EXCLUSIVE: Cinemedia's Digital Arts Screen Gallery

To be announced next month, Cinemedia, the Victorian government's Film, Television, and New Media organisation, is building an XML-based cataloguing and management system for the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), and has chosen Software AG to assist them.

Due to open in Melbourne's Federation Square, later this year, the ACMI, will house the world's first Screen Gallery, with 300- 400 screens.

Dr Simon Pockley, collections manager at Cinemedia said there are 90,000 moving image titles in five collections; including film and video titles, digital works- some on DVD, CD Rom, or sets of MetaData, that will have to be managed and delivered to the screen gallery, as well as online.

Cinemedia is working closely with Software AG, using Software AG's XML-based Tamino platform as an integral part of its system to manage the collection for the Screen Gallery, which is dedicated to presenting electronic and digital screen arts, including virtual reality and three- dimensional spaces.

Pockley said Tamino is an XML database that allows Cinemedia to manage and search their metadata and then publish it.

He said they can now publish effectively on the web as HTML, on paper as a catalogue, or 'on the fly, to show visitors what's on today'.

"We are outputting this metadata to footnot screens which allow you to find out more about the work, eg the artist name, and what the piece is about." Pockley said.

Visitors to the ACMI will be able to experience moving images through hundreds of screens using the latest in sight and sound technology.

They will be able to discover more about the film, video or digital screen art titles in the ACMI collection via the Tamino platform.

While visitors will have to wait until ACMI opens to try out the system, Cinemedia is already using Tamino to make available the massive volume of information about each title, known as a title record.

The project has been going for 12 months and began with a pilot project, and according to Pockley, Software AG were chosen as they had more of an understanding of XML than any other company they could find.

"They had the software that would allow us to manage our XML files. More importantly they understood that we were not just looking to buy a product, we were looking for service and the kind of partnership where we could work together."

"A lot of people just want to sell you software, but with XML no one's an expert, we are all making it up. That's an important shift from the motion that software vendors just want to sell you their product and that's that. But here, we are inventing the process as we go." Pockley said.

Pockely said the Tamino database is combined with Cinemedia's other technologies which includes Oracle database, and also the output from Tamino in things like flash and a whole host of other applications.

Screens and hardware for the gallery are not provided by one specific vendor, and Pockley says each work has its own requirement so they have been testing plasma, LCD, video projectors and many more to see which work looks good on what type of screen.

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