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Uncut Gems

By: Lydia Bird

Marion Stokes secretly recorded television news from 1979 until her death in 2012. She amassed a personal archive of 70,000 VHS tapes which captured revolutions, lies, wars, triumphs, catastrophes, bloopers, talk shows, and commercials. Today it’s the source of an incredible documentary which explains one woman’s quest to protect the truth by archiving everything. The legacy she has left behind is an incredible time capsule of content that will soon be available for searching online. It offers a fascinating insight into how media narratives are formed around news reporting, how they can distort the truth and how they affect all our lives.

Many organisations are similarly compelled to store their media for the long term – to protect their IP, their heritage, and their product. There’s clearly value in there somewhere – otherwise all that content wouldn’t be painstakingly backed up on a bewildering array of digital storage formats or stacked on shelves in air-conditioned warehouses. Put simply, keeping video content alive and available is part of everyday life – for all types of businesses: brands, sports organisations and media companies.

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Sometimes that content needs to be kept for legal reasons; sometimes its kept for commercial reasons. There may even be emotional or sentimental reasons why we just can’t press the delete button. We either have a duty to keep it or we have an intrinsic sense that the value within will surface one day.

In this long form unedited, unprocessed and uncatalogued state, that value often remans unrealised and becomes difficult to extract.

Can technology help us? You could ask a machine to tell you what’s going on in your video archive. AI and Machine Learning can do some remarkable things, but there are still issues around accuracy, scalability and ROI. It may be able to spot faces, objects and tell you what was said (assuming audio quality is good and background noise minimal) but can it work out what is culturally significant, what is surprising, and uncover chance discoveries when it’s working within a narrow set of parameters? Let’s face it – sometimes you’re just going to sit down and watch the damn video yourself to find out what’s going on in there.

That can obviously take a significant amount of time. What you need is a method to navigate through long form video quickly.

At Imagen we give you a range of tools to help you ‘skim read’ video quickly – so you can find the most interesting points in a video more quickly than just watching from start to finish. It’s more accurate than just hitting the fast forward and rewind button. Our Interactive timeline gives you the power to zoom in and out of the sections that look most promising. Used in conjunction with our video player controls and thumbnail previews it means you can navigate and review long form video at speed. So, whether you’re looking for cracks in a pipeline from an engineering survey, key takeaways from a conference, or the big goals in a game of football. Imagen enables you to find those moments quickly and easily.

Once you’ve found those killer moments you can clip them up and download, share them on social media or create new items in your database – for licensing and monetisation. The rest is about achieving your business goals. Now you can bring your most valuable content to market faster, streamline your manufacturing processes, find the highlights in your CEO’s presentation, build your brand and much more.

While we can’t tell you how much video is out there – unstructured, uncatalogued, underutilised and unloved – we can tell you that our attention spans have decreased dramatically since the advent of the internet and our reliance on connected devices. It’s down from 12 minutes to 5. Better get that video broken down into manageable chunks before our attention span gets any shorter.

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