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Archives go Beyond Bytes

Workshop highlights
 Matthew Davies

Last month the NFSA hosted Beyond Bytes, a workshop featuring a panel of international guests, all at the forefront of new archive business models and processes. The guest list covered all the relevant Australian institutions.

For the organisers, the goal was to ensure that the workshop was informative, wide-ranging, and forward looking. We settled on a program based around four main themes:

  • Cultural Shifts – examining the cultural and environmental changes facing audiovisual archives;
  • Hard Core Data – investigating collection data models and the use of collection information beyond the catalogue record with close consideration given to how new approaches can best support the needs of audiovisual collections;
  • Keeping Up – focusing on technology and workflows for digital collections; and
  • Gen Next – drawing together a panel of hand-picked young audiovisual archivists, technical experts and creative thinkers to articulate the expectations of the next generation, and challenge conventional wisdom.


Cultural shifts

In this clip, Jon Wengström from the Swedish Film Institute highlights how changes in the media business and broader society are raising fundamental questions for film archives:

                                 Beyond Bytes: Jon Wengström from the Swedish Film Institute



Hard core data

Nancy Goldman talks about how the Pacific Film Archive has taken advantage of the evolution of data models for audiovisual collections:

                                   Beyond Bytes: Nancy Goldman from the Pacific Film Archive


Thelma Ross, from the Academy Film Archive, has been closely involved in the development of the International Federation of Film Archives’ (FIAF) cataloguing rules, and she explains some of the evolution of standards that has informed this work:

                                   Beyond Bytes: Thelma Ross from the Academy Film Archive


Helen Edmunds speaks here about the advantages for the BFI (British Film Institute) of moving to a single database:

                                    Beyond Bytes: Helen Edmunds from the British Film Institute


Keeping Up

This session explored the intersections between the archives’ cultural and curatorial mission and both old and new technology and workflows. This story from the Academy Film Archive’s Josef Lindner tells a story that highlights some of the differences in thought processes between the analogue and digital approaches:

                                    Beyond Bytes: Josef Lindner from the Academy Film Archive


One message that was very clear throughout the workshop was the need for archives to understand both the analogue and digital technologies. Charles Fairall reflects on this in the context of the BFI’s JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) project:

                                    Beyond Bytes: Charles Fairall from the British Film Institute


Gen next

Our final session provided an opportunity for some of the NFSA’s younger staff to offer their perspectives. This led to a lively discussion and some excellent questions from the floor. Here, Nancy Goldman asks how archives can convince upcoming generations about the significance of analogue material and attract the funding needed to preserve it. Radio Archivist Chris Arneil and Systems Administrator Michael Smith from the NFSA respond:

Beyond Bytes: Question from Nancy Goldman, Pacific Film Archive with responses from Chris Arneil and Michael Smith, NFSA