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Audiovisual Research Alliance

The Audiovisual Research Alliance for Archivists & Cultural Heritage Professionals (AVRA), set up and supported by the Netherlands Institute for Sound & Vision, is an initiative that seeks to openly engage with and produce research in collaboration with the wider audiovisual archiving and heritage community.

AVRA report

New Report - AVRA #2: Beyond Search

The Audiovisual Research Alliance in collaboration with FIAT/IFTA’s Value, Use and Copyright Commission is pleased to announce the release of BEYOND SEARCH: Exploring Creative Approaches to Interfacing with Cultural Heritage Collections (A Case Study Analysis) written by independent researcher Nadia Piet.

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BEYOND SEARCH delves into the realm of digital audiovisual (AV) archives, focusing on user experience and advocating for the integration of exploratory approaches alongside conventional search. 

Within cultural heritage institutions, conventional keyword-based search interfaces have long served as the primary means to access digital AV archives. However, these interfaces often fall short in addressing the diverse needs of users and serving more exploratory or open-ended queries.

Drawing on a series of illustrative case studies, this report showcases innovative practices in the cultural heritage domain. Furthermore, it looks beyond archives to seek inspiration from practitioners in other disciplines, such as artists, filmmakers, and community initiatives grappling with similar questions.

The research report identifies four core themes: 

  • #1: Generous + Fluid Interfaces
  • #2: Situated + Experiential Entry Points
  • #3: Computational Sensing + Algorithmic Metadata
  • #4: Participatory Sense-Making + Storytelling

At the end of each theme a Practical Pointers “over to you” section is offered. Here, opportunities and challenges as well as additional tools and resources are highlighted, inviting you to put inspiration into action by orienting towards implementation and kicking off a conversation at your institution.

To continue the conversation around this research, you’re welcome to read and add to the Living Doc version, presented as a Miro Board here.

FIAT/IFTA World Conference
Come join Nadia on October 19, 2023 @ 16:30 CEST as part of the upcoming FIAT/IFTA World Conference where she will present the research and host a conversation in a breakout session. 

Connect with Us
Please feel welcome to contact us should you have any questions or comments about the new Audiovisual Research Alliance or want to connect about the recent report by Nadia Piet: 

About the AVRA 

The Audiovisual Research Alliance commissions and publishes research in the field of sound and moving image archiving and heritage, evolving from the former AV Think Tank and taking the idea of a research-generating working group in a new direction. The research of the AVRA thinks forward to consider how the decisions, tools, strategies, and approaches enacted today are currently and can possibly impact the field of AV archiving and heritage. The Alliance does this by actively engaging with and openly inviting practitioners to: 

  1. Share key questions and topics they would like to see explored through formal research; 
  2. Join a network of interviewees to offer different perspectives and experiences on topics being researched; 
  3. Volunteer as part of diverse peer review teams to support the development and feedback of research; 
  4. Propose possible researchers within and outside of the audiovisual archiving field to be commissioned for specific reports.

The Audiovisual Research Alliance endeavours to support an AV archiving sector that enables more long-term use of, learning with, and education through AV materials. The AVRA does so by producing research (aiming for 1 to 2 research papers per year) that draw from the interests of AV archives and heritage practitioners and are guided by an editorial direction. This direction, in addition to being informed by exploring current and future impacts on the field, focuses on asking research questions of an analytical nature, looking across institutions, projects, people, and places; bridging technical questions with more political, social and philosophical inquiries; and showing and bringing together different approaches and strategies to offer broader overviews. Topics could include looking at the ethical implications of AI and machine learning in archives; about strategies for maximising financial, human, equipment or knowledge-based resources available to archives; exploring inspiring examples and strategies for access; or trying to understand the role of archives in taking in and caring for private born-digital collections, just to name a few.

The AVRA also seeks to collaborate with the working groups and committees of AV archiving associations to gather insight and engage in research on interests important to their members and the wider field, such as the collaboration with the AMIA Preservation Committee on the AVRA’s first published report or the current collaboration with FIAT/IFTA’s Value, Use and Copyright Commission. Additionally, the AVRA impresses the importance of an international scope, aiming to amplify the experiences of archives and practitioners operating outside of oft focused on North America, UK and Europe. 

Should you have any questions, comments or would like to be involved, please email Rachel Somers Miles at

voorkant van rapport 'Snapshot of a Field in Motion'

AVRA #1: Snapshot of a Field in Motion

On the occasion of World Day for AV Heritage 2020, the AVRA in collaboration with the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) Preservation Committee released the results of its first research commission: Snapshot of a Field in Motion. Audiovisual Preservation Report 2020: Four Topics Impacting the Field written by independent researcher Claire Fox.

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Much like the name of the report suggests, Snapshot looks into the sound and moving image archival and heritage landscape, exploring a number of shifting and emerging topics impacting the field in 2020. These topics are: 

1. Providing and Preserving Captions for Digitized and Born-Digital Audiovisual Content

2. Testing and Implementing RAWcooked on DPX Film Scans 

3. Identifying and Managing Born-Digital Video Collections

4. Knowledge-Sharing as a Preservation Tool.

From the report: 

“What will the field of audiovisual preservation remember when it looks at the impact 2020 has had on this field and its future? It could be the year that archives decided that caption extraction or creation became a standard part of preservation workflows, joining with the sentiment that the COVID-19 pandemic could make the work more accessible. It could be the year that archivists adopted an open-source tool that compressed unwieldy file assets from expensive digitization projects into an open standard. It could be the year when born-digital processing is recognized as an urgent international concern, with smartphone documentation of protests accumulating in the form of evidence as well as irreplaceable cultural heritage documents. It could be the year that knowledge-sharing platforms evolved in a way that brought new preservationists to the field, and provided the infrastructure for current preservationists to continue expanding their skill sets. With the breadth of these possibilities in mind, this report aims to provide a focused perspective on four topics that might offer current and future archivists a frame of reference for what was impacting the field in 2020.”

In addition to individual research, Snapshot draws upon conversations with, and collective feedback from, moving image and media archivists and preservationists from around the globe.

The Creative Commons licensed report is freely downloadable.

To join the conversation about this research, you’re welcome to follow and comment on the report on Medium