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Monday, October 22, 2007

Future technology

Future technology

Future technology could make us all TV directors

We could all become TV directors in the future, editing shows to include the exciting bits we're interested in and cutting out the boring bits - if BT's predictions are right.

The explosion in websites which let people share their own videos with a worldwide audience shows no sign of slowing down.

But with more and more videos being placed on the net, finding exactly what you want to watch could become tricky.

BT believes the future lies not only in being able to easily track down the video you want to watch, but being able to divide that video up so that you watch just the bits that interest you - allowing you to create your own story.

A vision for the future

The company's future content group has spent a year working with local people in the Liverpool inner city district of Kensington helping them to make their own videos, publish them online and allow them to be viewed in any way they want.

Ian Kegel leads the group - which is part of BT's Broadband Applications Research Centre. He explained: "This is the first project of its kind. We've created a novel broadband application called VideoShow which enables members of a community to create and share highly personalised video programmes.

"It enables creators to easily add structured 'tags' to their pictures and video clips, to a level of detail beyond what is currently possible with internet services such as Flickr and YouTube.

"Their friends, family and colleagues can then use an intuitive web interface to describe their own personalised movie, which is then automatically created from the library of tagged content."

As part of a community TV initiative called Kensington Vision, the people of Kensington were given camcorders to film their children playing in the Edge Hill Junior Football League.

They then used a simple tool to cut the match videos into short clips, tag them with short descriptions - for example, if a player scores a goal, that video clip is tagged "goal" - and upload them onto the Kensington Vision website using their broadband connection.

For example, if one dad misses a match his son is playing in, other parents will have filmed the match in his absence. He can go to the website and make a customised movie by asking for the sort of clips he thinks his son might be in - if he's a strong goal scorer he might opt for all features relating to goals.

The VideoShow system will then make the clips into a new video programme and stream it to his PC over broadband. The programme he sees is not hand-crafted by an individual - VideoShow performs the edits in real time and delivers them to him.

BT Regions north-west regional manager Peter Connor said: "The Kensington Vision partnership has demonstrated that compelling, locally-created digital content is a powerful tool for accelerating information communication technology (ICT) adoption, community creativity and regeneration.

"We are now working with local partners, the BT future content group and other BT colleagues to share best practice and to explore the potential for scaling up this successful model in Liverpool neighbourhoods and other UK communities."

Television - but not as we know it

Ian Kegel said: "The trial has been very successful. An initial evaluation has indicated that users particularly like the extra layer of control VideoShow gives them. You can define what you want to see there and then, rather than trawl through hundreds of clips - and this has wider implications for the broadcast and entertainment industries.

"In the future we may be able to choose to watch news bulletins with only the stories we want to hear about. It might be that you're always sent news about the local area where you live and the top political stories you're interested in. The system may also remember what you've watched before and give you updates on those stories.

"Equally, you may choose to catch up on a few episodes of a show you've missed, but choose only to find out what certain characters have been up to or to follow only certain storylines."

Of course, for this to become reality, professional media producers will need to produce programmes in a different way - so that they can be broken down into separate parts.

BT is working on a collaborative project - NM2: new millennium, new media - with professional communities to work out the best ways to create this new production environment.

Ian said: "At the moment, internet TV is very different from broadcast TV. But BT's new wave products will change all that. We're exploring extra services which we may be able to offer as the trend for user-generated content continues to grow."

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