Greg recently mentioned that Reuters have launched a new video/people search engine powered by Viewdle, and I’ve been playing around with it. While it has some drawbacks (currently it’s only possible to search through 612 hours of footage held by Reuters), it has a lot of features that I like.
The results screen tells you how many videos have been located that feature the person you’re interested in, the context (“Mandela statue unveiled in London”), date of the video, overall length, and time the searched for individual is on screen for. When viewing a video it starts at the point where the subject first appears, rather than right at the very beginning. Searchers can also view the full story in a textual format, view an index of other people contained in the video and when they appear, and view a complete chronology of the video, making it easy to jump to the exact point the subject appears.
If you are in a rush and need to quickly locate an individual on a video, this search engine certainly shows promise.
The advanced search function was a little disappointing, in that it was only possible to limit a search to various different Reuters channels (though to be fair there are 14 of them, allowing searchers to reasonably closely focus on a subject) and a date option, starting from January 2007. While this is a shame, it’s important to remember this is still only in a beta format, working with a limited database.
Other limitations do, however, limit the functionality – I can do a search for “Gordon Brown,” but I cannot exclude other names, since I end up with zero results. A search for gordon brown mandela also gave zero results, which was surprising, given that several videos of the two men appearing were listed in my first search for the Prime Minister.
Balancing this is a nice feature that’s not been well highlighted on the page, which is the ‘Top Charts’ option – allowing searchers to see who has been in the news in the last 24 hours, week, month, and year. Unsurprisingly, George Bush dominates the latter two categories, with a total of 743 appearances and on screen time of over 2 hours.
In summary, the main disadvantage of this search engine is that it’s still in beta, with a small database and limited functionality. However, the underlying concept is good and seems to work reasonably well. I’ll be interested to see how this develops over time.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.