Yesterday D-Day Film Archives were shared on Facebook. These film archives were of landing crafts landing troops on the beaches, of battleships firing rocket salvos at the coast, of gliders being pulled by planes, of paratroopers getting and more.
Over the years films have been preserved by transferring the footage from one film stock to another and then transferred from film to tapes. The problem with film and tape is that they are stored in a physical location that only archivists have access to. This means that if we’re curious about seeing the footage, like the footage included in this post we would have to go to the film archive and ask for permission to see this footage. Within a few hours, days or weeks we might get an answer. We would have transport costs, access costs and more.
The advantage of digital video archives accessible online is that everything is accessible within a few seconds with the right keywords. This means that a child hearing about the Second World War for the first time can do a quick search and see this footage. History, rather than being words on a page, is brought to life. It stops being an abstract subject for the mind. In this footage, we see our grandparents and our nephews and nieces see their great-grandparents.
An effort, by the international community, should be made to preserve, digitise and then make available as much of this film material as possible. The technology exists today so that, at the very least, we can have digital backups of all of this material and in the best case scenario for this material to be available for future generations to watch and study.
I have already spent 15 months as a video archivist and media asset manager and I would like to continue this line of work. I find it to be a fascinating and interesting way to learn about history. It inspires to find books that contextualise the material that I am seeing on screen. This material makes us more informed citizens of the society in which we live.