Nieuw Millennium Technology Report
BBC Technology Seminars
Assessments and Summaries
Submitted by Robert Joseph
The BBC Seminar Series confirmed that the Nieuw Millennium agenda is not only on track but actually has opportunities to fill holes looming in the digital future. Our most fruitful option with the BBC would be to focus on structuring a compliment to their international efforts by moving forward full force with our already existing goals to empower local cable access groups to:
1. Increase the reach of LCAG broadcasting by using a set of tools (The Toolkit) that simulcasts the broadcast stream into the internet
2. Encode, index, archive and rebroadcast content in real-time while concurrently making available on demand via an online library (The Well)
3. Use the same set of tools to encode, index, store and broadcast the large volumes of film and video content currently in the LCAG's physical archives. (The Hive)
4. Finance, manage and locally integrate state of the art facilities that support mixed media training, creation, archiving and broadcasting (The TEA Factory)
Our goal with the BBC would be to design, prototype and present a 'proof of concept' mechanism that seamlessly merges local content into their existing media system. This local access content 'accumulator' would pull and push (pre) processed local media up and into the indexing, archive and access mechanisms now in place, providing a facilitated compliment to the BBC's top down approach (international) with a bottom up schema (local) that is technically consistent and invisibly integrated into the BBC's broadcasting system.
The BBC collaboration provides an immediate opportunity for Nieuw Millennium to robustly prototype the Well's public digital library concept by ingesting this virtual mountain (range) of material stored in the archives of Local Cable Access Groups. The socially redeeming value of building a pubic access digital library of such highly localized content cannot be over-stated. It is of some particular urgency to begin the process of defining the means for financing, managing and technically facilitating the process as this body of media is currently degrading and has little to no possibility of being rescued by the political and broadcasting agencies that have traditionally supported the existence of Local Cable Access Broadcasting.
The BBC seminars were more immediately relevant to the Well and Toolkit projects. The Hive has longer-term opportunities. The most remote opportunity lay with the TEA Factory, but I will speak to a progression of activities that bring the project into scope with regards to any pending work with the BBC.
The relevance of the BBC visit to the TEA Factory comes in the vision that the Factory is the next advancement in the evolution of Local Broadcasting. The next wave includes the functions of traditional local broadcasting but also integrates the TEA Factory's extended capabilities for content creation, conversion, indexing and publishing.
To fulfill our agenda to 'Scale and Enable," we provide a spectrum of options that begin with tools (Toolkit), basically hardware and software configurations, up to the full TEA Factory plans, that includes support to integrate the financial, management and technology templates.
The BBC has provided Nieuw Millennium with an overview of how they are managing all of these at an international level. Our job is to scale the tool sets and integration options down so that it is realizable as a set of configurations and as a brick facility loaded with these tools.
We have already introduced a series of sharing sessions with the BBC. They will start with us sending internally generated streams. The next session include bringing a black box solution to the BBC so as to allow a prototyped live and on demand internal broadcast. With these scenarios we can possibly look forward to moving a part of this agenda forward and look ahead to the next level of prototyping and integration. (Peter and BBC Media Lab)
The next step might be an installation into one of their local affiliates. The ultimate achievement, with regard to The TEA Factory, is a full scale facility if funded, built and then hailed as the next evolutionary step in BBC's plan to integrate local broadcasting
There is a clear call for NM to have the first aspects of this chain of events detailed so as to provide a rendering of the benefits to our organization and to the BBC's long term agenda to support local to international content exposure and provision.
One of our most fun options with regards to the TEA Factory is to invite the BBC crew to our next event now set for February 22, 2002). This will allow them a view of our simplified community performance, capture and broadcast schemas.
Certainly, meta-data is one of the most important aspects of our visit. Carol and Kirit have offered us a view into how the BBC manages this core aspect of their operations. Their ability to manage receive, digitize, index, archive, and re-purpose into a number of different broadcast scenarios fits clearly with our model to multiply encode for the library and near line MPEG 2 stores. This aspect of their operations is key to the set up of the Hive as it preps to receive a multiplicity of media types from 16mm film to DV Cam. SMEF will be an important aspect of our research as we want to demonstrate that we can work with and modify their existing standard to meet the NM agenda as well as be in integrated aspect of our plans to advance the BBC's local reach and representation in their broadcast schema.
While there is no revenue opportunity for NM with this particular aspect of our pending work with the BBC we should look at the short-term goal of assimilating SMEF and comparing it to the work Peter is doing with our developing database. As for the long-term, we should be integrating this into our ingestion methodologies so that we can transition with the BBC along a know path while we attempt to set up delivery and on-demand scenarios within and external to their operations.
The digital rights presentation has a good deal of relevance to us given our plans to be a lightning rod for Digital Rights Discovery Assistance (D-RDA). As a library, our concerns become less than those who are generating revenue as a result of viewing content. Our preview to buy model, with red, yellow, green indicators and online meta-data updating sidelined Geoff a bit because it does not fit the present model of content rights protection.
In the short run, we should be advancing the RDA paradigm keeping Geoff in the loop with the intention of him raising red flags for us. This is a very tricky issue and it will serve us well to have an advisor in our corner to bounce ideas off of and to help keep our efforts on course. In the long run, we want RDA to be a component in our list of functionalities for the Well. We should be aiming this towards our work with the BBC and local broadcasting.
The BBC's multilingual, radio based delivery system is not quite what we anticipated. It was encouraging to see that this group is struggling, as we are, with the language issue. Here, we may have an opportunity in modeling a pathway from audio to ASCII (time-stamped) so as to facilitate meta-data driven search and retrieval.
A short-term opportunity would be to ask for a couple CD's and perform text to ASCII tests, which would highlight the functional ability to retrieve, based on text searches. Being paid to take on the bulk of this conversion project make for a good long-term objective.
This aspect of the BBC's operation has relevance to how we may manage the first iterations of the well. Some of the ways that they are managing archives are consistent with NM's intentions, for example, the red, yellow, green IP schema.
Short-term and long-term objectives with this group are a bit nebular at this point.
Certainly, this is one of our most viable opportunities. Euan and Peter appeared to hit it off quite well and I believe they have set the basis for our first exchange with the BBC. This is to send a video signal from NM to the Digilab to as to give them a sense of our internal broadcasting capabilities. We foresee demonstrating an internal broadcast at the BBC.
It may be through Euan that the opportunity to nuzzle up to a local cable access group begins to solidify. Euan is on the same page as NM in many regards and I believe he would like to implement some of our notion into the total of his work considerations, however, like with all mammoth companies, is held back by bureaucratic and financial process. We can be of great assistance by providing prototype and model demonstration to the BBC that do not need prior approval, financial appropriations, or allocated manpower. If our models are valuable to the BBC, there may be some project opportunities (revenue) for us to scale an implement.
The relevance to NM's work is our intentions to have content stored near-line on DVD storage systems. We have issues to work out as to whether we are storing data files or digital video on these disks. It was also apparent that there are still a plethora of compatibility issues that need to be dealt with. It is good that this group is working on these aspects. We need to stay abreast of the work going on in this group as it proves more relevant day by day. One other aspect of relevance is with regards to our efforts to produce an interactive DVD, which highlights the goals, operations, and projects of Nieuw Millennium.
One of the most impressive facilities I have seen to date. Everything we need to host the well is here, safe, secure and redundant (resilient). As we work out internal and external broadcasting scenarios with the BBC, we should be looking at using this facility as part of the test bed of operations. For example, when Peter does and internal broadcast with the BBC, it should be sent and stored in this facility for on-demand reviews. This begins to model our longer-term opportunities to prototype the storage of local content into the Well. We need to get an estimate for what it would cost to broadcast our next live project via this facility and fees for long-term on-demand access.