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12 Million Historic Photos Scanned to Web 148

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the little-slices-of-history dept.
Snosty writes "The Globe and Mail is reporting that British Pathe, a cinema news service dating to the 19th century, has scanned one image for every second of their 3500 hours of 35mm film. That makes for 12 million images covering everything from the Boer War to the Beatles available on their web site!"
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12 Million Historic Photos Scanned to Web

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  • Hi-Res? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Brahmastra (685988)
    Are the scans Hi-Res so that photo quality prints can be reproduce well into the future? The article seems to say they are streamlined for download over a 56K Modem. I hope there are Hi-Res versions available too
    • Yes (Score:3, Informative)

      by 3.5 stripes (578410)
      But you have to purchase them.

      I saw the site yesterday. Nice resource.
    • Quoted directly from the homepage:

      "You can also license higher resolution copies of the same items for PowerPoint Presentations and Web Publishing, or simply buy a still from the item for private use."

      Honestly, did you even read it????

    • Re:Hi-Res? (Score:3, Insightful)

      I took a couple of courses on film archiving and preservation back when I was a film school student, so I guess I have a couple of things to point out here.

      1) One would think they want to profit from licensing the hi-res images for commercial use. I don't really know if it's okay to release important images from important early films that geeks of my kind value and cherish for commercial iconographic use just per se. I understand BP's need to be financially compensated for their trouble, but at least do it
      • 2) Proper preservation must be taken in the original form. 35mm films should be transcribed to 35mm so they can be watched in original form in the future. I think nitrate must be sacrificed (even though they say it has a different glow on projeciton) and acetate used instead, but the importance of original media in film archiving is not to be understated.

        Why is this? It seems to me that by not updating the medium, you run the risk of not being able to play your preserved media because all of the players h


        • It's possible that in the future that there will be some way of recovering information from the original medium that will not be possible after the content has been copied to another medium.

          So I agree with perserving the original media.

          But it's fantastic that they are converting all this content into digital form. Digital content has several large advantages of analog media content:
          -It can be reproduced and copied quickly.
          -It can be stored in a smaller space than the original analog medi
          • It's surprising how this has even made Slashdot. I'm glad, mind you. Slashdot needs a topic diversity just a tad bit wider. I particularly think it's sad how economics is set apart when covering the Nobels and whatnotelse. Note that I'm not saying transferring to digital is not a good idea. It's great that you and me can buy those things on DVD or CD-ROM. It's great that researches and film professors can use a properly packaged and formatted DVD (as long it's done right, with the correct tint colors for o
        • The problem with copying to newer types of media (and I am speaking specifically of the case of film here) is that the newer media is often less stable and less likely to be accessible in the future. Film as we know it has been around for over a century and films from the late 1800's can still be projected. Compare that with the difficulty you would have accessing digital media like magnetic tapes or large floppy disks from not too long ago. As much as I love DVDs, I would never, ever want them considere

      • According to the site, the images must be licensed for use in presentations and the like.
    • Define "hi res" :-) . It's not so long ago that "high resolution" was 256 by 192 pixels!

      It's a very vague term which changes definition by the day. Today's high resolution is tomorrow's mobile phone screen...

      Better to keep film originals (with a resolution which can be measured in molecules, I guess) in archive than rely on any scanned version, since anything less than the original entails a loss of quality and 'resolution' :-) .

      Yes, I know this is a fairly redundant comment...
  • holy crap! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by beady (710116)
    A use for the Storage Tank [slashdot.org] perhaps
  • "That makes for 12 million images covering everything from the Boer War to the Beatles available on their web site!"

    ... the website which is not available anymore thanks to /.

    • The site's been suffering from the 'slashdot effect' since yesterday when the BBC and various other news sites announced it. Slashdot is a day behind everyone else with this story. I tried it a few hours ago and couldn't reach it then. No chance now.

      HH
  • by DrFlex (711207) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @10:25AM (#7208507)
    Here in Canada, internship salaries are partly financed by the government.

    The job of scanning 1 image of every second of 3500 hours worth of footage seems like the perfect intership.

    Starts out interesting...
    Quickly becomes boring...
    After a while you want to throw up each time you make a scan...
    Half way through you actually throw up every time you scan a second...
    When you're done, all that is left is an insensible blow of twitching flesh!
  • Does anyone know what the licences are for these pictures? I could think of a zillion cool art projects, if the pictures are available enough. ~D
  • That makes for 12 million images covering everything from the Boer War to the Beatles available on their web site!
    That makes for there server dying under the Slasdhot effect!
  • Historical benefit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BWJones (18351) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @10:26AM (#7208523) Homepage Journal
    So, the posting of photographic archives like this are crucial to historians and historical research. It is absolutely amazing how much information can be gleaned from photographs in terms of street names, individuals, automobile license plates etc... that enable one to pull out the history from bits of information surrounding the subject in photographs. Recently, I was given access to an archive of photos from my late grandfather who was in the OSS, and I am absolutely amazed at the amount of history in these photos. There are images of the meeting with Stalin, Rosevelt and Churchill, images of partisans stringing up Musolini, images of streets and individuals that I would absolutely love to spend time investigating, perhaps even getting another Ph.D. thesis out of it.

    • I recently moved to Germany and a good friend of mine invited me to go through the basement of one of her parents houses with her, part of a cleanup project, in case I found anything interesting for my new place.

      I found a box of about 200 photo's from her father, collecting dust, from when he was in the Wermacht during WW2.

      By trade, he was an architect and a fairly good one, and after the war he primarily worked on re-constructing and building new churches, so you can imagine what his b&w photo's of t
      • I am sure there are large number of cases such as these. It would be facsinating to provide a solution to this as many of these photos deteriorate over time. It seems to me that this is an ideal opportunity for some large corporation with ties to databases, information management or storage to provide a repository for images that people would like to scan in and submit so that these images are not lost to history. It would be great advertising and a good way to develop tools for the management of such re
        • Great idea. Unfortunately, I suspect that as soon as such a project got off the ground there would be a backlash from privacy advocates claiming that it was an invasion of their privacy by the CIA/FBI/KGB/Home Land Security/Microsoft/USENET Cabal/etc.

          I've clearly been in /.too long.

          Stephen

          • Don't forget the many people who wish to change history. Being a historian can sometimes land you in hot water for just that reason. Just take a look at Turkish reactions to anyone who mentions the genocide of Armenians in 1918.
            • True. There's a whole lot of revisionism goes on; somtimes with a pen, sometimes with a sword and sometimes with a broken bottle or fist.

              I'm sure that documentaries and history books in Iraq told a very different story of Western influences in Middle Eastern events and politics to those in the US and Europe. Actually, something I'm tempted to do someday is get a history book that's used in UK schools to teach the American Revolution and a book used in US schools to teach the same period to compare them.

              • I know that the shows I've seen on the History Channel (that were clearly made for US consumption) put a very different slant to what I was taught at school here in England.

                Here's a simple example:

                Is the cup half empty or half full?

                My answer to this is that it depends on what you want to emphasize. If I was thirsty, I'd say it was half empty. If I wasn't, I would probably say half full. Two historical points of view can say the same thing, but in a completely different way. You have to read between
    • That's exactly why everyone with a camera, regardless of skill or quality of equipment, should take photos of mundane objects in their neighborhood.

      -What did a fire hydrant look like 100 years ago? I don't mean a fuzzy distant image, but what was the surface like? Was their writing on it? How many close-ups of fire hydrants as they were installed 100 years ago exist?

      -What was a typical telephone pole like 100 years ago? Usually they have boxes and other things sprouting all over. These might have been dif
      • "That's exactly why everyone with a camera, regardless of skill or quality of equipment, should take photos of mundane objects in their neighborhood."

        I don't think there's going to be a shortage of mundane photographs anytime soon - especially with the fact that you can't even buy a mobile phone now without it having a camera embedded in it.

        > Was their writing on it?

        It probably was their writing, yes.

        >How many close-ups of fire hydrants as they were >installed 100 years ago exist?
        >What was a
        • You are obviously NOT the person who would be interested in these photographs. That's OK.

          But just because you can't imagine being interested in these types of photographs does not mean that there are not others who would be.
          • "You are obviously NOT the person who would be interested in these photographs. That's OK.

            But just because you can't imagine being interested in these types of photographs does not mean that there are not others who would be."

            I have to admit - your logic is impeccable.
    • Recently, I was given access to an archive of photos from my late grandfather who was in the OSS, and I am absolutely amazed at the amount of history in these photos.

      I hope you will make these photos available too. These days of Internet and ever falling storage make the cost (to you) minor, while the benefit to the world, large.

      It's never been this great before.

    • Open Source, eh? Bravo.
  • Does anyone know of any archives of historic and otherwise public-domain (IP-hassle free) images? Something that might allow sharing (contributions) from the community?

    Someone suggested Deviantart, but it appeared to be only recent artwork.
  • The first thing that came to mind as I was browsing the gallery was the classic tune "We didn't start the fire" by Billy Joel -- all that history, crammed into one exceptional website. Absolutely fantastic.

    Bravo!

    -a

  • according to Netcraft, the website runs Linux Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) Debian GNU/Linux mod_ssl/2.8.9 OpenSSL/0.9.6g

    I wonder what is the database used though.
  • by nucal (561664)
    I can only hope that they covered the Goatse image ...

    no, I mean REALLY covered it!

  • Do they have pictures of their server burning right now? ;)
  • I couldnt get on the site _before_ it was posted on slashdot, guess i'll have to wait a couple days now. I'm guessing mirrors are out of the question :)
  • cyberpantheon writes "The Globe and Mail is reporting that British Pathe was slashdotted back to the 19th century"

    -Adam
  • by worst_name_ever (633374) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @10:44AM (#7208733)
    That makes for 12 million images covering everything from the Boer War to the Beatles

    How many images will there be once they finish the rest of the alphabet?

    • 3500 hrs = 210000 min = 12,600,000 seconds


      At one picture per second, that comes out to 12.6 million pictures for the whole alphabet. My guess is that the 3500 hr estimate was a bit hight which would bring the actually number closed to 12 mil even for the whole thing.

      Oh, you were kidding!...nevermind

  • Mirror? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I would have, but my idle 10 terabyte storage farm is in the shop.
  • From the site: (Score:2, Informative)

    by RenderMonkey (569683)

    "Now you are here you can preview items from the entire 3500 hour British Pathe Film Archive which covers news, sport, social history and entertainment from 1896 to 1970.

    "You can also license higher resolution copies of the same items for PowerPoint Presentations and Web Publishing, or simply buy a still from the item for private use.

    "Requests for other rights or formats should be addressed to archive.sales@itn.co.uk Just type in what you are looking for above and within minutes you could own a little

    • "We encourage users to share Preview Files that they download with colleagues and friends around the world via e-mail. We would ask that this is not achieved by publishing Preview Files on-line. The only instance where we feel this might be appropriate is within a closed user group in an educational environment.

      "Above all we would like users to enjoy discovering the past through our wonderful archive, and would hope that in return the images downloaded are not misused in any way."

      Really specif

      • Surely this is the sort of thing /. would like to see more of?...I imagine the note about web usage is so that if some neo-Nazi twerp uses their wartime images for a site they'll have pretty solid grounds to have it pulled.

        Why would we want to see more of companies arbitrarily shutting down web sites they don't like?

        I think it's nice to see a large media company actually doing something like this and not being stuffy legalistic arses about it.

        Having a formal policy is a good thing, because then you know

      • Well, actually it is exactly what I like to see, I know that I can convert PAL to NTSC effectively and am quite happy to see these archives available. If I have a need for any of the archives in a production I know exactly where to turn, and would be willing to pay any licensing fee's. My comment above was directed specifically to the lack of any licensing information regarding the still's available from the site. These would also be highly useful in a variety ways, yet there is no concrete information rega
  • by rf0 (159958)
    Its nice to see this and hopefully it will be around for a while. I would be intrested to see what sort of technology the use for storing all this and quick recall. A nice FCA Array would be a nice starting point I suppose

    rus
  • The pictures aren't the same without the clipped middle-class British accents of the announcers. It's virtually impossible to find anyone over here who speaks like that anymore, so I suspect they were putting it on for effect ;-)
  • All that work goes up in a puff of smoke as the slashdot effect takes its deadly toll....
  • They can accomplish the same goal by streaming their videos on Windows Media or RealPlayer! They don't even have to hire anyone to do the manual labor.
  • 3500x3600=12.6 Million...

    They should refer them as 12 Mebi pictures then :P
  • In related news, Pathe has delivered an Immediate Cease And Desist letter to God, claiming prior ownership of all history and requiring that God pay a licensing fee before continuing to direct human events.

  • I went to the site with Safari and it gave me a javascript warning! Sheesh. Please. Safari has javascript. What are they looking for?

    Then it played its cheesy flash intro and stopped.

    I'd love to see the pictures, but they have to get rid of the M$ bloatware.
    • I went to the site with Safari and it gave me a javascript warning! Sheesh. Please. Safari has javascript. What are they looking for?

      Wait for the page to load, maybe? Before the whole page loads, the script doesn't execute. The site is under heavy load, so you have to be patient.

      Then it played its cheesy flash intro and stopped.

      I'd love to see the pictures, but they have to get rid of the M$ bloatware.


      Uhm, dude, Microsoft-bashing is fun, but neither javascript nor Flash are Microsoft technologies. Yo
      • Wait for the page to load, maybe? Before the whole page loads, the script doesn't execute. The site is under heavy load, so you have to be patient.

        Hey, you're right. Thanks for the tip.

        I called it micro$oft bloatware because many sites today are designed for IE only. Typically when a site tells me I don't have something I know I have, then I assume they're not checking for the right things. I've seen it before and I'll see it again, I'm sure.

        And I'm very well aware that neither javascript nor Flash

  • by Bazman (4849) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @11:35AM (#7209313) Journal
    www.archive.org has a fantastic collection of free movies, including some newsreels, all free to use and redistribute - look here [archive.org].

    The Prelinger archive there is a wonderful treasury of historical material. And the free license means you can cut n paste any of it into your own video projects.

  • by tka (548076)
    that many pictures must have somekind of effect on images.google.com. ;)

    That is ofcourse the pictures are cached to it.
  • :)

    Hehe. Hehehehehehehe.
  • Or am I supposed to print them, staple them together and make a flip book like the good ol' days?

  • Just what we needed, lots of new material for the Something Awful goons.
  • Just scanning it in doesn't renew copyright. See Bridgeman vs. Corel. Much of the older material is in the public domain. Notice that on the site, they don't mention copyright; they talk about "licensing". That's probably because making a false claim of copyright is illegal in some countries, including the US.

    If Lessig ever gets his "bulk copyright clearance" operation off the ground, this is something for them to work on.

  • their 3500 hours of 35mm film

    At 2GB/hour for DVD quality, that's only 7TB. That's not as much as it sounds like. Seriously. Your desktop today can have near 1TB for less than $1000 [slashdot.org].

    It's hard to keep up with the current reality of amazingly cheap storage by even recent historical standards.

  • Did they use a human to pick the best pic out of the 24 that second of film? Or just automate scanning to scan 1, skip 23, rinse and repeat?

    The value would be greater if they displayed 24 thumbnails on the screen and had someone click on the best one. Even some bad choices would likely not be any worse than just every 24th one.

  • The National Archives (USA) has a great collection of photos and documents online. www.archives.gov
  • I'm hoping some promising geeks are looking to find missing Doctor Who episodes here, probably to no avail.

    Right now, checking anything and everything that is British car related, although very slowly.
  • And how long did it take?

    From the article: rescanning every inch of the archive's 3,500 hours of 35mm film

    not sure how many inches of 35mm film makes one hour but I'm sure that's a lot of inches to scan.

    Leads me to wonder what scanning equipment they chose to do the job.

  • 6:23pm +10 GMT and its still not working. :(

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