Posts Tagged ‘European Union’

amo-top-extended-white_ap2.jpgAbove: A mock up of the new top include for the new MEMAT system using the Africa Media Online web site as an example.

Next Generation of MEMAT begins to Rise from its Foundations


After a year of development behind the scenes we are at last beginning to see the next generation of MEMAT take shape. The whole process has taken us far longer than could have been imagined, but creating a system that can handle images, sound, and video has proved to be highly complex.

We spent most of last year getting the base infrastructure together led by our Head of IT, Daniel Smith. Daniel is an absolute wizz. He does miracles with tight budgets. He has come up with an incredibly scalable system that means we can deploy mirrored servers all over the world in multiple depots. This translates to both security and high speed access.

The base system also utilizes the very latest developments in metadata. This is still very much a developing field. I happened to be at the first international metadata conference in 2007 at the CEPIC convention in Florence, Italy and we have tried to keep up with developments since then. The advantage of this is, of course, that right at the heart of the system are global standards which means cross-platform compatibility. So, if you load media onto the new MEMAT system, that media is not forced into a format that is unique to that system – rather your hard work of capturing data is maintained, no matter what system you chose to migrate that media to. The other advantage is that the metadata in the files can be leveraged to ensure very powerful search filtering.

At the heart of the base infrastructure of the new MEMAT is The Vault. The Vault is a digital repository with virtual “deposit boxes” which can be very easily written to write once media. The concept was given to us by Peter Krogh who wrote The DAM Book. We brought him out last year to teach at our Digital Campus and he has been a real friend to us. (Rumour has it that he is about to bring out a brand new version of The DAM Book, so watch this space.)

Originally we had planned to use an open source media management system at the core of the new MEMAT. That, unfortunately did not work out, and it did set us back some months. It just was not up to the professional standards we require. So Rosanne and I have spent long hours doing hand drawn wire frames. We got up to 75 pages! At the same time, those wire frames are being transformed into PDF designs by Brendan Temple at Temple Creative. Brendan is a real gem. Some years ago he spent some time in the UK heading up the designs for two major picture collections – Digital Vision (which is not part of Getty Images) and Image Source. He then helped us with elements of our MEMAT 2.0 system and now we have the privilege of his heading up the design of the new MEMAT, and I am sure you will agree, he has done a fantastic job.

So now we are on to the development with many programmers beavering away using Rapid Application Development protocols. They are using a combination of Ruby on Rails and PHP (both programming languages) to develop the system. We have already used this in the development of the application web sites for the Twenty Ten project and for MENA Training Programme for World Press Photo, and it has worked really well, giving a solid product with very few bugs.

So all in all, it is very exciting to at last see things taking shape. We are really grateful to the support of the European Union through Gijima KZN who provided part funding for development and to the Dutch Postcode Lottery who through World Press Photo and FreeVoice have also provided funding toward further development. This has been a costly venture and their help has been invaluable.


Black or White

As part of launching the new MEMAT system, the Africa Media Online site is getting a face lift. Temple Creative has given us two possible designs, but we would love your input on which one to chose. The image used is one of my favourites from Photo Access.

Here they are:

We await your feedback on our poll below:


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Above: Shalom Farm, Greytown, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. An estimated 60,000 men gathered on Angus Buchan’s farm to hear the farmer and author speak, calling men from all walks of life to live lives for a purpose greater than personal gain. Over seven thousand men gathered in 2007 and in 2008 35,000 were expected. The world’s largest tent – nine stories high and longer than three rugby fields was no match for the crowd that gathered from all over South Africa, southern Africa and the world. The gathering seemed to signal a spiritual hunger among men in the region that many hope will contribute to a more humane society

Welcome to the fourth edition of the Digital Picture Library Manager blog designed to add value to the management of your picture and media collections as well as to keep you up to date with developments at Africa Media Online and the world of digital imaging that could be of benefit you.
A. If you intend submitting image collections for 70% funded digitisation under the African Image Pipeline project please ensure you contact us before May 15. Find detail under item 1.
B. The closing date for Diageo Africa Business Reporting Awards is May 1. Find detail under item 4.

In this edition:

1. 2010 Digitisation Project Gets Official Support from National Heritage Council
2. Images from the International Library of African Music Go Online
3. Expanded Digital Masterclasses Come to Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pietermaritzburg in August
4. Photo Section of the Diageo Africa Business Reporting Awards 2008
5. Claire Kruiskamp, Picture Sales Executive
6. Building an archive that will last: Bit Depth

1. 2010 Digitisation Project Gets Official Support from National Heritage Council

Construction at the Cape Town’s International Airport toward getting the facility ready for the massive influx of visitors expected during the 2010 FIFA World Cup™

South Africa’s National Heritage Council has recently given unanimous support to a project initiated by Africa Media Online to digitise 32,000 images ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup. With 70% funding from the the European Union, through Gijima KZN, an initiative of the Department of Economic Development, the project aims to assist photographers and heritage institutions to get ready for the rush of interest in South Africa’s history, cultures, geography and economy in the build up and aftermath of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

CEO of the National Heritage Council Advocate Sonwabile Mancotywa said in a letter of commendation, “As this pilot project seeks to enhance the conservation measures of our heritage resources, the National Heritage Council confirms its endorsement of the African Image Pipeline project.”

Africa Media Online’s commitment to principles that ensure that ownership and control of collections remain with the organisations charged with their care, is one of the factors which has enabled the National Heritage Council to consider this project as a pilot digitisation project.

The project provides a 70% subsidy to digitise select pictures from participating collections at archival quality which are representative of South Africa’s history and heritage. Participating heritage organisations and photographers are expected to use the digitised images for their own promotional material in banners, exhibitions, brochures etc. With 32,000 images to digitise before year end, the project is having to proceed on a first come first serve basis.

Should you be interested in submitting image collections for digitisation please do not hesitate to contact Africa Media Online’s Director David Larsen on editor@africamediaonline.comor 082-829-7959 or Business Manager, Sue Hadcroft on sue@africamediaonline.com033-345-9445.

Digitisation is one of five elements to the project:
Click here to find out more about the whole project.
Click here to view a news report about the project.

2. Images from the International Library of African Music Go Online

Batwa pigmies listening to playback 2, Congo, 1949. Photo: Hugh Tracey/International Library of African Music

In March Africa Media Online completed a digitisation project tackling the picture collection of the International Library of African Music at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. With close to 10,000 images digitised and a web site created with over 1,000 high resolution images available for publication, the project was a great success. The first heritage project in South Africa to take a picture collection all the way from physical archive to a global online audience, the project was funded by South Africa’s National Heritage Council.
Click here to view ILAM’s new Picture Archive
Click here to view a photo feature from ILAM’s new Picture Archive
Click here to view a video of the ILAM project.

3. Expanded Digital Masterclasses Come to Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pietermaritzburg in August

Participants being taught masking techniques by Graeme Cookson during the Practical Digital Workflow masterclass in Durban, August, 2007

Following three years of highly successful masterclasses run each August in Cape Town, Durban and Gauteng, Africa Media Online will again run the masterclasses, but this time in expanded form. In 2008 Africa Media Online will be running its first Digital Campus – a whole week of training. UK based digital imaging consultant Graeme Cookson will be joined by US based Peter Krogh the author of The DAM Book and Microsoft Icons of Imaging member. The Digital Campus will include masterclasses by Graeme and Peter as well as evening workshops and events. Find out more…

4. Photo Section of the Diageo Africa Business Reporting Awards 2008

May 1 is the deadline for the Diageo Africa Business Reporting Awards 2008. The Awards were created in 2004 to help transform perceptions about the continent. Five years on, Africa is seen very differently, and the Awards continue to seek out and recognise journalists and editors around the world who have gone the extra mile to promote a balanced view of economic opportunity and business achievement in Africa. The Awards aim to promote a more balanced view of financial issues and business opportunities across the continent, thereby empowering investors to make informed decisions about Africa as well as showcasing Africa’s success stories. The awards include a category for “best published photograph”. To enter, visit the Diageo Africa Business Reporting Awards 2008 web site

5. Claire Kruiskamp, Picture Sales Executive

Claire Kruiskamp, Sales Executive for Africa Media Online’s africanpictures.net

Claire Kruiskamp has been Sales Executive for Africa Media Online’s africanpictures.net for almost a year. She looks after the company’s South African clients and some of its international clients. With a matriculate from DSG, and BComm from Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa, Claire came to Africa Media Online with a background in administration, marketing and sales. If you have not already met her in her travels to Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town she would be glad to pay you a visit next time she is in your area. Clients in the UK will have the opportunity to meet her at the BAPLA Picture Buyer’s Fair at the Business Design Centre in London, 7-8 May. Email Claire on pictures@africanpictures.net or call her on +27-33-345-9445.

6. Building an Archive that will last: Bit Depth

Constitution Hill in the heart of Johannesburg is the home of South Africa’s Constitutional Court. Formerly the Old Fort Prison Complex, the site was home to Number Four prison which in the days of apartheid saw the incarceration of thousands of political activists including Mahatma Ghandi and Nelson Mandela. Pictures with great range from dark to light gain from being captured and worked with in 16 bits

The africanpictures.net Imaging Standards Document outlines image quality for professional markets and archival preservation. In the last edition we dealt with interpolation, now we want to look at the related subject of bit depth.

To build a digital collection at archival quality, you should be scanning at 16 bits per colour channel or 48 bits. This is to capture the maximum colour variations in an image. When you want to output to printing or to media markets, however, a file should always be changed into 8 bits per colour channel or 24 bits otherwise you will end up stopping the press, hence the africanpictures.net imaging standard is 8 bits, simply because the standard defines the standards of market ready files. So what does all this mean?

To get on to all the technical stuff click here

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