Preserving the Imperial War Museums'
First World War footage

October 2012: BBC Studios and Post Production’s Digital Media Services team has been chosen to digitise and future-proof a substantial proportion of IWM’s (Imperial War Museums’) collection of First World War film footage. The project was commissioned in preparation for the centenary anniversary of World War One in 2014 and will be completed by the end of 2013. Part of the European Film Gateway (EFG) 1914 project and co-funded by the Community programme ICT-PSP. IWM’s collection is one of the oldest and largest in the world, comprising over 250 hours of material.

The age of the films and their historic prominence mean the black and white 35mm reels have to be handled with extreme care. BBC Studios and Post Production’s Digital Media Services team are cleaning and preparing the film before scanning it to DPX files. The files will be re-framed and graded where necessary, while ensuring the essence of the material is maintained in the digitisation.

Image from Imperial War Museum Footage

By digitising its content, IWM is making its collection available worldwide via its Collections Search facility. The portal will enable public access to a searchable extensive archive, something that has never previously been available. As BBC Studios and Post Production’s Digital Media Services team delivers each film, IWM will also be able to monetise its content through making the films available on their IWM Film Sales Site.

IWM plans to mark the centenary by leading a vibrant, four-year programme of cultural activities across the country –a highlight of which is the opening of brand new First World War galleries at IWM London in 2014.

Jane Fish, acting senior curator of the Film Archive, IWM, said: “We are delighted to be working with BBC Studios and Post Production on the digitisation of our First World War collection. The outcome of our working relationship will ensure this unique collection is made accessible to the widest possible audience in time for the Centenary of the First World War in 2014 and at the same time provide the highest quality digital copies for generations to come.”

Clive Hodge, head of digital media services at BBC Studios and Post Production, added: “We’re honoured to have won the digitisation contract for this historically important content. By digitising IWM’s extensive archive we’re future-proofing it for generations to come, and that’s something we’re very proud to be a part of.”

BBC Studios and Post Production’s Digital Media Services team is highly experienced in handling and transferring delicate film, having recently completed digital restoration projects for Screen Heritage UK and Film London and the content owners of the Trumptonshire Trilogy.

EFG1914, coordinated by Deutsches Filminstitut, will digitise up to 650 hours of film from and about World War I, and make the digitised film collections available on the Internet through the EFG Portal ( and the European digital library Europeana ( For more information about EFG1914 and the complete list of participating institutions visit

Co-funded by the Community programme ICT-PSP.

About Imperial War Museums

IWM (Imperial War Museums)tell the story of people who have lived, fought and died in conflicts involving Britain and the Commonwealth since the First World War.

Our unique Collections, made up of the everyday and the exceptional, reveal stories of people, places, ideas and events. Using these, we tell vivid personal stories and create powerful physical experiences across our five museums that reflect the realities of war as both a destructive and creative force. We challenge people to look at conflict from different perspectives, enriching their understanding of the causes, course and consequences of war and its impact on people’s lives.

IWM’s five branches are IWM London, IWM’s flagship branch with six floors of exhibitions and displays; IWM North, housed in an iconic award-winning building designed by Daniel Libeskind; IWM Duxford, a world renowned aviation museum and Britain’s best preserved wartime airfield; Churchill War Rooms, housed in Churchill’s secret headquarters below Whitehall; and the Second World War cruiser HMS Belfast.

About First World War Centenary

2014 – 2018 marks the centenary of the First World War, a landmark anniversary for Britain and the world. IWM will mark the centenary by leading a vibrant, four year programme of cultural activities across the country, including the opening of brand new First World War galleries at IWM London in 2014. For more information visit

About IWM Film Archive – First World War collection

IWM Film Archive is one of the oldest film archives in the world. The core of the First World War film collection is official British material transferred to the IWM in the early post-war years – films of the campaigns in Palestine, Mesopotamia and Salonika in addition to films of the Western Front. The collection includes The Battle of the Somme 1916, listed in the UNESCO “Memory of the World Register”.

The collection also includes material of the British home front, the contribution of women to the war effort, the activities of the Royal Navy, RFC and RAF and the campaign on the Italian Front as well as cartoons and propaganda films.

For more information contact IWM’s film archive on

Red Lorry Yellow Lorry

Tel:020 7403 8878