Annotator's Workbench - The EVIA Digital Archive Project

Annotator's Workbench

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The Annotator's Workbench is a software tool that enables depositors to create a collection from a set of existing video files, segment that collection at several levels, create annotations for those segments, assign controlled vocabulary terms to segments, and control access to parts of the collection. The Annotator's Workbench is installed locally and reads video files that also are installed locally. In the case of the EVIA Digital Archive Project, the local video files are 1 Mbps transcodes of preservation masters that may have data rates as high as 270 Mbps. The Annotator's Workbench creates an output file in .awx file format containing all metadata generated by the depositor. This format is a METS-compliant .xml file that also contains some project-specific data. Once a project is complete, this file is archived with the preservation masters and is uploaded into the EVIA Project's FEDORA repository for preservation and online delivery.

Features of the Annotator's Workbench include the following:

  • Collection creation. Any video file that can be played by QuickTime is added and sequenced to create a collection.

  • Collections are segmented using a four-level hierarchical design. Segmenting tools are built into a timeline that displays the entire collection of video files.

    1. The collection level refers to the entire body of video within a given project.
    2. Events divide the video up into significant blocks of time that represent a performance event, an interview, or a research session of some kind. Events may span several source files or tapes.
    3. Scenes break events into smaller sections that represent some important intellectual or technical division. For example, scenes may indicate different song performances during an event, or each time the camera is stopped.
    4. Actions enable the depositor to point out significant aspects of the activity in the video such as playing technique, movement, or costume.

  • Transcriptions. Depositors can create transcriptions of spoken or sung activity and tie them to translations of the transcribed text. Transcriptions exist outside of the segmentation hierarchy in a separate layer.

  • Playback controls. The tool has standard video playback controls as well as the ability to advance forward or backward frame by frame. A playback cursor allows the depositor to quickly scrub through the entire collection, and a timeline displays the segments. The playback controls allow for precise alignment of descriptive annotation with video timecode.

  • Descriptive metadata. Descriptive information can be added to each level of the segmentation hierarchy. The tool has fields for brief titles and descriptions as well as lengthy analysis. This represents the bulk of the work by the depositor in most cases.

  • Access Control. Within the EVIA Project system, segments can be blocked for a set period of time or permanently from public access for reasons of cultural or political sensitivity. This function is necessary because the EVIA Project transfers and archives entire unedited recordings.

  • Controlled Vocabulary. Subject terms that are generated by a library in dialog with the depositor appear in categorized lists within the application. Depositors simply drag and drop the terms onto the relevant segment.

  • Glossary. A glossary function enables depositors to create a list of defined and described terms, concepts, persons, and groups. Because end users access segments in a non-linear fashion within the Online Search and Browse Tool, the glossary feature was created in order to enable depositors to define terms that become hyperlinks. This feature eliminates redundancy and streamlines the main annotation texts.

The Annotator's Workbench User's Manual:

The Annotator's Workbench User's Manual was created to help depositors participating in EVIA Project Summer Institutes. This guide discusses the various kinds of metadata fields, how to create projects, and how to use the many features of the software. The Annotator's Workbench is useful for many kinds of video projects, and the manual provides instructions for using the software, but the ingestion of video into the right kind of repository is another matter and should be discussed with the EVIA Project team before prospective users invest significant time in annotating video recordings. The manual is available for download here [887KB pdf]. To inquire further about using the Annotator's Workbench, please email

Screen capture of the Annotator's Workbench with several sub-windows open.
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