M&M: Me & Myself, Tracing documentary history in AV-collections
How to reconstruct the emergence of a particular genre in a large dataset of audiovisual material? This research explored Dutch documentaries using the MediaSuite, to trace a transformation from the traditional objective documentary towards one with an appreciation for a more subjective style.
In order to trace a transformation from the traditional objective documentary as fair and fact minded towards one with an appreciation for a more personal and subjective style, the ‘M&M’- team aimed to explore in the archives of the Netherland Institute for Sound and Vision a large corpus of Dutch documentaries that were produced for public broadcast in the period of 1960-1990. The research team experimented with and tested the search functionalities and more important, the suitability of a web based video annotation tool for media historical research within the CLARIAH infrastructure and the MediaSuite in particular.
The video annotation tool enables a user to segment a digital moving image file and add annotations (metadata) to these time-coded segments. The main discovery of this research was not so much about the historical transformation but more about the appropriate methodology: using video annotation needs a specific choice about what precisely can be a unit of analysis in a complex genre like first person documentary. This experiment learned us how to improve our research strategy, and in addition, it helped us to understand how to use and improve the video annotation tool.