Paper presented at the ICOM International Conference in Barcelona on 3 July 2001.

Structuralizing Multimedia Data in Museums.
The Use of Internet and Video and Scanned 3D Objects for Our Natural History and Science Museums.

Eduardo A. Ramirez, PhD, Bergen Museum, NORWAY.



The rapid advance of new technologies in multimedia have offered heritage new hope against the process of pollution, looting, conflict and even tourism. These has become increasingly important in the conservation, preservation, and interpretation of natural history. Scientific videos and 3D exhibits allow us to discover and explore in great detail this natural history assets in a non-destructive ways. Nonetheless, video and 3D scanners are at is infancy and just few organizations have access to those technologies. Here also we would like to propose the sharing of large and expensive resources like video server and 3D scanner.

In this presentation I would like to share with you some of our experiences in relation to producing video recordings for our Zoological Department at our Bergen Museum.

We have taken video recordings of Myrriapoda (millipedes) through the microscope both in preparation preserved in alcohol and in living species for it interpretation on the scientific community of Myriapodist.

Video recordings were captured through a CCD video camera attached to a Leica stereo microscope equipment, and recorded digitally. Digital video has been edited and converted to digital format suitable to video streaming formats for these video "on-demand" exhibits.

Our primary goal has been to develop the methods and tools for the creating "on-demand" of natural history museum assets, in our case, the Millipedes, or any other species of interest. Our museum has 40000 of these species preserved in alcohol and its access is difficult.

Our Museum is currently using the videos for implementing an IT based catalogue of museum objects trying to structuralizing these scientific videos and designing a data collection also for scanned 3D objects.In collaboration with the Computer Science Department, University of Malaga, Spain, is been proposed a model or structuralizing the scientific videos is being proposed based on the Extensible Markup Language XML. This brings us to the basics by asking d document creators to introduce enough clues, or structure, in the document so that an automatic process can read what the document or a section of it is about. This metadata approach allow more advanced systems to know more about the document much better that today's automatic techniques can do.

Video data is stored using organizations principles, like other data. In our project we would like to organize data in a more carefully way because of its time-serial nature and its enormous size. Another difficulty is that current metadata for video images and other similar sources is more about the data than about its semantic content. In our project we would like to develop techniques for introducing the semantic partitioning of video, audio, and images. In the lasts years, it has been spent considerable effort on developing automatic techniques for video and audio segmentation and for indexing images based on some basic characteristics such as colour, and texture. These techniques are very useful and will surely change the way we will organize multimedia data in the future. However, we still need to organize multimedia data today, and the current automatic techniques for semantic partitioning are even more basic that those for text. The only solution and its will be one goal of our project is to attempt to develop more powerful approaches for structuralizing multimedia data.

In summary, I present here some of the basic questions that we would like to answer:

1) How can we start introducing some semantic metadata while creating scientific videos?

2) What dictionary will we use for this VXML or Visual Extensible Marking Language?

3) How far will the emerging standards like MPEG-7 go in this direction?

Because we don't have the answers yet, I think this could be a very interesting research direction in benefit to our Museum collections and virtual exhibits on-demand.

Many thanks for you attention.


Proposal from:
Bergen Museum, Documentation and IT Dept., Univ. of Bergen at ICOM 19th Conference, Barcelona, SPAIN. This proposal is primarily addressed to : ICOM Reform Task Force, Barcelona, Spain, 1-6 July, 2001.

From : Dr. Eduardo A. Ramirez, Bergen Museum, Documentation and IT Dept., University of Bergen, NORWAY.

1) Title:

Proposal for the creation of "ICOM - Common Joint Resource Centres (CJRC)", housing advanced Visualisation and Broadcasting equipment, and Scientific Instruments for the benefit of Museums world-wide.

2) Intention:
To propose a new model for funding and administrate large scale resources (e.g. Multimedia- visualisation, etc ) that might be necessary for taking our Museums into the New Millennium. Here are included those museum activities that require large funding due to the high-tech production cost, professional skill needed, and with a high risk of technical implementation failure. Adding to those factors, a possible limited public to justify the investments.

3) Background:
The progress of multimedia, computer visualisation, and scientific equipment are making possible for some Museums to perform specific tasks that never before were possible e.g. computer animation and VRML in restoration and reconstruction work. For the rest of Museums world-wide, a simple 3D scanning of an object, might have prohibited costs. Moreover, professionals that operate these services and installations are also in great demand and their expertise requires continuously upgrading.

4.0) Proposal:
The objective of this proposal is to put forward to ICOM RTF the creation of "ICOM- Common Joint Resource Centres (CJRC)" that could be co-ordinated under our International Committee of Museums ICOM. The intention is to share large scale specialised resources that are of central importance for preserving, exhibit, broadcast, our cultural and natural Heritage locally and world-wide, and in view the global reality of increasing restricted governmental funding for preserving and exhibit these cultural and natural heritages.

Another spin-off effect of this proposed model of organisation (ICOM-CJRC), could it be in the negotiations of special services required at our museums, like: equipment-leasing, software licensing, service contracts agreements, upgrading, purchase discounts, in advance technology and software for Museums commencing the Millennium.

4.1) Test Pilot Offer:
Our University Museum, this year, has acquired a multimedia server (Silicon Graphics SGI Onyx 3800). We have allocated Hard Disk space to ICOM-RTF for the purpose of testing Digital Video Broadcasting directly from this video server in Bergen. This service could be expanded to connect other digital resources and server's world-wide to form a CLUSTER of digital power, with the intention to best serve ICOM goals, and therefore, museums internationally.

We look forward to hearing from you !

Copyright © Eduardo A. Ramirez 2001.
All rights reserved.

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