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New Media Workshop, European Commission

Report on the New Media Workshop

18 February 1998
Royal Crown Hotel
Rue Royale, Brussels

As part of the ACTS Concertation Meeting, 16-18 February, a Workshop was hosted by the European Commission to explore future directions for new media in the areas of technology, content creation, services, applications, and new business areas for European industry. What are the areas that the work programme of Framework 5 should seek to address in the area of new media?

The programme agenda was as follows and was chaired by Fernando Pereira.

1. Introduction (Eric Badique, EC ACTS Programme)
2. Telepresence and Shared VE's (David Leevers, BICC)
3. Technology for Content Creation (Richard Storey, BBC)
4. The Future of New Media (Rae Earnshaw, University of Bradford)
5. Open Discussion and Conclusions

1. Introduction (Eric Badique, EC ACTS Programme)

In the area of multimedia services there are currently around 60 projects funded by ACTS. These are concerned with the management and manipulation of multimedia content, interactive distribution and transmission, and the development of services.

Developments in 3D, virtual reality, telepresence, coding, computer vision, and technology convergence are all creating a framework for the future that we should capitalise on. In addition, Europe's content assets can be linked into the technology for content - whether animation, games, miniaturisation, access, search, control, management, or new languages. Entertainment is taking on new forms of context, structure and aesthetics via virtual actors, motion painting, and cubist cinema.

The ACTS SIC Chain (Service Integration - Content) aims to bring together the relevant ACTS projects in this area (e.g. 3D acquisition, virtual environments, restoration of film and media, virtual and distributed studios, and museums) and distil out generic guidelines and best practice recommendations. Areas to be covered include:

The ACTS SID Chain (Service Integration - Distributed) aims to bring together the relevant ACTS projects in this area (e.g. A/V content elements, networked VR, CSCW, telepresence, shared environments, telerobotics, scene reconstruction, and distributed video) and produce generic guidelines and recommendations for best practice. Areas to be covered include: As communication environments become more sophisticated, the technology baseline moves up the content chain and they borrow from the content creation tool box. Thus it is inevitable that the areas of SID and SIC will merge into one where the toolset supports various kinds of advanced programme production.

The Information Society Technologies Programme (IST) from 1998-2002 will receive 3.36 billion ECU for funding work in the key action areas:

Issues for the future will include the following:

2. Telepresence and Shared VE's Chain (David Leevers, BICC)

Projects in the SID Chain covered the following generic areas:

These may be regarded as rings of virtuality around the real world. Often these were rings of decreasing sense of presence. Virtual communities needed to be anchored in real locations.

The BT Laboratories "Shared Spaces" project is currently exploring our relationship to real and virtual space.

Generic guidelines have currently been produced for:

Closer coupling of users and the model or application has been demonstrated to promote creativity and the reduction of time to perform the particular creation task.

3. Technology for Content Creation Chain (Richard Storey, BBC)

Tomorrow's consumers will be: Current areas of shortfall in technology are: The future will involve repurposing content for books and remastering content for CD-ROM. Currently 95% of the content is discarded after the TV programme has been constructed. The end product is the video. Content creation in 2005 will involve the repurposing of objects as required. This in turn will shift the emphasis from re-manufacture to re-use with the consequent need for the cataloguing, searching, and trading engines currently under development in MPEG7. Video, CD-ROM, 3D interactives, games products will in the future be produced as an integral part of the content creation process. Increasing interactivity on the part of the user/viewer will allow for user selection of producer's choice, viewer's choice, or fully interactive.

4. The Future of New Media (Rae Earnshaw, University of Bradford)

Current user interfaces do not enable the user to be fully creative. The emphasis is on the technology rather than being designed for the content to be accessed. For example, in general voice or gesture from the user are not utilised. Today we are largely using "new" technology for old things in old ways.

We have recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of the cinema. History illustrates that it took many years for tools to develop that would effectively handle the language the cinema was using (illusion, montage, close-up, reproduction, sound, colour, wide screen, digital compositing) and enable the viewer to understand and relate to the story without thinking of the medium being used to present it.

Similarly multimedia technology needs to get to the point where the user interacts with the content without being aware of the medium being used to present it. Currently multimedia is being used to present traditional materials but allowing rather more interaction (e.g. computer-based training and simulation) than was possible before.

Games are an area where the technology is utilised directly to maximise the user's interaction with the content. Thus content (i.e. potential user sales) is driving the technological development and design.

Content makes the impact and is the product of the creative process. Technology should assist directly in this process and in the mediation to the user.

In the future, content creators should be able to move from storyline to media product via on-line metadata. Dramatised CNN could generate immediate spin-offs in media other than TV. Advanced interfaces, intelligent agents, and speech are all areas where investment of time and effort will improve the quality of our access to, and creation of, tomorrow's content.

5. Open Discussion and Conclusions

One way of presenting the relationship between people, content and technology is as follows (with 2-way interaction between all adjacent vertices).

The new media axis is from Technology and through the gap between People and Content.

In the area of communication, "one to one" and "one to many" had been covered. However, "many to one" had not been covered.

Rae Earnshaw
University of Bradford