Title image

Images in focus: organizing visual content for use

Wednesday 28th November 2012, 14.00 – 18.00,
followed by networking, wine and nibbles.

Lecture Theatre, British Dental Association,
64 Wimpole Street, London, W1G 8YS
[Location information and map (pdf)]


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Though largely confined to text-based resources through much of its history, Knowledge Organization has always had to cope with visual materials. Art galleries, photo libraries, film and video collections have hitherto largely 'done their own thing', adapting techniques designed for textual resources to visual content. However, it can be argued that communication today places as much emphasis upon visual materials as upon text and that visual materials need special attention.

The rise first of film and then television, has accelerated the growth of visual content beyond imagination. With the more recent digital revolution, the emergence of the World Wide Web as a global 'library', and with 72 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, the need to develop improved approaches to cataloguing and indexing of visual content has become even more urgent.

In the first session, this event examines some examples of current best practice: in image collection cataloguing, in IPR management for images and in the use of a standards-based approach to a national film collection. In the second session, three speakers will describe how computer-based image analysis and crowdsourcing techniques are being investigated as a means of by-passing the bottleneck posed by the need for human cataloguing and indexing. The afternoon will end with a Panel Q&A session followed by a wine-and-nibbles fuelled networking opportunity.

The event is free to ISKO members and to full-time students. The fee for non-members is just £40. All fees must be paid in advance - there is no provision for payment on arrival. Registration opens at 1.30 and we shall start promptly at 2 p.m.


Where they are available, links have been provided under each presenttion as follows:
icon for link to slide presentation or icon for link to slide presentation slide presentation
icon for link to sound recording sound recording

13:30 Registration
14:00 Welcome and introduction
  Session 1: Current practices
14.10 ‘Great images deserve great keywording’ – approaches to captioning and keywording at Mary Evans Picture Library
Tom Gillmor, Head of Content, Mary Evans Picture Library  ppt  icon for link to sound recording
14.40 Finding images and rights holders - distributing and protecting images in the digital environment
Sarah Saunders, Electric Lane  ppt  icon for link to sound recording
15.10 The BFI’s collections information database (CID) – a practical application of the CEN metadata standard
Gabriele Popp & Stephen McConnachie, British Film Institute  ppt  icon for link to sound recording
15.40 Refreshments
  Session 2: Future trends
16.20 Library of Birmingham: the automatic generation of metadata
Paul Davies, Junction Media  ppt  icon for link to sound recording
16.50 Visual animal biometrics – applications and challenges
Tilo Burghardt, BBC Natural History Unit/Bristol University  pdf  icon for link to sound recording
17.20 Multimedia classification
Sam Davies, BBC R&D  ppt  icon for link to sound recording
17.50 Panel session  icon for link to sound recording
18.00 Networking, wine and nibbles
19.00 Close

Speakers and abstracts:

Tom Gillmor
What are the practices and approaches to cataloguing and keywording used to manage the wide variety of imagery found in a specialist picture library? How can keywording protocols be effectively implemented and what tools can be created to aid this process? This presentation will examine these questions by studying specific images, discussing examples of good (and bad!) keywording practice, specifically in the environment of a specialist library collection. The importance of a keywording structure (where less is often more) and the practicalities of providing metadata for image supply to international partners will also be discussed. The presentation will close by looking at the feasibility of more automation in the keywording process within a specialist collection and the major lessons Mary Evans Picture Library has learned in moving from an analogue archive to a fully digital online presence.

Tom Gillmor is the Head of Content at the Mary Evans Picture Library, the UK’s leading specialist source for historical images, where he has worked for the past 13 years. His department manages new content acquisitions, contributor collections, the in-house digitisation programme and archive. He is also involved in maintaining standards in captioning and keywording of all new content. He has written a series of guides to keywording for the BAPLA Academy and has experience of the wholesale transfer of an analogue image archive to a searchable online platform.

Sarah Saunders
The digital environment has presented both challenges and benefits to people producing and distributing images. The search environment is becoming more sophisticated with improved word tagging, automated metadata entry and visual recognition technologies providing more focussed search results. The challenge to rights holders is to keep track of digital copies of images which can easily ‘escape’ without the necessary rights labelling. Data in IPTC metadata fields and digital fingerprinting can combine with visual recognition to provide security for rightsholders and pathways to licensing for people who want to use images legally.

Sarah Saunders is Director of Electric Lane, a training and consultancy company which helps companies optimise their visual media workflow. Electric Lane specialises in digital asset management, digital imaging, keywording and controlled vocabularies and data mapping and management. She has worked with the stock image industry for many years, has been involved in standards setting projects on behalf of BAPLA and CEPIC, and authored the CEPIC/IPTC Metadata Handbook. She represents CEPIC on the IPTC Photo Metadata Working Group, and has contributed to the ARROW PLUS project for CEPIC.

Gabriele Popp & Stephen McConnachie
In September 2011, the BFI launched a new collections management system that brought technical film and television holdings records and descriptive filmographic data, as well as collections management functionality such as barcoding and workflow management, into one holistic Collections Information Database (CID). The further integration of all data about related special collections, e.g. stills, posters and archival papers, as well as the library catalogue, is close to completion.

As part of this project, an innovative hierarchical data structure was devised based on the newly ratified European metadata standard CEN prEN 15907 Film identification - Enhancing interoperability of metadata - Element sets and structures. The BFI is the first major film archive to implement this standard, which provides a structure for the hierarchical ordering of metadata about film works, including their variants, manifestations and items.

The presentation will explain how information management principles were introduced into the BFI National Film and Television Archive through the creation of a dedicated team of information specialists responsible for vocabulary control and thesaurus management across all collections. We will discuss issues around implementation, change management and the major challenges encountered when moving from a multitude of flat databases into a combined hierarchical data structure.

Gabriele Popp has over 20 years’ experience in information management, working in a variety of roles at the Victoria & Albert Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. In 2006, she was awarded a scholarship to attend the first Cultural Leadership Programme at City University, London; she holds degrees in both Academic Librarianship and Cultural History, as well as a Masters in Philosophy.

Since joining the British Film Institute in 2008, Gabriele worked on documentation policy and oversaw the implementation of the new Collections Information Database (CID). She takes the strategic overview for collections information across all BFI collections, incl. the National Film and Television Archive, related Special Collections and the Library. Gabriele played a key role in re-shaping the BFI Reuben Library and led the project to transform it from a specialist membership library into a public-facing, free offer fully integrated into the BFI venue providing collections access to all visitors. Earlier this year, she was elected to the Cataloguing and Documentation Commission of the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF).

Stephen McConnachie is Collections Information Data Manager at the BFI. He was part of the project team that mapped BFI legacy databases to the new European metadata standard for film works, and has managed implementation of the new Collections Information Database using that data model, consolidating all BFI collections within a single, standards-based system with public collections search functionality. His background is in film and television archive metadata and collections management in the commercial sector, and he led the content processing team at ITN Source during the development and implementation of the ITN DAM system, managing the shift from analogue to digital file-based archive workflows.

Paul Davies
Junction Media is engaged in project MAGMA (Metadata automatic generation and moderation application). The Library of Birmingham has a problem which our market research finds is common to many: that digitisation is often slowed down by the lack of person hours available to create meaningful metadata that would enable a digitised asset to be effectively located by a user or purchaser.

We are experimenting with the use of open source software tools in innovative chains to automatically create and verify metadata with minimal professional intervention. We have deliberately worked with collections that include images as well as text and some handwriting. We will show our initial results and explore the influence of automated metadata tools on the future of archives. We’ll ask whether the answer to the commercialisation of assets in a digital world is through a MAGMA style tool.

The R&D is part funded by The Technology Strategy Board whose sponsorship is gratefully acknowledged.

Paul Davies is a digital content specialist and is M.D. at Birmingham based Junction Media. Paul’s background is as a television producer, originally for Central Television and now specialising in children’s learning. As such, he produced and directed programmes for ITV Schools and Adult Education, BBC Learning and Channel Four. He is a Royal Television Society Award winner and a BAFTA nominee.

Sensing that the future of children’s learning lies in digital media, Junction Media widened its remit from 2008. In the first year, the branch produced ‘WeVee’, an on line mash up tool, with a USP that no copies of original materials are made during on-line editing or playback. It’s currently in use in teacher training and by archives and heritage specialists. With advice on business and digital innovation from NESTA, the branch has developed.

Tilo Burghardt
Conservational and ecological challenges as well as wildlife documentation increasingly demand extensive computing support in the field. One way of providing this support is by monitoring animal populations by application of object recognition and pattern matching techniques directly in natural environments.

This talk presents work on visual animal biometrics applied to often engangered species. It explains the formation and properties of animal coat patterns and their exploitation for automated recognition (on species and individual level) in the field.

A special focus will be on issues arising when operating biometric computer vision systems in natural environments; including controlling their robustness and scalability.

Tilo Burghardt holds an Academic Fellowship of the Research Councils of theUnited Kingdom (RCUK) at the Visual Information and Intelligent Systems Laboratory, University of Bristol. His current research interests focus on machine recognition of organic visual content in unconstrained natural environments.

Burghardt has co-pioneered the application of Computer Vision to field biology aiming at combining machine intelligence and computer vision to enable practical fingerprinting and surveillance of animal populations.

Sam Davies
BBC R&D’s Multimedia Classification team are investigating ways in which different kinds of metadata can be extracted from programmes within the BBC archive and used to assist content navigation. With the BBC aiming to digitise and open up the archives to the public by 2022, the need for more effective search methods is imperative, both in terms of helping users find what they’re looking for and recommending content the users didn’t know about.

To this end, we are looking at extracting and utilising both semantic and affective metadata – identifying not only the topic or factual content of a programme or scene but also its mood or emotional value. For this we are developing techniques in various fields such as vision and audio processing, for example to identify faces or the mood of background music along with research in speech recognition and text analysis.

Our final area of research is that of machine learning where we aim to map the extracted metadata to semantic and mood based values. This will allow viewers to find programmes not only based on more search strategies (programme title, actor etc), but also in novel ways which are more intuitive to how humans classify and respond to media.


ISKO is a not-for-profit scientific/professional association with the objective of promoting research and communication in the domain of knowledge organization, within the broad field of information science and related disciplines. Founded in 2007, our UK Chapter has been attracting lively and steadily growing audiences to its afternoon meeting series (see slides and recordings at http://www.iskouk.org/events.htm) as well as its very successful second biennial conference (http://www.iskouk.org/conf2011/index.htm) last year.


FEE: The event is free to ISKO members and to full-time students. The fee for non-members is just £40. All fees must be paid in advance – there is no provision for payment on arrival. Students should enter their university and course in the “Organization” box.

CANCELLATION POLICY: If a booking is cancelled by 23rd November any fee paid will be returned, less a £5 administrative charge; no refunds will be made for cancellations after that date or for non-attendance.