Reel Adventures

The Austrian Film Museum has an extensive collection of films which were shot by private individuals between the 1920s and 1990s, preserving their lives and everyday surroundings on analog film. These film documents represent a unique source for contemporary history and everyday culture that has until now only been unlocked scientifically, historically, and thematically. Amateur filmmakers look differently at the places in which they live and move, they offer new perspectives on historical events and provide a glimpse into Vienna's everyday culture in the 20th century.
How would the way amateur films are used as "living documents" of everyday history change if we were to employ technologies that can tag and describe films down to the second and expand them with contextual materials such as letters, photographs, oral history interviews, and geodata? What ethical questions arise if visual documents that were never meant to be projected for a wide audience are used in this way? And how does the way we handle contemporary documents change when not only human but also non-human actors (AI) take part in film analysis and curatorial work? To answer these questions, the Austrian Film Museum and its partners in an array of technological fields would like to employ innovative technologies such as automated machine analysis, time-based annotation and geo-annotation as well as state of the art meta data standards for amateur films. The goal of the project is to establish the world’s leading best practice guidelines and technical solutions that will provide a wide array of social groups access to "everyday adventures."
With our project, we would like to demonstrate how digital technologies can innovate the indexing, curation, representation, and transmission of these unique film documents. The Austrian Film Museum will be the world's first museum to offer film documents in such a way so that they can be experienced in relation to places, historical events, technical and social developments, and the personal lives of the amateur filmmakers. Using high resolution digitization, automatic analysis via AI, manual annotations, and "generous," attractive web interfaces, users can view films, search them according to place, people, subject matter and events, discover interconnections, and save their search results without special knowledge or visiting the museum itself.

Our Goal

  • A user-friendly, accessible online platform providing diverse target groups access to amateur films from and about Vienna and allowing complex search operations in an intuitive and user-friendly manner.
  • 200 digitized, annotated amateur films will be available on a playlist, in their original lengths and free of charge. They will be enriched by a selection of contextual materials including written documents, photos, and interviews.
  • The films are intended to be automatically analyzed and manually enriched (annotated) with information by the website's editors.
  • Alongside the films, the history, aesthetics and practice of private film production will be given a curatorial framework. A central element here are the biographies of the amateurs, which will presented in "exemplary editions" on the platform.
  • A backend built on open-source architecture developed for the project "Visual History of the Holocaust".
  • An attractive frontend offering a user experience geared towards a (non-professional) public without specialized IT skills.

Project Leaders
Michael Loebenstein, Stefanie Zingl (Austrian Film Museum)

Project Partners
max.recall (Vienna) and the Computer Vision Lab (CVL) of the Vienna University of Technology

Project Timeframe
January 2023 to December 2024

Financial Support
Funding provided by the Vienna Business Agency, an endowment fund of the City of Vienna

Wirtschaftsagentur Wien
Michael Loebenstein

Stefanie Zingl