Avalon 3.0 Release

Release 3.0 of the Avalon Media System is now available. Both Indiana University and Northwestern University will be using this release to set up production environments and we hope other institutions will join us.

Release 3.0 adds the following capabilities:

  • provide authorization for item access from your learning management system by integrating Avalon as an LTI tool (Learning Tools Interoperability is a standard used by many course management systems)

  • embed Avalon's media player in other web page using embed codes

  • configure Avalon to delete, move, or do nothing to your master files after they are transcoded

  • track location of master files and derivatives in Fedora

  • configure Avalon to assign a permanent URL (e.g., PURL or Handle) when an item is published

  • quickly import previously transcoded derivatives

  • maintain privacy of dropboxes between collections

  • numerous media player bug fixes and improvements

Avalon 2.0 Release

Dear Avalon community:
We are happy to announce that Release 2.0 of the Avalon Media System is now available, thanks to hard work on the part of Avalon team members at Indiana and Northwestern. One major goal of this release is to enable successful pilot implementations at partner institutions.
The release includes the following features:
·         A new hierarchical permissions model (see more at supports a flexible approach to collections-based content management. Collections can be set up with default access controls.
·         Collections can more easily be shared with defined groups of users.
·         New media player, based on mediaelement.js, is more usable and supports more platforms.
·         An About page shows the system health and supports automated system monitoring.
·         Users can create custom thumbnails for video content by taking a "snapshot" during playback or by specifying a timepoint.
·         Tools are provided for migration of content and user groups from Avalon 1.0 to 2.0.
There are several options for exploring release 2.0. You can try it out on our public test server. You can also download and install a preconfigured Avalon virtual machine image, perform a step-by-step installation, or find out how to download our source code from Github. More information on all of these options is available at
We look forward to feedback on this release via the avalon-discuss-l list. If you haven't already signed up for the Avalon discussion list, you can find out how to do so at
Jon Dunn and Stu Baker
Avalon Media System project directors

October 2012 Update

Dear Avalon community:

On behalf of the Avalon team, thanks again to those of you who were able to participate in the Avalon / Variations on Video webinar on October 2. I’m writing to let you know that a recording of the webinar and copy of the presentation slides are now available on the Avalon wiki at

In addition, I would like to encourage those of you who participated in the webinar, as well as those of you who weren’t able to participate, to complete our short survey at - Your responses to this survey will assist us in setting priorities for Avalon release 1 and for future versions in a number of areas, including authentication, media format support, and metadata, and will help us to make sure we are creating tools that will be useful in your own local environments.

If you have a few minutes to complete the survey between now and this Monday, October 22, we would greatly appreciate it.

I would also like to announce that the Avalon test instance at Indiana ( has been updated to reflect the version of the code that was demonstrated during the webinar. Please feel free to try out the system and send us your feedback. For more information on how to access the test instance and request an account, please see



Jon Dunn
Interim Assistant Dean for Library Technologies and Digital Libraries
Indiana University Bloomington Libraries
(812) 855-0953

July 2012 Update

Dear Variations on Video Community:

We are pleased to announce the availability of the Variations on Video "Release Zero" (R0) system. The main objective for R0 was to demonstrate a working system based on the Hydra, Blacklight, and Matterhorn technologies we've selected for use, and we’d like to thank the project team at Indiana and Northwestern for their hard work on getting us to this important milestone.

We would like to invite you to try out the system and send us your feedback. Information on how to access the R0 test instance hosted at Indiana, along with a description of what's working in R0, is available on the Variations on Video wiki at

The short summary of R0 (code name: “Hydrant”) is that it allows users to search, browse, and view video and audio media, and (with a login) a user can upload media to be transcoded and made publicly available. The code is available in GitHub (, but since R0 is a proof-of-concept system rather than something ready for use in a pilot, we have not developed installation or formal testing documentation and do not recommend trying to install it in your own local environment at this time.

The R1 release in December 2012 is targeted to support pilots at partner institutions. Among other features, R1 will add:

  • Mobile device support
  • Scalability
  • Authentication and group-based authorization for access control
  • Support for more comprehensive descriptive and structural metadata
  • Batch import of media and metadata

New Name!

One other important piece of news is that we have decided on a new name for the software that we are developing, in order to better distinguish it from the existing Variations digital music library system ( The new name is Avalon Media System, and we will be transitioning from Variations on Video to the Avalon name over the coming months, particularly with the expected launch of a new project website in the near future.

In the meantime, the VoV team welcomes questions and input from community members. Feel free to reply to this email on the list or to contact one or both of us directly. For more information, including recent presentations on the project and to discover other ways of connecting, visit


Jon Dunn
Project Director, Variations on Video
Interim Assistant Dean for Library Technologies and Digital Libraries
Indiana University Bloomington Libraries

Stu Baker
Co-Project Director, Variations on Video
Associate University Librarian for Library Technology
Northwestern University Library


April 2012 Update

Dear Variations on Video Community:

As most of you know, Indiana University and Northwestern University received funding last October from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to support the implementation phase of the Variations on Video project. This e-mail is the first of a regular series of updates that we plan to send to our advisors, partners, and others interested in the project in order to share our progress and invite feedback.


The Variations on Video (VoV) project is a collaboration of educational and cultural institutions and open source software communities. The project is led by the libraries of Indiana University and Northwestern University and is funded in part by a three-year IMLS National Leadership Grant that runs October 1, 2011 – September 30, 2014. The product (to be named) created by the VoV project will be a free, open-source system that enables libraries and archives to manage and provide online access to their video and audio collections. Project goals are as follows:

  • Develop a complete, open, interactive system, enabling quick and easy ingest, discovery, and use of video and audio assets in teaching, learning and research, with a focus on the needs of academic libraries and archives.
  • Support robust, standards-based metadata for description, management, and annotation of time-based media.
  • Support flexible authentication and authorization.
  • Accommodate special requirements for preserving and archiving digital media assets.
  • Enable the efficient management of workflows for managing audio and video content.
  • Follow an agile, open source, community development approach.
  • Leverage Fedora/Hydra, Opencast Matterhorn, and other existing open source technologies where appropriate.

The VoV open source community invites institutions and developers to participate in defining and creating system capabilities to meet current and future requirements.

First Release Planned for December 2012

The first release of the VoV system is planned for December 2012, with the intent of supporting partner pilots during Spring 2013. The development team is working to include the following features in Release 1:

  • The audio and video player will work in the main browsers – Chrome, Firefox, Explorer, and Safari – and on mobile devices (iOS and Android).
  • Users will be able to create, store, and share audio and video clips and playlists.
  • Integration with a variety of authentication systems will be supported, along with management of group-based authorization.
  • In addition to a basic manual ingest tool, the system will provide a batch import facility.
  • For fast and easy discovery, VoV will include a search interface based on the Blacklight discovery tool.
  • Administrators will be able to monitor their installation of VoV to quickly detect and troubleshoot problems.
  • Ingest, management, and search functionality will be built as a Hydra head.

VoV community members will have access to a test environment to try out the first release. Development will be taking place in Github at Instructions for download and installation of intermediate versions of the system will be available on the VoV community website when the site is launched in May.

Our project wiki is open for public viewing at, and current work on user stories may be viewed at

Upcoming Events

Variations on Video team members from Indiana and Northwestern plan to be at the following conferences over the next several months:

We look forward to having the opportunity to chat directly with many of you about the project at these events.


The VoV team welcomes questions and input from community members. Feel free to reply to this email on the list or to contact one or both of us directly. For more information or to discover ways of connecting, visit

Please look for communication in the near future regarding regular open online meetings to provide review and feedback on project progress. In the meantime, if there is anyone else from your institution who should be added to our mailing list, please let us know.


Jon Dunn
Project Director

Stu Baker
Co-Project Director