USGS putting video archive online

The U.S. Geological Survey is tapping Convera to help it develop a Web-based, easily searchable catalog of scientific videos in its archive.

USGS is using Convera's Screening Room video asset management product to make its videos—unedited footage of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods and coastal erosion, for example—searchable via the Internet. The videos are often requested by scientists, educators and the news media, said Karen Wood, a USGS public affairs specialist.

"It's just making things that we have here more accessible," she said. "It's basically taking all these things sitting on a shelf and making them available as a catalog online."

Most of USGS' videos are in their original videotape format and scattered throughout agency offices, Wood said. Currently, a person or organization has to call USGS to find out if a video on a certain topic is available and describe exactly what types of scenes are needed.

Screening Room's search capabilities "will enable them to find the segment they want upfront," Wood said.

The product, which will be installed at USGS' Earth Resources Observation Systems Data Center in South Dakota, can convert digital videos into formats compatible with Web-based video players.

Users can search for precise video clips using text and image clues or browse video summaries to find the footage they need, said Dan Agan, vice president for corporate market development at Convera. Screening Room also extracts any metadata describing what a video depicts and such attributes as whether it contains closed captioning, he said.

Typical users include the Discovery Channel, the History Channel and news organizations. Following last month's earthquake in Seattle, for example, a number of news organizations requested stock footage of earthquake-related damage.

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