Image metadata management: including metadata cleanup and custom software programming for picture file format conversion services.
What is metadata? Simply put the term metadata describes additional information about the main data. As implied from its Greek root (‘meta’), it is not just ‘data about data’, but information that actually accompanies the data providing detail that goes beyond the subject matter. For example information on the content of a picture file: such as a title or description of the image, can be placed in the corresponding metadata title and metadata description fields contained in the metadata records. Some examples of which are metadata tags of digital image files; metadata objects in xml or html; and information contained in the document properties which comprise pdf metadata. More widely, metadata is used to establish a standard vocabulary and taxonomy (again from the Greek meaning ‘arrangement method’) in the cataloguing of media assets in a digital repository as implemented by the metadata standards presented in the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative. Image information and picture metadata management through keyword search, have become increasingly important as the volume of digital images rise and the requirement to control and harness their full commercial potential becomes increasingly essential.
Here are just three examples where we at Insitua have used non-image data from a variety of data sources in image processing.
Example 1 – Image Formatting
When Digital Photos and Scanned Images need to be transmitted to digital printers or digital minilabs we have written driver software to prepare the images by sorting them by origin or type, converting and scaling them. JPEG has been the most popular format and conversion to and from this format (e.g JPG to BMP, BMP to JPG, TIFF to JPG, JPG to TIFF or even involving text documents like DOC to JPG or Word to JPG) together with image resizing, jpeg repair is often a key stage in the process. Data Extraction by capturing information like camera data, such as flash detection, scene information and color space; as well as get metadata from Tags such as in IPTC, EXIF and TIFF are utilised in the preparation of the image. Such information can then go on to be used to make Standard Prints, Contact Sheets, Index Prints used in areas like School Photography, Justice, and Web Fulfilment.
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Example 2 – Printing and Scanning
From a technical aspect, such information has proved critical in driving printing and scanning processes: from High Resolution Scanners to Inkjet Printers and Digital Minilabs. Over the years well over 50 devices have been driven by the development of custom interfaces using SDKs and direct programming protocols. In several instances this afforded the opportunity to modify and correct corrupted DSC images whilst adding metadata and printing picture metadata either separately or print a picture with metadata, in the production line of Wholesale Labs and Print Shop, thereby refining and enhancing the throughput of the workflow.
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Example 3 – User Interfaces
Many of these workflows, including those where information is captured say, from Kiosks or Databases, we are able to use certain ontology to write Digital Image Metadata to TIFF, JPEG, XMP and other receptive formats. An example, which can be found in many inspection processes as a result of say, nondestructive testing (NDT), images can be stored separately from other captured data – we can both import and export metadata. The two data forms can be merged by exporting to a format where technical information can be stored in the image metadata (we have software for adding metadata to images). This can be seen in images where geolocation metadata is important, the image capture having been determined by GPS or more traditional methods. By georeferencing, the geotagged digital image can be geoencoded using an image file format that supports the addition of this geographic information (latitude and longitude). Well log images, plots and charts in oil, gas and petroleum exploration industries feature such geotechnical information which we can add as metadata. A more general example might be where a programmatic solution is required, say in Microsoft(c) SharePoint installations, where there is associated data in a metadata csv file which needs incorporating into the image file metadata which might also need renaming.
Conversely, metadata extraction, during metadata cleanup perhaps, can be performed on digital image files such as JPEG and TIFF. This metadata cleanup service enables the removal of sensitive information from the picture file e.g patient information as in the case of medical images. We can extract metadata entirely by converting into simpler image file formats and discarding or exporting the information data as e.g metadata xml, to view the metadata separately. We can also provide the transfer of metadata during file migration. A Federal Judge in a recent court case has ruled that metadata must also be disclosed under any Freedom of Information requests for electronic documents. This has given added importance to metadata cleanup in the management of personal, private or privileged information contained in these document fields or when you access the metadata in digital photos.
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