Digitising the ACMI Collection

Preserving our cinematic treasures

Ever wondered what a trip down the Great Ocean Road was like in the 1940s?

This is just one example of the kind of films we have in our collection.

How about a keyboarding tutorial from the 80s, complete with ancient equipment and big hair? Yep. We've got that too.

Our collection has been the focus of a special project and a hive of behind-the-scenes activity recently. Since August 2016 when our digitisation project began, we've made great progress preserving many of the cinematic treasures we're custodians of. With the many thousands of film, DVD and VHS titles having been collected since 1946, some of these deteriorating formats need attention to enable them to be available for future generations.

After conducting a significance and rarity assessment, we’ve been able to identify items that are either culturally or physically worthy of long-term preservation but also of interest to a contemporary audience. With the help of new equipment and our whip-smart staff, we've now digitised and preserved 300 titles.

With a large swathe of home movies donated to us in the past few years, we've been paying particular attention to preserving these slices of the recent past – not just for historians, but because they're educational and entertaining. Making this material accessible online is a major part of sharing stories that otherwise might be forgotten and we've been grateful to all the donors who've given us the rights to use the material.

Alongside the physical care and preservation taking place, we have also been working on the appropriate Licensing. Our aim is to allow broader access to the titles we have in our care and going digital is part of that. Online access for some of the ‘gems’ of the Collection has commenced with a number of titles available via our YouTube channel.

16mm film

We have been looking at Victorian Government-produced works on film format, and looking at those titles for which we have only a single copy. Additionally, we have digitised a number of 16mm (and smaller gauge) home movie collections that document life in Victoria over a period of 4 decades.

VHS tape

One of our main collaborators, the NFSA recently published Deadline 2025, promoting awareness of the loss of material stored on this format. As a result, we have also been working on preserving titles that are rare VHS items, with a similar focus on Victorian Government-produced titles.

Digital tape

Since the late 1990s collection materials have also be acquired and preserved on digital broadcast quality tape. For example, Digital Betacam tapes, even though digital, still sit on a shelf and we are looking to make access copies of some of these items as well.

Future access to the ACMI Collection beyond the physical boundaries of the museum is also one of the impetuses for the project. With the recent release of the data-set for the majority of the collection holdings future international collaborations are more possible. The project has a limited duration but the outcomes will be far reaching into the future.

ACMI Collections Film Reel
ACMI Collections Restoration
ACMI Collections Archive

Find out more about the ACMI Collection or view titles from our archive in the Australian Mediatheque

Donate to the ACMI Collection to preserve our shared past.