The world-famous British Pathe archive is using Apple technology to adapt the first digital news resource of its kind, so that schoolchildren can download high-resolution, original footage of the Titanic, the D-Day landings or The Beatles, and use it to bring their school projects to life.
The Pathe archive is a vast collection of photographic and cinematic footage which was founded in Paris in the 1890s by moving image pioneer Charles Path. The British archive was set up in London in 1902 and now houses more than 3,500 hours of video and over 12 million still images, covering topics as diverse as politics, sport and fashion; and although most consumers and organisations have to pay a small fee to access the recently-digitised high-resolution files on the British Pathe Web site, English schools can access them for free.
Peter Fydler is director of marketing at ITN archive, which currently runs the archive. In 1998, as commercial director of British Pathe, he initiated the grand scheme of converting the entire collection into digital format. "We wanted this incredible archive to be available to as many people worldwide as possible", he explains. And now, the entire archive is being re-encoded into QuickTime format so even more people will be able to benefit from the unique historical resources therein.
In 2001, thanks to funding from the New Opportunities Fund, Peter initiated the first stage of the project, making the content available in Windows Media Player format. "QuickTime 6 is far superior", he explains, "but it wasn't released until Spring 2002. So when we started the coding in 2001, we had to go with Windows Media 8". However, when Microsoft opted out of supporting the emerging cross-platform MPEG-4 standard on which other vendors - including Apple and Real - were basing their next generation technologies, the die was cast, and Pathe turned to QuickTime.
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