10 December 2010
New life for old film
Glamour girls from the Windmill Theatre messing about in boats and eccentric inventions such as the “Snogometer” are just a few of the archived clips that put paid to any misconceptions that British Pathe is merely a collection of historically interesting but rather ‘worthy’ news footage.
The broad scope of the Pathe collection is easy to gauge on a new website developed by Cambridge Imaging Systems. The site provides free access to a remarkable archive dating back to the 1890s. By the time British Pathe stopped making the cinema newsreel in 1970, it had accumulated 3500 hours of footage amounting to over 90,000 individual items and 12 million still images.
Lottery funding allowed the archive to be digitally encoded, becoming the first digital news archive in the world.
The upgraded site contains sensitively integrated advertising and enables different types of user to customise search and storage operations. For example, media professions can download low resolution clips for free to use in storyboards and pitches while educational users can search pre-prepared clips that relate to specific parts of the curriculum. Clips are also grouped into a number of categories to make relevant material easier to find and there are topical ‘tasters’ to keep the site fresh.
Tone Blake of Cambridge Imaging Systems said:
“We have a long association with British Pathe and were delighted to be invited to carry out this significant upgrade. The site is now a leading example of how material can be made freely and easily available to a general audience while at the same time earning revenue and providing specialist users with a valuable resource.”
News provided by British Pathe Ltd.