|Title of Invention||
APPARATUS FOR GENERATING CONTENT CODES FOR AUDIOVISUAL PROGRAMS .
|Abstract||An apparatus ( 10 ) for generating content codes for the scenes of a program includes a scene detector ( 18 ) that detects the start of new scene, and a selector that allows a viewer to enter one or more content codes for the scene. The content code(s) and data identifying the scene are then stored for later use. The apparatus (10 ) also includes a new-scene indicator that is activated when a new scene begins and is then deactivated after content code(s) have been inputted for the scene.|
|Full Text||AN APPARATUS FOR ALLOWING A VIEWER TO ASSIGN
CONTENT CODES TO SCENES IN AN AUDIOVISUAL
PROGRAM AND A METHOD FOR GENERATING CONTENT
CODES BY A VIEWER FOR THE SEQUENTIAL SCENES
OF A PROGRAM
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
A. Feild of Invention
This invention relates to the tagging of audiovisual content of a
program, such as analog or digital motion pictures that are transmitted over
cable, or video transmitted over the Internet More particularly, it pertains to a
viewer-operated apparatus for tagging individual scenes of the audiovisual
program so that it can later be replayed with selected scenes being omitted
or replaced by others.
B. Description of the Prior Art
Presently, many video programs have ratings that can be used by
viewers to determine whether they would like to play the programs, or whether
they would allow others (such as children or adolescents) to play them.
These types of ratings are also becoming available for TV shows, games, and
other audiovisual programs. Programs broadcast over the Internet may be
filtered or otherwise restricted using on-line filtering services, and set-top
boxes and TVs with V-CHIP content filtering technology also exist for this
As an improvement to current technology, it has been suggested that
rating codes be provided for individual segments, or scenes, of programs.
Automated playing devices would then be able to seamlessly eliminate
segments with selected content, and/or substitute other segments with
acceptable content if such segments are available. Commonly assigned co-
pending application S.N. 09/479,819 filed January 7. 2000, entitled "Content
Control of Broadcast Programs" and incorporated herein by reference,
discloses a personal video recorder that receives and stores a broadcast
program with each scene being tagged with a content rating. Parameters for
acceptability of content are designated by viewers, and the appropriate
scenes are played as a seamless continuous program. U.S. Patent Nos.
5,987,21 land 6,208,805 to Abecassis discloses an apparatus which records a
program on a disk and filters content according to viewer preferences. A
viewer is shown only the segments having acceptable content. A parent has
the ability to review a program and tag unacceptable scenes. The apparatus
then omits the unacceptable scenes when the program is played.
A major disadvantage of all of these systems is that, whether a
universal rating is assigned to a whole program, or ratings are assigned to
each of a program's individual scenes, the ratings still reflect a limited number
of categories accepted by the public at large, industry-wide guidelines or the
opinions of an editor. Thus, they fail to reflect inherent differences in the
filtering categories of individual viewers due to many factors such as
geographic location, level of education, income, religious and moral beliefs,
etc., factors that meaningfully affect a person's views and preferences for
what kind of programs and content they, or their children, should view.
OBJECTIVES AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
It is believed to be beneficial to allow viewers to tag program scenes in
keeping with their own preferences. Many programs, e.g. many TV shows
and unrated movies, lack any form of scene tagging, and in other instances
adults may desire to personally oversee audiovisual programs viewed by their
Accordingly, it is an objective of the present invention to provide an
apparatus that permits viewing of scenes of a program, and the tagging of
each scene with a content code that can be used later for filtering purposes.
A further objective is to provide an apparatus that is viewer-friendly and
easy to operate, an apparatus capable of being operated at home by an
Yet another objective is to provide an apparatus that can provide types
of content tags other than conventional ratings.
Yet another objective is to provide an apparatus that can be easily
adapted to accept content tags for each scene.
A further objective is to provide an apparatus in which a program's
scenes can be designated by the program provider, automatically detected, or
designated by a viewer.
scene and the content code for the scene. The identification may be
generated by a timer that times the duration of each scene as well as previous
scenes and then generates a starting and ending time for the scene. The
apparatus also includes a memory for storing the codes for all the scenes
including the assigned content codes and scene identifications.
The apparatus further includes a controller adapted to selectively
activate the scene indicator and generally manage the generation and storage
of the scene codes.
In this manner, the apparatus described above provides a user with
the ability to designate and assign content codes for the scenes of a program
in accordance with his individual tastes or preferences.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE ACCOMPANYING DRAWINGS
Fig. 1 shows a block diagram of an apparatus for assigning content
codes to scenes in accordance with this invention;
Fig. 2 shows a flow chart for the apparatus of Fig. 1; and
Fig. 3 shows a somewhat diagrammatic view of a selector panel on
which a viewer can enter his preferences.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
Referring to Fig. 1, an apparatus 10 constructed in accordance with the
invention includes a device such as a program player 12 that is adapted to
play an audiovisual program on an audiovisual monitoring system 14. The
program could be recorded on a DVD disk, a VCR tape or other similar media,
Briefly, a viewer displays a program on an audiovisual monitoring
system. The apparatus for assigning content codes to the program's scenes
constructed in accordance with this invention includes a scene detector
identifying the individual scenes of a program. The scene detector, in one
embodiment, detects scene changes by analyzing the characteristics of
sequential frames using known techniques. In another embodiment, the
program itself includes codes that identify its scenes. In a third embodiment,
the scene detector responds to a scene selector that is viewer activated.
Also included in this invention is a scene indicator, which may be in the
form of a visual or audible signal, and which indicates the beginning of a new
scene. The viewer is prompted by the scene indicator to enter a content code
for the new scene, this content code being related to the audio and visual
content of the scene. In one embodiment, once the content code is entered,
the scene indicator is deactivated until the detection of the next scene. If the
duration of the scene is known, a timer may be provided to indicate to the
viewer the time left to the end of the scene. If no content code is entered by
the viewer by the end of the scene, a default content code is automatically
assigned for that scene. The default may be the code for the immediately
preceding scene. In another embodiment, the scene indicator is activated
only for a brief duration (e.g., 5-10 seconds) to indicate the beginning of each
scene (and, implicitly, the end of the previous scene).
A code selector is also included in the apparatus. This code selector is
adapted to receive the content code for a scene and to enter into a file a two-
component code (two record fields) for the scene: an identification of the
or in a personal video recorder receiving the program from a program source
16, e.g. through a cable, XOSL, or satellite connection.
Associated with the player 12 are a scene detector 18 and a program
timer 20. The scene detector 18 is used to detect sceoef'in the program
signal generated by player 12. The program timer 20 generates a count that
can be used to provide unique identifications for the scenes of the program.
Instead of the timer, other scene identification means may be used, such as a
A controller 22 directs the operation of the apparatus 10. The controller
22 is coupled to the scene detector 18 and timer 20, and it is also associated
with a code selector 24, a scene indicator 26, a scene timer 27, and a
memory 28. It should be understood that all the elements in Fig. 1 can be
implemented as a microprocessor-based device such as a PC, or can be
incorporated into the program player 12 (especially if the player is a personal
video recorder). However the apparatus 10 is shown in Fig. 1 as having
discrete components for the sake of clarity.
The apparatus of Fig. 1 operates as indicated by the flow chart of Fig.
2. In step 100 the program player is activated to start playing a program on
audiovisual monitoring system 14. The program timer 20 is activated as well.
As the program is shown, the frames forming the program are
monitored by scene detector 18 to detect the start of scenes that comprise
the program. Scene detectors of this kind are well known in the art. When
the first scene is detected (step 102), the controller 22 logs its starting time as
indicated by program timer 20 (step 104).
Next, the scene indicator 26 is activated (step 106). The scene
indicator 26 may be a simple light that is turned on or a beeper that is
activated. The scene indicator 26 is activated to prompt the viewer for a
content code, using the code selector 24. The code selector 24, shown in
more detail in Fig. 3, consists of a housing 30 which supports a plurality of
switches 32, 34, 36 and 38. Each of the switches may be labeled with a
content code, for example G, PG, R or X (More precise content codes may
be used, giving rise to more than just four switches). For example, the
content codes may indicate that a scene includes profanity, violence, sex,
nudity, etc. Alternatively, the content codes may be selected using various
other criteria. For example, if the program is a documentary about nature, the
content code may be used to designate all scenes showing animals. Each of
the switches 32-38 may be a momentary pushbutton switch. The scene
indicator 26 may be positioned on the housing 30 as well.
In some instances, the scene detector 18 may be too sensitive for the
purposes of the present invention. More particularly, the scene detector may
designate every camera angle change as a new scene. Therefore it may be
advisable to have a viewer determine the start and end time of each scene.
For this purpose, the code selector 24 may include a manual scene selector
40. For example, the manual scene selector 40 may be a momentary
pushbutton like switches 32-38. When this manual scene selector 40 is
provided, the scene detector 18 can be turned off or omitted.
In such an embodiment, after the program starts a viewer selects the
start time of a scene by activating the manual scene selector 40. When the
manual scene selector 40 is activated, the scene indicator 26 is also
activated, thereby indicating that the current scene has not yet been assigned
a content code. The start time is also logged, as in the embodiment of Fig. 2.
When the viewer selects a content code, the indicator 26 goes off and stays
off until the next scene is identified by the viewer operating button 40. In an
alternate embodiment of the invention, the scene indicator 26 is activated only
for a brief time, (e.g., three to ten seconds) duration to alert the viewer of the
beginning of a scene (and the end of the previous scene). In this
embodiment, the scene indicator 26 is deactivated independently of the
selection of a content code by the viewer.
As discussed above, as each scene is displayed on audiovisual
monitoring system 14 with audio heard through associated speakers (not
shown), the scene indicator 26 is activated. As the viewer views and listens
to the current scene he makes a determination of what its content code
should be. He then designates the content code for the scene by activating
the appropriate switch 32-38. (It is possible to activate multiple switches if the
system accommodates multiple content codes for a scene.)
Returning to Fig. 2, in step 108 the controller 22 checks if the viewer
has yet selected a content code. If a content code has been selected, then in
step 110 the content code is logged together with a corresponding scene
identification, e.g., its starting time code. In step 112 the controller 22
deactivates the scene indicator 26. (If the scene indicator 26 is a beeper, it
may emit a different sound than when it was activated in step 106).
In step 114 the controller 22 checks the scene detector 18 for a new
scene. When a new scene is detected, the controller 22 logs the end (e.g.,
another time code) of the last scene (step 116).
Next, In step 118 scene indicia, including the appropriate content
code(s) and the corresponding scene identification data, are stored in scene
content code memory 28.
In step 120 a test is performed to determine if the end of the program
has been reached. If the program end has not been reached, then the start
time of the new scene is logged in step 104 and the new scene is processed
as discussed above.
In step 120 if the program end is detected, then in step 122 all the
scene indicia are recorded in a specific file that may be left in memory 28,
stored on the medium which itself contains the program, or somewhere else.
Back at step 108, if a content code has not been selected yet for the
current scene, then in step 124 the controller 22 checks the scene detector 18
for a new scene. If a new scene is not detected, then the system 22 goes
back to step 108. If a new scene is detected in step 124, then in step 126 a
default content code is assigned to the scene. For example, the default code
may be the code assigned to the previous scene.
In step 128 the end of the scene being processed is logged and the
process continues with step 118.
The apparatus 10 can be modified for other types of operation as well.
In one embodiment the scenes may be already defined by a specific code
embedded within the program itself. In this case, instead of a scene detector,
a decoder detects the beginning and end of each scene. This alternative is
indicated in Fig. 1 for element 18.
If the beginning and end points of each scene (and therefore its
duration) are known, then, at the beginning of each scene, a scene timer 27
may also be activated. This scene timer 27 can be configured to count down
and indicate to a viewer how much time is left to the end of the scene (i.e., the
time left before the viewer has to select a code).
Instead of using an automatic or even manually operated scene
detector, it is possible simply to allow the viewer to enter content codes at any
time. Such changes in content codes would in effect signal a new scene.
The advantage of identifying the start of a scene, however, is that the entered
content codes are retroactive to the start of the scene. On replay, an
appropriate player could curtail viewing of an objectionable scene from its
start, not just from when the content codes were entered.
By generating a content code for each scene of a program, a table is
created which associates each scene with its content code and the address of
the next scene. This table may be stored separately or may be attached to
the program itself. The table can be used to control the manner in which the
program is played. For example, co-pending commonly assigned U.S.
application S.N. 09/479,819 filed January 7, 2000, entitled CONTENT
CONTROL OF BROADCAST PROGRAMS and incorporated herein by
reference discloses a method and apparatus wherein a program is broadcast
together with its table to a customer with an appropriately configured personal
video recorder. The customer selects an acceptable content code. The
personal video recorder then can record and play only the scenes that have a
predetermined content code, while skipping the scenes with other codes.
Since the table with the content codes is received in advance, the personal
recorder can determine the scenes that are to be skipped, and the duration of
these skipped scenes. The recorder therefore can delay playing the program
by the duration of the skipped scenes so that the program can be played
Another advantage of providing a program with a table of scene-
associated content codes is that it allows a content provider to create a
program with several interchangeable scenes, each scene having a unique
content code. A customer may then elect to get a program with all the
scenes. Alternatively, a customer may elect to a version of the program with
all the scenes having a predetermined content code or codes.
Obviously, numerous other modifications can be made to this invention
without departing from its scope, as defined in the appended claims.
WE CLAIM :
1. An apparatus for allowing a viewer to assign content codes to scenes of a
completed audiovisual program comprising:
a content selector having a viewer input for generating a content code for
a current scene, said content code being descriptive of the content in said scene
and being useable by viewers to determine whether the scene should be played
a scene indicator indicating when said current scene needs said content
code, said scene indicator being deactivated in response to the selection of said
content code by said content selector; and
a memory for storing content codes associated with respective scenes.
2. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said memory stores data
relating to the beginnings and endings of scenes together with respective content
3. The apparatus as claimed in claim 2 comprising a scene indicator that is
activated when a new scene is played.
4. The apparatus as claimed in claim 3 wherein said scene indicator is
deactivated after a content code for the scene is generated.
5. The apparatus as claimed in claim 3 comprising a scene detector for
automatically activating said scene indicator.
6. The apparatus as claimed in claim 3 comprising a manually operating
switch for activating said scene indicator.
7. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 comprising a scene indicator that is
activated when a new scene is played.
8. The apparatus as claimed in claim 7 wherein said scene indicator is
deactivated after a content code for the scene is generated.
9. The apparatus as claimed in claim 7 comprising a scene detector for
automatically activating said scene indicator.
10. The apparatus as claimed in claim 7 comprising a manually operating
switch for activating said scene indicator.
11. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 comprising a timer to indicate the
time left before the end of the scene.
12. An apparatus for allowing a viewer to assign content codes for the
sequence of scenes of a program, said apparatus comprising:
a player adapted to play said program in sequence for an audiovisual
a scene indicator coupled to said player and adapted to detect a starting
point for each of said scenes being played by said player;
a scene indicator that is activated at the beginning of a scene requiring a
content code; and
a selector having an input to receive from a viewer a content code for an
13. The apparatus as claimed in claim 12 wherein said player is adapted to
play one of a video tape,a DVD disk and a broadcast program.
14. The apparatus as claimed in claim 12 wherein said scene indicator is
deactivated when a content code is employed to the corresponding scene.
15. The apparatus as claimed in claim 12 wherein said program comprises
scene identification codes identifying the starting points of the scenes, wherein
said scene detector is adapted to detect said scene identification codes.
16. The apparatus as claimed in claim 12 wherein said scene indicator
comprises a scene selector adapted to be activated by the viewer to indicate the
starting point of said scene.
17. The apparatus as claimed in claim 12 comprising a controller adapted to
determine if the viewer fails to provide said content code, said controller being
adapted to generate in this case a default content code for said scene.
18. The apparatus as claimed in claim 12 comprising a timer indicating the
time left before the end of the scene.
19. The apparatus as claimed in claim 12 wherein said scene indicator is
activated for a predetermined time.
20. The apparatus as claimed in claim 12 wherein said scene detector is
deactivated when a content code is assigned to the respective scene.
21. A method for generating content codes by a viewer for the sequential
scenes of a program comprising:
displaying the scenes of the program;
activating a scene indication at the beginning of each scene;
receiving a content code from the viewer for the scene; and
storing the content code in the memory.
22. The method as claimed in claim 21 comprising storing in said memory
data relating to the beginnings and endings of scenes together with said content
23. The method as claimed in claim 21 comprising deactivating the indication
of a new scene after a content code is obtained thereof.
24. The method as claimed in claim 21 comprising said detecting each new
scene and automatically generating said scene indication after the new scene is
25. The method as claimed in claim 24 wherein new scenes are detected
automatically by a scene detector.
26. The method as claimed in claim 24 wherein new scenes are determined
by a viewer and new scene indicators are detected by a manual switch operated
by the viewer.
27. The method as claimed in claim 21 comprising deactivating said scene
indication after a predetermined time.
28. The method as claimed in claim 21 comprising providing a timer indicating
the time left to the end of the scene.
29. The method as claimed in claim 21 comprising storing data related to the
beginnings and endings of said scene.
An apparatus ( 10 ) for generating content codes for the scenes of a program
includes a scene detector ( 18 ) that detects the start of new scene, and a selector
that allows a viewer to enter one or more content codes for the scene. The content
code(s) and data identifying the scene are then stored for later use. The apparatus
(10 ) also includes a new-scene indicator that is activated when a new scene begins
and is then deactivated after content code(s) have been inputted for the scene.
|Indian Patent Application Number||117/KOLNP/2004|
|PG Journal Number||24/2009|
|Date of Filing||30-Jan-2004|
|Name of Patentee||WARNER BROS. HOME ENTERTAINMENT INC.|
|Applicant Address||4000 WARNER BOULEVARD, BURBANK, CA|
|PCT International Classification Number||F16D 31/02|
|PCT International Application Number||PCT/US2002/23714|
|PCT International Filing date||2002-07-25|