What is VARS?

The Video Annotation and Reference System (VARS) is a software interface and database system that provides tools for describing, cataloging, retrieving, and viewing the visual, descriptive, and quantitative data associated with video. Developed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) for annotating deep-sea video data, VARS is currently being used to describe over 4500 dives by our remotely operated vehicles (ROV). VARS has allowed MBARI scientists to produce numerous quanititative and qualitative scientific publications based on video data.

Although originally designed for annotating underwater video, VARS can be applied to any video dataset that requires constrained (i.e. searchable) annotations.

VARS is a suite of 3 applications: Annotation, Knowledgebase, and Query. All three applications are written in Java and have been tested on Windows PCs and Macs. VARS can be used to annotate video from either VCRs that support RS422 control or movie files, such as QuickTime and AVI movies.




2013-12-05 The new avfoundation image capture for frame-capture hardware is working. The next milestone on the VARS roadmap is to replace the outdated video file handling code with 2 versions: a JavaFX version for any operating system and an AVFoundation/Cocoa version for Mac OS X 10.8 and 10.9. JavaFX video will support fewer codecs and not support timecode tracks; JavafX is targeted at Java 8 and up. AVFoundation video should support a very broad range of codecs.

2013-11-24 I've migrated the VARS source code to GitHub. We also have rewritten the frame capture code for the VCR version to use Apple's AVFoundation instead of QTKit. We're gearing up to deploy VARS internally on Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) next week.

2013-08-13 If you're using VARS with Decklink video capture cards, be aware that the latest version of the Decklink Drivers for Mac OS X called ""Decklink Video 9.7.7 for Macintosh" no longer works with the QTKit based video capture drivers used by VARS. You will need to install an earlier version such as "Decklink Video 9.75 for Macintosh" that's available in Black Magic Design's software archive

2013-04-10 VARS-7.0.4 has been released

2013-02-14 - Java 6 is officially 'end-of-lifed' as of the end of February 2013. VARS has been modified to build against Java 7. The serial port driver has been replaced with 64-bit only on Mac OS X (as there's no 32-bit Java 7). VARS also has a new driver for frame-capture cards based on JNI/QTKit rather than QuickTime for Java (as QuickTime for Java won't work with 64-bit JVMs). We are currently testing the new build in house at MBARI and will release a new version of VARS soon.

2013-01-14 - VARS-6.1.3 has been released

2012-10-26 - Apple's Java is currently in a bit of Flux as they are 'encouraging' users to move to Oracle's JVM. Currently, VARS uses QuickTime for Java for both controlling video capture cards as well as video file playback. Starting in January we will be replacing VARS usage of QuickTime for Java with other technologies.

MAILING LIST - A mailing list for VARS questions, announcements and discussion is now available at http://groups.google.com/group/mbari-vars.

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