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The Conveyor Project - Multimedia Authoring Made Easy

TitleThe Conveyor Project - Multimedia Authoring Made Easy
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsTyson, N.
Secondary TitleInternational Cultural Heritage Informatics Meeting: Proceedings from ichim03
PublisherArchives & Museum Informatics
Place PublishedÉcole du Louvre, Paris, France
EditorPerrot,(d. 2007), X.
Keywordsichim, ichim03

The Regency Town House is a small heritage centre and museum in the city of Brighton & Hove in Sussex, England. For more than a decade, staff and volunteers at the House have developed interactive multimedia for the presentation of historical information. However, throughout this time, it has often been difficult for us to meet the financial and human resource demands associated with this type of work - making successful multimedia has traditionally required significant interface design and computer programming input, at considerable expense. Several years ago we began to consider that it might make sense to step back from our production routines and take a closer look at exactly what sort of multimedia we anticipated needing. If we could see trends in the style and functionality requirements, perhaps we could build systems that would simplify and speed the authoring process, thereby lowering costs and reducing our reliance on skilled computer personnel. The outcome of our efforts was the Conveyor initiative, a project aiming to provide ëwizard and templateí based software tools and on-line support services that simplify the authoring process so that those with little or no previous knowledge of these disciplines can participate in the activity. An authoring system designed ìby museum people for museum peopleî as Conveyor has sometimes been described. Shortly after its release in late 1999, Conveyor was distributed to some 65 British institutions and within a very short time the BBC commissioned a further 1000 copies of the software for UK museums. A little later that year an additional 1000 copies, translated into Flemish, were distributed to museums in Holland and Belgium. By early 2002 we had produced localised versions of the software for delivery to Singapore, Malaysia, and The Philippines. More recently a Mandarin version has been released, in Taiwan and a Japanese version will follow shortly. We believe that the positive reception given to Conveyor, both in the UK and abroad, evidences the widespread enthusiasm for such tools within the museum community and provides a satisfactory ëproof of conceptí for the idea of empowering users who have little IT knowledge with the means to produce interactive media through a wizard and template based approach. We now plan to extend the number of styles that Conveyor can built so that the author can choose between panoramic presentations, ones based on ëlarger-than-screení images that requires scrolling in 2 dimensions and more traditional static forms of multimedia interface. Ultimately, perhaps, a user will be offered the opportunity to make more specialised forms of interactive product, such as e-books, for example. The critical point is that the same wizard will drive all of these systems; so that once a person has learned to author any one style of presentation they are immediately able to successfully produce any of the alternatives. We believe that the Conveyor approach is revolutionising the ease with which multimedia is made and holds the key to empowering museums to more fully exploit the full potential of this important technology.