This week we have been asked to accession some historical films found in an archive and to investigate the possibility of digitising them. The films are a mixture of documentary and scientific footage, mostly relating to tides and the installation of tide gauges.
Sadly, there was little associated metadata with the films, which will make the tracing of copyright owners interesting! We will watch the films in the hope that there may be credits on them that could help us identify the copyright owners. The next step will be to see if the films’ titles generate any results in online searches. Some of the documentaries may be listed in the catalogues of the British Film Institute (BFI), for example. The JISC Briefing Paper on Managing Orphan Works (PDF) lists a number of searches an organisation could carry out. Hopefully most of the scientific footage will have been shot by a camera operator who was an employee of our Research Council.
The films are in a variety of formats. The earliest one we can date is from 1966 on 16mm film stock, though others may be older. The most recent film is from 1986, shot on super 8 film. Technical obsolescence is an critical issue to consider when planning long-term stewardship of data. Because of the age of the formats used, we’ve had a bit of trouble trying to track down the right kind of projectors to allow us to watch all of the footage.