April 24, 2018

Online Databases: Scenes from a Database

By Carol Tenopir

Seen any good movies lately? Want to see pictures of your favorite actors on the set of their best-known films? Or maybe posters and lobby displays from Academy Award™–winning movies? Looking for biographies or articles about silent film directors? H.W. Wilson’s new Cinema Image Gallery (CIG), along with some other excellent resources, will help you find all of this and more.

The Kobal Collection

Available in January 2009, CIG is built around the extensive Kobal Collection image archives of the movie and television industries. The Kobal archive includes behind-the-scenes photographs of actors, directors, locations, and sets plus production stills, movie posters, and lobby art. Images include candid shots (such as a tender moment between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton on the 1960s set of Cleopatra), formal set shots (Cleopatra in full costume as depicted in film versions from the 1920s onward), publicity stills (from the red carpet for premiers and awards ceremonies), and hair or makeup studies. Posters include multiple versions per movie, such as those used domestically and abroad.

Initially, CIG will include more than 152,000 images from the earliest days of cinema to the present, covering more than 18,000 feature films and TV programs. Quarterly updates will add images from new productions. Kobal is in the business of providing individual images to clients, but no other vendor licenses this content as a database, and many of the images have never before been made publicly available.

Adding access points

Wilson has spent six months transforming the Kobal Collection into a fully functional database. Each work has a master record with searchable fields that describe the medium (film, television program, etc.), year(s) of production, major award nominations and wins (Golden Globe®, SAG, Academy Award™, etc.), names of cast and crew, and topics. All images for a movie can be viewed together in the master record, but they are also searchable separately by type of photo (portrait, red carpet, etc.) and names of people depicted.

Even better, movie and image records are linked to relevant entries in Wilson’s biography databases, articles or reviews in Wilson’s bibliographic and full-text databases, and pages in the openly available Internet Movie Database (IMDb). According to Wilson, entries in Humanities Index and Art Full Text represent most of the links, but related articles or records may come from any Wilson resource. And, surprisingly, libraries don’t have to subscribe to all the various databases to get access to this linked material—search results and the text of relevant entries from other Wilson products are viewable from directly within CIG. However, for those who do subscribe, CIG can be searched together with the other databases through the standard WilsonWeb interface.

Scripts, journals, and more

For researchers or just movie fans, CIG joins a growing collection of cinema resources. American Film Scripts Online from Alexander Street Press now includes more than 1000 major feature film scripts ranging from silents to recent hits, many of which have never been published. The collection can be searched by character name, scene, genre, author, and subject and also features facsimile images for about half the scripts.

EBSCO’s Film & Television Literature Index (and its sibling, F&TLI with Full Text) provides access to journal articles about film and television theory, preservation, writing, production, and reviews. It enhances the original Film Literature Index from the Film and Television Documentation Center at the State University of New York at Albany.

ProQuest and Ovid both offer access to the database created by the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF), under the names FIAF International Index to Film Periodicals and FIAF International FilmArchive, respectively. It indexes journal literature relevant to film or television studies and includes a directory of film and TV document collections. FIAF International Index to Film Periodicals Plus is a full-text version from ProQuest.

Add the best of the freely available movie databases such as IMDb and Allmovie.com to these subscription products to provide a wealth of resources for both serious and casual students of the cinematic arts.

All Media Guide allmovie.com
American Film Scripts Online alexanderstreet.com/products/afso.htm
Cinema Image Gallery (CIG) hwwilson.com/Databases/artcinema.htm
FIAF International FilmArchive ovid.com/site/catalog/DataBase/211.jsp
FIAF International Index fiaf.chadwyck.com/marketing/index.jsp
Film & Television Literature Index http://tinyurl.com/FilmandTVLit
Humanities Index and Art Full Text hwwilson.com/Databases/humani.htm
Internet Movie Database (IMDb) imdb.com

Author Information
Carol Tenopir (ctenopir@utk.edu) is Professor at the School of Information Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Maker Workshop
In this two-week online course, you’ll create a maker program that aligns with your budget and community needs, with personal coaching from maker experts—from libraries and beyond—May 23 & June 6, 2018.
Doubling Your Circ on a Dime
How you manage your circulation matters—to keep patrons coming back for more and to demonstrate to stakeholders just how well-used the library is in your community. Don't miss this online course led by experts who have boosted their circulation numbers in creative and sometimes unexpected ways, without denting their budgets—April 25 & May 9.