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ISBN: 972-8924-02-X 2005 IADIS

INTERNET-BASED PERSONAL TV STATION ENABLING INDIVIDUALS TO PRODUCE, DISTRIBUTE, AND VIEW TV PROGRAMS
Narichika Hamaguchi
Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) 1-10-11, Kinuta, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, 157-8510, Japan

Mamoru Doke
(Same as above)

Masaki Hayashi
(Same as above)

ABSTRACT A user-friendly TV system dubbed TV4U has been developed, which enables amateur users to produce and distribute their own TV programs over the Internet that can be easily accessed and viewed by others. In TV4U, programs are divided into three component partsprogram script, material, and program directionsthat can be separately created and distributed. Dividing programs up in this way enables users to produce programs by simply writing a program script and combining program directions created by other creators. This paper presents an overview of a prototype version of TV4U that supports everything from production of programming content to distribution and browsing the user-produced programs. KEYWORDS Internet Personal Broadcasting Station, Web-casting, Automatic Production Engine, TVML, Weblog

1. INTRODUCTION
The television set has been a standard appliance in practically all households for decades and certainly TV broadcasting is one of the most popular and familiar media. But television has always been a passive medium just for watching, and the prospect of users producing and distributing their own programs has seemed very remote. This is in stark contrast to another medium that has become widely available, that of the Internet, where is quite easy for people to create and put their own web pages on line. Especially, with the growing popularity of weblogs (blogs) and easy-to-use blog tools, it has become exceedingly easy for people with little or no expertise to create their own web content and make it available to others over the Internet at minimal cost. This inspired us to see if we might achieve this same level of user-friendly ease of creating and distributing television program content over the Internet. Although low-cost video cameras and desktop editing tools are popular consumer items, we are scarcely able to see personal TV programs made by non-professionals. It seems reasonable to conclude that making TV programs is still quite difficult for ordinary people just using consumer production tools. Looking at the explosive growth in popularity and the spread of blogs over the last few years, indeed, we would expect to see the same kind of remarkable growth in personal TV program and content production if user-friendly tools were available to easily create and distribute TV program content. We have been conducting a research aiming to achieve a new TV system that opens the way to any individual to produce and publish TV programs. In fact, we have succeeded in creating an environment that

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gives amateur users the ability to easily produce personalized TV programming content and distribute that content over the Internet so it can be readily viewed by others by adopting the following approach: (1) TV programs can be broken up into three constituent partsscript, material, and program direction that can be produced and distributed separately. (2) To create a program, a user does not necessarily have to produce all three parts. For example, a program might be created by just writing a script, and then linking the script with program directions that has already been produced and material that has already been distributed. This is helpful because program direction is the most difficult and troublesome for amateur users. (3) Then by uploading the program parts produced in Step (2) to a Content Management System (CMS), the program is easily made available to the public. (4) To watch a TV program that has now been made available in Step (3), the necessary constituent parts are downloaded from the CMS, and these parts are seamlessly integrated into a TV program on the client side. The program is viewed using real-time computer graphics and a voice synthesizer. This paper gives an overview of the fundamental concept of TV4U and its implementation that performs these tasks in an integrated way. (1) TV4U is a TV platform that breaks programs into parts and distributes those parts. TV4U consists of three prototype subsystems: (2) TV Creator is a tool for producing TV program scripts; (3) TV Server is the Content Management System; and (4) TV Browser is a system for viewing the program contents.

2. RELATED WORK
A blog is a frequently updated website where an author posts text and still images dedicated to a particular topic. Podcasting [1] extends the basic blog concept by permitting users to make audio files (music or speech) available on the Internet, while videoblogs or vlogs [2] extend the blog format by including video images, typically created and edited by the vlog's author. These capabilities are all very useful and bear striking similarity to our work, for they essentially give users their own broadcasting stations enabling them to make audio, video, and other kinds of media available on the Internet. One drawback is that the authors themselves must edit and create the audio programs for podcasting and the video programs for vlogs, and this can be a daunting task. So one additional characteristic of these blog-type sites is that are not generally easy to create and maintain. A Public Opinion Channels (POC) [3] is a community-oriented information processing system that enables community members to create TV program-like content that can be viewed on a Web browser. Users edit knowledge cards consisting of text, graphic images, and other material, which are uploaded to a server and used as conversational content by computer graphics agents (avatars) that act and speak in place of their creators. POCs too bear some similarity to our TV4U system in that individuals convert their own material to a TV program-like format, but the primary emphasis of POCs is broadcasting information and discussions within a community. In addition, program directions are extremely limited, so the output is very different from TV programs created using rich and varied program directions.

3. TV4U TECHNOLOGY BACKGROUND


We use TVML (TV program Making Language) technology [4] for describing and playing back the final TV programs of the proposed system. We also use the APE (Automatic Production Engine) technique [5] for describing the TV direction style. These technologies were developed by us for use in automatic TV program production. In this section, we explain these technologies and describe a new mechanism of TV production using them.

3.1 TVML
TVML is a computer language that can represent every aspect of a TV program script. Program scripts written in TVML are played by a software component on a PC called the TVML Player. As illustrated in Figure 1, the TVML Player interprets the TVML script, then generates and plays back the TV program in real

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ISBN: 972-8924-02-X 2005 IADIS

time by generating computer graphics (CG) models, CG characters that speak with synthesized voices, and by playing video, still image, and audio files. Since the TVML represents load and positioning of the CG model, camera angles, lighting, and a host of other settings in the script, this tends to make scripts rather complicated because these directions are mixed in with the content in the script. We solved this problem by using direction style sheets (described in the next subsection) enabling the program directions and script to be separated in the production and distribution of TV programs.
(CG model loading and positioning angle and other settings ) ... movie:playfile(filename="shinkansen.mpg") super:on(text="New Super Express Station ") character:talk(name=caster, text="A new super express station was opened in Shinagawa.") ... A new super express station was opened in Shinagawa. , camera

Figure 1. TVML script is transformed into a program

3.2 APE
The APE is essentially a kind of style sheet; the user enters simply script data describing the content, which is the core of the program, into the APE, and the APE outputs a TVML script including program directions. The process is illustrated in Figure 2 where spoken lines, video files to be played in the program, and other core data formatted in XML are added to a TVML script template, then output as a TVML script that includes program directions. This is analogous to the way style sheets are used on the Internet. Just as various styles can be represented by CSS and XSLT style sheets describing core data in HTML, APE style sheets govern TV program direction styles in TV4U. Essentially, the APE consists of a program for inputting and outputting text strings and XSLT and other style sheets. The XML-formatted script data input to the APE is called the APE script.
) Script (APE Script <apescript > .xsl> <ape file=newsshow . <video>shinkansenmpg</video> </superimpose> <superimpose>New Super Express Station .</comment > > <comment A new super express station was opened in Shinagawa </ape> <apescript > (APE) Program direction ... <xsl:template match ="video"> (filename "<xsl:value-of select "."/>") = movie: playfile = > </xsl:template <xsl:template match ="superimpose"> = super: on(text= "<xsl:value-of select "."/>") </xsl:template > <xsl:template match " ="comment > = character talk(text= "<xsl:value-of select "."/>") : > </xsl:template Figure 2. Use of APE

A new super express station was opened in . Shinagawa

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4. THE TV4U PROTOTYPE


By treating the APE described in the previous section as the program direction component in TV4U, the elements of program production can be distributed over a network. For example, even if the person creating the program knows nothing about program direction and design, she or he can nevertheless write a script and easily produce a program by appropriating program directions and materials that have already been distributed. Using the methodology stated above, we designed a new TV program circulation system named TV4U that is able to provide great flexibility to ordinary people who want to express their information in a TV manner. In the TV4U system, scripts consist of titles, lines of dialog, subtitles, and other tagged text as described in the previous section, as well as references to material files that are used by the scripts. Materials consist of still images, videos, audios, and various other media files, and are the data files referenced by scripts. And finally, program directions are style sheet APEs for converting to TVML and include computer graphic models and character data used by the directions.

TV Server APE Scripts APEs Materials Metadata Distribution The Internet TV Creator Script Editor Uploader Previewer Producing TV Browser Channel Zapping Program Searching Engine TVML Player Viewing

Figure 3. Overview of the TV4U system


Figure 3. Overview of the TV4U system

Figure 3 shows an overview of TV4U. The TV Creator, TV Server, and TV Browser are all connected to the Internet. Programs created by users on TV Creator are made available by uploading them to the TV Server, and the programs can be viewed on a TV Browser simply by accessing them on the TV Server. We have thus created a very user-friendly procedure for producing TV programs that can be made public on the Internet and viewed with a browser analogous to the way web pages and blogs are created and made publicly available for browsing.

4.1 Producing: TV Creator


The function of the TV Creator is to produce scripts for TV4U. It consists of three components: a script editor, a previewer, and an uploader. Figure 4 shows a screenshot of the TV Creator. The script editor uses customized MS-Word because Word is currently the most popular document editor available for making scripts. The user first writes the program text in Word, then pastes APE style sheets, still images, audio, and video files into the Word document simply by dragging and dropping. The fact that particular text represents titles, lines,

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ISBN: 972-8924-02-X 2005 IADIS

superimposing, and so on is indicated by assigning styles (class attributes) where appropriate. The script editor outputs HTML as an intermediate file, which is then converted into APE script by looking up the class attributes. Users can thus easily create a TV program by simply preparing a document in Word.

Figure TV Creator screen Figure 4.4.TVCreator editingediting screen

The TV Creator also features a previewer that allows the user to preview the TV program output in her or his own local environment before uploading the program. Figure 5 shows the flow that is involved in generating a TV program from a TV Creator script. First, (a) shows the editing screen of the Script Editor. The author writes the script, then adds APE style sheets and other required materials by dragging and dropping these elements into the script. The fact that text is a title, a subtitle, a line of dialog, and so on is indicated with styles. This is saved in the APE script format shown in (b). The APE script is then uploaded along with any linked files to the TV Server. To play the program, you download the uploaded APE script to your browser. This downloads the APE style sheet associated with the APE script, which is used to convert the APE script into a TVML script as shown in (c). Any material associated with the TVML script is downloaded, and the program is played on the browser as illustrated in (d).

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IADIS International Conference on WWW/Internet 2005

Cyber Style BGM

APE Audio file

BEIJING Gugong Now we will show you about the fastest growing country: China. The first image is the Gugong palace in Beijing.
Image file

This is the most famous symbol, Heavenly Gate, Tiananmen. Because China is a huge country, not only foreign tourists but also Chinese people visit Beijing from various areas. You can see a lot of tourists wearing same-color caps.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="shift_jis"?> <apescript> <ape file=" cyber1.xsl"> <bgm>BGM.mp3</bgm> <title>BEIJING</title> <subtitle>Gugong</subtitle> <text>Now we will show you about the fastest growing country: China.</text> <text>The first image is the Gugong palace in Beijing.</text> <subimage> image001.jpg</subimage> <text>This is the most famous symbol, Heavenly Gate, Tiananmen.</text> <text> Because China is a huge country, not only foreign tourists but also Chinese people visit Beijing from various areas.</text> <text>You can see a lot of tourists wearing samecolor caps.</text> <mainimage> image002.jpg</mainimage> <text>This is the Heavenly Gate Square view from on Heavenly Gate.</text> <text>Beijing air quality is often bad because of rapid industrialization.</text> <text> This square might be very large, but we cant se everything.</text> </ape> </apescript> (b) APE script

(a) Editing by the TV Creator sound: open( name=bgm0, filename="BGM.mp3" ) sound: play( name=bgm0, repeat=0 ) super: on( type=drawing, drawingname=TITLE ) character: talk(text=" Now we will show you about the fastest growing country: China." ) character: talk( text=" The first image is the Gugong palace in Beijing." ) prop: openimageplate( name=image6, filename=" image001.jpg", platesizeh=1.06, platesizev=0.78 ) character: talk(text=" This is the most famous symbol, Heavenly Gate, Tiananmen.") character: talk(text=" Because China is a huge country, not only foreign tourists but also Chinese people visit Beijing from various areas.") character: talk(text=" You can see a lot of tourists wearing same-color caps.") title: select(type=imagefile, filename=" image002.jpg") video: switcher(source=title) character: talk(text=" This is the Heavenly Gate Square view from on Heavenly Gate.") character: talk(text=" Beijing air quality is often bad because of rapid industrialization. )

(c) Conversion into TVML Figure 5. Program production flow in TV4U

(d) Output program

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ISBN: 972-8924-02-X 2005 IADIS

4.2 Distribution: TV Server


The user uploads three kinds of data: the APE script produced on the Script Editor, APE style sheets, and other material that are linked to the APE script. The TV Server features a back-end database, and has two essential functions: it serves as a CMS by managing an index of programs that have been uploaded to it from TV Creators, and also functions as a HTTP file format content server. A channel is allocated to each user account, so that users can upload programs to their respective channels with a single click. The TV Server automatically keeps track of where programs are located (their URLs), so there is no need for users to remember or even be aware of URLs and their corresponding paths. Just before a program is uploaded, the APE script is analyzed and the title and headline extracted from the beginning of the scripts as a description, and these are uploaded separately from the program as metadata for the program. Using this technique, the TV Server can also generate an RDF Site Summary (RSS) of metadata of the programs for each channel as an index.

4.3 Viewing: TV Browser


TV Browsers are equipped with a range of viewing style options, so users can customize the TV viewing experience to their liking. By accessing the TV Server and looking up an RSS, the TV Browser can obtain a list of channels and a list of programs for each channel. By choosing a channel, the TV Browser can sequentially play the programs stored on that channel just like regular TV programs. As illustrated in Figure 6, users can also jump around among channels (channel zapping) and freely switch among programs on a channel in any random order.

Figure Channel zapping Figure 6. 6. Channel zapping

The TV Server also furnishes program metadata in RSS format, which enables users to watch a succession of programs satisfying a keyword search, can watch a particular type or genre of program identified by keyword filtering, or can view the most recently added programs by specifying a cut-off date. The TV Browser thus accommodates both traditional TV mode viewing as well as Internet mode viewing, and the end-user can choose whichever mode best suits her or his purpose.

5. SYSTEM EVALUATION
As stated in section 1, our final goal is to achieve a new TV system that makes it possible for anyone to create TV programs. A successful example illustrating the popularity of spontaneous expression by individual people is the blog. We believe that the main reason for the popularity of blogging is easy-to-use content creation tools. Thus, the question of whether the overall TV4U system meets our purpose or not principally depends on the usability of TV Creator. To answer this question, we conducted user evaluation trials on the TV Creator program production method.

5.1 Subjective Evaluation Test


The user evaluation trials were conducted with 12 subjects (six men and six women) who ranged in age from their 20s to their 40s. The subjects were beginner to intermediate in their skill level on computers, but all

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were at least capable of using a word processor. The subjects were divided into two groupsGroup A and Group Band were asked to produce the same program. Group A produced the program by directly editing a TVML script and was provided with TVML editing tools, while Group B used the APE and wrote an APE script on TV Creator. First, we provided both groups with a sample program written in TVML. Group B was also provided with APE and an APE script of the sample program. We then gave the two groups a printed storyboard and any other material files they would need to create a task program that was similar to the sample program and used the same instructions, but differed in content and story. The two groups were then asked to produce the tasks programs. In other words, Group A was told to convert the sample TVML script into the task program by directly editing the sample TVML script, and Group B was asked to transform the sample APE script into the task program by editing the APE script on TV Creator. The sample program was about one and half minutes long, and the content of the task program was about the same. The content of both the sample and task programs was informational in nature, profiling a sports figure. The changes required to transform the sample program into the task program involved six spoken lines, altering superimposed text in three places, substituting stock images in two places, changing camera shots in three places, and changing the action of CG characters in two places. The subjects were also provided with two hours of training in all of the system production techniques prior to the trial. In conducting the test we measured how long it took the two groups to produce the task programs, and also evaluated the usability of the system by having the subjects fill out a questionnaire after the trial. The questionnaire was based on the semantic differential (SD) method and consisted of 25 sets of adjectives which the subjects were asked to score on a scale of 7 (e.g., "Is this production method easy? / difficult?" "Is the operation method easy to figure out? / hard to figure out?"). In addition, we also asked the subjects to jot down their impressions in their own words. Figure 7 shows the average production times for the two groups. After subjecting the questionnaire results to principle component analysis, the results for the first principle component revealed a heavier weighting of adjectives indicating that the production method was easy production is easy," "it's easy to figure out the production system," etc. so we determined that the first primary component was "production method usability." The contribution of the first principle component was 66%. Figure 8 shows the average first principle component scores for both Groups A and B. One can see that there is a significant difference between the two, and Group B determined that their production method was substantially easier to figure out and use.

B: Using TVCreator 43.3min 0 30 60 90

A: Using TVML 117.3min

A: Using TVML

B: Using TVCreator

120

150

-8.00 -6.00

-4.00 -2.00

0.00

2.00

4.00

6.00

8.00

Production Time (min)

Figure 7. Average production time

Figure 8. Production method usability

In their written assessments, subjects of Group B commented on the positive side that "Even though I am not really used to using a computer, it was easy to familiarize myself with the program production because it resembles a game and I was surprised how intuitive and easy it was." And "It was fun because I was able to produce a fairly decent program very quickly by just choosing a style and inputting some figures." On the negative side, subjects of Group B observed that "Actions and spoken lines are treated in the same description, so it's confusing as to which comes first and the order of priority." "If the actions and spoken lines could somehow be separated like on the storyboard, I think this would be a lot easier for novices to figure out." And "I think the system might be more interesting and enjoyable if there was a greater range of options in the camera-shots and the actions and expressions of the CG characters to choose from."

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5.2 Discussion
In comparing program productions using TV Creator with direct editing of TVML, we found that in terms of production time required, the approach using TV Creator was 2.7 times more efficient on average. Even considering that the subjects had samples to work from, the fact that complete program production novices were able to create a one-minute-long computer-graphics programs with sound in an average of 43 minutes is proof enough that the system has enormous promise and utility. Our fastest subject in this round of trials finished producing the task program in about 17 minutes, which of course could be further reduced once the production techniques were mastered. The subjective evaluations of the subjects also revealed significant differences between the direct TVML editing approach and the TV Creator editing approach. The most salient differences were: (1) In order to directly edit TVML, one must learn how to use TVML commands and parameters. By contrast, with TV Creator there is no need to memorize detailed procedural commands, because the user simply selects a style sheet-based template. (2) In TVML, the CG setup instructions, spoken lines, and other content elements are mixed together, and this makes it hard to figure out where to edit even in exercises such as here where elements in the program are just being replaced. In TV Creator, the instructions and the content are kept separate, and the instruction settings on TV Creator are concealed. This makes it extremely easy and efficient to replace content elements as required by this task. In interviews, several of the subjects expressed the view that a greater range of style options would offer users greater power of expression and enjoyment. For the purposes of these trials, we only prepared templates needed to produce the task programs, but the fact that several subjects mentioned this point suggests that users would like to see a greater variety of expressive capabilities. TV4U makes it easy to produce and immediately view programs. It will be very interesting indeed if we can inspire and enable the will to create even more with a greater range of expressive capabilities.

6. CONCLUSION
In this paper, we described our successful implementation of TV4U, a user-friendly system enabling users to produce and distribute their own personalized TV programs over the Internet that can be easily accessed and viewed by others. Trials were conducted to assess the usability of the system, and it was found that even relative novices were able to easily figure out how to use the system and produce their own programs. Building on this approach, we plan to develop tools for generating APE style sheets, and a system for separating and integrating web-based scripts, materials, and program directions. The trials reported here only addressed the usability of the program production system; the distribution and viewing aspects of the system must also be evaluated through trials.

REFERENCES
[1] Podcasting & VODcasting a Whitepaper http://edmarketing.apple.com/adcinstitute/wp-content/Missouri_Podcasting_White_Paper.pdf [2] Videoblogging.info http://www.videoblogging.info/ [3] Fukuhara, T., Fujihara, N., Azechi, S., Kubota, H., and Nishida, T. "Public Opinion Channel: A network-based interactive broadcasting system for supporting a knowledge-creating community", In R.J.Howlett, N.S.Ichalkaranje, L.C.Jain, and G.Tonfoni(eds.); Internet-Based Intelligent Information Processing Systems, World Scientific Publishing, chapter 7, pp.227-268, 2003. [5] TVML Web Site http://www.nhk.or.jp/strl/tvml/ [4] Hayashi, M., Doke, M. and Hamaguchi, N. 2004. Automatic TV Program Production with APEs. 2nd Conference on Creating, Connecting and Collaborating through Computing. Kyoto, Japan, pp. 20-25.

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