research_text_graphic.jpg (3230 bytes)

1998 Projects

Current Projects

Green_Ball.gif (257 bytes)Biogeochemistry/
climate and ocean

Green_Ball.gif (257 bytes)Deep-sea
community dynamics

Green_Ball.gif (257 bytes)Sub-seabed flow on continental margins

Green_Ball.gif (257 bytes)Mid-ocean ridges and submarine volcanoes

Green_Ball.gif (257 bytes)Marine microbial ecology

Green_Ball.gif (257 bytes)New tools and

Green_Ball.gif (257 bytes)Feasibility studies

Green_Ball.gif (257 bytes)High-risk initiatives

Green_Ball.gif (257 bytes)ROV infrastructure

Green_Ball.gif (257 bytes)Mooring infrastructure

Green_Ball.gif (257 bytes)Technology

Green_Ball.gif (257 bytes)Video infrastructure

Green_Ball.gif (257 bytes)Monterey Bay Aquarium/
MBARI joint projects

Green_Ball.gif (257 bytes)1997 Projects




Project 12

Video infrastructure

Principal Investigator: Nancy Jacobsen

Co-investigators: Mark Chaffey, Judith Connor, Dan Davis, Steve Etchemendy, Paul McGill, Kristine Rodgers

Video technology has been a cornerstone of data acquisition and archiving from the earliest days of MBARI research. More than 4,000 hours of underwater video imagery have been recorded by the video cameras attached to the ROVs Ventana and Tiburon. MBARI's growing video library not only serves as a rich scientific resource for the institute’s researchers, but has also given millions of people glimpses into the deep sea.through its use by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and in numerous broadcast productions.

The primary goals of Project 12 are to incorporate the best available new technology into MBARI's video infrastructure and to optimize the scientific and educational value of the collected imagery. To these ends, staff will focus on six tasks in 1998:

P12A Design completion, acquisition, and installation of a high-definition television (HDTV) system for use on MBARI's ROVs—The HDTV system will operate (at least initially, but ideally over the long term) in tandem with the existing video system. It will be designed to be adaptable to other submersibles as well. Setting up HDTV will involve:

  • Obtaining (or, if necessary, constructing) an underwater housing for a high-definition camera, usable to depths as great as 4,000 meters (Tiburon’s depth limit)
  • Purchase and set-up of HDTV recording and playback equipment
  • Implementation of a fiber-optical communications link within the R/V Western Flyer/Tiburon tether to transmit the video signal from the ROV-mounted camera housing to a ship-based HDTV recorder
  • Upgrading of the fiber-optic rotary joint on the winch for the R/V Western Flyer/Tiburon tether (the joint allows the cable drum to rotate freely, so as not to interfere with signal transmission) to provide an additional high-speed data path for the HDTV signal

The pending transition to HDTV promises significant benefits to MBARI researchers and other users of the video. HDTV’s high-resolution capability (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) produces images with at least five times the spatial resolution generated by systems currently in use. The all-digital format allows uplinking (signal transmission to surface stations) and recording of images with minimal loss of visual information.

P12B Continued development and deployment of a bioluminescence camera —This video camera is custom-built for capturing images of bioluminescent animals unobtainable with conventional cameras. It records in black and white under very low light conditions and requires no external illumination. Modifications to the camera over the last two years have improved its light sensitivity and resolution greatly. Two challenges remain before it can perform optimally for bioluminescence studies. First, the viewing port of the camera housing must be replaced to enlarge the field of view. And, second, MBARI engineers must design and integrate a set of controls into the system to enable the camera user to precisely monitor and adjust functions such as zoom, focus, and settings for color filters that will allow researchers to determine the color of light emitted by animals. The preferable solution would be a "laptop box" (similar to Tiburon’s control box) that would serve to make the camera portable, for use on either of MBARI’s ship-ROV systems.

P12C Installation and use of the Super Harp camera on the ROV VentanaThis state-of-the-art video camera is on loan to MBARI for a three-year period from NHK television of Japan, in exchange for their use of recorded video. The new Super HARP is more light-sensitive than a conventional CCD video camera and designed to provide exceptional underwater color images. Initially, problems with lens focus kept the camera from operating properly; as of January 1998, the camera seems to be functional and will be mounted on Ventana for late-January dives. All video collected with the new Super-HARP camera belongs to MBARI and is part of the institute’s video archives. NHK is responsible for engineering support of the camera, and MBARI is responsible for determining its use. Video lab personnel are handling videotape dubbing for NHK for licensed use in a Japanese television series on the oceans, which will cover aspects of MBARI research.

P12D Continuing development and implementation of the Video Information Management System (VIMS)This project is dedicated to the annotation of the 4,000-plus hours of underwater video (as of January 1998) and the expansion of computerized networks for flexible access to video data and images. MBARI science and engineering staff have reformulated the annotation system, VICKI, so that it is now based entirely on a hierarchical, object-oriented technology. Tapes recorded from 1989–1993, annotated under an earlier format, are being converted for consistency. VICKI has been installed for real-time use aboard MBARI ships, and sets of frame grabs from each dive will be accessible through the video database. Basic queries of the database are now possible; information can be retrieved by object name and/or behavior (for example, squid and/or inking). Early in 1998 the VIMS group will conduct an extensive survey of MBARI scientists, engineers, and other potential users to determine their needs for advanced video-related data retrieval and then design a system to meet these needs. They will also begin to develop a graphical user interface for the database that will be relatively easy to use, compatible with other computer applications (for example, MBARI’s real-time geographic information system), and allow the end-user concurrently to access and update archived data for individual project work in the laboratory or at sea.

P12E Maintaining video lab and digital lab support functions—In addition to the ongoing annotation of video footage, the video-lab staff prepare tapes for special productions pertaining to education projects, internal and external research, and a select number of high-quality broadcast productions for the general public. To streamline responses to news and other broadcast inquiries, a collection of stock footage is being prepared and updated as necessary. MBARI is initiating the recovery of costs for materials and staff time from outside organizations making such requests, as appropriate. Video-lab staff also handle requests for VIMS data retrievals and schedule the use of a variety of equipment for processing images and data in the "digital lab."

P12F Development and improvement of image analysis tools—MBARI staff have evolved three capabilities for quantifying and measuring objects in still photos and video footage:

  • Structured light system—This light array, attached to the ROV frame in front of its camera, allows researchers to estimate the size and distribution of suspended particles, such as marine snow, in the water column.
  • Laser Measure—This calibration system uses laser-generated reference points to calculate the range and tilt of the seafloor, and from these computations, creates a two-dimensional grid for sizing objects in seafloor images. An upgraded version of the Laser Measure system is being devised to incorporate improvements derived from the use of the system at MBARI and other marine institutions.
  • Point Locator—The Point Locator system will expand MBARI researchers’ capacity to make size estimates for objects in the midwaters and on the ocean floor. Currently under development, this technique requires a paired camera system, such as the one on the ROV Tiburon. Point Locator will enable the user to locate the exact three- dimensional coordinates (relative to the ROV) of object points simultaneously visible from both cameras. On command, the tool will capture paired freeze-frame images (one from each camera) of the object of interest, along with associated information about the telephoto lens position and the pan-and-tilt angles of each camera. From these data, and from the two-dimensional screen coordinates of selected object points (from each camera), the tool calculates three-dimensional coordinates of the points, which allows the length or size of the object to be determined. The tool can be used on any system with properly calibrated, paired cameras. The software for both the Laser Measure and the Point Locator will be installed in the MBARI digital lab for post-cruise processing of video imagery.

Next: MBA-MBARI joint projects

Last updated: 28 October 2004