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BBC S&PP to digitise Imperial War Museum WW1 films

BBC S&PP to digitise Imperial War Museum WW1 films
Staff Reporter
10 October 2012

BBC Studios and Post Production’s Digital Media Services team has been chosen to digitise and future-proof footage from the Imperial War Museums’ collection of film from the First World War.

The project was commissioned in the run up to the centenary anniversary of WW1 in 2014 and will be completed by the end of 2013 as part of the European Film Gateway (EFG) 1914 project and co-funded by the Community programme ICT-PSP.

The museum’s collection is one of the oldest and largest in the world, comprising over 250 hours of material.

The age of the films and their historic value mean the black and white 35mm reels have to be handled with extreme care. BBC Studios and Post Production’s Digital Media Services team are cleaning and preparing the film before scanning it to DPX files. The files will be re-framed and graded where necessary, while ensuring the essence of the material is maintained in the digitisation.

By digitising its content, IWM is making its collection available worldwide via its Collections Search facility. The portal will enable public access to a searchable archive for the first time. As BBC Studios and Post Production’s Digital Media Services team delivers each film, the museum will also be able to monetise its content through making the films available on their Imperial War Museum Film Sales Site.

IWM plans to mark the centenary by leading a four-year programme of cultural activities across the country, a highlight of which is the opening of brand new First World War galleries at the museum in London in 2014.

BBC Studios and Post Production’s Digital Media Services team recently completed digital restoration projects for Screen Heritage UK and Film London and the content owners of the Trumptonshire Trilogy.

EFG1914, coordinated by Deutsches Filminstitut, will digitise up to 650 hours of film from and about World War I, and make the digitised film collections available on the Internet through the EFG Portal ( and the European digital library Europeana ( For more information about EFG1914 and the complete list of participating institutions

 The Imperial War Museum film archive is one of the oldest film archives in the world. The core of the First World War film collection is official British material transferred to the museum in the early post-war years – films of the campaigns in Palestine, Mesopotamia and Salonika in addition to films of the Western Front. The collection includes The Battle of the Somme 1916, listed in the UNESCO “Memory of the World Register”.

The collection also includes material of the British home front, the contribution of women to the war effort, the activities of the Royal Navy, RFC and RAF and the campaign on the Italian Front as well as cartoons and propaganda films.

The pictured still is of 2nd Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment, in the rear areas of the Western Front, autumn 1917 
Film © IWM (IWM 396)

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