Digital Archives 2024

Photo: Manuela Clemens

The summer school "Digital Archives. Data Literacy and Presentation Strategies in Audiovisual Archives" is a 5-day, practice-oriented course aimed at people working in audiovisual archives as well as at everyone else who is interested in enhancing their knowledge about digital environments and processes related to digital archives.

Date: 23 - 27 September 2024

Language: English

Number of participants: 20

Location: Filmuniversität Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF / Bundesarchiv Lichterfelde

Costs: 850 EUR* 

Early Bird before 30 April 2024: 800 EUR 

*Students receive a discount of 10% percent of the regular price.

In our third year we will emphasize machine-assisted processes, offering beginner classes in how to use widely adopted open source tools to support archival tasks: including metadata extraction, transcoding, data enrichment and file maintenance. In advanced classes, the participants are invited to bring their own examples from previous experiences to invite input from teachers and the group, and as an invitation to explore custom coding solutions. 

The ongoing process of digitalization presents film archives with the necessity of changing their workflows, strategies, and policies and of providing their staff with additional training. In order to support people and institutions with more knowledge, we decided to establish the "Digital Archives" Summer School in collaboration with Bundesarchiv as well as with support from the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF)

Registration is now open. You can register here (registration deadline: 28 July 2024).

Film archives are evolving into dynamic institutions for the creation, processing, and sharing of data. We require individuals capable of blending traditional archival expertise with an understanding of data workflows, long-term preservation, cataloging, and accessibility through innovative means.

Dr. Adelheid Heftberger
Head of the FIAF Cataloguing Commission & Deputy Head of the Film Department Bundesarchiv


September 23 2024Bundesarchiv
On Monday, we will meet at the Bundesarchiv in Lichterfelde, Berlin, to get acquainted and conduct practical sessions on our access scanners. The objective is to produce files for later use. Additionally, we will explore the IT infrastructure in place at the Bundesarchiv. Participants will have the opportunity to engage with our staff and discuss topics such as data management and long-term archiving. We will also ensure that everyone has all the necessary software installed on theircomputers.

September 24 2024: Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF
Tuesday will be dedicated to familiarizing (or reacquainting) ourselves with open-source concepts. We will discuss the use of command-line prompts across different systems (Windows, Linux), as well as FFmpeg (and its application in encoding/decoding, muxing/demuxing), FFprobe, FFplay, and filters for analysis. Additionally, we will introduce the Python language and its surrounding architecture, including Anaconda, Jupyter, as well as GitHub and RAWcooked.

September 25 2024: Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF
On Wednesday, we will explore open-source tools for extraction, such as Whisper for speech-to-text conversion (JSON or SRT format directly) and Tesseract for converting images to text and keyword search functionality. We will examine QCTools for checking file characteristics and delve into more experimental systems for detecting color and objects.

Additionally, we will focus on working with AV files, including FFmpeg creation and RAWcooked for preservation, testing reversibility, best practices for lossless FFmpeg transcoding, and creating derivatives for access playback from image sequences or video files. We will discuss codecs, resolution, and chroma subsampling/compression.

In the afternoon, groups will divide based on interests. One group will further investigate entity extraction through spaCy, entity fishing (Wikidata, Linked Data), and the use of ChatGPT for working with structured data. The other group will concentrate on DCP creation, watermarking with FFmpeg, adding subtitles, and DCP validation (ClairMeta).

September 26 2024: Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF
On the fourth day, we will further explore AV workflow automation with Python. We'll use Python to automate batch encoding/transcoding, make coding decisions based on file characteristics, validate completed processes, capture outputs from FFmpeg video filters to use within our code, and get introduced to useful filters like blackdetect, signature, and difference blend.

In the afternoon, the focus will shift to scheduling and scaling. We'll discuss APIs, cloud services like Google Cloud and AWS S3, Crontab, and other scheduling tools. We will delve into bash parallelization with GNU parallel / Python's multiprocessing, multithreading, asyncio, using environmental variables to store private or repetitive data, logging (event logging and script logging), and evaluating code efficiency. Additionally, we'll cover docker containers, multiple workers, and airflow, centralised orchestration.

September 27 2024: Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF
We will conclude our course by focusing on our community and next steps: exploring where to find interesting code resources, offering a guide to working with others' code, discussing Python and bash script checking/linting tools, highlighting community support options such as NTTW, Discord, FFmprovisor, and the use of ChatGPT as a code assistant.


Dr. Adelheid Heftberger (opens enlarged image)

Dr. Adelheid Heftberger

Dr. Adelheid Heftberger is deputy head of the Film Archive in the Bundesarchiv in Berlin. In the past, she worked as a researcher, curator, and archivist at Brandenburg Center für Media Studies in Potsdam and at the Austrian Filmmuseum in Vienna. She holds a PhD in Slavic Studies and obtained an Master degree in Comparative Literature from the universities of Innsbruck and Vienna. In 2016, she completed her M.A. of Library and Information Sciences at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. She is head of the FIAF Cataloguing & Documentation Commission and actively supports the Open Science movement.
Paul Duchesne (opens enlarged image)

Paul Duchesne

Paul Duchesne is a developer and archivist currently based at the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia, where he manages their collection systems and operations. He has previously worked extensively in film preservation and spent time at ACMI and the Technische Informationsbibliothek Open Science Lab in Hannover, specialising in Wikidata and Linked Open Data for cultural data. He is an active member of the FIAF Cataloguing and Documentation Commission, including authoring the FIAFcore ontology and contributing heavily to the forthcoming FIAF Knowledge Graph.
Joanna White (opens enlarged image)

Joanna White

Joanna White is Knowledge and Collections Developer for the British Film Institute (BFI) and an advocate for open source digital preservation software. She is primarily responsible for writing and managing code that automates workflows across the BFI National Archive, a role that involves both utilising open source tools and contributing to the open source community. Joanna is keen to work ‘in the open’ wherever possible by blogging and sharing scripts in open source GitHub repositories.

Additional Instructors

Heike Thoerner (opens enlarged image)

Heike Thoerner

Heike Thörner has many years of professional experience in the field of analog film. She is a trained negative cutter assistant, Original negative cutting in analog film 35mm and 16mm image and sound. CinePostproduktion GmbH Geyer Werke Berlin (1980-2014). Since 2019, she has been working at the Federal Archive Berlin-Lichterfelde in the Film Usage Department as a technical user consultant. Viewing work of analog film with the users at the cutting table and digitizing analogue film material and video formats on the Blackmagic Cintel scanner, as well as editing with DaVinci Resolve.
Julia Kästle (opens enlarged image)

Julia Kästle

Studied Audiovisual Media at the Stuttgart Media University. She then received her master's degree in Conservation of new media and digital Information at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart. She has been working in IT at the Federal Archives since 2022, where she is involved in the operation and further development of the film database.
Stephanie Müller (opens enlarged image)

Stephanie Müller

Stephanie Müller is a trained film and video lab technician and lives south of Berlin. She works at the Federal Archives. After her professional training, she prepared 16mm and 35mm analog film for preservation in the film restoration department. She was also able to work in b/w grader and in analog film labortory. For a year, she led the project on the condition of b/w films in the Federal Archives. She then switched to the field of analog film distribution and on-site user support. She is currently working on the BlackMagic scanner and producing digital copies for use. At the same time, she is a member of the B3F project group, which is working on the further development of the film database in the Federal Archives.

Application and Participation

The Digital Archives summer school is directed at staff members of film-related archives and all persons who would like to enhance their knowledge and skills related to digital film archives.

Participants are asked to register online using our application form. Spots are limited and will be awarded based on registration date after assessment of the application and receipt of the participation fee.

The fee covers materials, lunches, and a dinner at the end of the event. Travel and accommodation expenses as well as costs for public transportation to and from Bundesarchiv are not included and must be covered by participants. For our participants we have reserved a room contingent in nearby hotels. Please contact us if you are interested.


The International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) kindly awards scholarships that cover part or all of the participation fees. Travel and accommodation costs must be covered by the applicants themselves.

Please indicate in your application whether you are applying for a scholarship, and if so, for what reasons:

  • Why is it important for you to participate in the Digital Archives Summer School?
  • What impact will your participation in this training have on your institution or working environment?
  • Why do you need financial support?

Please submit your answers in English to summerschool(at) The application deadline for the FIAF scholarship is 31 May 2024.

If you would like to be kept regularly informed about the upcoming editions of the Digital Archive Summer School, please subscribe to our newsletter.

The Summer School "Digital Archives" is organised by the Filmuniversität Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF (Filmuni Summer School) in cooperation with the Bundesarchiv and with the support of the FIAF Cataloguing & Documentation Commission. It was conceived by Dr. Adelheid HeftbergerJürgen Keiper and Prof. Dr. Chris Wahl.