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MIDAS contributes to MEDIA Plus

The MEDIA Plus Programme of the European Union aims at strenghtening the competitiveness of the European audiovisual industry with a series support measures: MEDIA co-finances training initiatives for audiovisual industry professionals, the development of production projects (feature films, television drama, documentaries, animation and new media), cinematographic festivals, as well as the distribution and promotion of European audiovisual works.

MIDAS has a huge potential for community building, since it foresees the launch of a networked database gathering in its pilot phase content from four European archives. This should be considered the core for the development of larger scale initiatives involving a growing number of film archives and other institutions or companies.

MIDAS should in principle contribute to the economic dynamic of a specific sector of the audiovisual industry accounting for huge resources that have a special historic and cultural value. In this respect, the valorisation, accessibility and potential exposure to market of content held by the European film archives constitutes a significant action in the promotion of European cultural heritage and the valorisation of its linguistic and cultural diversity.

The project should ideally enhance the exposure of content which is often unknown and in any case under-use. This should foster a virtuous dynamic by which business (and therefore competitiveness of companies and organisations operating in the sector) is encouraged. Shortly, the activities to be carried out by MIDAS lay the ground for:

  • Recovery of information and material on valuable content
  • Exposure of unknown/unused content to market
  • Testing of market conditions and reactions on a set of content which works as a demonstrator of market potentialities of the film archives’ sector
  • Inclusion of content into a European dimension market, thus contributing to enhance the potential of usually “limited potential” content
  • Lowering the technical barriers to content valorisation

All these aspects converge towards a series of specific objectives of the networked database priority, such as improving the general conditions of access to a relevant part of European audiovisual content, encourage the uptake of cost-effective new technologies by a wide part of audiovisual content actors in Europe, support the digitisation and categorisation processes within the European film archives, so as to broaden the critical mass of accessible content. Organise content in such a way that it can be more easily distributed through innovative and efficient technological and business models.

More specifically MIDAS constitutes relevant initiative on at least two main points of the Media Plus programme:

a) Enhancement of European cultural heritage, with a special emphasis on the diversity of languages and cultures.

b) Giving the “ancient film” sector the means to appreciate market opportunities and therefore to launch the right tools to bring the film archives into a more dynamic business dimension.

Though this business dimension impact can, in a first phase, be foreseen essentially in the area of archival material, MIDAS as a system, has potential to either link up to other platforms, or to become the gateway of an enlarged content exposure and distribution system.

From this point of view, the European character of the action is an essential condition for success. The project is being led by the German Film Archive, with the active participation, already in the pilot phase, of three more European archives (from the UK, Czech Republic and Italy), which will give the basis to test multilingual access, standardisation and business modelling aspects in very diversified technical and market conditions.

More than that, the project clearly foresees in its work-plan a series of activities meant to seed the ground for future developments in a sustainable way. Activities associated with business models testing are tightly interconnected with the design of a sustainability plan likely to be expanded in the years to come to a growing number of archives and cultural institutions or companies. This can only by achieved by starting the action with a critical mass of resources and content, as proposed in the project.

From a technical point of view the approach is oriented to lower technological barriers to adoption of the system, combining existing technologies and linking the work being carried out in MIDAS with standardisation activities. This should contribute to make the system as easily adoptable as possible at European level.

It goes without saying that the objective of endowing the community of European film archives with a shared gateway to content information and access constitutes a pivotal phase to the achievement of a European dimension market for still largely underused cultural resources. This is particularly true of that part of European heritage belonging to small linguistic markets, for which the relative cost of content exposure is comparatively higher than in other countries where the linguistic infrastructure can rely on a more scalable economic dimension.

MIDAS also contributes (as an indirect impact) to the more general objective of the programme to improve the conditions for distributing and promoting European cinematographic works, as a consequence of increased exposure of content and of potentially longer circulation of content on the marketplace.