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National Film and Sound Archive     
Search Tips

SearchingResults ExplainedMisc.
How to Search

For best results, simply enter words into the Search box which best describe what you want. A query can consist of a single word or consecutive words in a search term. Start with broad descriptive words, review what is available and then refine your search by using more specific descriptive words or fields such as Produced as and/orCategory. A good strategy is to enter a broad term, select search and then narrow your search results by the fields in the "Narrow search by" box (see Narrowing your results).

The SEARCH button activates your search and will retrieve those titles that satisfy all conditions.

The CLEAR button clears your search.

Case insensitive - you may use upper and/or lower case characters.

Inverted commas ("") around your keyword searches will search for exact phrases.

Non-alphanumeric characters are NOT currently supported except for the search operators detailed below. Entering the characters # or $, for example, are ignored by the search.

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Search Operators
Search operators are special words you can use to restrict your searches.
  • + (a space between two words acts just like a +) (Meaning 'and') Finds records containing both of the words it separates, for example: Opera + House, Weir + Rock.
  • | (Vertical bar) (Meaning 'or') Finds records containing either of the words it separates, for example: Gallipoli | Turkey. (Using 'or' expands your search to a wider range of records.)
    • | (or) has highest precedence
      eg1: a | b + c => (a | b) + c
      eg2: a | c + c | d => (a | b) + (c | d)
  • - (Meaning 'not') Searches for records containing the query word preceding it but not the following word, for example: Crocodile -Dundee ('-' MUST be followed IMMEDIATELY by the word).
  • ? Wild card operator for strings; matches any string. For example: 'Mad?' matches mad, madam, madrigal ... (Keywords involving ? require a minimum of 3 characters in that keyword. Other keywords must be a minimum of 2 characters long.)
  • "" Searches for an exact phrase, for example: "Sydney Harbour Bridge" will only retrieve titles where the appropriate text contains that exact phrase.
Easy Search
Allows you to make a broad search query. You can search for a title or list of records, or for a name (person, group or organisation) or subjects/keywords.
  • If you enter 'Muriel's Wedding' you'll find our holdings of the film, soundtrack and related items such as photos, posters and costumes.
  • If you enter 'Kylie Minogue' you'll find our holdings of Kylie's CDs, photographs, films and TV shows.
  • If you enter a common keyword (such as Sheep) that gives you too many results you may find it easier to refine your search by using the advanced search.
  • If you want a copy or more information about an item, conduct your research, click on Submit a Access Request Form and you'll be provided with a quote and copyright details within 10 working days.
  • Limit search to specific media types (see Advanced Search).
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Advanced Search
Allows you to customise your search and set more specific options. The minimum input required is one of:
  • Keyword, Title, Name or Number; or
  • Role; or
  • Format; or
  • Produced as; or
  • Category; or
  • Year; or
  • Media Type.
Will find all records that contain your keyword in titles and/or summaries, for example:
 Keyword: BUSH
 Result: A Girl of the Bush
 Bush Christmas
 Picnic at Hanging Rock : [Four girls lined up against a tree in the bush...]

Will search for records containing words in titles only, for example:
 Keyword: MAX
 Result: Mad Max
 Yodeling Max

Search for a specific name. Names can be searched just like Keyword/Title searches, but will only return results which contain a person/organisation which matched your search.

Enter a Title Number to search for a specific Title. The search will be performed on exact Title Number only - all other selections will be ignored.

More Complex Searches
There are three occurrences of the Keyword, Title, Name, Number
search fields, which can be combined to form a more complex search. In addition, there is also a drop down option on how the words entered as a Keyword or Title search are to be treated, "all of these words", "the exact phrase", "without these words", or "any of these words".

Role Select from the drop down list to restrict your search to titles that contain a credit type, such as director, conductor, composer, etc. This can also be combined with the Name field to restrict the search to a Name with a specific credit, such as entering "weir" in the Name field and selecting "Composer" in the Role field will return those titles where "weir" appears as a "composer" credit.

Select option from drop down list to search for titles in a specific format, for example: 16 mm acetate film, 35 mm acetate film, video, audio cassette, compact disc. The default is ANY format.

Produced as
Select option from drop down list to restrict search to what a title was produced as, for example: advertisement, documentary, features, newsreels, spoken word, sport. The default is ANY class.

Select option from drop down list to restrict search to a specific Category of Produced as, for example: animation, children's, ethnographic, radio series/serial. The default is ANY Sub-class. Note: this option may also be classed as Sub-Class in some places.

Select option from drop down list to restrict your search to titles released, broadcast, etc. at a certain year or range of years. Note: not all titles in the database have a date entered.

Limit search to
Select one or more items from the list to search for titles in a specific media, for example: film, television, radio, recorded sound, documentation (photo/paper/artefact) or electronic (multimedia). The default is ANY media. Media selections are 'or' seperated so a search with the media types radio and television checked will give results of items in radio and also items in television.

Series Title
Click this box to search on titles which form part of a series. This applies to any search, not just those using Title/Keyword option. For example, combine a title keyword search for 'Biggles' with the series box ticked to find The Air Adventures of Biggles and all sub-series of it.

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Browse A-Z
The Browse A-Z section allows you to search for all results whose name begins with a selected letter or number.
To get all results that begin with the letter 'R', simply click on the 'R' in the list of letters just below the main banner.

Explaining the results
Search Results Screen
The criteria used in search will be listed at the top left-hand of the screen, including the statement: Summary results 1-10 of xx matches. This tells you how many titles your search retrieved, and which of those records are being displayed on the current screen. Previous, Next, First or Last Page can be retrieved by clicking on the appropriate link at the right-hand side of the top or bottom of the page. You can also click a displayed number to go to a specific page. If there are more than 10 pages of records, only 10 pages will be shown at a time which will scroll around the current page.

Search Results
The search results screen displays a list of search results with the following fields for each record:
  • Title: displayed in alphabetical order. Clicking on the title will take you to the Title and Item information for that specific title.
  • Year: the year in which the title was released, broadcast or produced is displayed. Some items do not have years associated with them.
  • Role: the role and name of the principal credit role for the title related to what the title was Produced as, such as Director for film or Performer for recorded sound.
  • Media and Produced as: the media type for which the title was produced, for example: film, television, radio, recorded sound, documentation (photo/paper/artefact), electronic (multimedia) and what the tile was produced as, for example: Award Presentations/Special Events, Oral histories/interviews
Digital Items
The icon Digital Item Available signifies that for the title displayed in the Title Results or a Holding within the Title Details, that there is a diigital item that can be played (audio) or viewed (still or moving image). Mac Users: playing audio files requires OS X 10.3.9 or later, Quicktime 6.5 or later, and Windows Media Components for Quicktime.

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Narrowing Results
To the left of the search results there is a column for refining your search to narrow the number of results.
Facets Here is an example of the narrowing menu (also known as 'Faceting'). The black text directly under the horizontal bars ('Media', 'Produced as', etc.) are the group types which your results can be narrowed by.

Some of the titles in the results list may not be part of any group and therefore will not be included in any narrowed results.
There are 2 columns under each group heading, which are:
  • Firstly (the right column), This is the title of the sub group which you can narrow your results by.
    Clicking on this link will take you to a new results page with your list now narrowed by the sub-group type.
    The facets will update to show what of the new result list can be narrowed.
  • Secondly (the left column), The number inside the square brackets is the total number of items in your result list which are in that sub-group.
If all the results share the exact same groups/sub-groups then a message saying ''Cannot narrow the search any further.' will be displayed instead of the list.

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Title/Item Details
When you have selected a specific item from the list of search results on the Title Results Screen. This screen contains the 'intellectual' or descriptive information (on left-hand side), the relationship access (on top right-hand side) and the 'physical' or item/component information (on bottom right-hand side). What information may be present:

  • Intellectual Information
    • A note informing you of restrictions (submit an access request for more information about specific restrictions on a title)
    • Title number
    • Title name/description
    • Alternative title name
    • Date or year of release, broadcast or production
    • Produced as
    • Category
    • Media
    • Summary
    • Places of interest regarding the title.
    • Country of origin
    • Subject(s)
    • Names and their roles (alphabetically by role)
  • Title Relationships
    • A link to view the titles this tile has references to or that reference this title.
  • Holdings
    • A list of physical components of this title that the NFSA holds. Clicking on the Holding number will display the Item Details screen that contains information about the physical characteristics of the component.
Underlined Title Numbers or Text
Click to search for additional information, for example: clicking on Director: Peter Weir will retrieve all titles relating to Peter Weir.

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Saved Title List
This function enables you to build up a title order list to submit to a Access Request Form for further information or copying or you can print or email them. You can select titles to add to a title order list by clicking on 'Add to list' at the top of the Title Information screen or by using the check boxes on the Title Results screen and clicking 'Add to List'.

Note that the saved titles are only available for a given Internet browser session. If you have saved titles and you close your Internet browser (e..g. Microsoft Internet Explorer), you will lose all saved items. Also note that due to Internet Browser restrictions that you cannot save more than about 300 titles in the save title list.

Titles can be deleted from this list from the list view screen (click on 'View my List' from the summary or Title Information screen to get to your list) by selecting the corresponding check boxes and clicking 'Delete Selected'.

Information on specific titles can be accessed through this list by clicking on the Title.
When you have completed adding titles to your list, you can then transfer the title information (which includes Access/Preview Item Rack Numbers to a Access Request Form by clicking on the link at the top of your Title Order List (remember to check the corresponding boxes of the items you are interested in). Before submitting the form you are required to complete the information fields.
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Access Request Form
If you require additional information on our holdings after searching the collection database, or would like to find out more information about obtaining a copy of a particular title, please submit a Access Request Form. Before submitting the form check our Access Request Guidelines. We aim to respond to all enquiries within 14 days but will attempt to meet earlier deadlines where possible.

Printing Results
To print results either:

  • Click on Print link, then click within the displayed information and either use the Browser's print option or Ctrl+P. (The 'Back' button on the browser will take you back to the Item details window.); or
  • Click within the displayed title details and either use the Browser's print option or Ctrl+P.
The print link will remove most of the formatting from the page to make it more printer friendly. When in the print view you can continue to navigate an item through its links. Back to top