Supporting the Maison Européenne de la Photographie Video Collection Digitalization Project

Project location: FRANCE, Paris
Project start date: March 2010 - Project end date: January 2011
Project number: 2010-09
Beneficiary: Maison Européenne de la Photographie

Located in the heart of Paris, the Maison Européenne de la Photographie is devoted to the conservation and presentation of contemporary photography. It includes large exhibition areas, a specialized library/video collection, an auditorium, and a large collection of original prints.
As a museum of photography, it offers the general public the opportunity to access the three principal photographic distribution media: exhibition prints, books and films.

The video collection, which includes over 1,000 films, makes it possible to show documentaries or fictional films relating to photography, either made by photographers or focusing on their work.
Consultation of these films is possible either individually, using viewing devices located in the library/video library or in the auditorium, on a cinema screen, as part of the MEP film schedule coinciding with current exhibitions.

The video collection, begun in the early 1990s, includes:
1) Monographic documentaries on photographers or artists related to photography, shedding light on their work (eg Henri Cartier Bresson, Gilbert & George, Nan Goldin, Andreas Gursky, Horst P. Horst, Helmut Newton, Martin Parr, Irving Penn, Markus Raetz, Cindy Sherman, Jeff Wall, and also Daguerre, Félix Nadar, Walker Evans, Alexandr Rodtchenko, André Kertesz, etc) ;
2) Films made by photographers (documentaries and fiction): for example the MEP has some or all of the films made by William Klein, Johann Van der Keuken, Robert Franck, Raymond Depardon, Alain Fleischer, Larry Clark, and Chris Marker;
3) Documentaries on photography and its history: for example Histoire de voir, Veillée d'armes (Marcel Ophuls);
4) Series on photography: ‘Contacts', ‘Une minute pour une image', ‘Chambre noire', etc ;
5) Filmed interviews with photographers, historians or curators, some of them made and/or produced by the MEP.

This collection is constantly augmented, either when exhibitions are scheduled at the MEP, or when important films are released. It includes over 1,000 films with an average length of 26 minutes. It is inventoried and indexed so that the public can access it simply and efficiently.
Film distribution rights are generally negotiated for a period of ten years.

Current technical issues:
The collection is kept on S-VHS cassettes, which are an obsolete medium. The video cassette players used are controlled manually by users. It is thus urgent to digitalize the entire collection and update the current viewing system.

It is now urgent to digitalize the collection for the following reasons:
- obsolescence of equipment and media;
- risks involved in film conservation.

The Nando Peretti Foundation has awarded a grant to achieve the goals outlined below.

The digitalization project has five components:

a) Digitalization of films (from Beta SP) :
Digitalization itself (transferring the films onto a digital medium) is the most important part of the project. Several potential specialist companies have been identified. Several of these will be consulted and we will select the one offering the best service at the most competitive price. Digitalization will take place under codec MP4H264.
b) Configuration of film library management software:
The library/video library has recently been equipped with film library management software, CADIC Intégrale, which inventories and documents the entire library and video library collection. Over the coming weeks this software will make it possible to consult the MEP book and film catalogue via Internet, which will enhance people's knowledge of the MEP collection and make it possible to carry out on-line searches. For consultation of films at the MEP, this new software includes a viewing feature for digitalized films. This means there will be no further software costs, although configuration costs will have to be met.
c) Updating individual film consultation equipment:
We will need to acquire new equipment for individual consultation of digitalized films: a new server, new consultation devices, and new network cabling.
d) Updating projection equipment in the auditorium:
Screening digitalized films on a large screen also means updating the projection equipment in the auditorium: this includes both the audio and video wiring and the computer equipment (players, editing equipment, and videoprojector).
e) Modernization of film schedule communication media:
The auditorium film schedule is currently presented in the form of posters. Digitalization of films will make it possible to present the schedule on a TFT digital screen and include excerpts from the films themselves.

The digitalization of the collection will enable:
- a better conservation of the films;
- to facilitate the viewing of the films, either individually or in the auditorium, on the cinema screen, and to considerably heighten the quality of the viewing ;
- a better recognition of the collection;
- an enlarged number of users.

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