Talking operational strategy, digitisation, archive and apparition with Focal International.

Can you summarise for our members what you do?

I’m helping content owners and organisations with operational strategy, digital transformation, archive, metadata and digitisation projects. If you have an archive in need of organisation or digitisation, or you’re working with inefficient operational processes, then I can help.

Why do you work in the archive business?

The combination of using new technology to store, encode, transform and make historical footage available decades after it was originally filmed, is an interesting one. No day, project or product launch is ever the same. There are always new challenges, the technology is constantly evolving and you have to adapt with it.

What’s the most memorable project you’ve worked on and why?

That’s a tough one as I’ve worked on such a wide variety of projects. The digitisation of ITN’s archive was definitely a favourite – from the development of the strategy right through to the delivery of the project itself. We digitised more than 15,000 tapes and film cans spanning more than 6 decades, and hundreds of thousands of index cards and microfiche. The archiving and cataloguing methods varied over the years which isn’t unusual for a footage archive spanning that many decades. As a result, we had to devise a number of different processes to digitise the tape/film, generate the metadata and associate it with the digitised files. The project resulted in hundreds of thousands of clips being made available online, most of which hadn’t been seen since they were first transmitted.

What has been the biggest surprise you’ve had in your career so far?

It’s not a surprise as such, but it’s great to see the growth of OTT television leading to the commissioning of more premium, factual programmes that contain archive by the likes of Netflix and Amazon.

What’s your favourite colour?

Blue, closely followed by green – calm and natural colours.

What’s your favourite TV/film/book of the past year?

When I get the opportunity to really sit down and switch off, I enjoy series such as Ozark, Lost in Space and Stranger Things. I am also a big wildlife documentary fan.

What superpower would you pick?

Apparition – I’d love to be able to teleport to any location in the world. I’d save so much time travelling between meetings too!

The interview can also be read in full here.

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