Fries Film Archive is dedicated to preserving and sharing the cinematic heritage of Friesland. When the archive was granted funding to digitize its collection, it sought cost-effective technology.
A highly scalable solutionthat houses 15,000 films and can expand to accommodate a growing archive
Cost-effective infrastructurethat meets the initiative’s goals without going over budget
At the forefront of archival technologyin the Netherlands for storing and protecting content
Business challenge story
Putting cinematic heritage in the spotlight
Films can act like a time capsule of a particular event or period, providing valuable insight into how people lived and how things change. The founders of Fries Film Archief, a film archive in Friesland, Netherlands, recognized that it was essential to protect this part of history.
Since 1988, a team of employees and volunteers have accepted films and videos made in or about the region, from the very old to the very recent, donated by professional and amateur filmmakers. The archive makes the content available for many purposes, including TV and documentaries, museum and art exhibitions, film festivals, education, screenings, events, research, and themed projects.
In 2015, the organization received a grant from the province of Friesland to digitize its collection, aiming to safeguard valuable historical film and make it accessible to a wider audience. The archive began looking for the technology to support this mission.
Syds Wiersma, Archive Coordinator at Fries Film Archief, explains: “Our priority is giving the content that we gather back to society, so this initiative was the ideal opportunity to make it easier for people to explore our growing collection. We wanted to make the best possible use of the grant, delivering maximum value to our users and maintaining our policy of accepting any film that we think is historically relevant. That meant identifying a solution that was both affordable and easy to expand.”
Finding the right technology for the part
Fries Film Archief deployed a digital archive solution that combines Spectrum Archive Library Edition software with TS4300 Tape Library storage. The organization enlisted IBM Business Partner SLTN Inter Access to help with solution selection and deployment.
“We are experts in film rather than IT, so we knew that we needed advice from a technology specialist,” remarks Wiersma. “The IT department at the Provincial Archives recommended SLTN Inter Access, and we invited them to the archive to get to know our workflow and requirements. They soon proposed IBM Spectrum Archive and an IBM Tape Library as the optimal solution for us, and we were pleasantly surprised with the price point.”
As part of its digitization efforts, Fries Film Archief is making two tape-based copies of every film in its collection. It stores one copy in the TS4300 Tape Library to fulfill screening requests, and the other on a shelf for backup purposes. The archive’s employees and volunteers create metadata to accompany every film, helping to increase the searchability of the collection. The organization uses the Spectrum Archive Library Edition software to access and manage the digitized files.
“Within just four months of the implementation, we had converted thousands of films,” says Wiersma. “It’s reassuring to know that our precious content is safely stored on tapes, which we can easily access whenever we — or our users — need them.”
Allowing Friesland’s films to shine
Today, Fries Film Archief’s collection numbers almost 15,000 films. Equipped with its new digital archive based on IBM solutions, the organization can continue to add new films, confident that it can scale up to meet requirements.
“We were looking for a digital archive solution with a long lifetime — as much as 15 years,” comments Wiersma. “We feel that IBM Spectrum Archive and the Tape Library will deliver on that goal. We’ve got the headroom to continue taking on any film we think is valuable and, once we approach the limits of the system, we can easily add new tapes.”
With cost-effective IBM tools, Fries Film Archief is meeting the aims of the digitization initiative without going over budget. Wiersma adds: “As a publicly-funded organization, maximizing returns on investments is a priority. We achieved that with this project, deploying affordable IBM technology that meets all our needs around digital archiving without breaking the bank.”
Fries Film Archief is meeting its central goal of facilitating easier access to films in its collection. Using the IBM solution, the archive can respond to queries from the public, broadcasting organizations and other parties interested in featuring its content.
Wiersma concludes: “Deploying the IBM solutions means that we’re not as dependent on the knowledge and experience of our staff to locate films when we receive requests. We’re now at the forefront of archives in the Netherlands in terms of how we protect and store our content. With help from IBM, we’re fulfilling our central mission of promoting the rich cinematic heritage of Friesland, bringing films to a wider audience than ever before.”
About Fries Film Archief
Fries Film Archief is a film archive in the Netherlands that collects, manages and digitizes film and video from and about the province of Friesland. Headquartered in Leeuwarden, the archive uses its collection to support museum exhibits, media organizations and public screenings. It also shares its expertise in the storage and digitization of historical film material with other archives, historical associations and private individuals.