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Decoding the Importance of Metadata in Digitization and Preservation of Content

Decoding the Importance of Metadata in Digitization and Preservation of Content

Introduction

Digital media has come a long way over the past decade. The shift from single-screen to multiple-screen and multi-device, from the subscription-based model to OTT service providers is apparent over the years. Keeping in line with the demand, broadcasters are also broadening their distribution channel.

With the audience having a wide variety of choice to consume video across platforms at their preferred time – broadcasters are leaving no stones unturned to digitize video content, even those dating back to decades.

Broadcasters are now focused on aggregation and distribution of highly-targeted content that reaches narrow-interest audiences. As broadcasters develop and store digital content to use and reuse across devices and platforms, the value of good shareable content is increasing.

However, the problem lies elsewhere. An estimated 98% of archived media is not available for digital distribution.[1]

Why?

Migrating hours of media content from tape to digital storage is time-consuming. Though automated migration systems convert tapes to multiple digital formats simultaneously, tagging these files to make them searchable is a challenge.

Have you ever wondered how – when you Google – some videos top the search results? With an average of 300 hours[2] of video content being uploaded to YouTube alone every minute, content producers and owners sweat over making their content optimized for search results.

The solution

The key to ensuring that your content doesn’t get lost in the crowd is tagging it with relevant keywords. While search engines have evolved over the years, they are still not human – hence can’t read/watch your content. They need a hint (or metadata) to understand the content and apply analytics to list them. While filtering, the search engine follows the following order – title, description, and tags. If you optimize these three, half of the battle is won.

In this paper, we will explore:

  • What is metadata?
  • Types of metadata
  • Metadata Schema Models
  • The importance of metadata in content digitization
  • Optimizing metadata for content digitization

What is metadata?

Metadata refers to “data about data.”[3] It represents a detailed description of the underlying data within an object concerning its title, date & time of creation, format, length, language, year of reference, narration describing the object’s identity & purpose, etc.

For long-term digital archiving, metadata refers to the preservation techniques that are applied to the digital objects in the archives. Metadata does the following:

  • Helps in easy identification, location, and retrieval of information by the end-users
  • Provides information about quality aspects or issues of the created object along with its access privileges/rights
  • Ensures smooth data management

Types of metadata

Depending on the nature of data and usability in a real-world scenario, metadata can be categorized as:

  • Descriptive: Helps to identify, locate, and retrieve information related to an object through indexing and navigation to related links. It includes elements such as title, creator, identity, and description
  • Structural: Defines the complexity of an object along with the role of individual data files, ordering of pages to form a chapter, file names, and their organization, etc.
  • Administrative: Helps to manage the resources in terms of its creation, methods, access rights, associated copyright, and the techniques required for preserving it
  • Rights: Defines access permissions and constraint over the stored objects and information contained in them at different levels
  • Preservation: Records activities or methodology opted in the archive for preserving digital data.
  • Technical: Provides technical information embedded with the digital object (content files). It describes attributes of the digital image (not the analog source of the picture) and helps to ensure that the image will be rendered with accuracy, capture process of the data, and their transformation.
  • Provenance: Records object’s origin/nativity and the changes that were performed to these objects for its resolution, format, perspectives, etc.
  • Tracking: Keeps track of the data at different stages of the workflow (data automation processes, digital capturing, transformation, processing filters and toolsets, enhancement, quality control and management, and data archival and deliverables)

For long-term digital preservation, two types of metadata play a crucial role:

  1. Packaging Metadata

Defines three kinds of information packages, which are as follows:

  1. Submission Information Package (SIP) – Contains information delivered to the archive from the content provider
  2. Archival Information Package (AIP) – Related content information stored in the archive
  3. Dissemination Information Package (DIP) – On request delivery of information to the user
  1. Preservation Metadata

Records the process that supports the preservation of digital data

Metadata Schema Models

According to ISO 23081[4], a schema is “a logical plan showing the relationships between metadata elements, normally through establishing rules for the use and management of metadata specifically as regards the semantics, the syntax and the optionality (obligation level) of values.”

The amount of metadata that needs to be stored for an object depends on its functional usage & significance. With a large amount of metadata already there, and more being published regularly for a different purpose by different communities, metadata schema designers need unique experience of using the Semantic Web to consider a metadata schema.

For long term preservation of data, a varying Metadata Schema Models has been developed, which includes the following:

  • MARC: Machine Readable Cataloguing
  • MARCXML: XML version of MARC 21
  • METS: Metadata Encoding & Transmission Standard
  • MODS: Metadata Object Description Schema
  • DCMI: Dublin Core Metadata Initiative
  • CDWA: Categories for the Description of Works of Art
  • CRM: CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model
  • MPEG-7: Moving Picture Coding Experts Group
  • EAD: Encoded Archival Description
  • RDF: Resource Description Framework
  • VRA CORE: Visual Resources Association
  • DDI: Data Documentation Initiative
  • MIX: Metadata for Images in XML Standard
  • IEEE LOM: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standards Association for the description of “learning objects”

The importance of metadata in content digitization

Metadata plays a key role in processing, managing, accessing, and preserving digital content –be it audio, video, or image collections. Metadata has the following key functionalities:

  • Search: To search for data associated with a file like Author, Date Published, Key Words, etc.
  • Distribute: To determine when and where the content will be distributed
  • Access: To determine delivery of targeted content based upon preset rules matching metadata values
  • Retain: To determine which records to archive

Optimizing metadata for content digitization

The importance of metadata lies in the fact that it makes the content searchable – both online and offline. While filtering, the search engine follows the following order – title, description, and tags. Some key points to remember while using metadata for content digitization are:

Optimize the title

Grab the attention with a catchy and compelling title. To make a title search engine (and mobile) friendly, limit it to 120 characters and include your top keywords. Think what the audience would relate to, and make the title informative and relevant.

Optimize the description

Follow and include the keywords, and detail what the content is all about. Limit the most critical information within the first 22 words of your description – as search engine displays it on the list before you click ‘see more’ button.

Optimize the tags

A couple of things to keep in mind while tagging a digital asset are:

  1. Assign keywords that cover the 5 W’s – what, when, who, why, and where – to make it a well-captured asset
  2. Avoid grammatical errors while assigning keywords
  3. Avoid ambiguous words or words with multiple meanings
  4. Be consistent with abbreviations and acronyms
  5. Use a minimum of 8 – 12 tags per asset

Conclusion

Metadata plays a crucial role in keeping track of content right from its inception to its processing and accessibility. It provides a complete description of the purpose and functionality of the data, making it easier for end-users to locate and retrieve the data. Therefore, it is crucial that all contents should have embedded metadata in them.

[1] https://www.recode.net/2014/4/8/11625358/modernizing-the-entertainment-industry-supply-chain-in-the-age-of

[2] https://merchdope.com/youtube-stats/

[3] https://www.techopedia.com/definition/1938/metadata

[4] https://committee.iso.org/sites/tc46sc11/home/projects/published/iso-23081-metadata-for-records.html

Real News in the Times of Virtual Reality

Real News in the Times of Virtual Reality

Broadcasters around the world are exploring augmented reality ranging from stand-alone storytelling experiences to immersive broadcasts, and behind the scene, tours to enhance the viewing experience.

HoloLens[1] defines augmented reality as an offshoot of virtual reality that allows computer-generated graphics to be inserted into a real environment. With Facebook acquiring Oculus Rift and Google investing over $500 million in Magic Leap in 2014, the interest in virtual reality has fueled further.

Broadcasters are using products like Vizrt, Chyron, Brainstorm Virtual Set, WASP3D, Pixelpower, and Orad to make news and storytelling more interesting. For example, Al Arabiya used floating virtual 3D models of the Capitol and White House over an outdoor space to cover U.S. 2016 elections. The Washington Post covered the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore in 2016 by creating an augmented reality story.

Pic Credit: BT Sports
Pic Credit: BT Sports

In a series of firsts, BT Sport made UEFA Champions League finals available in 360° virtual reality on TV and online, 4K UHD on YouTube, and 4K UHD with Dolby Atmos. In 2017, the New York Times produced “Life on Mars” – a 360 video series chronicling the lives of NASA astronauts living on Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano, which had a Mars-like condition.

NBC made VR replays, highlight packages, and 50 hours of live 360-degree video coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics available on a wide variety of devices via the NBC Sports VR app.

Pic Credit: BBC.CO.UK
Pic Credit: BBC.CO.UK

BBC experimented with traditional CGI-based VR, 360-video, and AR. Both ‘Easter Rising’ and ‘We Wait’ are fully interactive VR experiences, which makes the viewer participate in the action. BBC also has an app with a range of productions for 360-degree video.

UK-based Sky partnered with Jaunt – a white-label VR distribution platform to launch a smartphone VR app to offer 360-degree videos covering material from film, sport, and the arts. Sky also used AR for their marketing campaigns, where passers-by at London’s Waterloo Station could take photos with virtual characters like Spiderman and SpongeBob Squarepants.

All the examples above highlight the fact that VR is gradually becoming an integrated part of many newsrooms. With technological advancements and cheaper options like cardboard headsets, 360-videos is becoming more accessible to viewers.

However compelling it might be, media brands are still holding off from making substantial investments in VR because of the following reasons:

  • Producers are still figuring out ‘what works for VR.’ Though news VR has expanded beyond documentary, there is still not enough content to drive the audience.
  • News VR is still not immersive. Viewable on mobile or a browser, consumers do not get the immersive experience that comes with a high-end headset.
  • Though some broadcasters are partnering with organizations like Samsung and Google for VR operations, monetization is still a challenge. News broadcasters are yet to figure out a way to earn revenue out of the technology.

The news industry needs to work together to deliver on the promise of VR. Though what lies ahead is still not clear, the future of VR in news broadcast looks promising.

[1] https://www.ibc.org/consumption/virtual-reality-and-augmented-reality-in-broadcasting-/2807.article

What will 2018 hold for media broadcasters?

What will 2018 hold for media broadcasters?

2018 will see broadcasters streamline their content, technology, and operations for a new segment of customers who consume content on-demand. Driven by the changing content consumption, we foresee media organizations looking at following:

Dawn of the OTT Era

Industry reports reveal that an average Indian consumes 8.5 hours of video content every month on Facebook and YouTube, which accounts for 47 percent and 42 percent of market share. Add the popularity of Over the Top (OTT) platforms like Hotstar, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Jio TV, and VOOT to that, and you’d realize that the way Indians consume digital content has changed over the years.

In India, the popularity can be attributed to access to faster and cheaper internet, affordable smartphones, and the wide range of content on offer. With over 460 million internet users, India is the second largest online market[1] whose smartphone penetration rate is expected to reach more than 28 percent by 2018.

While some broadcasters have already launched their platform like Ozee, others will pick this trend in 2018 and look at launching their platforms. Some may also look to optimize and produce their content on commercially successful OTT operators. Broadcasters will be seen investing in tools and technology to prepare their content and distribute it to CDNs.

Solving the Content Conundrum

OTT has changed the way content is created and consumed. As viewers consume content anytime, anywhere, and on any device, the demand for short-form, high quality ‘snackable’ content has been on the rise. Citizen journalism is gaining momentum, with viewers recording events and posting live on social media for the global audience.

Original, consistent, and addictive content is on demand. With players like Apple planning to invest over $1 billion in original content and Facebook spending a chunk of its marketing budget on content, fresh content production depending on current affairs, mood, and preference of the viewers is on the rise.

However, creating fresh consumable content is only one side of the story. To retain subscribers and provide a shared experience across devices, OTT providers also need to recreate the legacy content with proper archiving, metadata and tagging, and digitization. For this, broadcasters will need to dig into their archives to sort, organize, digitize, restore and optimize legacy content to enable easy search, access, and distribution of content across channels.

Embracing Virtualization

Newer digital broadcast avenues like OTT are creating pressure on traditional broadcasters to lower their Broadcast Operations and Engineering (BO&E) budgets. A survey by Devoncroft reveals that more than 40% M&E vendors have products that operate in a virtualized environment. While it is debatable if ‘virtualization’ refers to only IT infrastructure or the entire content supply chain, the fact is – new, small, and medium-sized broadcasters are gradually migrating their infrastructure to cloud-based solutions.

Moving to IP comes with the benefits of using a standardized connectivity and infrastructure to transport videos from locations to the central facilities and on to distribution. Therefore, broadcasters will continue digital transformation keeping content at the center of business to achieve faster time-to-market, scalability, and agility at a lower TCO.

Enhanced User Experience with 4K, HD Formats

A 2016-report by Chrome Data Analytics and Media[2] reveals that 8.34 million households in India have HD televisions, of which 89 percent have DTH HD connection and 11 percent have digital cable HD connection. However, only 9 percent or 91 channels out of 857 permitted private satellite television stations and more than 190 government channels in India are High Definitions (HD).

With the market share of OLEDs, 3D and 4K television increasing every day, viewers often forget to ask – does India have enough 4K and 3D channels? Wikipedia lists only five 4K channels and one 3D channel.

To address the change in viewership, media organizations will continue to upgrade their technical infrastructure to broadcast in HD or beyond (4K). With 2019 General Elections in sight, it is expected that news broadcasters will upgrade their technology, investing in workflows and solutions for presentation and analysis of election results in high definition.

To summarize, 2018 and 2019 will be the year of digital transformation and adoption of technology focusing on improving the viewer experience.

Blockchain And Its Impact On Media Industry

Blockchain And Its Impact On Media Industry

As we move towards digitalization, the world of media has also changed significantly. Different roles have been established along the media value chain. For example, artists and authors have become the primary creators of content, while platform providers and aggregators of content are donning the hats of royalty collecting body.

Blockchain technology can disrupt the industry structure further by bypassing content aggregators, platform providers, and royalty collection associations, thereby shifting the market power to copyright owners.

Derived from the Bitcoin, blockchain is ‘a distributed database that maintains a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, secured from tampering and revision. Sealed in the chain, blocks can no longer be changed -preventing further deletion, edition, or replication, thus making it true digital assets.

This technology has the potential to resolve some of the current challenges prevalent in broadcast and media industry with ease. Listed below are some ways in which blockchain can benefit media.

Boost Revenue

Blockchain technology can generate revenues for fragmented content like news, blogs, and photos with micropayment-based pricing models. With targeted media usage that can be directly linked to respective content, budget allocation for advertising and marketing also becomes more targeted.

Centralized Payment

While the technology is still in its nascent stage, revenue distribution can be automated based on predefined smart contracts, thereby making payment transactions cheap and centralized. This can potentially reset pricing, advertising, revenue sharing, and royalty payment processes.

Protecting IP Rights

While digitization has altered content production and distribution, protecting the intellectual property of the content remains a major concern of the industry. Though several brands are charging to access digital content, consumers are looking for similar content elsewhere for free. Blockchain technology connects these brands directly to consumers who compensate them accordingly (and securely) for access to digital content

Ensure Authenticity

Blockchain records the history of every transaction. Therefore, it can be used as a potential application to ensure authenticity and transparency. Social media influencers, authors, videographers, and photographers can use blockchains for provenance and attribution.