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Introduction

This guide is for Avalon 1.0.

The Collection Manager's Guide for Avalon Media System explains Avalon features, functionality, and how to navigate the system. It is designed for the Collection Manager, whomever is responsible for uploading content, editing content, or providing content for playback through Avalon. See your system administrator for issues that relate to configuring Avalon "under the hood."   

Definitions

  • Avalon object - A single item (media object) accessible through one Avalon page; consists of one or more content files and metadata describing the content file(s).

  • Content or file - A single media file (i.e., sound recording, moving image) that is part of an Avalon object; one or more content files can exist for a single Avalon object (for example, 3 .mp4 files combined to form an entire movie, 6 .wav files together make up the recording of an entire orchestra concert, or a sound file and a moving image file together represent a video with accompanying lecture commentary).

Logging In

  1. On the Avalon home page, click "Sign In>>" (upper right)

  2. At the Login page, enter your username and password, click Login/Sign In Button.

If you log in and do not have editing rights, you will need to be added to the "collection_manager" group.  Contact a system admin to be added to the group. You may also be able to use the "Contact Us" form linked in the footer of the Avalon site to request access.

Browsing and Searching

Browsing and searching is powered by Blacklight and Solr indexing. Flexible search features include Unicode support; Advanced Full-Text Search Capabilities; faceted searching to help end users and collection managers refine their search results.  Avalon also auto-generates search suggestions.  Avalon provides multiple sorting options for search results, including relevancy sorting or sorting by number of results shown per page.  Once items are added to Avalon, Near Real-time indexing occurs.  No additional steps are needed to index newly added or changed objects.  

Labels for sections are not searchable.

Boolean Commands and Truncation are not supported by Avalon at this time.    

Two workflow facets are available viewable only to Collection Managers:  

  • Published:  Allows you to navigate to all published or unpublished items
  • Created by:  Allows you to see items you created and/or items created by users in the Collections Managers group 

By default, Avalon uses Solr's DisMax Query Parser (or dismax), which is designed to process simple phrases without a need for any complex syntax. There is support for + (required) and - (excluded) words, as well as the use of quotes for phrase searching.

Solr also comes with an Extended DisMax Query Parser (edismax), which supports everything dismax does, with the addition of:

  • Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT in addition to + and -
  • Parenthesis groupings for complex queries
  • Wildcards
  • Range queries on Numeric and Date fields (e.g., 1963 TO 1971)
  • Better "proximity boost" matching
  • Smart partial escaping

Contact your system administrator to make changes in the Solr configuration.  

Player and Controls

Avalon uses the Matterhorn Engage Player for playback of both audio and video files. 

Player controls - When viewing the Avalon player in the browser window, player controls can be found below the video. When in fullscreen mode, hover your mouse over the bottom area of the picture and you will see player controls appear.

    • To start and pause the video, click the center Play button.
    • To fast forward or rewind, click and hold the left or right arrow buttons.
    • To advance quickly through a video, the user can click on the timeline bar to the desired part of the video, or scrub forward by holding and dragging the timeline arrow.
    • To adjust volume within the player, click on the desired level in the speaker loudness icon. To mute, click the speaker.

Full screen button - When trying to go to fullscreen mode for video playback, hover the mouse over the top right corner of the player. A fullscreen button will appear, click it to enter into fullscreen mode. To exit fullscreen mode, press the Escape button on your keyboard or hover over the bottom of the video picture to see a Fullscreen button that can be clicked to exit fullscreen mode.

To view a specific section, click the desired item for playback under the Section heading below the player.

To switch between playback quality tiers, select the desired quality in the dropdown menu below the player.

Mobile viewing:  Avalon works on IOS mobile devices.  Currently, other devices are not supported.

Matterhorn Engage Player Keyboard Commands

Control + Alt + P = Toggle the video between pause or play.

Control + Alt + S = Stop the video.

Control + Alt + M = Toggle between mute or unmute the video.

Control + Alt + U = Volume up

Control + Alt + D = Volume down

Control + Alt 0 - 9 = Seek the time slider

Control + Alt + C = Toggle between captions on or off.

Control + Alt + F = Forward the video.

Control + Alt + R = Rewind the video.

Control + Alt + T = Reads the current time aloud when using a screen reader

cmd + = Zoom into the player

cmd - = Zoom out of the player

 See Known Issues for Player & Controls

Creating Single Item

  1. Log in to create an item.
  2. Click the Create button to access the Manage file(s) page. You must save and continue to advance to the next step in the item workflow.
  3. In Manage file(s), files may be uploaded through the web using the Select button, or by importing from a dropbox using the Open Dropbox button.
  4. If uploading through the web, use the Select button to browse to one or more files and click Open to load. When the filename appears in the box under the label "Upload through the web", click Upload, Change or Remove. Then click Save or Save and continue; note that the Upload button must be clicked before saving or no file will be uploaded. If multiple files are selected, only the first file name will appear in the box.
  5. If using the Open Dropbox button, choose files from the file dropbox location and click Attach Selected Files. 
  6. Multiple files may be uploaded at once or by repeatedly using the Select or Open Dropbox button to upload one file at a time. However attaching files from multiple pages of the dropbox is not possible. You must attach items on separate pages in the dialogue box, at different times. 
  7. After clicking Upload, a Display label may be entered; click Update to save this label. This step is not necessary for items with only one media file. "Sections" only appears if there are multiple files for one item. 
  8. After uploading and labeling files has been completed, click Save and continue to move to the next step.

 See Known Issues for Creating Single Item

Editing Item

Clicking the Edit button allows users with Collection Manager control to manage files by assigning labels and uploading additional bitstreams, add or change metadata bout the item in the Resource Description page, reorder multiple bitstreams in the Structure page, edit who can access the item in the Access Control page, and Preview how the item will appear.

Deleting Item

  • Items can be deleted by Collection Managers at any time during the Edit process or by accessing the resource using Browse, search, or via a URL. Details of how how derivatives and associated metadata are handled for deleted Avalon objects or single media files that are part of an Avalon object are described in the File Management section.
  • To delete an Avalon object, click the red button marked "Delete" on the playback page or "Delete this item" under the editing menu. You will be asked to confirm before the object is deleted.
  • To delete a media file from a multi-item Avalon object, access the file and click Edit, then go to Manage file(s), associated bitstreams. Click the "Delete" box in the right column next to the file or files to be deleted and click Update, then click on Save or Save and continue. (Clicking either of the Save buttons before the Update button will not result in any deletions.)
  • Note that clicking on the file in the playback or Preview pages and then clicking Delete will delete the entire Avalon object.

File Management

  • Types of files, size of files, etc

    • Avalon uses FFmpeg for transcoding. For a list of source file formats and codecs that are supported, see the FFmpeg Supported Source Formats and Codecs documentation on our wiki.

    • There is an individual file size limit of 250MB when uploading files manually through the Avalon Web interface.

    • There is no practical limit on the maximum file size of a source file uploaded to the system through the Avalon Dropbox or through the Batch Upload feature.

    • File names cannot include the following characters: [   ]   <   >   |   &
  • Thumbnails

    • Thumbnails are captured by Opencast Matterhorn at the 2 second mark of the video.  This setting is customizable by your system administrator. If the item audio, the thumbnail is an illustration of headphones. If the item contains audio and video, the thumbnail is headphones and a screen.  

  • Encoding profiles
    • Avalon Media System utilizes a component called Opencast Matterhorn to process files uploaded to the system. The types of files that the system produces for streaming are determined by encoding profiles specified in Matterhorn. See Encoding Profiles for information about the systems default. Users will notice that when their files are processed, they have the option of three tiers of video playback ("Low Quality"; "Medium Quality"; High Quality") and two tiers of audio playback ("Medium Quality"; "High Quality"). Having different tiers of playback allows your end user to get the best playback experience given their playback context (combined factors of software, hardware, internet bandwidth, etc.)
    • Opencast Matterhorn utilizes the encoding software FFmpeg to create derivatives of source files. Each encoding profile designates FFmpeg settings for derivative file creation. These settings are customizable in the encoding profiles.
    • If you wish to edit encoding profiles by changing their titles or FFmpeg encoding options, creating a new encoding profile requires creating a configuration file and placing it in the encoding profiles watch folder of Matterhorn. Contact your system administrator to edit encoding profiles. 
  • Troubleshooting

    • To correct errors with one or more content files within an Avalon object:

      • Place corrected content files for that object in the top level of the dropbox directory (contact your system administrator for dropbox location and connection information). Once processed, the corrected content files will be available in Edit mode for the Avalon object from the Manage file(s) > Import from a dropbox feature. Delete the incorrect content files from the object in the Manage file(s) step of the Avalon object Edit mode, add the corrected files, click Update in the Associated file(s) section, then Save at the bottom of the Manage file(s) form. 

    • To correct errors with the information about an Avalon object:

      • From the Edit mode for the Avalon object, use the Resource Description form to correct metadata about the object.  Click Save at the bottom of the form to save your changes.
  • Deleting Items
    • Deleting a Single Avalon Object deletes the record from the database and the derivatives created for each media file.  
    • Deleting a Specific Media File/Section - To replace a specific file in any Avalon object, navigate to the Manage File(s) step for that object.  Delete the specific file or files and replace the file with a new one.  Processing for that file will begin again.  
    • Deleting File(s)/Batch(es) from the dropbox.  A delete from dropbox function exists in the dropbox interface so that collection managers can make space in the dropbox or keep it organized.  Avalon does not keep the original files nor does it keep references to where that original file is located.  Files and metadata for batch operations do not display in the dropbox view via the interface, so deleting batches needs to happen directly in the dropbox directory.

Uploading via Web

  • Web ingest is used for manual upload of one or more media objects.  

    • There is an individual file size limit of 250MB when uploading a file manually through the Avalon Web interface.

    • The Avalon Web interface allows for labels to be added to individual sections of a multipart Avalon object.  

    • Avalon Objects can be created without associating media.  Metadata and access control information can be created first which allows for collection managers to come back to that Avalon Object and associate the correct media at a later time.  You must click "save and continue" to progress through the steps even if no changes are made. 

    • Deleting files -

      • Deleting a Single Avalon Object deletes the record from the database and the derivatives created for each media file.  

      • Deleting a content file of an Avalon object does not automatically delete that content file and its derivatives.  If you would like those items deleted, follow the prompt “Several clean up jobs have been sent out. Their statuses can be viewed by your sysadmin at /var/www/avalon/shared/log/matterhorn_cleanup.log”  

See Known Issues for Creating Single Item

Uploading via a file dropbox

  • Avalon’s dropbox is used to import large files over 250MB (this has no association to dropbox.com). 

    • Uploading files - Large media files are placed in a dedicated Avalon dropbox (a file server usually connected via SFTP or a mapped network drive).  Contact your system administrator for dropbox location and connection information.

    • Once files are mounted into the dropbox, Collection Managers can go to the Create menu to open the dropbox and attach selected files to an Avalon Object.  File processing begins once media is attached from the dropbox. 

    • When creating a new object, you go through the workflow in order of adding resource descriptions, ordering structure and access control. 
    • Deleting files from the Avalon dropbox - You can delete files from the Avalon Dropbox through the web interface or directly on the server the dropbox is located:

      • Through the Avalon dropbox - Choose the Create menu. Click the Open dropbox button. Checkmark the files you want to delete and click Remove Selected Files. Deleted files will be permanently removed from your Avalon Dropbox folder on the server where it is hosted.
      • Through the dropbox folder on a server - Connect to your Avalon dropbox folder directly on the server where it is hosted. Delete files manually. Deleted files will be permanently removed from your Avalon dropbox.

Uploading via Batch

  • Avalon's Batch Ingest feature provides a method of building one or more media objects at a time from uploaded content and metadata outside the user interface. A batch ingest is started by uploading an Ingest Package (the combination of content and metadata) consisting of one Manifest File and zero or more Content Files to the Avalon dropbox.

  • Formatting the xls - See Batch Ingest Package Format for a batch spreadsheet template and instructions on the metadata fields that can be included in a batch ingest.
  • Formatting the batch - All content and metadata files are placed in a dedicated Avalon dropbox (a file server usually connected via SFTP or a mapped network drive).  Contact your system administrator for dropbox location and connection information.
  • Upon loading the batch in the dropbox, Avalon checks to see if the spreadsheet is formatted properly and if all the files are copied to the server.  Avalon sends an email (to the address listed in the spreadsheet) either confirming that all is well and the batch is processing OR a report of problems with the batch (such as missing files or incorrect formatting).  Upon completion of the batch, Avalon sends an email of success or failure.
  • Handling errors for Avalon objects within a batch


    • Sometimes a batch ingest will result in an exception, with one or more content files failing to ingest.  You will receive this information through an email message after your batch ingest processes.  If a content file failure occurs, the following steps can be tried to ingest the content again:


      • Avalon form: To re-ingest a single Avalon object (one row of the batch ingest spreadsheet), place all content files for that object in the top level of the dropbox directory.  Once processed, the content files will be available from the Manage file(s) > Import from a dropbox feature in Avalon and the object can be created using Avalon’s form.

      • Reload spreadsheet: Another option to re-ingest a single Avalon object or set of objects is to reduce the batch spreadsheet to only those failed objects and reload the spreadsheet to the same location as before.  This will run the batch again but only for the failed content files.  

      • If a single Avalon object with multiple content files has one or some of those files fail (but not all), either delete that object from Avalon and use the Reload spreadsheet method to load the entire object again or use the Avalon form method to add those failed content files to the dropbox and append them to the appropriate object in Avalon.   

Resource Description

  • Metadata
    • Avalon Media System currently utilizes Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS) for organizing descriptive metadata.
    • When creating a new Avalon object in Avalon Media System, the Resource Description form is used to gather basic metadata about the object.  Each form field contains contextual help.  Clicking on the question mark image next to the form field name will expand with instructions.  In some cases, those instructions will recommend controlled vocabularies to use (see help for Genre and Subject for examples).  Other times, the instructions contain formatting recommendations (such as Publication Date and Creation Date).  Please be sure to verify that metadata is being entered properly so that Avalon Media System can make the best use of the information you provide about your objects for search and discovery.
    • Authorized users can edit the metadata at any time by clicking the Edit button on the resource page and editing metadata in the Resource Description section.
    • Three metadata elements are required for each Avalon object: Title, Creator, and Publication Date. These elements are identified with an asterisk.
  • Avalon Web Interface and Batch Ingest Metadata Creation

    • Click the Create menu. After uploading a file, the user cannot advance before clicking the Save button. The user will then advance to the Resource Description menu. The fields Title, Main Contributor(s), and Publication Date must be populated in order to create a resource in the system.

    • At this time, batch ingests can take in more metadata than can be input through the Resource Description form for an Avalon object.  See Batch Ingest Package Format for a full list of supported field names for batch processing.  Future releases will expand the information that can be entered through the Resource Description form and will enable use of more descriptive metadata for search and discovery within Avalon Media System. If you have information for most of the fields supported through batch, you can choose to load that information now and it will become more usable with later releases.
  • Suggestions for controlled vocabulary use

    • Some fields in Avalon have recommended controlled vocabularies.  Genre, all types of Subjects (Location, Time Period) and, if possible, names of creators and contributors.  The contextual help accompanying the fields in the Resource Description form contains links to the recommended vocabularies.  Additionally, the Batch Ingest Package Format specifies controlled vocabularies for those same fields.

Structure

  • If a single Avalon object is made up of multiple content files, those content files can be uploaded separately to the object, labeled individually, and reordered at any time. If there is more than one content file, each content file will be listed on the Avalon object’s page and can be selected for individual playback. Labels specific to these content files can be helpful for users to better understand the content of the object.  If no label is provided for a content file, the filename will be listed.  You must click Update in the labeling section for labels to persist.

Access Control

  • Avalon provides stream-level protection for desktop and mobile streams through session token validation.  Tokens are passed between Avalon and the streaming server (Adobe Media Server or Red5) when a valid Avalon session exists.  These tokens last for 20 minutes.
  • Access control options must be adjusted manually in the Avalon user interface. Batch uploaded resources that are designated to be Published automatically default to the Collection Managers Only access control option.
    • Available to general public:  Anyone can view items with this setting without being logged in.
    • Authenticated users only:  Only users that can log in to Avalon can view these items.
    • Collection managers only:  Only collection managers can view these items
    • Limit access to:  works for sharing resources specific individuals with Avalon logins or existing Avalon groups.  Note: users in the Collection Managers group can always see these items.
    • Hide from search results:  This option exists for items you wish to keep available via URL only.  Items with this setting can not be discovered via search or browse.
    • Published vs Unpublished:  Unpublished items are only viewable to Collection Managers. To make Avalon items viewable to other users, you must publish the item. Publishing an item occurs in the Preview section of the process.
  • A user can share a unique URL to an Avalon resource. The URL can be found on the resource page underneath the video where it says "Copy link to share." The resource will be accessible only to users who are authorized to have access through the access control options.
  • To set up temporary access for a user who is unaffiliated with your institution, contact your system administrator.

Preview

  • Previewing an item allows the Collection Manager to see the item in the media player and test playback before allowing anyone else to view the item.  The media player shows with the same controls that end-users will see and the playback will reflect the playback experience for end-users.
  • After previewing an item, the Collection Manager can choose to "Publish" the item, making it available to end-users based on the Access Control settings for the item.  If an item is already published, the Collection Manager can choose to "Unpublish" the item, removing it from end-user access.

Group Management

  • System groups roles and policies

    • Collection Managers can view, edit and delete all aspects of Avalon objects and files.  

    • Group Managers can add or remove members to existing groups, create or remove group.  Collections Managers can not edit policies and permissions for groups - a system administrator must do that.
    • System groups can be deleted, but should not be unless you have spoken to your system administrator. There is not a way to recover this action via the user interface.
  • Creating new groups

    • Group Managers can create new groups for the purpose of sharing specific resources with groups of users.  These groups will have view access only.  No ability exists in the interface to edit policies for groups. To add users to a group, enter their Avalon username as displayed in the upper right corner upon logging in. This is usually an email address.

    • Group names should not include blank spaces.

 See Known Issues for Group Management

  • Items can be easily shared by copying the url provided on the item and preview page.  Access will be determined by access control level on the item. 

See Known Issues for Sharing via Link

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