April 9-12, 2008
Montréal, Québec, Canada

Demonstrations: Description

Mirror Mirror... Looking back through the eyes of the CFPL news camera

Scott Barrie, Archives of Ontario, Canada

In 2002, the people of Ontario became the fortunate recipients of a time capsule vividly illustrating life in the province during the 1950s and 1960s when London television station CFPL generously donated 2,700 reels of news film to the Archives of Ontario.

The donation was comprised of their entire news output from November 28, 1953 to December 31, 1968 and contains a stunning portrait of Ontario during the post World War II era; a portrait that includes such diverse stories as the construction of highway 401 and interviews with Louis (Sachmo) Armstrong and Eleanor Roosevelt; a portrait that contrasts the daily life of ordinary Ontarians attending county fairs with stories involving Prime Ministers. All told, some 450 hours of unique and irreplaceable historical footage documenting social and economic changes that profoundly shaped Ontario.

To the best of our knowledge it is unprecedented for a private Canadian television station to donate its news footage to a public institution. The fact that it is such a complete collection for the time period makes it all the more unique.

In the fall of 2006, the Archives embarked on a project to make a selection of the material available online. That project resulted in an online web exhibit that was launched in June of 2007. Besides being perhaps the most challenging web project ever undertaken at the AO, it has also become one of the most successful.

The goal with the project was to present the stories as closely as possible to how they would have appeared originally. However, at the time, the stories would have been read live on-air so this presented some interesting challenges.

The majority of the material was silent black and white 16mm film and the first step involved the selection of approximately 180 stories spanning the 16-year time period. Those stories were then digitized. One of the things that makes the collection particularly unique is that the original scripts for the stories formed part of the donation. So, the scripts were read by actors and married to the visuals. Often period background music was added, as it would have been originally. Since the Archives site is bilingual, the scripts were translated and all the clips were subtitled. Finally, the clips were encoded as Flash Video Files and incorporated into a specially designed web framework.

This demonstration will present the exhibit and illustrate the process from the original donation through all the steps required to deliver it in a web environment. It will also look ahead to further projects involving CFPL footage.

Demonstration: Demonstrations - 1 [Demonstrations]

Keywords: Archives of Ontario, CFPL, Ontario, Television, History, London