Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Public Broadcasting Core (PBCore) Metadata for Digital Video Encoding

High Definition (HD) television sets were the top selling item of this past holiday season. A few well-researched consumers seemed to navigate the new technology with ease; yet, many of us were left silently pondering the difference between aspect ratios, debating 1080i against 1080p, and contemplating the merits of LCD versus rear projection, or versus plasma.

The digital television revolution has begun, and unlike other revolutions, this one has a definite end date: TV stations serving all U.S. markets are airing digital television programming today, although most will continue to provide analog programming through February 17, 2009. At that point, full-power TV stations will cease broadcasting on their current analog channels, and the spectrum they use for analog broadcasting will be reclaimed by the F.C.C. and put to other uses.

With digital television comes the need for digital storage. No longer will television stations be maintaining and storing programs on tapes. Digital video will instead be stored electronically, creating the need for a method of encoding for search and retrieval — the traditional point of expertise of the librarian.

In 2003, at WGBH-TV in Boston, librarians and information scientists from Rutgers University, the Department of Defense, and other notable institutions, combined efforts with broadcasting professionals from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The goal was to create a data set that would satisfy the needs of a television broadcaster while also remaining compatible with existing international library standards. The end result of this initial two-year project was the development of the PBCore (Public Broadcasting Core Data Elements), a metadata set specifically created to manage digital video assets, view the PBCore metadata set at

The PBCore is built on the foundation of the Dublin Core (ISO 15836), an international standard for resource discovery. It has been reviewed and approved by OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) and the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative Usage Board. Additionally, following initial development at WGBH-TV, a 2005 test implementation phase at KET (Kentucky Educational Television), proved the PBCore provided sufficient data for video asset management at a working television broadcast station.

The PBCore is now an established information standard and is being recommended by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for PBS stations migrating to digital television and for purely digital video asset storage and retrieval purposes.

In the particular case of Ball State University, we here at the University Libraries are working with three key units to ease the transition from analog to digital television:

· University’s Teleplex Services,
· Department of Telecommunications (TCOM), College of Communication, information, and Media,
· WIPB-TV Public Broadcasting for East Central Indiana,

The most likely candidate for our virtual toolbox will be the PBCore metadata set.

For more information, contact James A. Bradley, Ball State University Libraries’ Head of Metadata & Digital Initiatives,, (765) 285-5718.


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