2017 - ...

VRT film collection registration and searchability

The VRT is the only Flemish broadcaster to have produced TV programmes on film, with the public broadcasting company building up a collection of some 53,221 film and audio reels between 1953 and 1990.

Meemoo set up a registration project together with the VRT to map out their collection in detail, and ensure it aligns perfectly with CINEMATEK’s work for films from the cultural heritage sector. The number of films affected by vinegar syndrome in the VRT collection is relatively limited, but still not to be underestimated in absolute figures. These films are therefore being urgently addressed as part of meemoo’s digitisation projects.

Pictured: the VRT depository

Technical registration complete

The registration consists of two parts: technical and content. We completed the technical registration of the film collection in 2021, registering the most important technical characteristics of each film object in a database during the process. We also gave all the reels their own barcode, and separated the image and audio reels from each other. This means that for the first time we now have a complete overview of this impressive collection.

Content registration by scanning and OCR complete

As well as a technical overview, we also wanted a much clearer picture of all the content. The VRT had a database of scanned index cards for its film collection, but this was outdated and difficult to search automatically. With support from meemoo, the VRT therefore set up a project in 2020 and 2021 to purposefully scan the index cards, apply automatic optical character recognition (OCR) on them, and automatically place the recognised words in the appropriate database fields. An archivist then checks all this and transcribes additional handwritten index cards as well.

This led to the development of a new database application that allows researchers to search through the entire film collection and request digitisation of particular films as desired. We completed the scanning project in the spring of 2022.

Archive ready for digitisation process

Now that we have a technical and content overview of what the VRT film archive contains, we can set up further digitisation projects. In addition to making digitisation choices for affected film stock, we can now also prioritise unaffected films based on content. This applies to both the VRT collection and the collection from 64 cultural heritage organisations. We’re aiming to start this process in 2024.

Do you have a question?
Contact Céline Vermeire
Project Leader Digitisation & Account Manager government and heritage institutions

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