EBUCore: the Dublin Core for Media

EBUCore was first published in 2000. It was originally a set of definitions for audio archives, applied to the Dublin Core, which is itself a generic set of descriptive terminology that can be applied to any content. XML was then in its infancy but its use would grow dramatically, demanding more structured information to describe audiovisual content. Since then, other semantic languages have greatly influenced the way this information is modelled. EBUCore followed this evolution to become what it is today: the Dublin Core for media, a framework that can be used to describe just about any media content imaginable.

EBUCore is the fruit of well-defined requirements and an understanding of user and developer habits. User friendliness, flexibility, adaptability and scalability are more important than richness and comprehensiveness allied to impossible compliance rules. The richer the metadata, the higher the likelihood that implementers will reinvent their own. History is full of such examples. The golden rule for EBUCore was and remains "keep it simple and tailor it for media".

EBUCore covers 90% of users’ needs and its use is no longer restricted to audio or archives. Based on the simple and flexible EBU Class Conceptual Data Model (CCDM), EBUCore's ontology (categories and structure), which is expressed in RDF/OWL (Resource Description Framework/Web Ontology Language), can be used right through to the delivery of content to the end user. It responds to the need for more effective querying. It also paves the way for effective metadata enrichment using Linked Open Data (LOD).

EBUCore was designed to be a metadata specification for “users with different needs” and duly serves this goal. Delegates at the EBU’s Production Technology Seminar last January heard a wealth of evidence pointing to the key role that EBUCore is now playing. Several speakers explained how they have deliberately chosen and benefited from EBUCore.

The EBU-AMWA FIMS project, creating a vendor-neutral specification to interconnect production equipment, has adopted EBUCore. The FIMS 1.0 specification uses EBUCore as its core descriptive and technical metadata. FIMS is a vital project for the future of file-based production and feedback received from participants has influenced the most recent version of EBUCore. Early adopters of FIMS, such as Bloomberg, are using this metadata.

The UK’s Digital Production Partnership (DPP), which recently published its new specification for file-based programme delivery, is mapping its metadata to EBUCore and TV-Anytime. (TV-Anytime was co-founded by the EBU, who chaired the metadata activities and now actively maintains the specification on behalf of ETSI).

The work on EBUCore and EBU's CCDM greatly influenced the development of W3C Ontology for Media Resources, and vice versa. MA-ONT, as it is known, is a subset of the EBUCore ontology and the RDF/OWL representation rules are common to both. This work is also being used to propose extensions to the schema.org in order to describe TV and radio programmes and associated services and schedules.

EBUCore is also used as the solution for metadata aggregation in EUScreen, the European audiovisual archives portal and now a key contributor to Europeana, the European digital library. Two forms of EBUCore are used in this context, the EBUCore XML metadata schema and also the EBUCore RDF ontology.

Other on-going or planned activities using EBUCore include:
• EBUCore will be listed as a formal metadata type by the SMPTE. The EBU is arranging for software to be available to embed EBUCore metadata in languages such as XML or JSON.

• The NoTube project has combined egtaMeta (an EBU specification extending the EBUCore for the exchange of commercials) and TVAnytime to develop innovative solutions in targeting advertising.

• EBUCore is also used in combination with MPEG-7 in the VISION Cloud project exploring technologies for storage in the cloud. The EBU is directly involved in the definition and promotion of the new MPEG-7 AVDP profile.

• Singapore’s national broadcaster, MediaCorp, has implemented and adapted EBUCore/SMMCore into its internal company metadata framework.

• The EBU is engaged with several broadcasters for the adaptation of EBUCore in different contexts such as a common metadata format for file exchange.

The above is just a small selection of developments. For example, EBUCore is also republished by the Audio Engineering Society (AES) as AES60, and is available in XML, SMPTE KLV, JSON and RDF/OWL.

Watch this space as the EBU will soon publish a user-friendly EBUCore mapping tool on its website.

By Jean-Pierre Evain, EBU Technical Magazine