I had a great, if exhausting day yesterday at the RSA, hosting a Technology Strategy Board event in my guise as the Creative Industries KTN‘s Metadata and Convergence Champion. The day was designed to look back at the four TSB R&D funding calls that have rolled out since 2010, and to look at some of the projects that have come out of them. In the morning we had a closed session with TSB representatives and some of the successful funding applicants, discussing, dissecting even, the whole process, and thinking about how it might develop in the future.

After lunch, we held an open session showcasing 7 projects:

  • Paul Appleby of VID Communications showed us SANE, a tablet-based metadata-tagging tool for TV and film production.
  • RIBA‘s Anne Dye talked about two projects: a semantically linked version of the Uniclass construction standards accessible in CAD software and a cloud-based prototype app for managing COBie data.
  • Stuart Green of Zoo Digital presented PARTEC, which enables the persistent association of metadata with media files.
  • Colin Mills from Skyworks gave a live demo of MetaLoc, a web-based app to enhance media assets using geo-location tools.
  • BBC R&D‘s Dave Marston talked us through “Making Music Mood Metadata” or M4, a tool to enable TV producers to find appropriate library or production music based on, well, mood.
  • David Stockton of De Montfort University showed how metadata standards and systems used in industry can be applied to the arena of animation.
  • And L-Shift‘s Keith Fisher demonstrated Progressive Publishing System, which allows the automatic conversion of academic publications into various e-book standards, maintaining crucial academic formatting.

I prefaced the presentations with a short talk giving some context and to close the day we held a panel discussion, taking questions from the audience.

It was a packed day (and boy, did we ever overrun!) and I was on my feet for most of it, rather than taking detailed notes, but a few things emerged for me from the presentations, the panel and just from chatting to attendees over lunch.

  • These funding calls all insisted on collaboration. The speakers unanimously said that while working in consortia was not without its problems, it nonetheless was hugely beneficial and always created outputs which would not otherwise have come about.
  • In media production, the earlier in the process that metadata is associated with assets the better.
  • It can be hard work convincing both producers and managers of the importance of this stuff – you have to show them both personal and business benefits.
  • The importance of metadata will only increase as the Internet of Things becomes a reality.
  • Internationalism is crucial to scaling – though, of course, multi-language metadata projects come with their own challenges.
  • Across the creative industries, metadata standards and schema are still diverse and at times a downright mess, but rather than try to build all-conquering new systems and schema from scratch, we might do better to take a “small things loosely joined” approach, creating ways of joining up what’s already out there.

So, an enjoyable, illuminating and extremely well attended event; thanks to all the speakers for their input, to the attendees for coming along and to CIKTN’s indefatigable Anita Onwuegbuzie for organising such a slick event. I look forward to future such events looking at how the Convergence funding calls have delivered…