Dynamic Film Annotation: Ephemeral Documents Digitally Preserved

Georg Kö, Ingo Zechner

Presentation at the High-Tech Heritage Conference "How Are Digital Technologies Changing Our Views of the Past?"

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

May 4, 2012, 2 pm

This presentation is going to demonstrate the opportunities of a new digital technology for exploring, analyzing and presenting movies on the Internet and in other digital media.

Possessing unique collections of so called “Ephemeral Films” on National Socialism in Austria the Austrian Film Museum (OeFM) and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) joined forces with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for History and Society (LBIGuG) in preserving and researching dozens of films that due to conservation reasons were either not accessible to the public, or only to a limited extent.

Amateur films, cultural films and raw film footage all documenting the rise of the NSDAP starting in 1932, Austria's “annexation” in March 1938 and the war years 1939-1945, as well as everyday Jewish life before the Holocaust, do not simply speak by themselves when presented on the screen or in digital media. A newly developed film analytics extension for the open source HTML5 video framework popcorn promises to overcome the flaw of combining a dynamic medium like film with a static medium like text. Enabling time code-based annotation of digitized films this web application aims on introducing a new standard for metadata-based film annotation. The interconnectivity and searchability of metadata (of information on the content, geo-data, other relevant visual and audio sources and historical records) to the precise frame offers a new experience of film as a document and new perspectives on the past. Carried out according to international metadata standards (PBCore) in an object-oriented database this systematic cataloguing and annotation of films is able to ensure digital long-term archiving of research results and therefore to guarantee sustainable access to the so created resources in the future.