Audio Archives

National Film Board (NFB Canada)

Person Describing Archive

Celyn Harding Jones (2010); Chelsea Obodoechina (2020)

Is this primarily a poetry audio site?

N (Video)

Sponsoring Person or Institution

National FIlm Board of Canada, Federal Government

Site URL

Site Last Updated
Date Visited


General Description of Archive

While this is a site dedicated to films, the site displays hundreds of videos online. These films are free for personal use, and subscription-based for schools and institutions. The home page has a short intro, along with 7 featured films that display in a loop with images and a short description. There is a section on the home page that is called "films" and you can view "new releases" or "trailers". Also, an Interactive section features an interactive film. There are also sections "For Educators", "NFB Store", "Free Downloads" for iPad Apps, "Playlists", "Our Websites", and "NFB Blog" which allow you to see highlighted films under each section. The toolbar at the top lets you "Explore All Films", "Playlists", "Trailers", "Interactive " and "HD". There is a basic keyword search that will show all examples of the word searched.

Description of archive history or URL

The NFB was created in 1939. In 2000, many of these films began to be digitized, and they integrated Electronic Rights Management System, which enabled the NFB to provide rights holders, authors and performers information about their works to track all related rights in the context of web publishing. In 2003, the MADIS research project was complete: it created a MPEG-7 audiovisual document indexation system to retrieve and search content cues like facial recognition, movement, voice recognition and semantic groupings. In 2009 they launched their "Online Screening Room" which allowed anyone to stream films as well as embed links in blogs and social sites. Later on that year they also launched an iPhone application and HD and 3D films to the site.

Contact information

"No contact info provided, only an email form. Norman McLaren Building
3155 Côte de Liesse Road
Montreal, Quebec, H4N 2N4

Searchable options

There is a large search bar at the top of every page, which operates as a keyword search. What is interesting is that above the text list of search results (that look like a google search), a horizontal list of films are shown, with a photo, the title, the filmmaker, the year and how long it is. There are other Browsing options: Browse by Title, director listings, playlists and keyword lists. You can also refine searches by alphabetical order, language, genre and year. Playlists are grouped by Guest playlists, NFB expert playlists and thematic playlists.

Relation from the audio to the text

As these are videos there is no transcription. However, synopses are provided to the right of the film while it is playing so that the viewer can read and watch/listen to the video at the same time.

Date/Time/Length/Context info about the audio items

Year and total time are provided for each video. Context is often provided in the Synopsis or the Point of View (written by the producer or filmmaker) located to the right of the film.

Author bios and context within literary history

None provided, except if mentioned in Synopsis or Point of View

Audio file type: streaming, download, file format, audio file compression quality (WAV, MP3, bitrate)

NFB uses FlashPlayer for their videos. There is an option to improve or downgrade the quality of the film, as well as a sharing option embedded in the play bar.

Multimedia integration (pictures, video, etc.)

The NFB site is filled with stills from their videos as icons linking to the film.

Audio playback setup (opens in Flash player, on new blank screen, etc.)

Videos play on the same screen, with the option to enlarge full screen.

Mobile access (i.e. accessible on smart phones, tablets, etc.)

The NFB offers an iPhone application which allows viewers to stream or (temporarily) download films.


Browsing is great and fun on this site, as you can search by basically any keyword as well as browse through their features. Playlists are a great way to find related films.

Discovery features (pre-made playlists; dynamic lists: lists of recent additions, featured items, related items, etc).
Interactivity and Web 2.0 features

Interactivity is quite high, as you can comment on each film in comment sections below the film, you can set up a User account and bookmarks and playlists. There are also a few interactive pages, one called TestTube, where David Suzuki talks about the environment and twitter alerts bounce around the screen (it's very strange...), Highrise: a web-documentary, GDP a documentary where you can choose which parts to watch, Label Free Zone: a interactive website for people who have intellectual disabilities, Waterlife: an online interactive exhibit about water sources.

Other notes

I thought this is a good site to look at because it is designed very well and though it uses video, its search, discoverability and interactivity features are pretty high and current with new technologies (free downloads, ipad apps, etc). They are also obviously an archive that has decided to embrace the digital media forums.