DIY Movies On Demand

Tom Worthington FACS HLM

Visiting Fellow, Department of Computer Science, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia

For Beyond The Internet, Symposium, ANU, 8 September 2003.

This document is version 1.0, 8 September 2003:


A high quality digital video archive for use by film researchers and the movie industry is being built with funding from the Australian Research Council. The concept of the archive will be introduced. How XML and web services technology will be used for the archive will be detailed and uses beyond entertainment will be discussed. Four Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are being deployed by the Australian Defence Force to the Solmon Islands. How the ACRA technology could be used to deliver sensor data from the UAVs direct to military personnel aboard a floating command centre will be discussed.

ACM Computing Classification System: H.4.3 Communications Applications, Computer conferencing, teleconferencing, and videoconferencing

Introduction: Make Movies with Microscopes

Last Friday I attended hearings of the House of Representatives Communications Committee's inquiry into film and electronic games. The terms of reference include:

(c) future opportunities for further growth of these industries, including through the application of advanced digital technologies, online interactivity and broadband;
(d) the current and likely future infrastructure needs of these industries, including access to bandwidth;
(e) the skills required to facilitate future growth in these industries and the capacity of the education and training system to meet these demands;
(f) the effectiveness of the existing linkages between these industries and the wider cultural and information technology sectors;
(g) how Australia?s capabilities in these industries, including in education and training, can be best leveraged to maximise export and investment opportunities; and
(h) whether any changes should be made to existing government support programs to ensure they are aligned with the future opportunities and trends in these industries.
From: Terms of reference, Standing Committee on Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, URL:

The Information Technology industries did not seem to be represented at the inquiry, as it was seen to be about creative industries. The electronic games and special effects industries depend on IT and less obviously they and film will increasingly depend on high speed networks.

By accident Australia has been building infrastructure for digital entertainment production, as a by-product of IT for science based industries. By accident trough work on archiving government documents I became involved in this industry. This presentation introduces the technology and one application of it and how the investment already made for science can be exploited for the creative industries.

Archives and Metadata

In the course COMP3410: Information Technology in Electronic Commerce, ANU students learn about Electronic Document Management. And its implementation using XML technology. This is discussed in terms of electronic equivalents of traditional paper documents used by government, such as letters and reports. But the same principles apply to materials from the creative industries, such as film scripts, sound and video recordings.
// noun (often plural) 1. the non-current documents or records relating to the activities, rights, claims, treaties, constitutions, etc., of a family, corporation, community, or nation. 2. a place where public records or other historical documents are kept. 3. the agency or organisation responsible for collecting and storing such documents. [French, from Latin, from Greek: public building, plural, records]
From The Macquarie Concise Dictionary, 2000-2003, URL:
Archives are usually thought of as being dustry basements full of paper, but can be computer systems holding electronic documents.
metadata n., a set of data that describes and gives information about other data...
[1968 Proc. IFIP 4th Congr.: Suppl. 10 I. 113/2 There are categories of information about each data set as a unit in a data set of data sets, which must be handled as a special meta data set.] 1987 Philos. Trans. Royal Soc. A. 322 373 The challenge is to accumulate data..from diverse sources, convert it to machine-readable form with a harmonized array of *metadata descriptors and present the resulting database(s) to the user. 1998 New Scientist 30 May 35/2 With XML, attaching metadata to a document is easy, at least in theory.
Oxford English Dictionary, (Online) Draft entry Dec. 2001, URL:
An example of Metadata for creative industries is the TV Anytime Forum's Metadata Specification. This is based on MPEG7 and expressed in XML format. Here is a sample:
<ProgramInformation programId="crid://" version="1">
<Title><![CDATA[Book Of The Week]]></Title>
<Synopsis><![CDATA[The Bullfighter Checks Her Make-Up: Susan Orlean looks at the lives of extraordinary people. Orlean meets the members of 60s girl pop band the Shaggs. [Rpt of Tue 9.45am]. Then Sailing By.]]></Synopsis>
<Genre target="links" href="urn:mpeg:TVAnytime_v0.3IntentionCS:1.1">
<Genre target="links" href="urn:mpeg:TVAnytime_v0.3ContentCS:3.4.1">
<Name><![CDATA[Content:FICTION:General light drama]]></Name>
<Program crid="crid://"/>
<Free value="true"/>
From: WD688 - Example Metadata and Content Referencing XML, Sample BBC TV-Anytime data (v1.2), Andrew McParland, BBC Research & Development,
This says the BBC will broadcast Book Of The Week program at: 0n 12 December 2001 00:30 GMT for 15 minutes.
The same format used for a TV guide to a future program can be used to describe what has already been broadacast and is recorded in a digital video recorder. The recorder can then play back a particualr program on request. The format also allows for parts of a program to be indexed, so that they can be searched and a particualr segment played:
<element name="SegmentInformation" type="tva:SegmentInformationType"/>
<complexType name="SegmentInformationType">
<element name="ProgramRef" type="tva:CRIDRefType" minOccurs="0"/>
<element name="Description" type="tva:BasicSegmentDescriptionType" minOccurs="0"/>
<element name="SegmentLocator" type="mpeg7:MediaTimeType"/>
<element name="KeyFrameLocator" type="mpeg7:MediaTimeType" minOccurs="0" maxOccurs="unbounded"/>
<attribute name="segmentId" type="ID" use="required"/>
<attribute name="version" type="integer" use="optional"/>
From: Metadata, The TV-Anytime Forum, August 17, 2001, SP003v11.doc,
Segments of a program need not be played back on their own, or in the order originally recorded. This function allows for specalised programs to be assembled for each consumer. This is done by a short document specifying what sement to play when. Due to convergence in the use of XML to describe the segemnts and specify the script and text of a film, the preparation, production, post production, disctribtion aspects to blurr. However, until there is widespread boradband digital access at an affrodable price, most applciations for this technology will be in production. The ACRA aims to exploiut what is possible in the near future.

Australian Creative Resources Archives

The Australian Creative Resources Archives (ACRA) is a pilot project which will build into a nationally distributed, standardised, high-bandwidth digital archive that makes “waste” materials from Australian cultural production processes available to researchers, the education sector more generally, and to commercial content developers. This “waste” material is often of very high quality and can therefore be of great value to many people and groups in the community, greatly accelerating the production and quality of Australian broadband content. Access to cultural “junk” would, for example, be very valuable to film, television, and radio producers; musicians; historians; advertisers of all sorts; documentary producers; the IT industries in general—in fact, it will be a valuable resource for anybody wishing to study, understand, or capitalise upon Australia’s creative potential.
From Proposal for the pilot phase, 18 May 2002:


Australian Creative Resources Archives (ACRA) 5 September 2003

Video desk at the ACRA
(Photo by David Rooney, 5 September 2003)

Audio desk at the ACRA
(Photo by David Rooney, 5 September 2003)

The ANU's involvement will concentrate on interfacing to metadata in the archive. It is intended to produce a demonstration interface using open source technology in 2004.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in the Solmon Islands

It should be noted that just as cultural industries can use the technology from science, non-entertainment applications are possible from the ACRA. One example is to store and retrieve video for industrial applications. Four Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are being deployed by the Australian Defence Force to the Solmon Islands. The ACRA technology could be used to deliver sensor data from the UAVs direct to military personnel aboard a floating command centre. The details of the military UAVs deployed are not public for security reasons, so the capabilities of the civilian version will be looked at.

Aerosonde fitted both still and motion cameras to the aircraft, for scientific purposes, testing over the Arctic Ocean:

The aircraft was prepared for flight again, this time fitting the C3030 digital camera as well as the 555 video camera.
With both cameras fitted the real time video imagery can be used to queue high-resolution digital still images of a subject of interest.
From: "Mission Diary, Barrow", David Wright, Aerosonde 2003-08-13, URL:

The Olympus "C-3030 zoom":

3.34-megapixel CCD for true-to-life colors and 2,048 x 1,536 pixel resolution. Its all-glass f/2.8 3x zoom with continuous 2.5x digital zoom ... 15 different image-resolution capture modes--including five uncompressed TIFF modes and up to 191 seconds of QuickTime movie capture with sound. Built-in USB connection and serial connection allow users downloading flexibility. ... 32MB SDRAM buffer for rapid shooting at 3.3 frame-per-second burst mode up to 5 photos, and real-time shooting at 1 photo every second....
From: Olympus C3030 Digital Camera, Digital Camera Buyers Guide 2000-2003, URL:

The platform can resolve its location to 4m :

Platform: Aerosonde
Temporal Resolution: 50 ms to 1 sec
Spatial Resolution: ~4 m .
Direct Products: Atmospheric pressure, temperature, winds, relative humidity
Miscellaneous: Accuracies: ~0.1 hPa pressure, ~0.2 K temperature, and 2-5% RH // Infrared thermometer (pyrometer): Heitronix KT-11.85 at 9.6-11.5 mm atmospheric window and range -60 to 100 C // Camera: Olympus C-3030 (also 0.8x lens at times) // Pressure/Moisture: Vaisala RSS901 // Winds: GPS system //
From:  "CAMEX-4 Instruments - Instrument Information -Aerosonde", The Fourth Convention and Moisture Experiment, NASA, undated, URL:

The "555" video camera mentioned appears to be a Sony XC-555:

Image Device 1/2 type IT CCD
Effective Picture Elements 768 (H) x 494 (V)
Minimum Illumination 3 lx. (F1.2, AGC ON)
Power Requirement 10.5 to 15 V DC
Power Consumption 2.4 W
Operating Temperature 0 to 40? C (32 to 104? F)
Shock Resistance 70 G
Dimensions 22 (H) x 22 (W) x 75 (D) mm / (7/8 x 7/8 x 3 inches)
Mass 60 g (2.1 oz)

From: XC555

The digital communications capacity of the Aerosonde is limited, but even so the amount of data generated is significant and way is needed to retrieve it rapidly. The metadata items used for video could be augmented with additional items, such as geographic coordinates.

Communications with the Aerosonde are conducted via UHF radio and low Earth-orbiting satellite and data are relayed in real time to a ground commander. Within UHF line of site (ranges < 150 km), the Aerosonde operator is in constant communication with the UAV. Outside of UHF range, the Aerosonde operator switches the communication mode to satellite communications. The update rate for monitoring the UAV downlink and sending commands is a function of LEO satellite coverage and in practice can vary from minutes to an hour.
From: Application of Aerosondes for CAMEX-4, Judith Curry
, University of Colorado, 2001, URL: rument_documentation/aerosonde.pdf

The communications for the UAV are within the capabilities of the support ship for the exercise. In future the UAVs could be launched from high speed transport ships.

More Information

Australian Creative Resources Archives, Proposal for the pilot phase, 18 May 2002:

Photos, Australian Creative Resources Archives, from Bicycle Bag to Brisbane: Bicycle Bag to Brisbane: A Two Wheeled Tour Through a Subtropical City, E-Publishing, Broadband and Digital Media, 18 June 2003:

Aerosonde Robotic Aircraft, 16 September 1999,

Military Internet, 10 September 2001:

USAV TSV-1X, High Speed US Army Transport Ship, 22 November 2002:

Note: For presentation purposes use the frames version of this document, with a double width screen. The text of this document will display in one half of the screen and linked documents in the other.

Biographical Notes

Tom Worthington is a Chief Investigator for the Australian Creative Resources Archive Project. He is an independent information technology consultant and Visiting Fellow in the Department of Computer Science at ANU, where he lectures on electronic commerce and web technology. Tom is one of the architects of the Commonwealth Government's Internet strategy and was the first Web Master for the Australian Department of Defence. In 1999 he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Computer Society for his contribution to the development of public Internet policy. Tom is also a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Association for Computing Machinery.

Copyright © Tom Worthington 2003