JPEG 2000 seminar – edited highlights #1

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By | Digital Developments

JP2K1_Simon2  JPEG 2000 for the Practitioner seminar attracted a full house of 80+ delegates on 16 November 2010 at the Wellcome Trust.

The aim of the seminar was to look at specific case studies of JPEG 2000 use, to explain technical issues that have an impact on practical implementation of the format, and explore the context of how and why organisations might choose to use JPEG 2000. Follow the day as it unwound at Twitter #jp2k10.

Delegates were welcomed by Simon Chaplin, Head of the Wellcome Library, who briefly summarized the context of the Wellcome’s digital library ambitions. I (Christy Henshaw) gave a quick introduction to the JP2K-UK group, and the origins of the seminar as one of the main outcomes from the group discussions. What follows is an edited highlights version of the talks given on the day; the full presentations are available on the DPC website.

The first talk, “What did JPEG 2000 ever do for us?” was given by Simon Tanner, Director of King’s Digital Consultancy Service. The fact of the matter, according to Simon, is that although JPEG 2000 is “cool and froody”, and has a lot to offer in terms of functionality and intelligent format design, those who use it are doing so because it can save them money. The economic benefits can not be underestimated for large scale digitisation – even though storage is relatively cheap these days, the total cost of owning a million images is quite high. Storing master files as JPEG 2000s can save an institution over £100,000 per year in terms of ongoing storage costs.

Richard Clark, Managing Director of Elysium Ltd., gave an overview of the JPEG 2000 standard, “JPEG 2000 Standardisation: A Practical Viewpoint.” As the UK head of delegation to the JPEG Committee, Richard has been involved with developing the standard since its inception. Richard ran through the key features and functionality that can be achieved with the JPEG 2000 format (and its many parts), and explained the rationale behind the standard. He quoted the original objective, which was to develop an “architecturally based standard” that would enable flexibility for a wide range of uses, and he demonstrated that this was, in fact achieved. Although JPEG 2000 has a lot to offer the cultural heritage industry, that industry has not been well represented on the standards committees.

JP2K1_ChristyThe next hour was taken up with the “Profiles” session. Sean Martin, Head of Architecture and Development at the British Library, kicked off with a description of the JP2 profile (i.e. the specific parameter settings) to be used for the British Library’s newspapers project. Key to point out here is that the British Library has opted for lossy compression for its archival masters, stating that “it is also desirable that the same master file support the needs for both long term archival and also access.” I followed with a brief summary of the compression aspects of the Wellcome Library’s profile (our JP2 profile is available online), and how we determine the right level of compression. Like the British Library, we use lossy compression for our archival masters, and will use the same file for providing access. Bedrich Vychodil presented the new JP2 profiles for the National Library of the Czech Republic that will soon come into force for a wide range of materials. In contrast to the British Library and the Wellcome, the Czech National Library will use a different, lossless, profile for their archival masters, and a lossy profile for their access files. Delegates were provided with a list of these parameter settings, as well as several others, available online.

Petr Zabicka spoke about “IIPImage and OldMapsOnline“, a development project carried out by the Moravian Library in the Czech Republic that uses JPEG 2000 to display large images, in particular maps. The imaging server they have devised is based on IIPImage and uses the tiles encoded into the JPEG 2000 format to provide speedy access to portions of the image when zooming and panning. More uniquely, they have developed a georeferencing application that allows the user to match points on historic maps with those on Google maps, and to overlay – and correct – old maps using the Google maps API.


After a well-deserved lunch, delegates heard Svein Arne Brygfjeld from the National Library of Norway speak about “Implementing JP2K for Preserv…” (his title was abbreviated in order to fit a picture of a glacier on the slide, but I am led to believe the title ended with “..ation and access, experiences from the National Library of Norway”. The glacier provides a key to the talking point of Svein Arne’s presentation – extremes. Located in the Arctic Circle, at Mo i Rana, the NLN is carrying out mass digitisation of newspapers and other materials, and has recently decided to store their master files as JPEG 2000 lossless files. Digitisation is such a large part of what the NLN does, that around 30% of the workforce is involved in digitisation.

Stay tuned for more edited highlights covering the second half of the seminar…

Christy Henshaw

Christy Henshaw

Christy Henshaw manages digitisation at the Wellcome Library. @Chenshaw. Linkedin

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