Archive films on demand

The Smith Institute analysed demand data to help the Imperial War Museum to assess the financial implications of offering a new digitisation on demand service.

The problem

The Imperial War Museum has an extensive collection of historic film material. At present, individual copies of a given film are made on request. Nowadays though technological developments mean that an on-demand digitisation programme is in principle feasible. The problem is that the film-digitisation is a resource intensive process, with limited capacity to deliver the service based on in-house expertise, so requiring some level of outsourcing initially, but fortunately the process only needs to be performed once for each film.

The solution

The Smith Institute helped the Imperial War Museum to plan for future levels of demand for archive footage.

In assessing the potential costs of such a scheme, the Imperial War Museum enlisted the help of the Smith Institute to analyse previous patterns of demand for archive footage and to project the digitisation capacity required to meet anticipated future demand. The key factor in this evaluation is the number of films which are ordered for the first time in any given time period, since subsequent orders for the same film can be fulfilled at little cost.

The Smith Institute was able to clarify the data requirements for the analysis and then estimate demand for each individual film. Investigations of the request patterns for each film meant that the distribution of the times until the first digital order were found and aggregated. This resulted in a projection for the amount of digitisation capacity required for each week of the first three years of a digitisation scheme. Finally, the results of the projection were tested against the original data, to assess the validity of modelling assumptions made.

The benefits

The analysis provided by the Smith Institute has been very valuable in planning for the future and it will guide well-informed decision making. The final report covered everything we could hope for.

David WalshHead of Preservation at the Imperial War Museum
Now Recruiting