Video Annotation and Reference System (VARS)

VARS Query User Guide

This guide is in three sections. This page is the Advanced section. Here are links to the other two sections:

Advanced VARS Queryquery_advanced_window

Select the Advanced tab to view all possible searchable parameters grouped by type of data. The top two groups are shown in the screen grab at right. Details on all the types are described below.

Advanced query parameters

Specifying returns and constraints

At the left of the screen are two columns of checkboxes, labeled above in small type. In the return column check boxes to select information to be returned with the search. In the constrain column, check boxes to restrict the query by the desired parameters. By default, some return columns are already selected.

Specifying Min and Max

To get a unique value, enter the same information in both Min and Max.

Detailed parameters

The items that can be constrained or returned in an advanced query are listed below with format, units, and examples when appropriate.


Association values are infrequently used. Contact the Video lab staff for more information.
This parameter provides descriptive information about a concept specified with three fields—Link Name, To Concept, and Link Value
Link Name | To Concept | Link Value.

Link Name

Used infrequently.

Link Value

Used infrequently.

To Concept

Used infrequently.

Camera Data

Camera Direction

A camera value set by the annotator to indicate whether the ROV is descending, ascending, transecting, or stationary. Check the return box to get direction information returned with query results. Check the constrain box and enter values to limit the information returned. The available MBARI values for direction are: ascend, cruise, descent, endtransect, launch, starttransect, stationary, and transect.

Camera Name

Camera Name specifies the camera used to record the selected video observation. To constrain the query to a particular camera, enter the name. Almost all annotations are associated with main camera. However, the available MBARI names are aux-camera, bioluminescent-camera, color-bars, main camera, sit-camera, and still-photo-camera.

Field Width

This is a calculated camera value that provides an estimated size of the current field of view in centimeters. Field width varies with the Zoom value.


Focus (focal length) indicates the distance in millimeters (mm) from the center of the lens to the focal point. The general range is from -511 to 1000 mm.


The iris value is the setting for the aperture, which controls the light and depth of field. This setting indicates the amount of light allowed to enter the camera lens for recording. Settings range from 0 to 4095.


For this purpose, Zoom indicates the relative distance from an object. The units are in millimeters (mm) and values generally range from -200 to 1000.


Chief Scientist

To query for dives by a particular chief scientist, type the last name. (Example: Robison)

Dive End Date

Dates and times are in UTC. Choose the range of end dates (Min, Max), from the drop-down calendars. To constrain the search to one day, choose the same date for Min and Max.

Dive Number

The dive number must be a 4-digit number (such as 0989). A specified dive number requires a specified ROV Name (see below).

Dive Start Date

Dates and times are in UTC. Choose the range of start dates (Min, Max), from the drop-down calendars. To constrain the search to one day, choose the same date for Min and Max.

ROV Name

equired if you are searching by dive number. Type in the ROV name, Ventana or Tiburon (the only MBARI ROVs as of 2005). If this is left blank, you will get all ROV dives.

Ship Name

Type the ship name, Point Lobos or Western Flyer (MBARI ships equipped with ROVs and video cameras as of 2005).


Concept Name

To constrain to a particular concept, type in the term. If the same real concept is entered on the Basic search page, this will further constrain the query according to the specified term. If only the ‘nil’ concept is entered on the Basic search page, the entire database will be searched for the specified term.

In Sequence

Used infrequently. Contact Video Lab staff. An observation is part of a sequence if there is more than one annotation about the same object. To further constrain the query by the presence of a sequence, type either true or false.


Notes are free-form text about an annotation that the science party may have entered. To constrain the query by searching for terms in the notes column, type the search term.
Example: mystery mollusc.

Observation Date

This is the date that the annotation was made. It is not necessarily the same as the Recorded Date. Dates and times are in UTC. Choose the range of observation dates (Min and Max), from the drop-down calendars. To constrain the search to one day, choose the same date for Min and Max.


To search for observations by a particular person, type that person’s username. Example: schlin.

Recorded Date

Dates and times are in UTC. Choose the range of recorded dates (Min, Max), from the drop-down calendars. To constrain the search to one day, choose the same date for Min and Max. This might be helpful in locating daily migrations or night-time versus day-time recordings of animals.

Tape Time Code

Tape time code starts at the beginning of a dive and is continuously incremented throughout the dive. The code registers hours, minutes, seconds, and frames. For example: The beginning code is 00:00:00:00. The timecode at 2 hours, 40 minutes, 30 seconds, and 10 frames into the dive is 02:40:30:10.
To constrain the query by the time code at which an annotation was made, type the time code in the format hh:mm:ss:ff (hours, minutes, seconds, frames), as in the examples.

Physical Data


Enter a minimum and maximum depth value in meters. For a single depth, enter the same value in Min and Max.


Enter a minimum and maximum latitude, in decimal degrees. For one latitude, enter the same value in Min and Max


Enter a minimum and/or maximum light transmission value (percent transmission).


Enter a minimum and maximum longitude in decimal degrees. For one longitude, enter the same value in Min and Max.


To constrain a search by recorded oxygen, enter minimum and maximum oxygen values. Oxygen concentration is measured in milliliters per liter (ml/l) of seawater. For example, enter Min: 0.81 and Max: 0.83 oxygen values to find all noted oxygen concentrations within that range. The database currently includes annotations from January 1, 1988 to the present, for both ROV Ventana and ROV Tiburon.


Salinity is a value calculated from the conductivity and pressure measurements. To constrain the search by salinity, select the checkbox, and enter minimum and maximum salinity values.
For example, enter Min: 31 and Max: 35 to search for an organism in that range of salinity.


Temperature is recorded in degrees Celsius by the ROV CTD instrument.
To limit temperature values, check constrain and enter minimum and maximum temperature values. For a single temperature, enter the same value in Min andMax.

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Format Code

The choices for annotation format are detail and outline.


If a framegrab was taken with the annotation, the framegrab link will be returned with each annotation. To view the framegrab, double-click on the link (Image field) in the Results table. The image links are returned by default. If you don’t want image links, uncheck the return box under Image.

Tracking Number

To return the number used to track observations in the VARS database, click the return box. If you know a tracking number and want to see its associated entry, check the constrain box

Video Archive Name

To constrain the query by archive number, type the Archive Name such as T9999-01. The name consists of T for Tiburon, or V for Ventana, followed by a four-digit dive number, hyphen, and a two-digit tape number. A search that specifies a dive number without a tape number will return all observations for that entire dive.

Search and Query Results

At this point you can click the Search button (green arrow) at the bottom of the screen, and the query will be processed. A box will appear to show that the query is running. When the query is finished, the box will close and the Query Results screen will appear.

See the Query Results page for instructions on viewing and saving the results.


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