Skip to main content

Asset Management Integration of Cultural heritage In The Interchange between Archives

Exploitable results

By preserving images, music and speech, audiovisual archives capture a snapshot of life in the past and are one of the most valuable assets of our cultural heritage. The project AMICITIA recognised that like other archives, they are threatened by physical degradation and must be protected for today and future generations. Modern archiving not only serves future generations, but also enables people to experience the wealth of their cultural heritage through access to digital libraries. Under the European Commission's IST programme the AMICITIA project has developed a digital archiving system and online library that allows for a continuing and viable digital preservation of and access to existing television and video content. For the project "it is the content that matters - the access to the content and the availability of the content." Project Manager Dr Stephan Schneider, Director of the Software Engineering Division, Tecmath AG, Germany, says that together the project partners were able to design and test the project's technology with end-users that represented the needs of a broad spectrum of European broadcasters and audiovisual archivists. It resulted in "innovative approaches in the areas of distributed content access, storage technology, digital rights management and Web access," he says. "Our combined efforts in usability testing finally lead to an integrated, reliable and easy-to-use solution in the area of asset management systems." A digital library for professionals and the public AMICITIA's universal system is capable of preserving television assets in a digital library. The system is equipped to facilitate professional and public end-user access throughout Europe. The system is designed to serve the needs of professional users (broadcasters, television archivists and audiovisual producers) regarding preservation, quality, access flexibility and usability as well as the public demand for user-friendly access, security and availability. The project involved access to and the preservation of television and video content, which involved building components to ingest, manage, access and distribute audiovisual material with a special focus on multilingual and remote access. AMICITIA's functionality includes a distributed retrieval of material using a multilingual thesaurus in three languages and an integrated contract-based rights management system to enable re-use of material across the network. A parallel Web-based database is accessible to the public that webstreams media items. Working in the digital domain changes everything Moving content from traditional videotapes into the digital domain must be done in a controlled manner. Because many analogue tape formats are reaching or have exceeded certain limits in their lifespan, content must be preserved in the best quality possible. Automatic quality assessment of digital video is the first step in the migration path. Defects and failures must be detected to pass tapes for further treatment and restoration. Content is stored in digital form as digital data. To minimise and avoid the degradation in quality experienced with videotapes, digital data tapes undergo automated quality management procedures. Tapes are assessed on a regular basis during which increasing error rates trigger the migration of content to new tapes. The technical quality of the content accessed depends on the stage in the production workflow and on the user's available bandwidth. Content is presented to meet different user needs, ranging from low bit rate representations of video to high-end production quality video. Existing information describing the content - metadata - is migrated through interfaces to existing documentation systems that facilitate data transfer to AMICITIA's new media asset management systems. Language barriers to accessing descriptive metadata are overcome by a multilingual thesaurus/retrieval facility that improves the individual, autonomous access for professional users and the general public. As regards rights to content, a rights management database proved to be one of AMICITIA's most time-consuming production tasks. A two-phase process The first implementation phase both developed components and upgraded the existing digital media asset management system (media archiv(r) by Tecmath AG) from a single-server to a distributed asset management system. During the second implementation phase, all advanced technology components were integrated with each other. The main system and a public access interface were also created. An ongoing usability analysis and improvement process ensured maximum efficiency and reliability of the new system during actual television production, and archiving and preservation work activities. Technology is already on the market As a user-driven demonstration project, AMICITIA's software modules were translated into practical use as quickly as possible through constant usability improvement and a determination on the part of project partners to integrate results into marketable products. The Distributed Professional Access (DPA) engine with thesaurus has been copyrighted and is a bestseller, together with the software for public Web access, the rights management suite and the software for the distributed access to professionals. Says Schneider: "Technology providers have cross-licensed the software modules among each other and are selling them to existing and new partners." The potential for the various software products developed under AMICITIA is huge and spans a number of market applications, including in the radio, television and communication sectors; computer and related activities; research and development; education; and publishing, printing and reproduction of recorded materials. Source: Based on information from AMICITIA Promoted by the IST Results Service