The two search technologies we’re working with on this project allow different types of retrieval. Video fingerprinting allows you to quickly find identical or near-identical footage in an archive of hundreds of thousands of hours of content. This is useful if you need to know whether a particular video clip has ever been broadcast. One of the strengths of this technology is its robustness to modification. Even if a piece of footage has scrolling text overlaid on it or its framerate/colour-balance has been changed it can still be accurately identified by the system.
The second technology we’re exploring is visual search. This allows you to query a database for ‘similar’ content. For example, if you want to find footage of the Eiffel Tower you could upload a video clip of the Tower and the system will return footage that closely matches it, even if the new footage is shot from a different perspective.
The project aims to overcome the three main challenges around this sort of content-matching technology. Firstly, there is the challenge of accuracy - you need to make sure the system delivers high quality, meaningful results. Secondly, there is the challenge of scale - getting systems like this to perform over hundreds of thousands (and ultimately millions) of hours of footage is a non-trivial task. Thirdly, there is the issue of user experience - you need to design a system that is fast, adaptable and easy-to-understand.
The project will complete in September 2016 with the aim of producing research results and a search product that the BBC can use internally. Our partners aim to produce a suite of search tools for commercial usage by anyone with a large video archive they want. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us at

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This project is part of the Internet Research and Future Services section

This project is part of the Content Analysis Toolkit work stream


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