Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Video Annotation and Reference System (VARS)
VARS Query FAQ
  1. What is the VARS Query?
     
  2. Which platforms does the VARS Query run on?
     
  3. How do I download and use the VARS Query?
      
  4. Why do I get a popup message that says “Security Warning: This application is requesting unrestricted access to your local machine and network…It is highly recommend not to install and run this code”? Should I click on Start?
     
  5. I clicked on the Search button several minutes ago, but the VARS Query is still running. Why is it taking so long?
       
  6. What is this default concept called “-NIL-“?
     
  7. How do I pick which columns will show up in the returns table?
     
  8. How do I view the frame grabs that were taken when these annotations were created?
     
  9. Okay, I ran a search and got some results in a table, now what should I do with them?
     
  1. What is the VARS Query?
  2. As part of the Video Annotation and Reference System (VARS) project, a software tool, called VARS Query, was developed to give users access to information in MBARI's video annotation database. MBARI uses high-resolution video equipment to record more than 300 remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dives per year. In the 14 years between 1989 and 2003, 14,000 videotapes were annotated and archived into a centralized institutional resource. There are over 890,000 annotations in the video database. With the VARS Query, users can locate video sequences or access other information recorded during ROV research dives. Complex queries can be made by constraining temporal, spatial, or physical parameters (for example, season, location, or depth). The VARS Query references a knowledge base of over 3,000 biological, geological, and technical terms, providing consistent hierarchical information about objects and associated descriptions for annotating video at sea or on shore. 

  3. Which platforms does the VARS Query run on?
  4. The VARS Query has been tested and runs on Windows 2000 and XP, Mac OS X, and Linux.  It should run on any platform with Java Runtime Environment, version 1.4 or later. A fast internet connection is best.

  5. How do I download and use the VARS Query?
  6. Download links are on the .VARS Query Application page
    User instructions are in the VARS Query User Guide. 

  7. Why do I get a popup message that says, "Security Warning: This application is requesting unrestricted access to your local machine and network. It is highly recommend not to install and run this code"? Should I click on Start?
  8. Yes, you should click on Start. The VARS Query needs access to your local machine and network to store query results and configurations on your hard drive and connect to the query server and frame grab archive. Java’s security model warns you about this security issue so that you don’t accidentally install malicious programs without your knowledge. The VARS Query is not a malicious program.

  9. I clicked on the Search button several minutes ago, but the VARS Query is still running. Why is it taking so long?
  10. The video annotation database contains over a million annotations. The query application cannot retrieve all of them at once. Try hitting Cancel and constraining your search to a few days, months, or years (depending on how frequently your chosen concept appears in ROV dive video). If you’re a new user who simply wants to try out the VARS Query, do your first search on something rare (in MBARI ROV dive videos) like pacific-viperfish, vampire-squid, basaltic-lava, or grimpoteuthis.

  11. What is the default concept called “-NIL-”?
  12. Running a search on the NIL concept means you want to see records of all concepts in the database. You’ll get every annotation record except for what is filtered out by your specified Constraints. To avoid getting tied up by an overwhelming number of hits, we recommend users only do NIL concept searches on a very limited date range, such as a few days.

  13. How do I pick which columns will show up in the returns table?
  14. The query opens with some default settings for columns and no constraints. After specifying a basic search, click on the Advanced tab, make selections with the returns and constrain checkboxes, and fill in the details/limits. See instructions on the Advanced Query page

  15. How do I view the frame grabs that were taken when these annotations were created?
  16. If the return checkbox under Miscellaneous-Image on the Advanced tab is checked (a default selection), an Image column will be returned in the Results table. An entry in the Image column indicates that a frame grab was taken with that annotation. Double-click on the image name and the image will appear in a pop-up window. It may take several seconds to load the image. See the VARS Query Results page for instructions on how to save single or multiple images.

  17. Okay, I ran a search and got some results in a table, now what should I do with them?
  18. There are some suggestions on the VARS Query Results page.  

Last updated: Feb. 06, 2009