Video search still a tough nut to crack

Posted: May 6, 2010 in Digital Search, Video
Tags: , , ,

Digital Search

As video repositories like YouTube balloon, experts scramble for search techniques to catalog the footage

While text-based search services such as Google’s and Microsoft Bing now come pretty close to consistently serving up what users seek, video search services remain inexact at best, said video archiving experts who spoke on a panel at last week’s WWW2010 conference.

Yet the panelists agreed that video searching techniques must improve exponentially if people are to use the growing amount of video footage now stored on the Internet and elsewhere.

“If the material is searchable, it will be useful to the public,” said video archiving consultant Jackie Ubois, who moderated the panel during the conference held in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Hans Westerhof, director of the Images for the Future program for the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, explained the urgency for developing better video search.

In 2005, the Institute started a program to digitize its vast video archive. About 280,000 hours of video and audio footage, including movies, television shows and news footage, will be digitized. About 100,000 hours of footage have already been converted, taking up 3 petabytes of storage space, and the archive is expected to grow to 14 petabytes by 2015.

The problem the Institute faces with all this video footage is making it easy to find. Many of the older source reels of film had little if any meta-data, or descriptive data. Reels of old television programs, for instance, had just the barest amount of information, such as the title of the program and the date it was shown. No information was included about the content of the program.

“For the material to be useful, we need meta-data,” he said. The act of creating meta-data should be automated wherever possible. “Traditional cataloging does not work at this scale,” he said.

Right now, the Institute for Sound and Vision is looking at automated ways of extracting data from the video, using tools such as speech and image recognition.

But developing tools for automatically cataloging video is much harder than developing the tools used to tag text content for a variety of reasons.

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  1. I find video search as something that is largely untapped. Any company that wants to film their own video, store it on their own servers, and then optimise it via the Title and Alt Text, will find very little competition within the SERPs of any of the major search engines. What would you rather clink on after a search, text, or a video that clearly explains what your after?

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