles for the development, preservation and sharing of our collection. The Collection Policy is available on our website and in hard copy.

3A.2 Continue targeted collection development including analysis and deselection

Target Result
60,000 acquisitions made in the reporting period** 72,944
Criterion source: Corporate Plan 2017–18 to 2020–21 page 9 and PBS page 161
*PBS 2017–18 target
** PBS 2017–18 target and DoCA KPI

What we achieved

The core of our activity is developing a national audiovisual collection to the highest curatorial standards. We hold 2.89 million collection items, including moving image, recorded sound and broadcast items, as well as associated documents and artefacts.

We receive material into the collection through the following means:

  • donation (material received free of charge)
  • deposit through agreement with the owner
  • formal agreements with screen funding agencies, requiring material to be lodged with the NFSA
  • purchase
  • bequest.

    During 2017-18 we surpassed our overall acquisition target by acquiring 72,944 collection items.

    A more detailed listing of our collection acquisition highlights for 2017-18 appears in appendix 3 but particular highlight include:

      Film

      • current film productions: Sweet Country (Warwick Thornton, 2018), Gurrumul (Paul Damien Williams, 2018) and Finding Maawirrangga (Dylan River and Glynn McDonald, 2017)
      • a set of 31 unique nitrate film reels taken by Tassilo Adams, the official ethnographer for the Dutch government of the East Indies, in Indonesia during the 1920s
      • a collection of 16mm home movies from the estate of the late JO Fairfax, shot between 1928 and 1933
      • web series This is Desmondo Ray! (Steve Baker, 2017), winner of Best Animated Series at the International Academy of Web Television Awards 2017 in Los Angeles
      • virtual reality production The Extraction (Khoa Do and Piers Mussared, 2018).

      Sound

      • over 24,000 CDs from ABC CD libraries across Australia
      • the master tape collection from Fable Records, a significant independent record label in the early 1970s
      • audio recordings, still images and biographies of contemporary female Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists MC Lady Lash, Leah Flanagan and Emily Wurramurra.

      Radio

      • over 9000 hours of off-air radio—including
      • top-rating breakfast, drive and talk shows from Fox FM, KIIS 101.1, 3AW, Triple M and Gold FM—through a new program with the support of the Australian Radio Network, Macquarie Media and Southern Cross Austereo Networks
      • programs marking the 40th anniversary of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, including parade commentary from Joy 94.9 FM
      • papers and recordings documenting the career of Sydney radio pioneer John Brennan OAM, from his early career at 2WG to significant roles at stations 2UE, 2SM and 2GB.

      Television

      • news and current affairs from networks across free-to-air and subscription television, including stories on the CBS purchase of Network Ten, the same sex marriage debate, the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Kokoda and the Commonwealth Games
      • a large collection of quiz and format shows from the 1970s to 2000s donated by FremantleMedia Australia, including Sale Of The Century (1980–2001), Wheel Of Fortune (1981–2002), Australian Idol (2003–2009) and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (1999–2006)
      • two-inch mastertapes of assorted 1960s and 70s music specials broadcast on the Seven Network, including Helen Reddy (with guest Peter Allen, 1975), Bee Gees In Concert (1974) and Pat and Olivia (featuring Pat Carroll and Olivia Newton-John, 1967)
      • a collection of 16mm kinescope recordings of 1960s and 70s GTV9 television productions, including Night of Stars (1971), Hey Look Us Over In Colour (1968), Australia’s Celebrity Game (hosted by Bert Newton, 1969) and several episodes of The Adventures of Gerry Gee (c.1966).

      Documents and Artefacts

      • a 1916 signed photograph and letter to a fan from silent film actress Louise Lovely
      • key costumes by award-winning costume designer Tess Schofield from The Sapphires (Wayne Blair, Australia, 2012)
      • rare three-sheet poster of Australian-born actor Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood (Michael Curtiz and William Keighley, USA, 1938).
      Table 4: Number of acquisitions by type:
      Acquisition type Results
      Feature-length films 142
      Short films 446
      Small-gauge films 606
      Documentaries 518
      Television works 3303
      Recorded sound works 28,425
      Radio works 2206
      Oral histories 115
      Documents and artefacts 37,233
      Total number of acquisitions 72,994
       

      SNAPSHOT

      ENGAGING WITH USERS OF DIGITAL COLLECTIONS

      Back row L-R: Shaun Angeles, Gavin Tapp, Fiona Fieldsend, Vicki Sowry, Ross Harley. Front row L-R: Katrina Sedgwick, David Fricker, Jan Müller, Marie-Louise Ayres, Jo-anne McGowan

      In October 2017, we held our third annual Digital Directions symposium. The sold-out event explored issues surrounding the digitisation of cultural collections and digital engagement.

      Shaun Angeles Penangke, an Arrernte man from Ayampe and the Artwe-kenhe (Men’s) Collection Researcher at Museum of Central Australia incorporating The Strehlow Research Centre in Alice Springs, summed up the event’s focus on the user experience by saying, ‘I believe collections like this can change people’s lives’. We also showcased institutional innovators in user-centric research and design.

      Our CEO Jan Müller gave the keynote address for the second consecutive year. In 2016 he represented the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, but in 2017 he was delivering his vision for the digital future of the NFSA.

      Delegates included leaders and researchers from the Australian Network of Art and Technology, GovHack, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image and Microsoft.

      We delivered Digital Directions in partnership with the National Archives of Australia and the National Library of Australia and the event was live-streamed to maximise participation across the country.

      Digital Directions returned in August 2018.

      Objective 3B

      Manage the collection to recommended international standards to ensure its digitisation and ongoing accessibility

      3B.1 Preserve collection content through sustainable practices for storage and environmental conditions (passive preservation)

      Target Result
      230 years average collection lifespan* 296
      Criterion source: Corporate Plan 2017–18 to 2020–21 page 9 and PBS page 161
      *PBS 2017–18 target
      ** PBS 2017–18 target and DoCA KPI
       

      What we achieved

      Drawing on international best practice, we set the environmental conditions (in terms of temperature and relative humidity) to meet the storage requirements for the long-term and sustainable preservation of our collection.

      We apply the Time Weighted Preservation Index methodology developed by the Image Permanence Institute, Rochester University, USA, to provide a qualitative measure that estimates the collection lifespan in our storage facilities. The Time Weighted Preservation Index estimates the average collection lifespan using three elements: storage environmental conditions (temperature and relative humidity), carrier format and time. This provides a qualitative measure that estimates the collection lifespan in our storage facilities.

      In 2017–18 we exceeded our target and achieved an average collection lifespan of 296 years, an increase of 28.7% over our target of 230 years.

      In 2017–18 we completed three major collection relocation projects within our storage facilities:

      • moving 70 items from the large vintage equipment collection in the Mitchell warehouse to improved storage in the Mitchell Two facility
      • relocating 1170 Linear Tape-Open (LTO) data tapes that contain preservation copies of the digital collection to improved storage conditions
      • transferring 2700 carriers of the duplicate colour film collection from the Nitrate facility to our Mitchell One facility, where two rooms have recently been converted to cold storage.

      3B.2 Preserve the collection through active digitisation, format-shifting of content and data migration (active preservation)

      Target Result
      8000 titles preserved and made accessible* 16,872
      10% of the preservation collection digitised* 16%
      Criterion source: Corporate Plan 2017–18 to 2020–21 page 9 and PBS page 161
      *PBS 2017–18 target
       

      What we achieved

      In 2017–18 we faced the challenges of maintaining unsupported equipment and sourcing obsolete equipment for parts, but we also benefited from new opportunities.

      Our in-house film-to-film laboratory operations came to an end in 2017. Maintaining the in-house service ceased to be viable, due to a combination of both ageing equipment and the need for us to focus our internal resources on digital workflows and outputs. We will outsource photochemical work as required, while addressing the infrastructure challenges of film digitisation and storage through a new content network solution. We will progressively increase digital storage over the next two years.

      We have increased digitisation outputs by continually monitoring workflows, streamlining procedures and implementing software solutions where appropriate to assist with automating processes.

      We are addressing the Deadline 2025 priority to digitise magnetic tape holdings by extending our use of approved external providers. The NFSA Digitisation Strategy 2018–2025 outlines the foundation of our approach to becoming the National Centre for Excellence in Audiovisual Heritage.

      The entire NFSA collection comprises over 2.9 million items of which 52% is audiovisual material, including film, tape and sound formats. Of the audiovisual collections, over 400,000 items exist in either born-digital material or copies. It is this original analogue collection that represents the NFSA’s digitisation challenge.

       

        3B.3 Accession the collection in line with best practice to ensure the integrity of our data

        Target Result
        100,000 items accessioned (in the reporting period)* 134,931
        Criterion source: Corporate Plan 2017–18 to 2020–21 page 9 and PBS page 161
        *PBS 2017–18 target
         

        What we achieved

        We have exceeded the annual target of 100,000 items accessioned this year by approximately 35%. Digital accessioning comprised 89.6% of all accessioning this year—up 13% on last year’s figures. This is because of further increases in digital material being acquired by us and continued improvement in our data management and ingest of this material. We continue to meet the challenges of accessioning analogue materials (both incoming acquisitions and prioritised backlog items) which require manual data collation.

        Objective 3C

        Establish partnerships with the creative sector to increase awareness of the value of our audiovisual heritage and connect established creators and their work with emerging creators

        3C.1 Further develop mutually beneficial, long-term industry relationships to ensure maximum exposure for the national audiovisual collection

        Target Result
        Five national partnerships Achieved
         

        What we achieved

        NFSA Restores continues to increase the number of high-quality Digital Cinema Packages (DCPs) of classic Australian film titles available for cinema exhibition. This has enabled continued successful arrangements with key film festivals in Australia to premiere important film restorations, such as Shame (Steve Jodrell, 1988) at the Melbourne International Film Festival 2017 and My Brilliant Career (Gillian Armstrong, 1979) at the Sydney Film Festival 2018.

        In addition, NFSA Restores has facilitated new international connections through screenings including:

        • The Year My Voice Broke (John Duigan, 1987) at the Museum of Modern Art in New York
        • My Brilliant Career and Starstruck (Gillian Armstrong, 1982) at the Swedish Film Institute
        • Starstruck and Shame at the Australian Screen Forum in New York
        • My Brilliant Career at the TCM Classics Festival in Los Angeles.

        3C.2 Expand funding body partnerships to ensure lodgment of all new funded Australian moving image and sound productions with the NFSA. High-level advocacy through industry forum to support this approach

        Target Result
        Continued development of funding body partnerships Achieved
         

        What we achieved

        We have existing agreements with all the major screen government funding bodies in Australia to ensure the lodgment of all new funded Australian screen productions with us. Funding bodies include Screen Australia, Film Victoria, the New South Wales Film and Television Office, Screen Queensland, ScreenWest and the South Australian Film Corporation. In 2017–18 we continued to review these agreements to ensure they provide flexibility in the current digital environment.

        We were able to acquire contemporary commercial digital radio productions via the implementation of an Off-Air capture pilot program in which digital radio capture software was used to select programming for inclusion in the national collection. Participating radio networks were the Australian Radio Network, Southern Cross Austereo and Macquarie Media.

        3C. 3 Expand current oral history and career interviews program with contemporary and influential film, broadcast and recorded sound identities

        Target Result
        60 oral histories collected 66
         

        What we achieved

        Our substantial collection of oral histories continues to grow in order to capture the personal histories and narratives of individuals who have been part of Australia’s audiovisual industry. These oral histories provide personal, first-hand recollections of careers in film, television, radio and recorded sound that may otherwise be completely lost to future generations.

        Our oral history program continues to support the collection areas and our online sharing platforms. In 2017–18 we exceeded our target, acquiring 66 oral histories.

        A detailed listing of 2017–18 oral history acquisitions can be found in appendix 3, but highlights include:

        • Freda Glynn (foundation director of the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association, CAAMA)
        • Gretel Killeen (comedian and presenter)
        • Margaret Throsby (radio presenter)
        • Maurice Murphy (film and TV producer, director)
        • Barry Otto (actor).