THL Toolbox > Audio-Video > Cataloging Audio-Video > Introduction
Contributor(s): David Germano.
The Audio-Video Archiving System is intended to facilitate workflow with audio-video materials as well as presentation for end users. It thus has the following functionalities for workflow:
- Catalog individual audio-video tapes and other media with descriptive and technical metadata
- Uploading of logging files for audio-video tapes and other media
- Catalog individual audio-video titles with descriptive and technical metadata
- Collections management tools for classifying associated titles into three leveled collections (collections:series:subseries), and also describing the collections in their own right
- Batch processing and uploading of media
- Check-in and check-out of transcripts for media, including comprehensive history of all versions
It thus has the following functionalities for end users:
- Searching tapes and titles by title, ID and keywords
- Advanced searching of titles in relationship to their work flow status, i.e. whether audio-video available, transcripts available, translations available and so forth
- Streamlined tab-driven presentation of title metadata
- Ability to play title in various forms (audio/video, various qualities of video suited to differing Internet bandwidths)
- Ability to view associated transcript in various linguistic forms (turn off and on translations) side by side with media (soon to add time synchronization of media and transcript)
- Ability to consult titles in Collections View, which provides descriptions of collections as well as attractive presentations of titles within each level of a given collection
This manual is intended to provide general guidelines for how to catalog physical media used in recording or storing audio-video material (tapes, etc.) and for how to catalog the actual audio-visual titles extracted from those physical media for presentation within THL.
In other words, all recording of audio or visual materials involve recording speech and/or visuals on physical media such as audio tapes, video tapes and so forth. These physical media may be the original tapes used to film a video, or they may be intermediary storage media, such as when older footage is transferred onto CDs and so forth. These physical media are the raw resource for audio and video footage, and a complex series of processes must be followed to extract footage usable in a computer context:
- One has to select what parts of the tape one wants to use and edit them out
- One must digitize and compress those sections so they exist in a digital format able to be used in a computer
- One must processed the resultant computer files, or "titles", in ways that make them useful for a specific audience of users
It is thus vital that these original media be well cataloged as independent objects, such that each audio or video tape has its own record in the Audio-Video Cataloging system with detailed documentation of its creation, content and current processing status. This is important so that staff and users can see the full extent of THL's holdings beyond what may have been processed to date. In addition, even a tape that has been processed into a title may have additional footage that proves valuable to others at a later date in ways unforeseen by the original creator of the footage. Finally, the process of compressing audio-video files for computer usage necessarily degrades the aural-visual quality so that computers and Web can handle them - files too large will simply not be playable. However, as computers, the Web, and compression programs improve, it is increasingly possible to deal with higer quality materials. Thus today's compressions might be insufficient in the future, but as long as the original tapes have been maintained, it is easy to quickly locate the original source and recompress the same file at an improved quality.
For these reasons, THL's Audio-Video Cataloging system has a separate component dedicated to keeping track of the original and secondary physical media on which audio-visual materials are located. Staff and users can search on various criteria such as date, ID, and keywords to find items of interest, and then use the records to see the tape's contents, their creators, and what use has been made of them to date. Of particular note are also logging files, which are created by taking notes on the contents of tapes marked by the times in the tapes. Logging files can be as simple as word processor files where one manually notes the time on a video camera where a specific content happens and then just writes a list of such times and notes (4:56 - The ritual begins; 5:45: the officiant begins the chanting, etc.). These files can also be created in powerful editing software like Final Cut Pro. However they are created, these logging files provide very precise and detailed notes on the content of tapes, which are obviously of great use. At present our Audio-Video Cataloging system simply notes down the existence of such logging files, who created them, what format they exist in, and where they are currently located. We plan to add provisions for uploading such files, so one can access or at least download them directly from within the Catalog.
However, the original media are never accessed by the general user, both because it is not a digital file usable over the Web or in local computers, and because generally it is raw footage with false starts, intermediary sections, and so forth that has not been shaped into meaningful units intended for general use in teaching, research or other contexts. Thus the crucial process of editing, transcribing, translating, embedding in written essays and so forth involves the creation of actual titles, which are meaningful audio-video files that have been extracted from the tapes - possibly by just deleting some segments, or by splicing together various segments from various tapes - and are offered for presentation to users in THL. Thus the cataloging of titles is essential so that each title is documented with a unique ID, information about its content, information about its creators, and the status of its processing (i.e. workflow information). In this way users of THL can search for videos by various criteria, and then directly examine documentation as to the content of these videos that fit the search critiera.
Significantly, transcripts and translations of the content of the audio-video titile, including subtitles or voiceovers, can be attached to the file. The cataloging record thus serves as a means to directly access the audio-video materials themselves, along with any associated transcriptions, translations and so forth that are intended to be presented in sychronization with the media. Thus the cataloging database of titles also serves as an integrated front end for documentation of workflow issues, and for final presentation.
The final step to our audio-video database is its direct integration with our Savant software system, which allows for directly viewing the media in synchronization with associated transcriptions or annotations. Thus the media appears to the left, and the transcription appears to the right, with an automatically scrolling highlight showing where in the transcript the corresponding media segment is represented.
For Tibetan, at present we require everyone to enter properly spelled Tibetan using the THL Extended Wylie scheme. Under no circumstances should you use phonetically rendered Tibetan, or guess at the spelling. Ultimately we plan to code all Tibetan terms as Tibetan using XML, and then use an automated procedure to switch those to standard phonetic renderings for a non-Tibetanist view. However, at present we do not have these facilities within this cataloging system and hence catalogers should just use the THL Extended Wylie.
It is important that all cataloging be done seriously so that the entires are appropriate, clear and explicit for use outside of your own project staff. Thus all fields should be completed with the following general guidelines:
- In all cases use proper transliteration (THL Wylie for Tibetan, etc.) in rendering non-English terms using Roman script. Do not use phonetic systems that fail to render the native spelling explicitly. (See Audio-Video Titling Manual for specifics on titles, captions, etc.)
- Write in full and grammatical sentences with formal language, not incomplete sentence fragments using abbreviations and slang. It is essential that all data input is written in clear, grammatical English. Thus one should use full sentences rather than incomplete sentences or clauses; the English should be carefully written, not sloppily dashed off. In addition, in terms of content, it should be written without "insider" language understandable only a few people - it should be written as clearly and explicitly as possible so that later users disconnected from the original small context can easily understand what is being said.
- Convey the meaning of the item at hand in explicit terms with an eye towards a public user who has nothing to do with your project and is understanding the contents of the tape and its creation purely from this physical media catalog entry. Finally, you should be as explicit and comprehensive as possible. Don't make partial statements, for example, about a tape's contents and leave it unclear as to whether there might be additional content on the tape - if you have checked and know there isn't, say so; if you haven't checked and don't know say so.
At present the title catalog keeps track of who has entered the record overall, or contributed information to any part of a given item. Thus it is essential that contributors indicate their name for any fields that require extended text: the caption, description, workflow status and so forth.
Please do not use abbreviations - they are too confusing to keep track of. At present some of the drop down catalogs use abbreviations and we are working to replace those with the full names.
Provided for unrestricted use by the Tibetan and Himalayan Library