The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture has teamed up with Microsoft to build a very smart digital library of independent film, video and photography. It’s called FRED.

FRED means “peace” in Scandinavian languages.

And it’s a very cute name. FRED promotes peace by connecting people through the power of story. It is a new tool that puts AI and machine learning technology to use for the preservation and innovation of global culture, stories and humanity.

FRED provides access to vaults of previously inaccessible or little-used archives, independent film and video, and orphaned public media works. FRED can also create access to unseen footage from “cutting room floors” that could be incredibly valuable in a new context. FRED can help us re-ignite interest in the histories that are not taught in school. FRED can empower us to illuminate the stories often excluded from “dominant narratives.” FRED can rise up unknown, lost and forgotten content to inform our work, our learning and our lives. We need FRED to help us envision and narrate our desired futures.

We are building FRED in collaboration with Microsoft, along with an international network of media arts organizations and archives, independent filmmakers and editors, scholars, photographers, librarians and technologists. Here’s the plan for the first version of FRED:

  • ● FRED ingests as much contributed, archived and public domain footage as is humanly possible to curate — in full collaboration with rights holders.
  • ● FRED automatically indexes the footage so it is searchable by a diverse and exciting set of metadata: place, time, sentiment + emotion, gesture, person, utterance, and more.
  • ● FRED can translate audio into subtitles in 14 languages at the present time, and can deliver them to streaming content.
  • ● FRED can protect the visual identity of people, per request of rights holder.
  • ● FRED automatically returns clips and information based on the specified search criteria (i.e.’ Archbishop Desmond Tutu laughing in New York between 1975 and 1980’, or ‘Sound bites about LGBT hate crimes’). Watching is free.
  • ● Members of FRED can pay to license specific clips for use in new works or for educational or exhibition purposes – per agreement of the rights holder. FRED connects you to the rights holder and processes your payment once approved.

Imagine if FRED was embedded in film editing software, enabling automatic rich media searches for exactly what you are looking for, when you need it. Then imagine if you could call on FRED in academic libraries and research labs, social media networks, online learning environments, or activism trainings. FRED will exist through multiple interfaces, allowing users to quickly and easily interact with a wealth of media.

FRED is a soulful new machine – a new media library of the future — that will help humans have access to the richness that is our global media culture. To expose injustice, to uncover secrets, to illuminate the undiscovered, to honor the past, to empower those whose stories must still be told.

To support FRED with funding, resources, brainpower or media contributions, contact The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture Executive Director Wendy Levy,