The BBC Archive: Making the Most of a Public Resource

Dirk Willem van Gulik, Chief Technical Architect of the BBC recently discussed the company's multiple uses of the BBC's archive. He writes, "It is an enormous collection of building blocks for creativity , and it has been used for many years by programme makers inside and outside the BBC to provide inspiration and material. For some time now I’ve been part of the team driving a move to digital storage and distribution for the archive, and I can see clearly that this creates entirely new opportunities for making the BBC’s history more widely available – where we have the rights to do so – as well as new ways to use it for public benefit."

He explains, "If you want to make something new then you don’t want access to finished, polished and shrink wrapped DVDs. Instead you want the gory details, the scripts, the original notes or score of some music, unique clips never used. You want basic building materials; the sound of a train passing, an aerial shot of the Pen-y-fan, a shot of a late 19th century gas light being lit. You want the raw building blocks, and as more and more artists get comfortable with digital technology offering the ability to merge footage and to recreate scenes in 3D, this need only increases."

van Gulik goes on, "Today the BBC supplies raw materials like these to anyone in the industry through Motion Gallery, which works well for large professional outfits who are primarily focused on creating what those working in the broadcasting world call 'linear content' - traditional TV consisting of a single piece of continuous video played to large well defined audiences. Digital technology and the Internet is changing that."

Read more here.