Open Images: Kick-off Meeting

As part of Images for the Future the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision and Knowledgeland are developing Open Images. The aim of this project is to offer online access to a selection of archive material for creative reuse. Reuse includes remixing of archive footage in new videos. Open Images also supports interlinking with other data sources (like Wikipedia), allowing the easy creation of mashups. Access to the content will be based on the Creative Commons model which proposes a middle way to rights management, rather than the extremes of the pure public domain or the reservation of all rights. The ‘open’ nature of the project is underscored by adapting open formats and using open source software. Software resulting from Open Images will also be released under a open source license.

The development of the project started with a kick-off meeting at Knowledgeland in Amsterdam, earlier this month. The aim-of-the-day was to map the (open source) digital video solutions that are available today and to get feedback. Eight experts in the digital video field where invited to this informal brainstorm session. After an introduction of Images for the Future and the Open Images project plan, the invited experts gave inspiring presentations of their current work. At the end of the day there was a general discussion about the project plan and the first steps that ought to be taken.

Please find a report of this day below. Open Images aims to launch a Beta release by the end of the year.

Bits on the Run (Jeroen Wijering)


After building the worlds most used Flash video player on the internet (JW FLV Media Player), Jeroen Wijering used his experience to co-found Bits on the Run. This is a “hassle-free” video hosting service for all types of video content (video-centric), that charges its users based on their usage of bandwidth. The service offers a broad set of features, including; hosting, statistics, streaming, encoding, subtitling, annotation, audio descriptions, skins, embedding, downloading, RSS, etc. The service also offers an API (that mimics the one Flickr uses). (Jan Gerber & Sebastian Lütgert)


Jan Gerber and Sebastian Lütgert develop many digital video projects based around the idea that digital media have the potential to make the complete history of cinema accessible online. This sometimes means they move in a legal grey-area. 0xdb is a database of movies that have been shared via peer-to-peer networks. It uses the BitTorrent protocol to extract information about the movie, of which the database creates meaningful representations (timelines, previews, etc.). is a derivative of the 0xdb technology, but with some important differences. It is a collaboration with Indian NGO’s, activists, and documentary filmmakers and only contains legal content, since all material is open content. It serves as a decentral searchable footage archive – with manually edited meta data – and offers downloads of the content using peer-to-peer technology. is released as open source software under GNU GPL and uses the Ogg Theora open standard video format.

Tribler (Freek Zindel)


Tribler is a peer-to-peer file sharing application with a social component, developed by TU Delft and funded by the EU. Sharing and finding (both legal and illegal) content via BitTorrent is enhanced with recommendations, tagging, and anti-freeloading mechanisms. On top of this Tribler offers additional functionality for video, including; instant previewing, video-on-demand and live streaming (all via peer-to-peer technology). At any given time there are 4.000 people online using the application, and there are 150.000 torrents in the system. Tribler is released as open source software under LGPL.

SURFmedia (Alexander Blanc)


SURFnet recently launched a complete video distribution platform called SURFmedia, offering live streaming and video-on-demand for the higher educational sector on the SURFnet 1 GB network. Because of its user group SURFmedia is a closed system, and was hence developed from scratch. At the end of this year the core of the platform will be released as open source software, under the name SURFmediaCore. There will also be some pilot projects with third parties who will develop their own front-end on top of this core.

General Discussion (all)

During the general discussion the experts express some concerns about the size and goals of Open Images. They stress that the project shouldn’t try to reinvent the wheel, but should rather make use of the (open source) video solutions and (open content) platforms that are out there. The experts advise to seek co-operation with and/or to build upon existing projects with a similar focus. Mapping the possibilities for this is indeed our primary goal for this kick-off meeting.

The experts are also sceptical about the assumption within the project plan that there will be a substantial interest from the general public to invest time and effort in the creative reuse of the open content. They ask how “interesting” the available material actually is and stress the need for a careful selection. Furthermore they suggest that the project should focus more on showcasing and spreading the material, because to them this implicitly seems to be the primary goal of the project. The experts advise to start with a (thematic) selection of the material on Open Images and to distribute this selection through as many outlets as possible, to first see what happens. This implicates that the project team at first needs to invest in developing a good interface for showcasing and distributing the open content, and exchanging material with other outlets. Technically facilitating the creative reuse of the open content on Open Images can – if requested – always be added within a secondary (or parallel) development trajectory.

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