Moving image databases and video streaming

As use of media on physical formats decreases, replaced by online media, with many libraries re-assessing their collections in disc and tape form, we have a look at video databases and streaming in learning and teaching. Earlier this year, the BUFVC launched an upgraded version of Bob (Box of Broadcasts) National, its subscription database of TV and radio recordings for UK higher and further education institutions (under the ERA+ Licence). The service allows staff and students to record any programme from more than 60 channels and to watch online (‘stream’) more than 1 million programmes already recorded. Among its improved features are the addition of all BBC TV and radio content from 2007, over 10 foreign language channels, an extended 30 day recording buffer, improved navigation, searchable transcripts and Apple iOS compatibility.

Most TV broadcasters also offer their own on-demand services (BBC iPlayer, 4oD, ITV Player, etc.), free but often with restrictions on access (e.g. 7 day archive only) and use. In recent years, commercial online on-demand services have become very common, taking advantage of expanding broadband infrastructure and ‘cloud’ storage, and responding to changes in TV and film viewing habits. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Blinkbox, Now TV, etc. are among these providers, with a number of subscription and rental charge based models. iTunes, and specialist services like Curzon on Demand, are also competing in this consumer market.


Also in January 2014, the British Film Institute (BFI) launched phase 2 of its video on-demand service, BFI Player. Currently it offers access to hundreds of new films as well as classics and other material from the BFI National Archive, with rental charges for most titles. The BFI plans to digitise and make available 10,000 films from its collections over the next 5 years. Other BFI services providing access to online video include Screenonline, a database of information (and clips) on British film and TV history, BFI InView, a collection of more than 2,000 documentaries for use in academic institutions, and Colonial Film: Moving images of the British Empire, a resource listing some 6,000 films made in former British colonies, of which over 150 films are available for viewing. Your Film Archives, the joint catalogue of regional film archives and the BFI, also gives access to online video from these collections.

The BFI makes digitised content available via its YouTube channel. Although much of the material in online moving image ‘sharing’ websites is highly problematic (copyright, ratings, etc.), these resources are still worth exploring from an educational use perspective, with many YouTube and Vimeo channels offering high quality content from legitimate sources.

BFI Player
BFI Collections Search
BFI InView
Colonial Film
Your Film Archives

There is a wide range of free or non-commercial online moving image databases, from the specialist (Lux Online) to the collection of collections (Internet Archive; Open Culture). Among those of interest for academic use are:

BDV (Bureau des videos)

Black and White Movies

Electronic Arts Intermix


Heure Exquise!

Indie Movies Online

Internet Archive: Moving Image Archive

Lux Online

Open Culture

Raro Video

Snag Films

Top Documentary Films

UbuWeb Film & Video

Multimedia & Technology Reviews
The first issue (April 2014) of the new bi-monthly ARLIS/NA Multimedia & Technology Reviews is now available on the website of our sister organization. Complementing the long-running ARLIS/NA Reviews, this new title, co-edited by Hannah Bennett, Emilee Mathews and Elizabeth Schaub seeks to cover new digital and multimedia resources, software and applications relevant to the documentation of art. The TOC of this issue includes: Art Authority iPad App; “Ekümenopolis ‘Ucu Olmayan Sehir’”(City without Limits); The Getty’s Open Content Program; Guide on the Side; Museopunks Podcast; Open Culture; Pevsner’s Architectural Glossary App; post: Notes on Modern and Contemporary Art around the Globe; Rauschenberg Research Project; SAH Archipedia; RISS Review: Smarthistory; Women’s Wear Daily Archive. We wish them a successful future full of reviews.

ARLIS/NA Multimedia & Technology Reviews


[Grandal Montero, G. (2014) Resources online: Moving image databases and video streaming. ARLIS News-sheet, no. 229, May-June, pp. 3-4.]


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