Opencast Matterhorn – Open source lecture capture and video management

Authors: Markus Ketterl, Fraunhofer IAIS; Chris Brooks, University of Saskatchewan; Olaf A. Schulte, ETH Zürich and Rüdiger Rolf, University of Osnabrück

More information: http://opencast.org/matterhorn

Since its formation in 2007, Opencast has become a global community around academic video and its related domains.
It is a valid source of inspiring ideas and a huge living community for educational multimedia content creation and usage.

Matterhorn is a community-driven collaborative project to develop an end-to-end, open source solution that supports the scheduling, capture, managing, encoding, and delivery of educational audio and video content, and the engagement of users with that content. Recently (July 2013) Matterhorn 1.4 has been released after almost a year of feature planing, development and bug fixing by the community. The latest version, along with documentation, can be downloaded from the project website at
Opencast Matterhorn.

Opencast Matterhorn Welcomes Climbers

The first screenshot shows a successful system installation and start in a web browser.

Opencast: A community for higher education

The Opencast community is a collaborative effort, in which individuals, higher education institutions and organizations work together to explore, develop, define and document best practices and technologies for management of audiovisual content in academia. As such, it wants to stimulate discussion and collaboration between institutions to develop and enhance the use of academic video. The community shares experiences with existing technologies as well as identifies future approaches and requirements. The community seeks broad participation in this important and dynamic domain, to allow community members to share expertise and experience and collaborate in related projects. It was initiated by the founding members of the community [2] to solve the need identified with academic institutions to run an affordable, flexible and enterprise-ready video management system. A list of current system adopters along with a detailed description can be found on the adopters page at List of Matterhorn adopters.

Matterhorn: Underlying technology

Matterhorn offers an open source reference implementation of an end-to-end enterprise lecture capture suite and a comprehensive set of flexible rich media services. It supports the typical lecture capture and video management phases: preparation, scheduling, capture, media processing, content distribution and usage. The picture below depicts the supported phases. These phases are also major differentiators in the system architecture. Additional information is available in [2].

Opencast Matterhorn phases of lecture recording

The core components are build upon a service-based architecture leveraging Java OSGI technology, which provides a standardized, component oriented environment for service coupling and cooperation [1], [2]. System administrators, lecturers or students do not need to handle Java objects, interfaces or service endpoints directly but can create and interact with system components by using fully customizable workflows (XML descriptions) for media recordings, encoding, handling and/or content distribution.

Matterhorn comes with tools for administrators that allow to plan and schedule upcoming lectures as well as monitor different processes across distributed Matterhorn nodes. Feeds (ATOM/RSS) as well as a browsable media gallery enable users to customize and adapt content created with the system to local needs. Finally content player components (engage applications) are provided which allow to synchronize different streams (e.g. talking head and screen capture video or audience cameras), access content directly based on media search queries and use the media analysis capabilities for navigation purposes (e.g. slide changes).

Opencast Matterhorn welcome page

The project website provides a guided feature and demo tour, cookbook and installation sections about how to use and operate the system on a daily basis, as well as links to the community issue/feature tracker system Opencast issues.

Matterhorn2GO: Mobile connection to online learning repositories

Matterhorn 2GO is a cross-platform open source mobile front-end for recorded video material produced with the Opencast Matterhorn system [3]. It can be used on Android or iOS smartphones and tablets. The core technology used is Apache Flex. It has been released in the Google Play Store as well as in Apple’s iTunes store. Further information is available on the project website: Download / Install Matterhorn2GO. It brings lecture recordings and additional material created by Opencast Matterhorn to mobile learners worldwide. Matterhorn 2GO comes with powerful in content search capabilities based on Matterhorn’s core multimedia analysis features and is able to synchronize different content streams in one single view to fully follow the activity in the classroom. This allows users, for example, to access a certain aspect directly within numerous recorded series and/or single episodes.

A user can choose between three different video view state options: a parallel view (professor and corresponding synchronized slides or screen recording), just the professor or only the lecture slides. Since most Opencast Matterhorn service endpoints offer a streaming option, a user can directly navigate to any time position in the video without waiting until it has been fully downloaded.

The browse media page lists recordings from available Matterhorn installations. Students can simply follow their own eLectures but also get information about what else is being taught or presented at the local university or abroad at other learning institutes.

Stay informed and join the discussion

As an international open source community, Opencast has established several mechanisms for individuals to communicate, support each other and collaborate.

More information about communication within the community can be found at www.opencast.org/communications.

Conclusion

Matterhorn and the Opencast Community can offer research initiatives a prolific environment with a multitude of partners and a technology developed to be adapted, amended or supplemented by new features, be that voice recognition, face detection, support for mobile devices, semantic connections in learning objects or (big) data mining.

The final objective is to ensure that research initiatives will consider Matterhorn a focal point for their activities.

The governance model of the Opencast Community and the Opencast Matterhorn project can be found online at www.opencast.org/opencast-governance.

Acknowledgments and License

The authors would like to thank the Opencast Community and the Opencast Matterhorn developers for their support and creativity as well as the continuous efforts to create tools that can be used across campuses and learning institutes worldwide.
Matterhorn is published under the Educational Community License (ECL) 2.0.

References

[1] Christopher A. Brooks, Markus Ketterl, Adam Hochman, Josh Holtzman, Judy Stern, Tobias Wunden, Kristofor Amundson, Greg Logan, Kenneth Lui, Adam McKenzie, Denis Meyer, Markus Moormann, Matjaz Rihtar, Ruediger Rolf, Nejc Skofic, Micah Sutton, Ruben Perez Vazquez, und Benjamin Wulff. OpenCast Matterhorn 1.1: reaching new heights. ACM Multimedia, pages 703-706. ACM, (2011)

[2] Ketterl, M, Schulte, O. A., Hochman, A. Opencast Matterhorn: A Community-Driven Open Source Software Project for Producing, Managing, and Distributing Academic Video. International Journal of Interactive Technology and Smart Education, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Vol. 7 Iss: 3, pp.168 – 180, 2010.

[3] Markus Ketterl, Leonid Oldenburger, Oliver Vornberger. Opencast 2 Go: Mobile Connections to Multimedia Learning Repositories. In proceeding of: IADIS International Conference Mobile Learning, pages 181-188, Berlin, Germany, 2012

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