Archive for the ‘General’ Category

The results of the survey have now been integrated into the Researcher’s Guide to Screen Heritage. This website is a comprehensive directory of the publicly accessible sources of material related to the history of moving images and sound in the United Kingdom. It combines the former BUFVC Researcher’s Guide Online (RGO) with a new directory of artefacts produced by the UK Screen Heritage Network, with the support of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council Renaissance fund.

Here you can search for both moving image content and artefacts, as well as sound collections across the UK. The Advanced Artefacts search enables you to refine your search across ten categories including TV, Video and Digital, Animation, Film-making, Sets and Costumes, Cinema and Sound. The Guide to Screen Artefacts gives details as to what kind of objects might be found in each section. It provides a fascinating view of collections, both institutional and individual, across the country reflecting what has been collected and what still needs to be done.


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The Movieum

On 22nd February a new museum, the Movieum, opened at County Hall in London. It claims to take visitors behind the scenes of the British film industry through its use of moving image artefacts to chart the production process. The Movieum of London website describes itself in these terms

‘The Movieum is a movie museum that goes behind-the-scenes of the British film industry, showcasing the great UK talent that has produced some of the world’s most famous movies, whilst at the same time displaying the wonderful creative process that they are part of. From the history of Pinewood and Elstree Studios, through to the individual departments that come together to create a film, including Special Effects, Animatronics, Make Up, Wardrobe and much more, there is something for everyone in this entertaining and educational experience. Featuring real sets, props and movie equipment, unseen behind-the-scenes footage, and a walk through the film making process.’

It has already been reviewed favourably The Times whilst The Telegraph emphasises the passion behind the collection, claiming that those looking for a comprehensive, well curated exhibition will be disappointed. I haven’t managed to get down there yet, is it all it claims to be??

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Winner of Apple iTouch

Steve Chibnall, Professor of British Cinema at De Montfort University, is the winner of the Apple iTouch. In an informal ceremony Murray Weston, Chief Executive of the British Universities Film & Video Council, pulled the lucky slip of paper out of a large paper clip container earlier today.

The Chibnall British Cinema Collection is a private archive of around 10,000 artefacts, primarily consisting of posters, lobby cards, stills, scripts and especially press books (c. 2000), forms the principal resource of the communal archive of the British Cinema and Television Research Goup which functions within De Montfort University’s Faculty of Humanities. Particular elements of interest within it are a few 1930s set designs by Alfred Junge for BIP (original photographs for set construction) and material owned by the late historians Denis Gifford and John Huntley. Research access to the collection is by appointment only.

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Peter Handford

One of the most innovative exponents of sound location shooting, Peter Handford, died last month at the age of 88. His work on British New Wave films such as Room at the Top and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning established him as a master of his craft which was eventually recognised in semi-retirement with an Academy Award in 1985 for his work on Out of Africa. Tony Sloman has written far more fully about his life and career in today’s Independent which also mentions his numerous sound recordings of steam trains. This collection now resides in the National Railway Museum in York.

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The deadline for the Screen Heritage Network’s survey of moving image and screen-related artefacts in UK collections has been extended by one week to Friday 7 December 2007. The survey is open to any UK collection with artefacts relating to the moving image and screen-related media which may be accessible to the public or researchers. All organisations who submit a completed survey will be entered into a draw to win a 16GB Apple iTouch, the revolutionary touch-screen iPod with web browser – the screen heritage of tomorrow.

Organisations that have already submitted a complete survey will be included in the draw. Only one entry per organisation will be accepted. Organisations must be from the UK. Current member organisations of the Screen Heritage Network are not eligible.

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Brian Coe

Brian Coe

Brian Coe (Stephen Herbert collection)

Sadly, last month saw the death of Brian Coe, one of the most important figures in the preservation and documentation of the UK’s screen heritage in the last century. Brian was Curator of the Kodak Museum 1969-1984, then Curator at the Royal Photographic Society in Bath, before joining the Museum of the Moving Image in 1989 as its special events co-ordinator. He instituted several important exhibitions on photography and cinematography, and his many publications in the field have remained standard works. In particular his book The History of Movie Photography (1981) is the indispensible guide to its subject. It is a clear and authoritative guide to optical toys, magic lanterns, chronophotograph, professional and sub-standard film formats, colour cinematography, home movies, sound recording etc. Published twenty-six years ago, it is much relied upon by archivists and museum curators, and strongly recommended to anyone seeking a reliable, single guide to cinema technology before the digital age.

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The UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage takes place this Saturday, the 27th October with a variety of activities taking place across the globe designed to focus international attention on the importance of audiovisual material within human memory, culture and identity. In his downloadable message, the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, has called for governments to provide the necessary resources to safeguard these assets for future generations marking a critical juncture in the global preservation of this material.

Several sites are carrying information about the World Day. The South East Asia Pacific Audio Visual Archive Association (SEAPAVAA) includes details of initiatives resulting from this in the Phillipines and Thailand. A global representation of other activities can be found on a UNESCO World Day micro-site of the Co-ordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations (CCAAA) and includes our Survey of Moving Image Artefacts under the United Kingdom. Placing our survey within an international context highlights aspects of our work that address these issues and raises questions about the existence of other national mapping exercises and the use of the information generated from them.

1929 Bell & Howell projector set up for Kodacolor lenticular film, courtesy of Elsbury Images

Our Survey echoes many of the ideas behind the World Day; raising awareness, particularly a wider understanding of Screen Heritage within a national context, and making connections, providing an intial place of contact for all the individuals, societies, museums and universities that hold this material. Although the main objective of the survey is to provide a directory, the data will enable us to build a detailed picture of how well particular objects and areas are represented across the country. This not only tells us what there is but more importantly where the gaps might lie. At the moment one of the lowest response sections is for Sets and Costumes, closely followed by Sound and one of the highest for Magic Lanterns and Cinema & Projectors.

The World Day inevitably raises the question of what other national surveys related to screen heritage have been undertaken across the world. What areas have they covered, what kind of response did they get and how was this information utilised? Does anyone know of similar exercises that have been carried out?

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