This is the blog of Ant Miller, senior research manager and dilettante geek at large at the BBC.
I wail moan and cuss about the challenges and fun to be found here.
These are my personal opinions, and not those of my employer. Or anyone else here for that matter.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Big Archive Project

Very very occasionaly i may have alluded to a 'day job' taking up some time, and being tricky to work around, and seeing as this role is rather 'peaking' at the moment in terms of its demands it warrants a little bit of visibility.

The project is called AVATAR-M, and it's a uk government part funded R&D project in which the BBC, and partners, are investigating large scale audio visual archival. There's a wide range of technology being explored- Dirac is being used as a platform for developing archival optimised video file formats, there's software to plan video storage needs over time, and we're building demonstrators of new sorts of disk storage systems.

All the effort is coming to a head at the moment as we prepare for a week of demonstrations at the NAB show in Las Vegas, from the 19th to the 24th of April. Umm, we have a web site on the way, and a stand all booked, with a stand number and everything, but here I am blogging from my garden and they're just not to hand, sorry. I'll update this inthe week.

Anyway, what's the current flurry of activity? Well, we're populating these humongous storage devices currently being constructed at a secret facility on the south coast with huge amounts of HD video- not in Dirac yet, that'll follow in a few months. A pair of these machines (jokingly refered to as portable storage devices- they weight 200KG+!) will sit on the stand happily munching several dozen terabytes of video all day. Excitingly for me, we're also going to demonstrate the kit hooked up to 'broadcast typical' edit facilities- so I get to be trained up in Final Cut Pro in a couple of weeks so we can show this capability on the stand. We've even got some very nice Mac kit to hook it all together.

At the same time, we're shooting a video to show on the stand and to distribute. We're working with Milo creative on this and they're doing some tremendously exciting and original stuff for us. All the principle photography has been done against chromakey backgrounds, and the concepts for the video are brilliant! We've also been lucky enogh to get Tony Ageh, the BBC's Controller of Archive Development to appear on screen to open the film- the picture here shows him in TC10 last week shooting with the guys from MILO, and Reece De Ville from our internal comms team.

So all in all this project has plenty to keep me busy. Upshot being that as soon as the Vegas demos are done and dusted, I'm taking a week off and driving to San Francisco, where Rowan and I shall chill out and destress- I can hardly wait!

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