by Julian Jackson
footageMarketplace is a zesty expo held in London at the HQ of BAFTA. It’s similar to events held by Visual Connections, in that footage agencies and industry technology suppliers exhibit, while visitors network, meet old friends, and attend seminars. Last week’s event was the eighth, run annually by Robert Prior, who publishes Stock Footage and Stock Index Online, (which I write the news for).
It has evolved over the years. Last year seminars by key industry participants were added. That has become a major attraction. The panel discussion on “What Does it Take to be Successful at Footage Research?” was completely packed, and an added overflow room filled up too. The other two seminars were on Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence, which were also strongly attended.
This year several stills agencies exhibited: Ardea, Mary Evans, and TopFoto. That is, alongside suppliers like Science Photo Library, Robert Harding, who expanded their offering into footage a while ago, and companies such as Adobe Stock, who are more recent players on the scene. I take it from this that many agencies are taking on wider media content, including motion material to expand their reach. Art Library Bridgeman Footage has made a big success of its venture into film and video (see our previous article).
While the organizations present mostly come from Britain or neighboring European countries, several had made the journey from the USA, including Global ImageWorks – who have just added stills to their motion collection. Cathy Carapella, Vice President – Music & Media Clearances, said, “It was demand-led, we had acquired plenty of still photos combined with video archives, and when researchers found out about this they wanted access. So we have put 180,000 historic images online and we are adding to them regularly.”
Flora Nedelcu, Managing Partner of TopFoto (who runs the fotofringe expo) said that it was nice just to be exhibiting, without the pressure of organizing, and she was having fun talking to people. She thought that there was a whole group of potential clients she had met that didn’t cross over to fotofringe so it was a valuable event to attend.
There were 33 exhibitors in total, which is probably the full capacity of the David Lean Room. The prestigious and convenient central London location means that the organisers have no plans to move to a bigger venue: by reducing the refreshments area a bit you might accommodate one or two more tables at a squeeze, but that would be at the loss of a prime place to have private business meetings, not to mention gossip. I met Rich Remsburg, an Emmy Award-winning archival researcher based in Massachusetts who was nominated for Jane Mercer Footage Researcher of the Year Award, in the FOCAL International Awards Gala, which was to be held the next evening so Rich had come to London to participate in both events. He’s working on a documentary about Robert F Kennedy, and has just finished “Promised Land” about Elvis Presley, directed by Eugene Jarecki. The award went to Nina Krstic, for “OJ – Made in America”. However Rich found his visit valuable, “It’s always good to learn of new footage collections, and I also looked at new material at footage archives I already work with.” Rich outlined his methods and views on the industry, “I am constantly searching for new sources of material. Sometimes it’s to use immediately, sometimes it’s ten years before it becomes relevant.” He said that we were entering a new era of serious, well-made documentaries which made use of new outlets for distribution, including Netflix and Amazon, as well as theatrical distribution and online. Rich’s workflow includes downloading content, having it transferred to disk, and also, if it is still in film form, liaising with labs to get it digitized.
Important technical advances include: sprocketless film digitization from iMetafilm. Their process means that film can be digitized at a lower cost and higher speed, as well as being able to handle fragile material and metadata embedding effectively. VintageCloud took over the Steenbeck company, makers of one of the most renowned of film viewing and editing machines, and by using artificial intelligence are able to add metadata about the content of each frame automatically during the digitization process. The bottleneck in digitization for both stills and film, is the cataloging – without which it’s pointless as you can’t locate material without it. However it is expensive and very time-consuming to do this manually. AI offers a way out – it won’t completely replace human oversight but could take the donkey-work out of it, and allow researchers access to a lot of content that is languishing (not to mention deteriorating) in vaults currently.
You can view the exhibitors’ profiles here: http://footagemarketplace.com/profiles/
Robert Prior says, “The feedback from the exhibitors was outstanding – they all thought it was very well organized, with a lot of visitors – footageMarketplace has made itself a fixture in the industry calendar and we look forward to next year’s event.”