The Digital Audiovision Project Created the Foundations for the Future of Slovak Audiovision

The Digital Audiovision national project focusing on the systematic digitisation and digital restoration of audiovisual works, audio and audio-visual recordings was completed on 30 November 2015. Thanks to it, two digitisation workplaces were constructed in Slovakia, the digitisation of the Slovak audiovisual heritage was initiated and the foundations for the future of Slovak audiovision in the new digital era were created.

PRESS RELEASE / 17 december 2015

The largest digitisation project in the area of audiovision in Slovakia received support from the European Union Structural Funds. The Slovak Film Institute (SFI) implemented this project in conjunction with its partner, Radio and Television of Slovakia (RTVS) from 2011. The major activities of the project included the construction of a modern SFI digitisation workplace in the basement of Cinema Lumière in Bratislava, which is equipped with state-of-the-art technologies in compliance with the current requirements of film archives and distribution channels for audiovisual works. Since it was opened in 2014, films have been digitised and digitally restored in the workplace. “We have constructed a technological and technical background over an area of 700 m2; it provides for the entire logical digitisation process from scanning audio and visual recordings up to their digital restoration. We have created the principles for the handling of digital content and the foundations for long-term archiving which were not previously present,” says digitisation expert, SFI’s quality and control manager, Peter Csordás. It is a demanding process in which the restored digital master in high definition 4K/2K and the original image scan and sound transcription are the main outputs.

Thanks to the digital audiovision project, the SFI achieved the digitisation of 1,001 cultural items; of these 600 are newsreels, 198 are animated films, 158 are documentaries and 45 are feature films. They are works from SFI collections which constitute a significant period record and the basis of the Slovak audiovisual heritage. They include, for instance, the full-length feature films Private Lives (Súkromné životy, 1990) by Dušan Hanák, A Path Across the Danube (Chodník cez Dunaj, 1989) by Miloslav Luther, Salt & Gold (Soľ nad zlato, 1982) by Martin Hollý, the short films Marked by Darkness (Poznačení tmou, 1959) by Štefan Uher, Photographing the House Dwellers (Fotografovanie obyvateľov domu, 1968) by Dušan Trančík, Exchange (Burza, 1968) by Peter Solan, Batromij’s House (Batromijov dom, 1984) by Fero Fenič, the animated films Promotion (Postup, 1968) by Viktor Kubal, Motopiano (Motoklavír, 1984) by Vladimír Pikalík and many others, in total 900 km of film material. All the digitised and restored works will be available in DCP form for cinemas.

In its completed digitisation workplace, the RTVS has digitised 60,649 cultural items. 51,799 of these are audio items with authentic folklore and folk music programmes on analogue media, literary programmes of all genres on magnetic media, historical audio documentaries and programmes, and items from the music collections, e.g. Mahuliena, Golden Maiden (Mahuliena, zlatá panna, 1957), The Twelve Months (O dvanástich mesiačikoch, 1956) or the poem Marína (1953) and The Youngster from Detva (Detvan, 1959). There are 8,850 video items, specifically newsreels, documentaries and drama programmes, e.g. An Adventure at Harvest Home (Dobrodružstvo pri obžinkoch), Death Is Called Engelchen (Smrť sa volá Engelchen), The Ballad of Seven Hanged Men (Balada o siedmich obesených), The Women’s Law (Ženský zákon), Peter and Lucia (Peter a Lucia), a documentary about Milan Rastislav Štefánik, and many others. “The audiovisual heritage has been digitised in an appropriate quality for screening in digital cinemas, in respect of the SFI, and in an appropriate quality for digital television and radio broadcasting, in respect of the RTVS. Digital cinemas, digital television and radio broadcasting are the main vehicles for making it available,” says the main project manager, Martina Polčíková.

Thanks to the Digital Audiovision project, the SFI has joined with the modern European film archives, such as the British Film Institute, Deutsches Filminstitut or the film archives in Bologna and Paris, which have the capacity to bring the film heritage to the digital cinema by means of digitisation. “I perceive digital audiovision to be a fundamental systemic project from the perspective of the Slovak Film Institute,” states the General Director of the SFI, Peter Dubecký. “We have succeeded in building a digitisation workplace at an excellent level, as confirmed by the interest expressed by neighbouring archives or production companies to digitise the image and sound in our Institute. Our objective was to build this workplace not solely for scanning and retouching but also for post-production activities, for creating repositories and a connection to the SK CINEMA information system. This is important not only with regard to the renewal and recovery of our audiovisual heritage, but it is also of great significance for making it available. I can now claim that, as a result of the support received from the Slovak Ministry of Culture and the European Commission, the SFI has acquired a workplace that will ensure the stability of Slovak cinema for many years to come, not only with regard to films copyrighted by the SFI, but also to new projects in Slovak cinema.”

The Digital Audiovision project will be maintained for five years. “The SFI has made a commitment to digitise at least a further fifty items each subsequent year. This applies to feature, documentary and animated films, as well as to newsreels,” says Peter Dubecký. “The Digital Audiovision project is regarded as a pilot project in the RTVS, which helped us significantly to initiate a good thing and we believe that future generations will also appreciate it. There remain several tens of thousands of audio and audiovisual items awaiting digitisation in the RTVS archive. We anticipate that 7,200 audio items and 950 video items a year will be digitised over the next few years,” adds the Director of the RTVS Technical Realisation Section, Andrej Doležal.

The national Digital Audiovision project is part of the Memory and Fund Institutions Development and Their National Infrastructure Restoration Strategy of the Ministry of Culture and is included in the list of national projects in the Operational Programme “Information Society” – Priority Axis 2 (OPIS PO2). Its objective was to build two specialised digitisation workplaces and to digitise at least 58,700 audiovisual cultural items, of which 1,000 film items are to be digitised by the SFI and 57,700 audio and audio-visual items by the RTVS. These parameters have already been exceeded. The SFI made use of European Union Structural Funds for covering the costs of the project. The original amount of € 24,089,940.37 was adjusted in October 2015 to € 20,883,676.22; of this € 13,221,891.76 was for the SFI and € 7,661,784.46 for the RTVS.

Contact: Simona Nôtová, SFI Press Secretary
tel.: +421 2 57 10 15 42, fax: +421 2 52 73 32 14,