I hope you’re feeling fresh and rejuvenated after the weekend. As for me, I was in bed, moving in and out of feverish states alternating with intense bursts of daydreaming about things I would do once I was better – get Sushi with friends, watch the new Pixar movie, get wet in the rains…

I also consumed an unhealthy amount of video content – YouTube shorts and videos, Disney Plus shows and old videos from my phone gallery. This got me thinking – we are living in a video-saturated world. Any marketer worth their salt will tell you that video is everything right now. No matter what you’re trying to sell, whether life coaching services or shoelaces, you must make video content to get the algorithm working for you.

But what about other kinds of video? Video materials whose purpose is not to sell us things but to explore ideas, create patterns or experiment with the craft itself? Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter don’t really make space for them.

Enter Pad.ma – short for Public Access Digital Media Archive – an online archive of “densely text-annotated video material”, consisting mainly of footage and unfinished films. Developed and maintained by cultural workers, this archive is searchable and free to download as well.

The way the archive is designed makes it possible for viewers to access an overview of timeline and themes and also engage in closer readings of dialogue transcriptions, locations and so on. Archive contributors and users have added layers of text to the video materials, keeping these materials alive and dynamic over the years.

Fair warning – once you enter Pad.ma, you might spend hours exploring footage you never thought you’d have access to. For example, I unknowingly spent a whole afternoon analysing the raw footage shot for one of my favourite films, The Ship of Theseus. You could also dive into a collection that tells the story of 100 years of mining at the Kolar Gold Fields, or a set of tapes made public by the Supreme Court, that was once the centre of political scandal.

The bite-sized video revolution made video creators out of all of us, but it may have dealt a near-fatal blow to the art of long-form video. I don’t want to be a cynic, but watching 200,000 videos of someone putting on moisturiser to the beat of a Bollywood song can do that to a person.


P.S. You know what I’m going to say – so I won’t say it. But do it anyway.