CRIM and the NFB: The power of collaborative partnerships to drive technological and social innovation

CRIM and the NFB: The power of collaborative partnerships to drive technological and social innovation

Published November 14, 2018
For immediate release

CRIM and the NFB: The power of collaborative partnerships to drive technological and social innovation

Montréal, November 14, 2018 – For over thirty years, CRIM's activities have been focused on carrying out research projects involving a wide range of partners such as universities, businesses and other organizations. CRIM believes that this collaborative process stimulates innovation and promotes the development of technologies with significant social and economic impact.

The NFB and CRIM have a long history of collaboration in research and development. This partnership encourages the emergence of new technologies and makes these innovations accessible both to media producers and to the public. A current project aims to optimize CRIM's video description technology and extend its availability to a wider audience using the NFB's broadcasting platforms.

In time, this fruitful collaboration between CRIM and the NFB is expected to lead to the production of approximately 100 feature films, short films, documentaries and animated films from Québec and Canada that will be made accessible to the visually impaired.

This triennial project was presented on November 14, 2018 during a showcase on the use of Artificial Intelligence for entertainment, as part of HUB Montréal.

  • For the past two years, CRIM has been using various types of content from the NFB's film collection to test and refine its methods of producing video descriptions.
  • The NFB provides CRIM with its expertise on the technical aspects of its platform, in order to ensure optimal broadcast quality and user experience.
  • To this day, 70 films have been produced and are available on the NFB website (
Did You Know?
Digital accessibility has been one of CRIM's key areas of focus for more than 15 years. Over the past 10 years, CRIM has developed a computer-assisted video description (VD) system that facilitates the work of video descriptors by using a variety of audio and video analysis algorithms, allowing producers to effectively make their audiovisual works accessible to people with visual disabilities. CRIM's VD production system uses several detection tools based on artificial intelligence. From the beginning, CRIM has been committed to engaging and collaborating with all stakeholders concerned with the impact of VD, be they producers or users of adapted content.
"Already, in 2010, the software developed at CRIM reduced the time required to produce a video description by as much as 30% to 50%," says Claude Chapdelaine, Senior Advisor in CRIM's Vision and Imaging team.
"The digital revolution, the digitization of our collection and the rise of video-on-demand services have completely transformed the NFB's production and distribution methods. The long-standing collaboration between the NFB's R&D and CRIM has enabled us to integrate new technologies such as video description in order to expand our cultural offer for the benefit of audiences," concludes Jimmy Fournier, Director of R&D at the NFB.


About CRIM

CRIM is an applied research and expertise centre in information technology, dedicated to making organizations more effective and competitive through the development of innovative technology and the transfer of leading edge know-how, while contributing to scientific advancement.

It helps organizations, primarily SMBs, demystify and gain access to leading-edge technology, such as artificial intelligence, to efficiently address the technological challenges they face. Its IT researchers and professionals develop a wide array of applications in diverse areas and work in such fields of expertise as machine learning, computer vision, speech recognition, automatic natural language processing, data science and operational research.

CRIM is a non-profit organization whose neutrality and strong network make it an indispensable resource. Its work is in line with the policies and strategies of its major financial partner, the ministère de l'Économie et de l'Innovation.

About the NFB

In a world flooded with content, the NFB is an anchor of acclaimed, relevant and creative productions. A living archive of the Canadian experience, the NFB’s collection contains animated, documentary and interactive productions that reach millions and are respected for their social impact and commitment to a more just world. The NFB’s collection of 13,000 productions is a living archive of Canada’s past, an invaluable resource for Canadians today, and a vital record of our history for future generations. Ensuring its preservation and accessibility is a central part of the NFB’s mandate, and one that the NFB fulfills by creating and adopting industry-leading technologies.

The rapid evolution of media-production and preservation tools has demanded a nimble and sophisticated approach to change throughout the NFB’s history, especially as this publicly owned collection includes films made decades ago on now-obsolete formats, half-a-million still photographs, a massive sound library, 6,000 educator’s guides and, in recent years, web-based, VR creations and installations. Hundreds more are created each year, often using technologies for which preservation standards are yet to be firmly established. As a senior member of an international community of organizations dedicated to the preservation and restoration of story-based media, the NFB has demonstrated its leadership by digitizing its entire collection, creating, in the process, a new model for future management of these cultural treasures.

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Diane Fortin, Communications and marketing manager
CRIM – Centre de recherche informatique de Montréal | | 514 840-7493 | @CRIM_ca


Magalie Boutin, Head of Media Relations
National Film Board of Canada | | 514 233-8646 | @NFB_Magalie


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