School of Information Sciences

Digital Libraries Colloquium Series

Sponsored by the School of Computer Science-Carnegie Mellon University, the School of Information Sciences-University of Pittsburgh, the University Library System-University of Pittsburgh, the University Libraries-Carnegie Mellon University and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Michael Christel

Research Professor, Entertainment Technology Center, Carnegie Mellon University

When: Thursday, March 24, 2011, 4:15 PM - 5:15 PM
Where: Room 405 IS Building, 135 North Bellefield Avenue, School of Information Sciences, University of Pittsburgh


"Multimedia Portals for Video Oral Histories: A Case Study from The HistoryMakers and Harrisburg PA Highmark Blue Shield Living Legacy Series"


Abstract: The Informedia research group at Carnegie Mellon University advances digital library research and the state of the practice of digital libraries by deploying existing, workable technologies into fielded operational video collections, evaluating that deployment with a focus on the human users, and iterating and refining the technology delivery to better suit the needs of the library patrons.  In 2007, the project collaborated with The HistoryMakers and used speech alignment, image processing, and language understanding technologies to promote multiple levels of access and fuel the viewing of the actual video recordings in a large oral history corpus of historically significant African Americans.  A workshop was held at SUNY Buffalo to gauge stakeholders' interests and needs, drawing participation from the New York Public Library, multiple universities, and a commercial indexing company. This workshop led to interface revisions for access into tens of thousands of story segments from The HistoryMakers archive.  In addition, this corpus and interface was tested with hundreds of university beta testers in 2008 and 2009, resulting in a system deployment decision to create an Adobe Flash web portal into the corpus, rather than a stand-alone application.  The design and development of the Flash application providing quick, easy access into The HistoryMakers digital archive will be discussed and demonstrated.  Manually annotating vast video and oral history collections is expensive and impractical, with automated audiovisual processing making accessible the fuller knowledge and meaning inherent in these collections.  Specifically, the Informedia digital video library research group ( is testing and making available software processing tools (e.g., text and map search, speech alignment) and interfaces to allow full-content search and navigation down to the word level for vast oral history collections.  The same processing and interface has been used to field the Harrisburg PA Highmark Blue Shield Living Legacy Series, oral histories with 150 Harrisburg-area residents in celebration of the city of Harrisburg's 150 years of incorporation, which will also be demonstrated during the talk.  The work is funded by the National Science Foundation, with the goal of tapping digital video more accurately and completely as a compelling, illustrative educational resource.

Bio: Mike Christel is a Research Professor at the Entertainment Technology Center, Carnegie Mellon University.  He enjoys building systems and conducting research at the intersection of human-computer interaction, multimedia processing, information visualization, and digital libraries. He has worked at CMU and with digital video since 1987, working on interface development and evaluation for Carnegie Mellon's Informedia digital video understanding research group since its beginning in 1994. Informedia research makes use of speech, image and natural language processing coupled with machine learning and interface design to enable efficient access to relevant video content from large multi-terabyte digital video collections.  At the ETC, Christel has broadened his focus from multimedia for information search and retrieval, to multimedia for information engagement and edutainment, with users being both producers and consumers of multimedia content.  His work with oral histories and the web site will be discussed during this talk.



It is part of the School's mission to disseminate research ideas and findings through Colloquia. New students and faculty enjoy this vibrant intellectual community.