Imperial War Museum

Imperial War Museum

The film and video archive of the IWM is one of the oldest film archives in the world, with expanding collections extending to over 20,000 hours of film and videotape in a variety of formats. Previously, around one third of this material had on-line documentation but there was no on-line access to any moving images.

At the heart of IWM’s new system is the Imagen Media Control Centre. This manages any number of user generated workflows, all created with an easy to use drag and drop user interface. Imagen integrates with the AdLib collections management software (as used for BFI’s CID).

The workflows are capable of ingesting, transcoding, storing and distributing IWM’s digital content.

Imagen allows the IWM to ingest DPX frame content from its film scanner. A workflow creates a series of browse assets while the high resolution scans are written to LTO Tape by the Spectra Logic T950.

When new media is digitised it is added to the original record in the collections management database, cataloguers are able to enhance the metadata at any time.

Clips can be downloaded then masters of selected items can also be retrieved from the tape library via an HSM software layer. This is a fully automatic process, enabled by integrating the tape library with Imagen at the Museum. On encoding or scanning, the high resolution masters are automatically written to LTO 4 using the Imagen workflow storage plug in for the tape library.

The IWM video collections site enables anyone to watch over 150 hours of film online (new footage is being added all the time), search detailed information on over 35,000 films and obtain clips for private viewing or commercial use.

A wide range of films can be viewed through the site including vintage material from the First World War such as Mrs John Bull Prepared and With the Royal Flying Corps (Somewhere in France).

From the Second World War there are films as diverse as the Oscar winning campaign documentary Desert Victory, issues of the official newsreel, Warwork News and a variety of home front instructional films including Go to Blazes starring the popular comedian Will Hay.

The post-war era is covered by numerous films including Operation Grapple, an official film the Christmas Island British nuclear test, and unedited film of the Special Air Service (SAS) in training.

“We were looking for a system which could provide the additional functionality needed to enable timeline-based documentation and searching along with moving image and sound file encoding, while seamlessly integrating with existing systems. The Imagen solution created by Imagen Ltd has enabled us to do this and we are very pleased with the result. The website really can bring history alive in your own home at a mouse click.”

David Walsh, Head of Preservation at the IWM

“The Imagen solution created by Imagen Ltd has enabled us to offer timeline based searching of moving images and we are very pleased with the result. The website really can bring history alive in your own home.”