Screenshot: Reuters Connect

Credit: Courtesy: Reuters

Reuters has launched a beta set of AI-powered tools to make use of video clips up to a century old.

Supported by the Google Digital News Innovation Fund, The Reuters Video Archive can timestamp human appearances within videos and produce speech-to-text transcripts and translations.

Say you are looking for a particular soundbite or cameo - the tech can pinpoint the precise time you need to pluck out your quote or clip instead of traipsing through audio or video content.

The service builds on existing AI and machine learning technology currently in use for its real-time video feed but now you can apply this process to historic footage, for example, of the Wright brothers’ first flight dating back to 1903.

Courtesy: Reuters

Screenshot of using Reuters Connect to transcribe video footage of The Wright brothers first aeroplane flight in 1903

"Even with grainy footage or choppy audio, we have fully automated videos," says Alex Maragoudakis, senior product manager, Reuters News Agency.

"We have unlocked contextual information that was previously difficult to get. You can jump to particular parts of the video and find what you are looking for."

Older videos do not have a lot of structured metadata. That means, for instance, that there is less information on whether there is valuable speech in an asset or the language it might be in.

To increase the accuracy, the model needs to establish a number of variables before content can be processed and the file is usable. This is where AI and machine learning can fill in the blanks.

But the tool is not perfect and, as it stands, the service relies solely on the technology - there is no human involvement. But its users know that there is a margin of error with the output and the creators are transparent about this process.

"We have been conscious not to be clumsy," adds Maragoudakis, explaining that the main focus was on quality control.

The archive has more than one million videos dating back before the 1900’s up until the present day. All of them have been processed, but not all are available - around 600k videos are on Reuters Connect. The reason for this is that the quality is not guaranteed, for example, because of inaccurate translations.

For now, Reuters Video Archive aims to be able to deliver content for as many key search results as possible. But, as a beta product, it strives to eventually make as much of the archive available as it can. The tool is available to customers of Reuters Connect, its multimedia news resource.

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