Audio Visual Prototyping Briefing Document

This is one of five briefing documents prepared by the Library prior to the selection of a vendor to develop a prototype digital repository. The prototype will test potential approaches for the preservation of recorded sound and moving image collections. The briefing documents offer some proposed actions as of October 1999. As the project proceeds, the selected vendor will analyze and respond to the briefing papers. Version of October 6, 1999

5. Access and Delivery Issues


Defining quantity, type, and location of researchers to be served
Location and workstation configuration
Playback capabilities for researcher audio and video workstations
Interface design ("presentation")
Parameters for limited access management for the prototype
I. Defining quantity, type, and location of researchers to be served

I.A EXPANDING ACCESS DURING PROJECT

The Library would like to vary the access provided during three periods in the project:

I. B WHAT SORT OF RESEARCHERS VISIT THE MOTION PICTURE AND TELEVISION AND RECORDED SOUND READING ROOMS?

The researchers are generally scholars or persons producing new television and radio programs or sound recordings. Some sense of the clientele may be deduced from the Library's guidelines governing use of the facilities:

I.C WHAT TOPICS ARE STUDIED?

Researchers may pursue the biography and works of a film director, actor, musical performer, or scriptwriter; styles used in filmmaking or represented in performances (which may require close analysis of an item in the collection); trends in news or entertainment content; aspects of the politics or culture of a period represented in the collections; graphic arts styles of phonograph record albums; and many other topics. Researchers often seek to make "scratch" or reference copies of visual items, e.g., photocopies of articles, film frames, or graphical elements of, say, a phonograph record.

II. Location and workstation configuration

II.A RECORDED SOUND REFERENCE CENTER

The Library proposes that the high-end audio workstation be located in a soundproof room in the neighboring Performing Arts Reading Room., subject to approval by the Chief of the Music Division.. This location will permit the use of high quality loudspeakers and will accommodate two or perhaps even three persons for a listening session. There should be some type of modest color printer available to print graphic elements and bibliographic data.

The moderate quality workstations will be on one of the reference desks and on one or more staff desk. Listening at these workstations would be via headphones or perhaps loudspeakers of the type typically furnished with multimedia desktop computers.

II.B MOTION PICTURE AND TELEVISION READING ROOM

The Library proposes that high-end audio workstation be located in a small room at the edge of the reading room, presently occupied by microform readers and microfilm storage shelves. The Library's initial preference-subject to discussion and modification during planning-is for a two (or even three, see below) monitor setup: one or two video monitor(s) for the actual program and a computer monitor for the bibliographic (cataloging) information and a "remote playback controller. Listening to soundtracks will generally be via headphone although loudspeakers should also be available for special projects or selected tours by visitors. There should be some type of modest color printer available to print still frames and bibliographic data.

The moderate quality workstations will be on one of the reference desks and on one or more staff desk. Listening at these workstations would be via headphones or perhaps loudspeakers of the type typically furnished with multimedia desktop computers.

II.C ITS AND NLDP LEARNING CENTER WORKSTATIONS

Locations to be determined.

III. Playback capabilities for researcher audio and video workstations

A variety of controls and/or capabilities are desired for playback. These are listed below under the headings very desirable and desirable. The Library wishes to take maximum advantage of off-the-shelf software or hardware and understands that this may limit the number of features that can be provided. The Library understands that certain features may be available at the high-end workstations but may not provided for the moderate quality workstations.

III.A VERY DESIRABLE CAPABILITIES

  1. ability to display elapsed time and/or frame counts
  2. provision of controls to pause, rewind, slow-motion or video step frame
  3. ability to adjust viewing and listening factors such as color rendition, contrast, brightness, audio equalization, application of anti-pop/anti-click software, switchable Dolby or other noise reduction systems (for recordings where it is unknown whether noise reduction had been used)
  4. ability to flag or mark spots or segments within audio and video selections and "loop" playback
  5. display of waveforms or other technical information, especially for audio
  6. ability to compare two passages in different sound recordings, e.g., have two recordings of the same segment of the same musical composition available for one-after-the-other comparative playback

III.B DESIRABLE CAPABILITIES

  1. ability to listen to audio during fast forward and rewind to locate desired portion of a track
  2. ability to advance an audio selection automatically to a point where db level drops below a given threshold
  3. for slow-motion audio playback: restoration of pitch
  4. ability to produce an "edit decision" file/printout. Explanation: The researcher marks his/her segments in the listening software as he/she listens. Then at the end of the session, he/she can get an info file or printout that gives timecode for the whole selection indicating: selection start (0:00), segment one start and stop, segment two start and stop, and selection stop. Later, when LC supplies a copy of the file, we will provide a file of the whole selection, e.g., the whole side of an lp. The patron would then refer to the edit decision list to guide their own manipulation of the file after they have received it.
  5. dual viewing of video. Explanation: The researcher is able to compare two segments of footage, typically in two different items. Providing this capability may be very CPU-intensive and the Library is happy to explore best compromises, including successive playing of two segments. The notion of having two picture-program monitors for the high-end workstation is related to this capability.
  6. print still frames (or screen grabs when a video program is on) to paper with and added boilerplate warning about copyright added to the sheet

III.C INDIANA UNIVERSITY EXAMPLE

As noted in the RFQ attachments, a fully realized research-access system for students of music has been developed at Indiana University. There is a web description of the Indiana system, including input, storage, and research access features.

IV. Interface design ("presentation")

IV.A BROWSER BASED ACCESS

The Library proposes that interfaces reach the end users in Web browser software.

IV.B STYLE

The interface to be developed is a researcher's interface and ought not achieve "entertainment-industry" levels of beauty or excitement. It should be complete, clear, and workmanlike in order to serve persons with a serious interest in the underlying content. In short, the style is to be more akin to a reference book than a weekly newstand magazine.

The design will presumably make extensive use of scripts to produce HTML pages on the fly by scripts.

Although the prototype need not be identical in look and feel to American Memory, readers are encouraged to look at sample collections such as The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip or Theodore Roosevelt: His Life and Times on Film. The relevant aspect of these examples is how individual items are presented from the database and not the packaging of the collection as a whole. (Search for an example or use the subject or title browse lists to get to individual items.) For comparison, see also an example of an online Library research database for pictures.

IV.C DIVISION OF LABOR FOR INTERFACE DESIGN

The Library plans to work with the contractor to develop storyboards or mockups for the interface but will not have staff available to realize the needed scripts or other elements, including graphics. Thus the Library anticipates that interface development will be carried out by the contractor.

V. Parameters for limited access management for the prototype

V.A INITIAL ACCESS

Section I.A above indicates that the working-access portion of the project will begin with an internal staff review period, followed by the M/B/RS reading room access period. During these periods, the Library will supply a list of IP address for the workstations authorized for access.

V.B LATER ACCESS

When access is provided to the expanded Library of Congress community, there are two possible scenarios. First, the list of IP address may be expanded to cover a few dozen workstations throughout the institution. Alternately, the Library may permit access to all workstations within the "loc.gov" domain. This matter will be discussed during the planning period.


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