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Audio archaeology, microsurgery and better video games

Posted on 20 November 2002

How the Media Engineering Group could change our hi-tech life

A research group dedicated to sound and vision engineering - the Media Engineering Group - is launched this month (November 2002). Their work will impact on the development of television editing, computer games, audio systems and almost every aspect of how we use 'new media'.

The research group in the Department of Electronics looks at the science, technology and design of electronic media. Three teams explore the technology of visual images, interactive technology, and music technology.

Better film editing

The Visual Systems team explores visual media technology and applications, such as television systems, image processing and coding.

"One project involves work on 'intelligent' post-production video systems that can automatically log, categorize and index footage," says Dr John Szymanski. "This will streamline the editing process giving television editors with tight deadlines more time to concentrate on using clips creatively, rather than losing time searching for specific shots."

It will also allow automated archiving of old films, enabling thousands of feet of film to be described and indexed much more quickly than is currently possible. As a result, historians, researchers and producers will have access to significant volumes of work which were previously unavailable.

Making video games more 'real'

Making the next generation of video games more life-like and compelling could be one result of work in the Interaction Lab. Researchers here study what makes a computer media experience seem 'real' to a user. This includes 'augmented reality', where computer images are combined with the real world and new ways of using and experiencing sound - what is termed 'personalised sonification'.

"Everything from microsurgery to rehabilitation of people with injuries could benefit from this work," says Dr Szymanski. "The Interaction Lab will work on flexible systems which make use of touch, feel and sound and create an all-enveloping virtual environment, through using gloves and headsets and tactile design, rather than traditional keyboards and mouse-work. These systems are also tolerant of the user. As the user becomes more competent, the system adapts to provide a sensitive, responsive piece of equipment."

Enhancing sound

The Music Technology team focuses on a range of audio topics. From amazingly realistic 3D spatialised sound, to 'audio archaeology' - accurately synthesizing the sounds of buildings and spaces in the past - to new types of specialised audio production equipment. This work will enhance both the creation and enjoyment of sound. They are also working with choristers to understand better the effects of voice training with a view to using computers to enable everyone to gain healthy voice production skills in the future.

The Media Engineering Group also teaches Media Technology and Music Technology courses, giving students a fundamental grounding in both the technical and creative aspects of media. Through the research work of the group, students are also exposed to the cutting edge.

Many students from the Department of Electronics go on to work in the audio, film, TV and new media industries.

Notes to editors:

  • The Media Engineering Group has nine full-time staff and 35 research associates and graduate students.
  • The work of the research group is expected to yield benefits for the IT cluster in York. This is supported by Science City York, the private/public partnership which has created over 9,000 science-related jobs in York in the last five years.

Contact details

David Garner
Senior Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153