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Making the most of EUscreenXL content: Curating the Video Collections

Following the Content in Motion: Curating Europe’s audio-visual Heritage conference which took place on the 3rd and 4th December in Warsaw, Poland, it seems a good moment to reflect on some of the curation work undertaken on the EUscreenXL project.

The objectives of EUscreenXL are to offer a freely available ‘core collection’ of moving image material – hoped to be some 60,000 items by the end of the project in March 2016 – and also to aggregate material to Europeana, the principal online location for Europe’s cultural heritage. Over 500,000 items of EUscreenXL content can now to found via Europeana.

The conference drew attention to ongoing work across Europe and North America to make audio-visual heritage more accessible and highlighted the importance of curating content as well as making it more available. As well as developing tools for users to engage more fully with EuscreenXL content, the project has also explored new ways in which to present and curate material from the EuscreenXL portal. Since February 2015, a series of blog posts and video collections have been featured on the EUscreen blog to draw attention to the diversity of the material on the portal.

These video collections have showcased music with its collections on Jazz, focused on significant events such as International Women’s Day and World Day for Audiovisual heritage. They have also explored various European celebrations, European Film Festivals, and European Theatre – as well as featuring more lighthearted material such as the collections on Furry Friends and Motorsport and Vintage Cars.

All of this curatorial work has been made possible due to the range of material available on the online portal. The process of creating a video collection involves identifying a topic and then contacting the EUscreenXL project partners and asking them to recommend material on this particular topic.

It may be challenging for partners to identify any suitable material from their own collections, as they may have very little on a particular topic. Other partners may have the opposite problem – far too much to choose from. Sometimes the content suggested is interesting but does not fit in with the idea behind the video collection. But the EUscreenXL content partners know their own material the best and their expertise is crucial in helping us identify material that will appeal to a range of users and audiences.

Once a collection of content has been identified, the next stage of the work is to place the content so that it creates some kind of easy to follow narrative. Some collections lend themselves to different approaches – for example the collection for International Women’s Day lent itself to an exploration of women’s rights in different European countries and how these were captured on television. With the collection on Motorsport and Vintage Cars there were historical clips as well as more contemporary clips about the science of motor racing. The majority of the footage in this instance was historical but drew on different kinds of races, for example racing on ice in 1920s Denmark, female rally events and vintage motorcycles.

Without a clear structure, the curated video collection risks being simply a collection of clips and sometimes it can be hard to see how these relate to each other. The purpose of the collections is to find appealing topics and to draw on the wide range of material on the EUscreenXL portal to do so. The material selected for the video collections is simply a selection – there is always plenty more to be explored.

Curating online content is never easy and means making assumptions about what users want to see online. In selecting a broad range of topics and trying to post a collection every 6 weeks, we hope to remind our users of the fabulous EUscreen content which can be found on the portal, as well as the range and diversity of the entire collection.

To celebrate many of the great projects and ideas presented at the Warsaw conference, why not explore some of these curated video collection and see what you find? And look out for new collections which will be coming soon in 2016!

All That Jazz

Film Festivals of Europe

Motorsport and Vintage Cars


European Celebrations

Women’s Rights in Europe

European Theatre

World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

Faithful and Furry Friends