The original aim of the project was to digitise the sixteen IUHFC films, along with the booklets and publish them online. Since these were purely for educational use and could only be viewed by those at subscribing UK universities and colleges our core audience was an academic one. With this in mind we were keen to address three key areas within the scope of the project: transparency, citation and context.
We felt it was important to make the process of selection and digitisation for both the films and documents as transparent as possible. In documenting the choices and decisions made simply in the selection of material for each film we wanted to highlight for the user how many different possibilities exist before we even get to the stage of digitisation. At this point a transformation occurs as we move from the analogue to the digital. By noting for each film exactly what was done, within the Technical Info drop down, we hoped to emphasise that changes occur within this process and the line between replication and creation can be a very thin one. This form of interrogation is particularly important if we are to gain a greater critical understanding of this material in terms of evidence.
The citation of online sources often lags behind more conventional physical formats, particularly in the case of moving image. Part of this can be uncertainty on how to cite the material, if downloaded, losing track of the URL & the date accessed or even qualms related to the validity of an online source. In order to address some of these issues we created a ‘How to cite’ section on the right hand menu bar which can be pasted into working documents. With downloadable elements, such as the selected articles in the Primary Sources section, we embedded the citation within both versions. We also ensured that the file name of the download matched the identifier in the URL so that the digital researcher can tie up the disparate elements of their work more easily.
Context is an essential element in any academic resource, the ideal being to provide the user with enough material to provoke more questions. We identified two important areas that would provide this. The first was to give some sense of the history of the IUHFC and the second, the place it occupied within the historiography of film and history. We asked two historians to write these for us not only to provide different perspectives but also add different voices to the site. Some research into the early history of the IUHFC led us to the British Universities Film Council journal University Vision, a biannual publication designed to act as a forum for considering the role and application of film and television within teaching and research. Edited by the historian Paul Smith its first edition in 1968 provided a springboard for the nascent film & history movement. Over the following seven years it continued as a platform for the dissemination of ideas and developments through a variety of articles and reviews. It is these items that constitute the texts in the Primary Sources section, giving the user a flavour of the issues and debate that coloured this period in its history. A project of this nature is bound by time and money but the design for these textual sources should ensure that additional content, such as pieces from former Consortium members, can be added in the future.
Research Executive, British Universities Film & Video Council