YouTube’s New Transcript Feature

A few weeks ago, YouTube unveiled a new feature that allows you to upload a transcript of your video and have YouTube automatically analyze it to figure out how to turn it into timed captions. I had the opportunity to test this feature (which is still in beta, and only available in English right now), and I have to say I am extremely impressed with the results. I had a handful of Powerpoint presentations that I converted to videos using Camtasia Studio. I then added the narration tracks and produced the videos as MP4 files.

I uploaded the new videos to YouTube, adjusted my settings accordingly and then went to the “Captions and Subtitles” tab for each video. To my surprise, I noticed that the “transcript” feature was now available, so I decided to test it. I opened the script for each narrated presentation, saved it in txt format (for best results, if you have your transcript saved as a Word document, save it in MS-DOS txt format and enable character substitution so that it automatically replaces the fancy quotes, dashes, etc. with the standard versions) and decided to test the transcript feature.

MIT World: “A High-Impact Video Portal”

I am now attending a session about MIT World and how to utilize this video portal to maximize the impact of video on educational Web sites. We are beginning with Laurie Everett discussing the initial reasons behind creating MIT World and the goals of creating the portal. She explains that she was recruited specifically to work on the project, with a goal of sharing information freely and openly.

The site began in 1999 using RealPlayer to broadcast the videos. As time went on, it became obvious that Flash was the video plug-in of choice for the Web, so they began producing videos in Flash around 2003. They produce and publish approximately 110 video projects each year on MIT World.

Creating A Photo Slideshow With Nero Vision

Every once in a while, I find the desire to put together a nice slideshow of photographs and package them on a DVD. In fact, for the last five or six years, I have done just that as a Christmas present for my family and friends.

I have found no better program to accomplish this than Nero Vision, which, unfortunately is not available by itself. You have to purchase the whole Nero package in order to get Nero Vision. Nero Vision is an amazing program that makes it incredibly easy and painless to put together really nice photo slideshows with narration and/or music in the background.

Jing Goes Pro and Animoto On the Go

Today, I received two updates in my inbox. The first came from Animoto. The second was from TechSmith.


Animoto has updated it’s great service by adding two important features (well, one is important to me; the other is only important to those with iPhones). First, they’ve added what they call “Image Pacing“. Basically, now you can choose how quickly or slowly your images transition to each other in a full-length video. The other update from Animoto is that they’ve released an iPhone app, allowing iPhone users to create Animoto shows on the go. This is what Animoto had to say about it:

“Just snap photos and use the app to turn them into vids right there on your phone.”


TechSmith also unveiled Jing Pro. Jing is the free desktop capture application from TechSmith. Jing Pro is available for about $15/year (who knows why they went with the annual pricing structure rather than a simple one-time licensing fee), and allows you to record higher-quality, more compressed video. It also allows you to publish videos directly to YouTube.

Of course, as with any self-respecting licensing fee, when you upgrade to Pro, you can de-brand all of the videos you produce with Jing (remove all of the Jing logos and watermarks from your videos).

Online videos: Engaging your users

Online video is big business nowadays. Websites dedicated to video like Youtube, BBC iPlayer and 4oD have taken off in a big way, and an increasing number of websites are introducing video content to keep users engaged. This spread of online videos is in no small part due to the ever improving connection speeds – 90% of internet connections in the UK are through broadband (source: UK Statistics Authority). However, if you’re considering introducing video content to your site or looking to make the best of your existing video content, you must put the user experience at the forefront of your proposition. Here are some guidelines to enhance the usability of online video:

It’s a video…

The first step to getting your users to play the video is letting them know that it is in fact a video and not an image or text. Obvious as this may seem, it’s particularly important on websites where users aren’t expecting to see video content. When using a still as a thumbnail, provide a big, clear play button in the middle of it to show that it’s a video. If it’s a link, you can still use a play button in line with the link text to differentiate it from a regular link.

The MSN video site has an unmissable play button in the middle of the still.

The BBC effectively indicates links that lead to videos or audio files.

Descriptive title & summary

Set users’ expectations as to what’s in the video, what its purpose is and why they should spend their time watching it. Convey the essence by providing videos with descriptive titles that contain keywords. You must use relevant keywords which are good for search engine optimisation (SEO) as well as usability, as these are likely to be the terms people are typing in searches. Offer a summary of selling points to persuade users to watch it. This summary should be no more than a couple of lines or bullet points so it’s quick and easy for the eye to scan.

Hulu Sucks on a Satellite Connection

Earlier this week, I missed Fringe when it aired on Fox on Tuesday night. I decided I would try to catch up by checking it out on Hulu. Unfortunately, that was a disaster for me.

About 30 seconds into the video, it started skipping terribly, playing for about a second, then pausing for two or three, then playing another second or two, then pausing for another two to four seconds. I can only assume that the problem is due to my satellite Internet connection.