Distant Viewing the Amateur Film Platform

Activity: Talk or presentation typesConference contribution (without a publication)Academic


This contribution aims to shine a new light on the collection of the Amateur Film Platform (https://www.amateurfilmplatform.nl/) by means of the approach of “Distant Viewing”, an innovative theoretical framework and methodology for analyzing large datasets of audio-visual sources at scale. The Amateur Film Platform is an online platform that hosts a unique collection of more than eight thousand amateur films and videos made by Dutch amateur and family filmmakers during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It was launched in 2014 by the Netherlands Institute for Sound & Vision in collaboration with various regional archives, including the City Archive Rotterdam and the Groningen Audio Visual Archive. Throughout the years, also the Frisian Film Archive, Drenthe Audio Visual Archive, Limburgs Museum and the Eye Film Museum joined the platform, which makes the collection diverse, geographically and historically (1900s-2010s). The Distant Viewing Toolkit, developed by digital humanists Taylor Arnold and Lauren Tilton since 2017, provides a means to extract, aggregate and visualize specific semantic metadata and features, such as color use, shot duration, object detection, camera movement and, possibly, the type of technological format used for recording (e.g. 9.5mm, 16mm, 8mm, Super8 film; analogue video; digital video). By means of the distant viewing approach, we aim to analyze both aesthetic and technological changes in the collections of the Amateur Film Platform over time. Besides the enrichment of the platform’s collections, this allows for testing the Distant Viewing Toolkit on digitized historical audio-visual sources and contribute, in combination with a close viewing and case studies-driven approach, to a better understanding of the historical development of amateur film- and videomaking in the Netherlands.
Period18 Nov 2022
Event titleDoing Digital Film History
Event typeConference
LocationMarburg, GermanyShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • amateur film
  • distant viewing
  • digital film history
  • film history
  • digital methods
  • computer vision
  • media history
  • Amateur Film Platform
  • interdisciplinarity
  • archives
  • cultural heritage