Other people's films
We specialise in recording our own material rather than
exploiting existing historic films, but if you know of some
film or video footage of any format that deserves wider circulation,
we would be happy to add it to our catalogue, credited clearly
to yourself and the original producer. We would have to have
a written statement that you have the copyright of all content,
including any music, before publicising such material.
We are entirely voluntary, so unfortunately we don't have
any employment opportunities. If your interest is in I.A.
itself rather than recording work, there may be a society
near you - have a look at our links
Anyone who buys a DVD is helping I.A.Recordings, because
funds raised finance further archive recording work! You
could also help by letting us know of any sites you think
deserve a visit.
We are interested in anything with a significant historical
interest, for example, existing firms carrying on an ancient
trade like in Hand Made Bricks,
or those about to close after a long career of manufacture
as with Hand Rolling of Steel.
We also record derelict sites, especially if they are threatened
Many individuals and organisations have assisted us over
the years and we are very grateful to them. We always try
to credit those who have helped.
You are also welcome to donate to I.A.Recordings.
Let us know by e-mail to: (To
stop 'spam', this address must be typed in manually!).
We do our best to respond to such calls on merit, whether
funds are available or not.
If funding is available, we
can share copyright, so the client gets a copy of the recordings
and the client and I.A.Recordings have equal rights to
use the material. This allows us to keep any fees very
Visiting the sites
We usually give National Grid References for the sites we
record, but often they are on private land or are intrinsically
dangerous, so we can't always encourage others to visit.
Factories and mills, whether derelict or working are potentially
dangerous places. Mines are especially hazardous and no underground
exploration should be attempted without adequate training
and equipment. There are many museums which feature similar
sites in safety, including underground - have a look at our links
stands for Industrial
Special Interest Video
we invent the term? No, but we could have done, it's what
we've been doing since 1978!
I.A.Recordings shoot and edit video material using professional
and broadcast equipment and techniques. We have always taken
great care to get the best quality recordings that we could
manage. When we started and funds were even scarcer than
they are now, we took advantage of second-hand equipment
which we luckily had the skill to repair and maintain. As
tapes were sold, we frequently upgraded the equipment and
now use 1920x1080 full-HD XDCAM EX CineAlta. We have been using
1125-line High Definition equipment since February 2005 in fact.
One major consideration
is archive longevity. In the days of tape we preferred to master on Betacam
because evaporated metal tape as used by mini-DV, DVCam,
DVCPro etc. did not have a proven long shelf life. We now keep disk copies of all digital recordings and analogue footage digitised for editing,
as well as the final master.
Broadcast Standard Equipment
Does I.A.Recordings use it?
Unfortunately, the term "Broadcast
Standard" has been pretty meaningless in the UK for many
years. Broadcast producers will often use whatever equipment
they feel like, irrespective of picture quality concerns.
Many TV programmes are shot by researchers or presenters
rather than trained camera people, using wobbly DV cameras
to save money! When using tape, I.A.Recordings preferred BetaCam SP
which was the format used for prestige television drama and
documentary until it was superceded by Digital
BetaCam and then HDCam. BetaCam SP was a world standard, is still accepted by broadcasters and has a proven long tape life.
The next step
down from Digital Betacam was DVCam, which is a
beefed-up version of the domestic mini-DV handycam format.
These are used for less demanding broadcast rôles,
such as news and hidden-camera journalism, where the small
size and low cost are a great advantage. I.A.Recordings only
use small cameras when it would be impractical to take
a larger camera, such as when abseiling or climbing ladders
scores of metres down into a mine!
Our current main recording format is XDCAM EX CineAlta and we edit with a full-HD
non-linear system, so our whole workflow is HD broadcast-standard and of course four times better than SD broadcast-standard! We have shot our own footage
on 1125-line High Definition since February 2005 which gives superb results when converted to Standard Definition for DVD mastering.
members have worked in television broadcasting for
over 25 years, on a wide range of programmes from live outside
broadcasts to award-winning dramas, so we have broadcast experience as
well as broadcast equipment!
We are happy to record any industrial subject, from Aqueducts
to Zinc mines, working or derelict, but there is one area
we have deliberately neglected: Railways. Why is this? We
have nothing against them, they contributed massively to
the industrial revolution, but they have one feature that
sets them apart from other subjects; They have always been
Railways have been diligently recorded by artists, historians,
photographers and movie makers almost since they were invented!
One of the first publicly-shown movies was of a train! People
like Ivo Peters have been filming trains in superb quality
for years and there are literally thousands of enthusiasts
today photographing and videoing them. We don't really need to get
involved with railways; they are already very well served.
We are trying to bring a similar level of coverage to every
other industrial subject!
First on the web
We have had these pages on various servers with various
URLs since 1995. At that time, a Lycos search for "Industrial
Archaeology" found only our web site and two U.S. university
sites with some pages about their I.A. courses. This means
we must have been the first on the web with I.A. as the main
Video, not film
When we first started we had to decide between video and
film. Black & white film stock has a proven long life. Colour
stock eventually fades. Reversal (the cheapest colour film)
fades faster, but film still seemed a safer choice than
video: Video tape has only been around since the 1950's and
some early tapes are already unplayable. Unlike film, each
video tape format needs specialised playback equipment to
recover the pictures and working machines for a given format
might not be around in the future.
So why did we choose video? Cost. Even reversal
film stock is so expensive that we could not possibly afford
to cover entire industrial processes. We would have to film
in short bursts and we would not be able to get a full record
of the event. This is a problem that has always faced documentary
film makers. Old film of industry is frustrating to watch
as the shots are too short to follow the action, and usually
just concentrate on the 'pretty bits'.
With video, we can afford to keep recording so as not to
miss vital action. We can record entire processes lasting for
hours if necessary, then produce different edited versions: a
Compilation showing as much as possible; and a Production using
just the vital bits. The whole unedited recording is still
in the archive for posterity. As it happens, we have been
lucky with video. Even our earliest tapes from 1978 are still
playable. Modern tape stock lasts much longer than the early
stuff. We were recently able to compare some material we
shot on U-Matic in 1982 with some 16mm film shot by a TV
news crew covering the same event. Our video looked better!
Now everything is recorded digitally on memory cards then transferred to various disk formats for long-term storage, in theory it can be copied any number of times without loss onto whatever digital format becomes fashionable.
When did it start?
We started photographing industrial subjects in 1972. In
1978 we hired a portable video recorder and made some tapes
featuring canals and mines. In 1982 we decided to put the
work on a formal footing and created I.A.Recordings. We rejected
some obvious names such as 'Heritage Video' and 'Archive
Productions' and followed the lead of Research Recordings
Ltd. and became Industrial Archaeology
Recordings; I.A. for
Why is so much of this site about
selling DVDs ?
Our only aim is to record industry for posterity, not to
make money for its own sake. That is why we are .org
rather than .com! In an ideal world, we would be able
to do this work full-time and give copies away for free.
In the real world, we have to pay for equipment, maintenance,
digital media, printing, duplicating, travel costs, delivery charges,
etc. etc., but none of us take any fees.
We don't get any grants or government aid. Our only regular
source of income to fund further projects is from sales of
Productions and Compilations. So we have to promote
these as much as possible. Remember, all DVD sales fund archive
Do any I.A.Recordings Productions use music? Yes, some do; but we know how annoying it can be, so we keep it to a minimum - perhaps just during the opening and closing sequences and very occasionally as a quiet and subtle background for one or two scenes within the production.
Do we mindlessly add a continuous loud 'drum machine' beat to every scene, like so many TV 'documentaries' do nowadays? NO! Never!!
Does I.A.Recordings use 'celebrity' presenters?
No, we don't like it when a famous personality talks-down to the audience or feels they have to intervene with irrelevant wisecracks. Many television documentaries are more about the presenter than the content - the chosen 'luvvie' has to be prominent in every shot, often getting in the way of an interesting background. We prefer the subject matter to fill the frame! Besides, they're too expensive.
Did I.A.Recordings invent 'Slow TV'?
The Compilations we have been making since 1982 let you watch the subject in great detail - without a presenter in the way, without intrusive commentary and without music, but also without long boring bits with very little happening, or excessive repetition!