Photo: Sebastiaan ter Burg, CC-BY-2.0
Audiovisual documents are temporal and - unlike books and magazines - not perceptible without a tool; a movie table, a video recorder or a media player. To quickly get an idea of the course and content of an audiovisual product, metadata is required. This creates search entries to the form and content of the document. The digital age caused forms of access to expand: audiovisual documents are not only accessed via descriptive data, but also via the automatic indexing of text, image and sound elements as part of the document itself, or via (audio) visual previews, key frames or highlights. Access therefore concerns traditional online access via search portals, but also alternative forms of access, for example links with external data, collections or infrastructures.
For the management of larger collections, special collection management software is often used. All information about the collections, their parts and their status is then kept in one system. This greatly facilitates the systematic management and maintenance of a large audiovisual collection. The storage, unlocking and distribution of digital collections in a production and archive environment is called media asset management. This concept encompasses the entirety of methods and techniques for monitoring, recording, managing and authenticating digital materials and their different versions.
Searching is a central concept within access. Or rather: offering relevant content to users within a specific context, the so-called usage scenario. The traditional search using a search bar and keywords is part of a larger whole here. The main question is how to let users find what they are looking for, even if they themselves don’t know exactly yet. Serendipity is a common term for this. If you allow a user to browse through collections, you increase the chance that he will find content of interest that he, until then, didn’t know about and wasn’t specifically looking for.
The encounter with interesting data, not through browsing, but through automatic analysis of large amounts of data (Big Data), we know from other domains. For example, by linking data from different databases. Due to the increasing volumes of archives, the phenomenon is also entering the audiovisual domain. Exposing patterns by using statistical techniques and self-learning systems can be very interesting for different groups of users.
Regarding flexible, user-focused forms of access, linking databases or even networks gains importance in the media and heritage domain. Linking databases is a complex process, especially because they all have their own character, both in terms of content and in underlying IT infrastructure. In recent years, important steps have been taken in the use of archive standards (OAI-PMH, PID, OpenSKOS), vocabularies (GTAA) and web technology (Semantic Web technology).