Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Out and About

One of the drawbacks of teaching something like digitisation at University level, is that although you tend to be able to keep up with the theory and the recommendations, you dont really have time to get involved with projects yourself, or to see how things are still progressing in the real world very often. I suspect this is a problem common to most lecturers, and its important to, now and then, see how "those who can do" are doing things.

Yesterday, I was really lucky to be given a behind the scenes tour of the digitisation workflow at the National Gallery, London. Colin White, from the photography department, spent some time showing me around the various studios, archive, offices, and talking through the process of capturing and disseminating digital images of the collection.

Interesting insights? The emphasis on consistency of the images - rigourously benchmarked and checked - and the close relationships between the digitisation team, the print on demand service, and those developing new and novel ways to explore and examine the collection. It was also interesting to see how many dedicated staff there were looking after the relatively concise collection - making sure things were done properly, for posterity. I have to say, of all the projects I've seen round, they are really taking on board issues of workflow and quality and grappling with the issues of image veracity that we all are in this digital age. It was a really useful day for me, and thanks to the team for showing me round.

Now I'm looking forward to the redesign of their webpage, which should be happening later next year!


Simon Mahony said...

I've been to the NG on a couple of Simon T's Digital Futures conferences. It's always the high point (for me!).
One point that was well made on my first trip was exactly that. They have the print on demand service and the customers can check the accuracy of the colour etc against the original! They have no margin for error. The colour has to be right.
Nothing like pressure!

I also liked their storage archive: flood proof, fire proof, etc etc etc

Melissa said...

Yes, I have to say I was totally impressed. They gave me the top to bottom tour, and it was a real eye opener at how *it is possible to do these things well* - after we bang on so much about best practice, its good to see such a large institution who are actually getting on with digitisation, and innovating as they go.