Video in the Tufts Digital Repository
Thom Cox, Tisch Library
Beverly Gobiel, Tisch Library
Anne Sauer, Digital Collections and Archives (DCA)
Robert Chavez, DCA
Robert Dockins, DCA
Video created at Tufts has become increasingly common as faculty integrate video into
their teaching, and as members of the community seek to capture to video visiting
speakers, student performances, and other special events that take place at Tufts. While
successful efforts to deliver video resources are underway at Tufts, the challenge of
enhancing access, managing through standardization, and preserving these resources has
yet to be addressed.
As Tufts video production continues to increase, a set of materials is being created that
has long term value both for teaching and research at Tufts as well as documenting the
history of the university. At the same time, there is a vibrant research community beyond
Tufts engaged in work on digital video encoding, tools for description and access,
metadata standards, and delivery environments. The DCA, in collaboration with
Academic Technology, has developed and deployed a Fedora-based institutional
repository system (Tufts Digital Repository, or TDR) that is intended to serve the
university’s need for managed, secure, long-term storage of digital assets created at Tufts.
The Tufts Digital Library, or TDL, is the primary user interface for delivery of public use
materials in the repository. These systems already handle XML texts and a variety of
binary data formats such as digital images, PDFs, audio, and SMIL objects. There is still
a need to understand how we can best expand our implementation of Fedora to
accommodate video in an efficient, usable, and sustainable manner.
In this project we propose to pursue research in two complementary areas: first, in the
archival management and preservation of digital video resources in the Tufts Digital
Repository, and second, in the viability of delivery of digital video to the Tufts
community via the Tufts Digital Library. While the issues are related, they encompass
very different problems. Archival management requires standardized formats, large, high-
quality files, and extensive metadata required to facilitate migration and management.
Delivery requires complex encoding, offers a plethora of delivery formats, viewers,
servers, and application options, all of which are highly changeable and thus pose a
considerable challenge to service management. Given the extensive array of work that
has been done in these areas elsewhere we anticipate that it will take some effort to
thoroughly investigate the options they present in order to determine what makes the
most sense for Tufts. As an outcome of the project we would anticipate having a plan for
sustainable management and preservation of these resources and an understanding of
what is feasible for their delivery at the university.
This project will develop a test set of videos for ingest into the TDR and will explore
access and discovery of those resources in the TDL. We propose building a resource on
best practices for video creation and management for Tufts faculty and staff, developing a
set of guidelines and best practices for metadata creation, and surveying faculty on their
past and current use of and future plans for utilizing video in their teaching and research,
and establishing a path for moving forward with such projects in the future.
We anticipate coming back to the Berger Fund for a second year of work to pilot using a
larger set of videos, based on our findings in this project. Possible second year work
might include further development of the workflows for ingest, the creation of procedures
for creation of TDR/TDL compliant video, and to create training for members of the
Tufts community interested in developing these resources.
In 2003, the "Education In Motion" Berger Technology Transfer Grant proposal was
selected for funding. The goal of this project was to augment the offerings of the Tisch
Library by enhancing the quality and expanding the use of a core internet technology –
streaming video – thus establishing a mechanism for the distribution of video content.
Since its completion, several successful video projects have been undertaken from a
variety of departments within the library including Music, LITS, and the very successful
‘Forever Free’ Exhibit.
Having acquired the skills to plan for, produce, edit, and deliver streaming digital videos,
we now find ourselves in the inevitable and advantageous position to ask what can we do
with them and how can we preserve and maintain them for long-term access and use. In
particular, how do we archive the original footage? Does one endeavor to archive a 14
gigabyte file or do you recapture the Mini-DV tape that resided in the camera during
recording every time you need to make use of that footage?
Meanwhile, the interest in streaming video as an educational enhancement has been
growing. Philosophy Department professor Dan Dennett has been recording his course
lectures and, with the help of Neal Hirsig, posting them as streaming videos to his
Blackboard course site. This was originally the idea of his teaching assistant, and
Professor Dennett has found it to be highly effective.
The possibilities for enhancement of the educational experience using streaming video
technology are abundant especially considering the possibilities offered by synchronized,
integrated hyper-linking and voice-over commentary. Using software such as
Macromedia Flash Professional 8, a streaming video could function as one window pane
in a multimedia user interface controlling other panes where relevant links to web
documents and other supplemental materials are spawned in-sync with the video timeline.
Additional (even user-selectable) audio tracks such as spoken word commentary, or
foreign language voice-over, could also be added resulting in a user driven learning
environment. Flash is only one option for delivery of this type of experience. Other
solutions are afforded through the use of SMIL – the Synchronized Multimedia
Integration Language. SMIL is a markup language similar to HTML and is designed to
coordinate the display of a variety of media types on a web page. Flash does offer
additional advantages however. Chief among these are flexibility and access. A Flash
movie containing video compiles into its own high quality video codec that does not
require a Helix (or similar) server to run nor an external RealPlayer application or
RealPlayer plug-in. Instead, the video plays in the Flash Player plug-in that has been
integrated into all major browsers for years and has an estimated 98% market penetration.
Archives have taken the approach that separating content from delivery is a major
component of digital preservation. This approach is based on an assumption that delivery
systems in a digital world are highly changeable and thus efforts are better spent on
preserving the original sources. How can we harmonize the needs for access surrogates
with the needs of digital preservation?
Research in the digital libraries and digital preservation fields is ongoing in the area of
digital video. Projects such as the Open Video Project (http://www.open-video.org/) as
described in the December 2002 issue of D-Lib Magazine
(http://www.dlib.org/dlib/december02/marchionini/12marchionini.html) and the
Informedia Project (http://www.informedia.cs.cmu.edu/index.html) are pushing the
envelope of the use of automated harvesting and generation of metadata access points for
video. Many of these projects are focused on developing repositories or digital libraries
specifically for video. At Tufts, we have envisioned a repository that can accommodate a
wide variety of content types, including video. How can Tufts leverage the research done
by these groups in integrating video into our Fedora implementation?
Different types of video are suited for use in different ways. A recording of a lecture or
presentation has a spoken word component that could benefit from the synchronization of
a transcription with the video. Musical performances or athletic events have different
characteristics. TUTV creates unique entertainment programming for the Tufts
community. Each of these types of video objects could behave differently and provide
differing levels of access and discovery. Given the universe of video that we know exists
at Tufts, what makes the most sense for each type in terms of management in the TDR
and/or delivery through the TDL?
Digital video is notoriously expensive in terms of download times and user access time.
To discover a kernel of information in a 10 minute video will often require a user to view
the entire video. Video files are large, yielding significant download times, and streaming
has major overhead requirements on the system/server side. Enabling users to discover
with a high degree of accuracy that the information they seek can indeed be found in a
particular video file will facilitate a more positive user experience, but requires
significant investment in metadata and discovery tools. How can tools such as those in
development at the Informedia Project be implemented at Tufts? How can we provide a
realistic, scalable model for providing access to video resources in the Tufts Digital
The work of the project is envisioned to span two years, beginning June 1, 2006. Work in
the first year of the project would focus on the following:
• Research into the current state of the field of digital video repository
management, metadata, access tools and surrogates, and delivery options.
• Focus group discussions with faculty and other parties at Tufts involved with
digital video creation and use to develop a set of robust use cases that will be used
to guide future development efforts.
• Focus group discussions with those currently tasked with delivery of video
resources at Tufts to understand the resources available and current lay of the
land. Participants would likely include Web Communications, TUTV, and the
Tufts Distributed Applications Group.
• Selection of a small but representative sample set of videos for testing. These
videos would be used to test a variety of options for management, encoding,
discovery, delivery, and metadata.
• Development of basic content models necessary to support the management of
archival datastreams in the TDR
• Usability testing using the sample videos and the focus group participants to
examine the measure the best end-user experience.
I. Research: Access, Discovery, Metadata, Delivery
Timeline: June 1, 2006 through September 1, 2006; plus time for review of final report
This work will be undertaken by Tisch staff, in conjunction with the DCA. In this phase
of the project, research will be conducted on the existing universe of digital video
repository projects. Tasks include:
• Information gathering on digital repository and digital library projects focusing on
• Gather technical specifications, documentation, and best practices guidelines for
• Gather information on appropriate preservation copies and deliverable surrogates
• Presentation of findings to project team
• Survey faculty to find out what video projects are currently underway, have been
completed in the past, or are being considered for the future.
• Follow up questions of project team, including contacting other projects outside
Tufts to seek additional information as appropriate
• Attend and assist in facilitation of focus group discussions
• Based on focus group discussions, generate initial draft of use cases
• Make initial selection of testing sample of videos
• Working with the project team, assist in developing final report and
II. Encoding tools, content models, disseminations, and delivery tools
Timeline: September 2006-May 2007
This work will be undertaken by the DCA-AT development team and will fall into two
areas. The first portion of the work will be to inform the technical aspects of the research
undertaken in section I. above. Based on the conclusions drawn from the research phase
we anticipate building some of the basic content models and disseminators to facilitate
the management of archival video in the repository and some aspects of discovery in the
The budget includes $1,500 for software which we anticipate purchasing in order to
enable working with digital video. Packages we would purchase would likely include
Adobe Premier (ca. $700) for capture, clip creation and other tools, and a product such as
ProCoder 2.0 ($500) for batch encoding and transcoding into a variety of digital video
Research work will include:
• Research technical implications of video encoding and delivery options
• Determination, in consultation with DCA staff, of appropriate preservation
copies and deliverable surrogates
• Research metadata capture and delivery options
• Develop workflow for capture and encoding of archival video format
• Develop workflow for creation of metadata
Based on the synthesis of the research work, the next phase of work would include
developing content models and disseminators for sample video objects in the TDR.
Content models and disseminators provide the basic means of describing classes of
digital objects in the TDR and how users and applications can interact with digital objects
that belong to a particular class. Briefly, content models define all the pieces of
information that make up a digital object; they define the type and kind of metadata that
accompanies and object, they define files and formats that make up the digital object, and
they define the behaviors to which a digital object subscribes. Disseminators are the
mechanisms that provide access to the behaviors of digital objects in the repository. For
example, the content model of a digital video object in the TDR might define a preview
behavior (say, a 1 minute video clip plus text metadata that describes the full video). An
accompanying disseminator, perhaps called getPreview, could be created to allow a
faculty member or student to retrieve the preview for incorporation into a class lecture;
the same disseminator could also be used by applications (i.e. a multimedia viewer in the
TDL) for immediate viewing. All the research performed in section I of this grant will
help us understand how to build scalable and flexible content models and disseminators
for TDR digital video objects that will serve the needs of the Tufts community.
III. Test content preparation, ingest, and testing
Timeline: October 2006 through May 2007
Selection of videos for testing. Candidates include:
• Forever Free Exhibit events (lectures, dramatic presentations)
• TUTV programming (programs developed for broadcast over student run
• Friends of the Library Authors Talks
• CMS Senior projects (documentary videos)
• Athletic events (from TUTV)
• Faculty lectures
Content preparation activities will depend on the types of access tools and surrogates the
project team decides to test. At minimum, preparation will include capture to disk,
creation of downloadable and/or streaming derivatives, and metadata creation. Additional
tasks could include transcription of spoken word videos, creation of indexes,
development of storyboards, and other potential access vehicles.
VI. Reports and documentation
Timeline: March-May 2007
With the apparent interest in utilization of video across the Tufts faculty, a major
outcome of this project will be the development and dissemination of best practices for
the conceptualization and management of video projects as well as technical
documentation on the preparation of video for delivery in an online environment.
The project team will develop a report on their findings with regard to the management,
preservation and delivery of digital video resources at Tufts. DCA will create a series of
documents detailing best practices for the capture of digital video, encoding for web
delivery, and standards and guidelines for the creation of metadata and access surrogates.
This documentation will also include recommendations of software tools suited to this
work. From the range of types and states of videos digitized for this project, DCA will
create a cost/benefit matrix for preparing variable content for online delivery. This
documentation will be made available on the DCA website as well as through the Tisch
Sustainability is at the core of this project. While many have developed exciting and
dramatic tools for access and delivery of digital video, the purpose of this project is to
determine a manageable, sustainable way to maintain these resources within our broad-
based repository environment. By focusing first on preservation of the archival video we
will be placing sustainability first. An emphasis on guidelines and best practices and
training through workshops and documentation, this project will provide a strong
foundation for future development of video projects at Tufts. All content created for this
and future projects will be preserved and maintained in the Tufts Digital Repository. The
survey of faculty utilizing digital video will provide a roadmap to ensure these valuable
resources are preserved and made available for future use.
240 hours @ $15/hour = $3,600
II. Technical research and development:
TDL Graduate Student Assistantship
(Computer Science) $16,500
III. Test content preparation:
240 hours @ $15/hour = $3,600
IV. Focus Group expenses:
a. Catering (lunch for 12, twice) $500
V. Project Team stipends
a. Thom Cox, Tisch Libary $1,000
b. Beverly Gobiel, Tisch Library $1,000
c. Robert Chavez, DCA $1,000
d. Robert Dockins, DCA $1,000
VI. Software $1,500
Total Budget Requested: $30,200
Fit with Berger Criteria:
Successfully explore new technology: This project will explore the management and
preservation as well as exploring the delivery of video in a digital repository
Increase productivity: This project will develop training for members of the Tufts
community who create video resources and provide documentation detailing best
practices for the capture of digital video, and will encourage planning for preservation
from the point of creation.
Contribute value outside the Tufts community, especially within the Boston Library
Consortium: For the library community, this project will synthesize a variety of research
on how to manage, preserve, provide access to video in a managed repository
environment and explore implementation in a real-world setting. Project participants
would offer a workshop to interested members of the BLC and write papers for
professional journals in librarianship and archives management.
Add value to the secondary education environment: This project will provide long term
management and preservation of educational videos and access to members of the Tufts
community and beyond. Tufts lectures can be made preserved and potentially made
available to alumni and friends, reflecting the university’s commitment to life-long
Transfer technology to other staff, faculty and students: Tisch staff participating in the
project will learn about the means and possibilities for expanding the video experience
into a multimedia-rich learning environment by way of synchronized transcripts,
integrated hyper-linking, voice-over commentary, and/or other supplemental materials.
They will also learn how professional video developers are meeting the challenge of
archiving raw video capture footage.
Improve service to Arts & Sciences and Engineering: This project will provide a plan
for sustainable management of digital video resources at the university.
Create interdepartmental approaches: This project will involve staff from Tisch, DCA,
and AT. In addition, participants will work with TUTV, students, and faculty from a
variety of departments.
Build teams of library staff and faculty: Participating Tisch staff will survey the faculty
on their use of video, assist in the development and implementation of the faculty focus
groups, and help create the faculty workshops on best practices and guidelines for
Enhance the teaching role of the library: By capturing video of Tisch lectures and
events and making them available on the web, Tisch will be extending its educational
role beyond the confines of the university to a broader audience of alumni and friends.
Thom Cox, Web Developer, Tisch Library
Thom will aid in the research of the means and possibilities for expanding the video
experience into a multimedia-rich learning environment by way of synchronized
transcripts, integrated hyper-linking, voice-over commentary, and/or other supplemental
materials. Upon conclusion of research, Thom will lead the development of
representative sample applications of this technology. In addition, Thom will research
how professional video developers are meeting the challenge of archiving raw video
Beverly Gobiel, Electronic Resources Assistant
Bev’s initial contribution will be to assist in the researching of other digital library
projects focusing on video, and to create a documentation of findings to serve as a future
resource. She will help to develop and implement a faculty survey to uncover previously
completed, currently underway, or future considerations for video projects, and will
additionally compile and organize survey responses. Further into the project, Bev will
assist with the selection of sample videos, help perform usability testing, and aid in the
development of workflow.
Robert Chavez, Technology Manager
Rob will coordinate the integration of this project with overall work planning for the
TDR and TDL. As the coordinator of the DCA/AT developers group, he will manage the
fit of all technical developments within the project into the overall work plan for the TDR
Robert Dockins, Digital Resources Archivist
Robert will bring his understanding of digital preservation and the Fedora architecture to
the project. He will share in supervision of the CS graduate assistant with Rob Chavez.
Anne Sauer, Director, DCA, and University Archivist
Anne will facilitate the project work overall and oversee the Simmons student researcher.
One of her primary roles in the project will be to represent the archival perspective.