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Yorkshire Film Archive Case Study | Unlocking the Past

Date: December 7, 2022


A registered charity, the Yorkshire and North East Film Archives was set up in 1988. It works to collect and preserve the work of amateur and professional film- makers and holds the most astonishing moving image record of life in Yorkshire and the North East of England over the past 130 years. The charity works hard to make the resulting film collections accessible to everyone.

At the annual FOCAL International Awards ceremony, the archive recently won two prestigious awards:

Best Use of Footage in a Short Film for its work on Lost Connections, and Footage Company of the Year which they credit partly to their Imagen-powered platform.

The problem

When the Archives first spoke to Imagen, they had a variety of reasons for needing a new content management solution, not least because the manual process they used to supply content to production companies and users was resource heavy, time consuming and the team were limited in how many requests they could service.

As Archive Manager Graham Relton explains, “What we were doing prior [to using Imagen Pro] was what I would describe as ‘doing digital manually.’ That process was really time consuming. I don’t think this was uncommon for archives similar to ourselves.”

The Yorkshire and North East Film Archives also needed a robust system to maintain the high standards of managing their collections and which enabled workflows for easy access to digital assets, as well as a user-friendly web offer to ensure the public could see and enjoy the collections, one of the key parts of their charitable aims.

The solution

In October 2020, the Archives launched their new video management system – This was built and developed with Imagen, the experts in smart media asset management software solutions.

“We needed a day-to-day management system for our catalogue, but I also wanted to take the friction out of delivering content to archive producers, researchers and production companies. The quicker I can get content to an editor or filmmaker the more likely they are to use our footage in their production.” says Graham Relton.

The site is open for anyone to enjoy the film heritage of Yorkshire and the North East of England but registration is designed for broadcasters, production companies, events managers and other media professionals. Registered users can create and share their own collections and request footage for download. The system is intentionally not fully self-service: due to rights and usage, it never can be. The Archive has a whole range of content, ranging from TV collections to amateur home movies, and the relationship with the copyright owners is paramount.

As Relton points out: “A chat with one of our team can be the key to unlock more of our collections; that human connection is so important, we have an encyclopaedic knowledge of our own collections and can help find the right footage users are looking for.”

“Imagen has contributed to an increase in sales… for example, today I sent off 15 screeners to someone and it took me five minutes. I know from experience how long that would have taken me in the past… that would have been five hours’ worth of effort at least.”


Results and Benefits

“To me, [Imagen] feels like the equivalent of having another member of staff and it’s helped us to increase the access to our collections. Thanks to Imagen I can now service more requests in the same amount of time.”

“Imagen has contributed to an increase in sales” says Relton. “That has been augmented by COVID, which saw more and more production companies using archive content. I’ve been able to service their requirements when in the past I just couldn’t accommodate them all.”

“We’ve been able to do more community engagement by working with different filmmakers, artists and musicians. This is vitally important for us as a charity and a key part of our remit.”

“[Our Imagen Pro platform] makes me able to say ‘yes’ to more people and to take a few chances with content. In the past it wouldn’t have been possible.”

Finding and sending content that would have taken five hours in the past now takes five minutes.


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