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File:FORscene editing interface May 2006.PNG
Screenshot of editing interface as of May 2006 (Windows/IE)
Developer(s) Forbidden Technologies plc.
Stable release FORscene / 25 January 2007
Operating system Cross-platform
Type Video editing software
License Proprietary
Website [1]

FORscene is an integrated internet video platform, covering non linear editing and publishing for broadcast, web and mobile.

Designed by Forbidden Technologies plc to allow collaborative editing of video, its capabilities extend to video logging, reviewing, publishing and hosting to HD quality. The system is implemented as a web application with a Java applet as part of its user interface. It runs on multiple platforms without application installation, codec installation, or machine configuration and has many Web 2.0 features.

FORscene has been recognised by the Royal Television Society, winning their award for Technology in the Post Production Process in December 2005,[1][2] and is now used internationally. Both the underlying compression technology and the user interface are covered by patents.



FORscene's functionality makes it suitable for multiple uses in the video editing workflow.

For editors and producers wanting to produce broadcast-quality output, FORscene provides an environment for the early stages of post-production to happen remotely and cheaply (logging, shot selection, collaborative reviewing, rough cutting and offline editing, for example). FORscene then outputs instructions in standard formats which can be applied to the high-quality master-footage for detailed and high-quality editing prior to broadcast.

Other users want to prepare footage for publishing to lower-quality media - the small screens of mobile phones and video iPods, and to the web where bandwidth restricts the quality of video it is currently practical to output. For these users, all editing can be carried out in FORscene, before publishing using FORscene's web, mobile phone, Flash, and/or podcasting services. Video can also be saved in MPEG and Ogg formats.


The video platform is broadly referred to as FORscene. It is however offered as two distinct web based services, built on a common core of code: FORscene for professional and semi-professional use and Clesh for consumers. Both exploit the web for delivery.


Upload: compression machines can be bought or rented. The charge for upload to the Internet covers the storage cost.

Logging, shot selection, assembly editing, offline editing, review, EDL export: the software is provided as a service which is charged by usage. Typical productions will agree a fixed price in advance which depends on expected usage.

Publishing: there is a charge for each video published for web, mobile or podcasting based on the length of the material in minutes.

Viewing: watching a published video is free for the viewer (with respect to FORscene) but the publisher is charged for bandwidth each time a web video is viewed or a mobile video downloaded (and the event captured so activity against published videos may be monitored).


The FORscene system is made up of various components, discussed here.


FORscene has its own codecs for both video and audio. These use a form of adaptive coding to allow local variations in the type of data to be encoded efficiently.


Osprey supports loss-free video compression. FORscene users can see broadcast quality video during editing (as well as proxy quality as has been the case with FORscene's other codecs) and broadcasters can use the video output from FORscene directly for transmission.


The FORscene video codec is called Blackbird. It is designed for both editing and video streaming over variable speed broadband Internet connections. By varying the frame rate, it can provide consistent picture quality even on slow connections.

Like its predecessor Firebird (used in the FORlive system), the Blackbird codec allows real time compression and playback of video. This is important for handling the quantity of video in modern productions, as well as the reviewing, logging, editing and publishing features of FORscene.


The FORscene audio codec is called Impala. Datarate and quality can be varied depending on the use: 10 kbit/s for modem web video and mobile playback, 30 kbit/s for audio only modem playback or broadband playback with video, and 80 kbit/s per channel for editing.


FORscene videos are served from the Internet backbone and accepts video, audio, and graphics input in a variety of ways. Forbidden's upload software, running on a suitable computer, compresses and uploads the videos. As Java does not allow access to a computer's hardware, and so cannot control tape machines or video cameras directly, the compress/upload programs run as native applications. Four options are provided for this purpose:

Logging, editing and reviewing of uploaded material can start as soon as the upload process starts.

Files containing video, audio and still may also be uploaded using a web browser from a wired or mobile device. Uploads can run concurrently and many formats are supported (e.g. AVI, MOV, ASF, 3GP).

Java interface


The Java interface works with the default configuration on most machines, though allocating more memory to the JVM improves performance. It enables the following functionality:


Each standard user account has its own password-protected web page containing the FORscene applet. Once logged on, the users have access to their own videos, library videos, and any functionality their account supports.

Video is not stored on the local computer's hard disc, so when the user closes their web browser, their video is not accessible to subsequent users of the same computer.

Internet standards

The FORscene web interface operates through Internet standards such as HTTP and Java, so can be used even in companies with severe firewalls. If web browsing works, then FORscene almost always will too.

Account Management interface

The account management interface separates accounts and users. Many individuals may use the same FORscene account and each user is assigned a role (manager, commenter, reviewer, logger, editor, storyboard). The interface provides single sign-on authentication of users and central point of access to core admin / operational features on the web:

  • Upload
  • Edit
  • Usage Report
  • Users
  • Account Display
  • User Settings

FORscene Cloud Servers

The server infrastructure on the FORscene backbone network (referred to as the Cloud) dedicated to Forbidden's customers are distributed over numerous locations and handle around 10,000 hours of new video content each week. These act as one system, increasing both effective capacity and redundancy. As the Java front end does most of the work during editing, and the upload software does the compression work, the server is lightly loaded and can support many users at the same time. Sites may also attach a server to their own LAN (FORscene Server) to multiply the numbers of users on their existing internet connections.

FORscene Server

Each client site may elect to install a single physical FORscene server per location to scale up operations and improve overall performance (e.g. the time taken to retrieve video for review). Features include:

  • Local caching of video downloads
  • Immediate access of video over a Local Area Network (LAN) during upload
  • Seamless transfer of video as required between a FORScene Server and the Server Infrastructure

The product exploits high speed lan access whilst preserving the principal of access from anywhere.

FORscene HD

Videos which have been edited within FORscene can be conformed automatically at anything up to 1080p - full High Definition (HD). After editing FORscene uploads the full HD quality frames used in the finished programme into the Cloud. The special effects, colour correction and titles are combined at full resolution on a FORscene Cloud Server for download to a broadcaster, ready for transmission. Material can be reviewed and edited from anywhere on the web, not just one local source.

Web player

Each web video which is published is packaged with the Java player.[3] The video size can be chosen by the publisher from a range of sizes from 160x120 to 384x288. The frame rate depends on the available bandwidth and speed of the playback machine, with full frame rate available for fast machines and connections.

Forbidden Technologies supplies its Blackbird decoder in the form of a Java player. This can be locked to a particular server, making it hard to pirate videos published in FORscene.

Mobile player

FORscene can publish mobile content for its Symbian mobile player, FORmobile. Customers can also have their own branding.[4][5] The publisher chooses whether videos published from FORscene for mobile appear in the standard FORmobile menu or are available to only selected people. FORscene can automatically notify people by text message that a video has just been published.

The mobile player can be sent from handset to handset for free via Bluetooth, and videos can also be distributed virally via Bluetooth once the FORscene mobile player has been installed. Forbidden has coined the term Viewtooth to describe this process.[6]

Video podcast

Videos edited in FORscene can be published directly as video podcasts. These can then be downloaded and viewed in a podcast viewer such as iTunes or on a video iPod.

Timecode export

Each frame of professionally shot video is tagged with a timecode which identifies it. Combining the timecode information of video handled within FORscene at browse quality with the original broadcast quality video allows information in FORscene to be transferred to a broadcast quality version. Videos logged or edited in FORscene can be exported in the form of a simple EDL or more complex XML for autoconform and offline or online on an Avid or Final Cut Pro system.

Additional exports

A number of export formats are supported in addition to those mentioned above:

Systems Integration

Final programmes can be made, even in High-definition, and sent in broadcast quality efficiently to the broadcaster for transmission without using any third party editing systems. However FORscene supports integration with third party systems, both in broadcast and elsewhere.


FORscene supports Edit_decision_list/XML export to industry editing systems such as or Avid / Final Cut Pro. For example creation of rough cuts in FORscene can then be reliably conformed on Avid, even when they include clips which the Avid would not normally be able to ingest because of time code breaks and gaps.


Serial_Digital_Interface improves FORscene’s integration into the high end broadcast environment. SDI support allows FORscene to ingest source material in both Standard Definition (SD) and High Definition (HD) resolutions from any professional video source in real time. The SDI video input meets both Phase Alternating Line (PAL) and National Television System Committee (NTSC) standards.


FORscene is a development from an editing system made by Eidos plc in the 1990s. This history starts from the first public showing of this product, at the International Broadcasting Convention in Europe in 1990.

Date Version Platform Significant features
1990[7]-1999 Edit 1, Edit 2, Optima
  • Software codecs
  • Cheap removable storage
  • Reliable platform
  • Quick to learn
Feb 2000
  • London float for Forbidden Technologies plc
  • Shares rise 5000% in first week
Feb 2001 Java video streaming on website Java
  • 384x288 pixels
  • 25 frame/s
  • 40kb/s for talking heads.
  • Picture quality "cartoon-like"
May 2002 Live video streaming to mobile phone Java / GPRS Picture quality poor eg monochrome
Dec 2002 Broadband web streaming Java 384x288 pixels, 25 frame/s
Sep 2003 FORlive[2] launched Linux compression / Java player
  • Live video compression
  • 384x288 pixels, 25 frame/s.
Nov 2003 FORmobile launched Symbian Series 60
  • Mobile phone player application
  • 160x120 pixels, up to 12.5 frame/s, colour.
Sep 2004 FORscene launched[9][10] Java
  • FORlive compression
  • Optima-style editing
  • FORmobile/FORweb publishing
Sep 2004 IBC TV news use FORscene/FORmobile[4] Symbian Branded player
Feb 2005 GMTV first broadcaster to sign up[11] Java International access to GMTV
May 2005 Logging added to FORscene Java Java logging, editing and publishing tool
Sep 2005 Upload over-the-air from mobile phones[12] Symbian
  • Video: up to 352x288 pixels
  • Photographs: phone resolution
Sep 2005 IBC TV news use FORscene/FORmobile Symbian Branded player
Sep 2005 First broadcast TV series uses FORscene Channel 5 (UK) Trust me, I'm a holiday Rep
Jan 2006 New video codec designed for editing Blackbird 1 codec
Jan/Feb 2006 First prime time TV series uses FORscene BBC1 (UK) Super Vets
Apr 2006 Podcasting released Video iPod, iTunes
Apr/May 2006 British Army uses FORscene mobile player[13] Symbian mobile phones Ascent of Everest published on mobiles
June 2006 FORscene review[14] BBC Breakfast, This Morning, Sky News

Channel 4 News, Channel 5 News

Broadcasters select Save the Children footage
August 2006 FORscene Ogg support added Java Ogg format is supported by Wikipedia for upload of suitable video content
September 2006 FORscene online chat feature added Java
  • Share edited videos
  • FORscene users talk in real time
  • Contributions (and logging entries) are spell checked (as of Nov 2006)
November 2006 Citizen Journalism Java / Symbian mobile phones Third project completed at the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers (WCSFP). Citizen journalism began at the IBC in 2006.
January 2007 Account Management Web Interface provides for management of accounts by customers.
February 2007 FORscene Flash support added Java Export of video to the Flash format for use with the Adobe Flash Player.
March 2007 FORScene Speed Control Java Video and/or audio clips can be edited for slow motion/fast motion style effects.
April 2007 FORscene Fades Java Fade up and fade to black with a single drag on the video track.
May 2007 File names / playback Java Multi-line file names and three-speed playback control.
June 2007 Security Java Log on now supports the secure HTTPS protocol.
August 2007 Images / playback Java Images can be integrated directly into the video track and playback can now be viewed at 150% (as well as 100% and 200%).
September 2007 DV Java Broadcast quality DV can be output directly from the web interface and effective transfer of DV from the field over standard internet links.
October 2007 Webstart / codec Java Webstart can be used to run FORscene, providing access to more memory available, and better performance. The Blackbird codecs deliver better picture quality and lower memory requirements.
December 2007 Audio / graphics / codec / account management Java Simpler stereo audio editing by linking the two audio tracks. Add anti-aliased graphic overlays with transparency levels and fades. Accounts distinguish between departmental and inter-departmental (programme-wide) levels of access.
January 2008 Codec Java Blackbird codec upgraded to version 5.
February 2008 Saturation / recompress / 1GB / audio Java Right dragging in the video window adjust saturation levels. Recompress videos to benefit from the latest codec. Modern machines may set a new memory limit to 1GB (reducing network traffic). Improved audio quality.
March 2008 Proxy box / AAF Java Boost internet performance for videos captured locally or viewed recently. Support for Avid's AAF files is available, complementing existing support for EDL and FCP (XML).
June 2008 Thumbnails / storyboard Java Web published videos have click-through thumbnails. Storyboard offers a simpler editing process with fewer clicks required to use it.
July 2008 AAF / white balance / JPEG export Java Additional data added to AAF output to carry more information through to Avid from FORscene. Adjust for colour differences between artificial / daylight conditions. Export a video frame to a JPEG image.
August 2008 Colourful fades Java Colour wheel controls fades to/from colours other than the default (black) can pick from colours on the video window.
October 2008 Titles Java In addition to imported graphics FORscene's subtitle functions are enhanced with background and font colour, transparency, and size controls.
September 2009 FORscene Server Server Sites can multiply the number of users on their existing internet connections - whilst preserving all the advantages of internet access from anywhere.
September 2009 FORscene HD HD FORscene can now output HD directly providing remote access to video for editing from anywhere in the world, only uploading the fraction of HD that is actually used in the final programme, and ability to use existing computers and internet links.
September 2009 Osprey Codec With Osprey codec FORscene enables video editing at broadcast quality locally through a web browser interface and wide-area over the public Internet.

Competition & Marketing

The popularity of online video clips and video sharing sites led to interest in online video editing and gave rise to tools offering some of the functionality present in FORscene. The introduction of FORscene pioneered an internet platform for broadcast customers. It was the first true post-production system to offer access entirely within a browser.

FORscene addressed a number of design requirements to make it suitable for broadcast customers. For instance; logging, timecode support, integration tools, multiple audio tracks, collaboration, audio levels, lighting and colour control, and frame-accurate editing.

Other online editing tools (e.g. Jumpcut) were developed primarily with consumers in mind. These tools do not scale up to meet the demands of professional users. In contrast the technology on which FORscene is built can be scaled down to meet the demands of users outside the broadcast market (such as consumers).

FORscene's core market is the broadcast customer. However the technology is applicable to any individual / organisation in need of a toolkit for managing video over the internet, a fact reflected in a user-base that includes charities, universities, and other organisations. The technology is marketed to consumers in the form of a tailored service called Clesh.

See also

Video editing related

Web related

Technical related

Mobile related

Other Online Editing Technologies


  1. Royal Television Society awards
  2. Video of Royal Television Society award ceremony
  3. e-consultancy report on Misys
  4. 4.0 4.1 IBC TV News uses FORscene and FORmobile
  5. Army on Everest Mobile page
  6. e-consultancy report on Bluetooth
  7. IBC 1990 programme guide
  8. Acorn Cybervillage Optima
  9. Highbeam Research FORscene launch
  11. Hardware depot online article about GMTV signing up to FORscene
  12. Regulatory News Service Over-the-air upload
  13. Cellular news article on British Army use of FORscene for mobile
  14. Regional Film and Video article on Save the Children use of FORscene for review

External links

Personal tools

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