iTitle: Full circle with Twitter subtitle playback in YouTube (ALT-C 2010 Keynotes)

ALT YouTube ChannelIn March 2009 Tony Hirst posted a solution for Twitter Powered Subtitles for Conference Audio/Videos on Youtube. A year and a half later, numerous evenings tweaking code, lots of support, advice and promotion from Tony, Brian Kelly and others, and we have come full circle. What began for me as a method to playback real-time tweets with the BBC iPlayer has returned to its origins, Twitter powered subtitles for a conference video on YouTube.
To date the examples of using the Twitter subtitling tool (iTitle), including Reliving ALT-C 2009 keynotes with preserved tweets, have focused on replaying externally hosted video content through this site using the JW Player. This method has allowed greater control over certain aspects like interface design and features like the timeline jump navigation. The disadvantage of this extra control is sustainability.
Whilst I’m very happy working for the RSC there will come the day when I move on, or this website might disappear altogether subsumed into another RSC system/service. If this were to happen there is no guarantee that iTitled videos would still be able to be replayed.
This issue has been at the back of my mind since the very beginning which is partly why from early on I made the iTitle code available for download (I should really update this version of the code). But there has been another solution which has been available since the very beginning but I’ve never had an example to demonstrate it. Just as Tony’s original post demonstrated how the SubRip (*.srt) subtitle file format could be uploaded as part of one of your YouTube videos, iTitle has had the ability to generate SubRip files almost since the very beginning.
So in August when I saw ALT had uploaded videos from ALT-C 2009 to their YouTube channel I thought it would be a great opportunity to amplify keynotes from this years ALT-C and highlight YouTube’s built-in subtitling tools. So after some idea dropping (via Twitter of course) and some follow up emails with Matt Lingard and other members of the ALT team you can now enjoy Donald Clark’s and Sugata Mitra’s keynotes with the ability to see what was said on Twitter in YouTube (links for these at the end of this post).
If you watch these videos via the YouTube site you might need to turn the subtitles on by clicking the ‘cc’ button in the playback toolbar. Annoyingly there doesn’t appear to be a setting for the video which forces captions to play every time, instead YouTube remembers your last choice, but captions can be forced on when a video is embedded. Here is the YouTube help for this feature.
A nice feature of YouTube’s implementation of subtitles/closed captions is their interactive transcript which has a navigable list of the subtitle track, highlighting the active caption. Hopefully YouTube will get around to providing some sort of filtering/search solution like the one used in iTitle’s timeline jump navigation.

Screenshot on YouTube showing subtitle navigation

If you would like to add a twitter track to you own YouTube videos, visit the iTitle tool and select to output in .srt format. This video then explains how to upload subtitle tracks to YouTube videos.
As well as hopefully enhancing the value of ALT’s of these resources to the viewer there is also an argument for doing this to make the videos more search engine friendly. For further explaination of this aspect you should read my guest post Making ripples in a big pond: Optimising FOTE10 videos with an iTitle Twitter track
PS For the ALT videos they wanted to filter out RTs. This was a long overdue feature for iTitle so it made sense to add it.
PPS I also didn’t know you could move the position of subtitles on YouTube videos by click and dragging them.

Click to see “Don’t lecture me” – Donald Clark at ALT-C 2010 w/h Twitter track on YouTubeClick to view “The hole in the wall: self organising systems in education” – Sugata Mitra at ALT-C 2010 w/h Twitter Track on YouTube

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  • Bryan Zug

    This is pretty great. Have been thinking about this very thing for a long time, wondering when I would see someone do it.
    I think this sort of loosely coupled system is a first step toward video content becoming much more accessible, not only more granular and linkable, but easier to see where the high attention bits are.
    I think we’ll eventually reach a state where real time annotations like twitter etc. will be available as a session streams — and by the end of a session, you’ll be able to see the bits that resonated the most with the audience — a kind of instant highlight reel of sorts.
    Nicely done.

    • Martin Hawksey

      I’ve been thinking about how you can surface some of additional information around sessions, extracting tweeted resources, summarizing interaction between users, sentiment analysis. Lots of existing example in this area to draw upon, just the small point of glueing it all together

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