Smart Hollywood Summit: The Importance of Standards for Consistent Metadata

The media and entertainment (M&E) industry has warmed to the idea that “smart content” is the Holy Grail, but it’s important to reap the benefits of good, consistent metadata when content is tagged using different industry standards, according to the International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC) and MovieLabs.

The IPTC Video Metadata Hub was launched in 2016 and provides a cross-mapping table across most industry standard file formats, while MovieLabs has launched the Ontology Project.

MovieLabs recently launched the ontology initiative for title metadata, Daniel Lucas, VP of business intelligence, technology at MovieLabs, said Feb. 27 during the session “How Cross-Mapping Industry Standards Will Help the Industry Ecosystem” at the standing-room-only Smart Hollywood Summit.

“What we’re looking to sort of try and help solve is a problem that I would imagine a lot of people in this room have come across, and that is, how do you change data between different systems?” he said.
“Ontology’s going to help you solve that,” he told attendees. It will help companies simplify the interchange of data between systems, map between internal silos, map and ingest from outside vendors, and share data with other partners or studios, according to Lucas.

Existing open schemas didn’t cover industry use cases, he noted. But the new ontology system, among other things: Covers the major elements of title metadata; describes international details, language and country; is extensible, either in a public or private domain; and includes external identifiers and references for many fields, allowing other systems to be linked, he said.

MoveLabs built a working prototype as a graph and in MongoDb, according to Lucas, noting version 1 is available and focuses on movies. A white paper was published, and an RDF is available, he said. Future steps will include a focus on use cases and will extend the ontology with new classes, he told attendees. MovieLabs also hopes to generate momentum with open-source applications, according to the company.

“You’ve heard, ad nauseum… that the nice thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from,” Linda Burman, a contributor to the IPTC Video Metadata Hub, an IPTC member and CEO of the consultancy firm L.A. Burman Associates, said during the other part of the presentation.

“That stopped being amusing…a long time ago,” she conceded. Most attendees have already selected a metadata standard to use and think they’re done, “but are you?” she asked rhetorically.

She went on to provide a brief history of the IPTC, noting it was started in 1965 as a group of press agencies looking to file news faster and with less effort, so they created a standard system to achieve that.

Although its members are mainly news agencies, members also include companies including Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) member Adobe. That’s because IPTC, among other things, helps tech companies, camera makers, newsroom software vendors and sports stats systems integrate standards, Burman said.

IPTC is best-known for IPTC Photo Metadata and it works with Google and other companies “to get them to stop stripping out rights metadata,” she pointed out, noting that’s “a big deal if you’re a photo library” out to maintain rights to its images.

Aside from that, IPTC creates, maintains and promotes open international technical standards, including IPTC Photo Metadata, NewsML-G2 and SportsML, she noted. It also works on newer standards for emerging technologies, including rNews, RightsML and Video Metadata Hub.

IPTC also runs development projects related to its work, works with open source developers, and collaborates with other standards associations, including W3C. It’s also done joint work on Open Digital Rights Language (ODRL).

“One of the areas” that IPTC is “lacking in,” however, is arts and entertainment, Burman conceded. Because of that, she told attendees: “We’d love to have some input into extending this set of metadata.”

The next IPTC meeting will be held in Lisbon in April and the IPTC + CEPIC Photo Metadata Conference will follow, in Paris in June.

This year’s Smart Hollywood Summit was produced by MESA’s Smart Content Council with sponsorship by IBM Watson, MarkLogic, EIDR, Hammerspace, human-I-T, Independent Security Evaluators (ISE), KlarisIP, Testronic, FilmTrack, OnPrem, Mediamorph, RSG Media, Vistex, Vubiquity and Bob Gold & Associates.

To download audio of the presentations, click here and here.