Friday, July 11, 2008

National Film Board of Canada Digitzing Its Collection

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB), Canada's public film producer and distributor, recently launched, a website created to showcase the Film Board's wealth of films, documentaries, animated shorts, trailers, news clips, and other productions found in its 70 year old vaults.

According to the website, whose "mission is to make these films accessible to all Canadians," there are so far 300 full-length films and clips digitized and ready to view on the website. Furthermore, intends on adding more films every week. The website explains that this "project was facilitated by Canadian Culture Online, which has been helping us [NFB] to digitize our film collection since 2001."

Although the website is currently in proverbial Web 2.0 beta, the website nonetheless has some very promising and impressive Web 2.0 features. Besides offering high-quality streaming video, in addition to a robust hardware and software set-up (details here), the website has these notable user-centric features:

  • Browse documentaries and animated films or search them by keyword search;

  • Film selection is accompanied by a related films column (similar to YouTube) and a descriptive note by a Film Board curator, if available;

  • Favorite films can be given a thumbs up (recommended) and shared with the social Web via such popular tools as delicious, Digg, StumbleUpon, or FaceBook, or be embedded in one's website or blog, or shared by email;

  • Viewing history panel is available resembling a roll of film (some work could be done on this);

  • Three RSS feeds;

  • News blog updating site additons and changes.

The website looks and feels very good. The black background color invokes a movie theater, highlighting the films. The website's main navigation is clean and simple with four primary categories. As the user drills down, more navigation choices emerge but thankfully remain simple on all levels. A reasonably rugged search engine is available, though I found browsing for films more successful and rewarding. Speaking of browsing, the labels attributed to the four categories are intuitive, though I would recommend replacing "Explore All Films" with "Browse All Films."

Overall, this is a very slick web production, one that Canadians should be proud of - and the rest of the world can thoroughly enjoy.

You think you know Canada, eh? Well spend a few minutes (or hours) here and you'll learn something new. Guaranteed.


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