Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Behind the scenes at the IFI Irish Film Archive

Over the summer months the IFI Irish Film Archive will be undertaking a major digital infrastructure upgrade project that will radically improve its ability to collect, preserve and make accessible the digital collections which it is acquiring in ever increasing quantities. Thanks to the assistance of the Department of Arts Heritage & the Gaeltacht the installation of high speed fibre optic cabling and new editing and ingestion equipment will see the archive expand its capacity to take in borne digital material and to create high resolution digital copies of the film and tape materials that it already holds.

On the cusp of this exciting development we felt it was an opportune time to go behind the scenes of the IFI Irish Film Archive and meet the people who care for our National Moving Image Collections.


Kasandra O'Connell

Kasandra O’Connell, Head of the IFI Irish Film Archive: “As Head of the Archive I have overall responsibility for strategy, policy and the technical development of the Archive. Over the last five years there has been a dramatic shift from an analogue environment to a digital one and the IFI Irish Film Archive, along with most other Archives around the world, is faced with the challenge of preserving and managing Digital collections to ensure their longevity. As most films and their accompanying materials are now being created and distributed in a digital format it is critical that we address this problem quickly to ensure no relevant material is lost.  This infrastructure project is the first phase of our Digital Preservation and Access Strategy and is a crucial development for us as it is the technical foundation upon which we will build our digital policies and procedures, thus ensuring we can continue to care for the remarkable collections we have responsibility for and make them more widely available in the future through new technology based access solutions.’’



Raelene Casey

Raelene Casey, Moving Image Access Officer: “My job is to find ways to make the content of the archive more accessible to all member of the public both commercially and non-commercially. We’re a not-for- profit private company, but we hold Ireland’s National Film Heritage in our care. As a result we need to strike a balance between providing commercial access to the collections and making sure our shared film heritage is available to everyone who wishes to explore it. As my colleagues and I are navigating the nascent waters of digital preservation and access we’re exploring ways to make this balance possible within the resources available to us. If you’ve any questions about accessing footage from the archive or fees involved, please email me.”


Columb Gilna

Columb Gilna, Collections Officer: “There are many different aspects to the job of a CO at the IFA. One minute I’m working with a roll of 16mm Black and White film from the 1930s (from our physical/analogue collection) and the next it’s a “.mov” file (from our digital asset collection). But it all boils down to collection care; through tracking, examination, documentation and correct storage. Our job is to follow best practice in preservation and collection management. Only then can the notion of sustained access become a reality.”



Vincent Kearney

Vincent Kearney, Archive Assistant: “As an archive assistant, I register and make technical assessments of film material being considered for inclusion in the Archive’s collections. Once a decision regarding acquisition has been made, I catalogue items joining the collections and prepare them for storage.”



Anja Mahler

Anja Mahler, Collections Assistant: “I am responsible for documentation and care of acquisitions from organisations with whom we have an archiving agreement, such as the Irish Film Board, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and The Arts Council.  In my work I oversee condition assessment, accessioning, cataloguing, preserving and annual assessments of materials on 35mm film and tape carrier.  A digital infrastructure would allow for deposits to be in high resolution file format instead of tape, employing a Digital Asset Management System that will be of benefit to all processes involved in archiving film heritage.”



Gavin Martin

Gavin Martin, Collections Officer: “I am responsible for digitising the Archive’s Film Collections. My remit is to preserve or in some cases restore the image quality of the films I am turning into digital assets; these are then held as large uncompressed preservation files and as smaller digital access files which can be accessed by a variety of users. This upgrade will enable me to deal with much larger file formats that our current workflow allows for and I will also be able to undertake more sophisticated and extensive restoration projects.”


Manus McManus

Manus McManus, Senior Collections Officer: “I oversee the technical and preservation management of the Archive collections, liaise with film depositors and post-production facilities, and support the Head of the Archive in developing and implementing Archive strategy, policy and procedures. I will be assisting in adapting and expanding our collections-management policy to embrace the Archive’s new digital assets.”



Anita Ní Nualláin

Anita Ní Nualláin, Archive Assistant: “I am currently registering and cataloguing one of the largest non-professional collections in the Archive. I also check the condition of film material going out to and returning from screenings, and performs audits of at-risk material in the collections.”


Eilís Ní Raghallaigh

Eilís Ní Raghallaigh, Library Assistant: “As a library assistant in the IFI Irish Film Archive’s Tiernan MacBride Library, as well as supporting the librarian in the delivery of the library service, I am updating the library’s clippings archive and write a monthly library blog.


Eoin O'Donohoe

Eoin O’Donohoe, Acquisitions/Compliance Assistant: “I assist with the incoming Irish Film Board and Broadcasting Authority of Ireland collections, mostly dealing with digital video tape. A large part of the role is carrying out condition assessment of the material to ensure that only the best quality tapes enter into the archive. Following the accession and cataloguing process, the material finds a permanent home on the shelves in the vault.”


Kieran O'Leary

Kieran O’Leary, Collections & Access Assistant: “I help to facilitate access to the archive’s holdings. The digital refurb will allow greater access to the collections, both within the building and off-site, as well as adding an extra dimension of preservation.”


Fiona Rigney

Fiona Rigney, Librarian and Document Archivist: “As the Librarian and Document Archivist I am responsible for the care of our Special collections and library. I also provide access and research assistance to everyone who uses the library and paper archive.   The Library holds one of the largest collections of film related publications in Ireland and the document collections provide contextual information on the production and history of Irish film, the Irish film industry, and film exhibition in Ireland; they consist of press clippings, filmmakers’ correspondence, production notes, images and posters.  All our collections are available to the public, for more information on our collections and our opening hours please visit the Library page”.

Learn more about the IFI Irish Film Archive and visit our website.

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