uTitle: Anytime Twitter Captioning of Youtube Videos

The story so far… a long time ago now, I built a crude proof of concept showing how to annotate Youtube videos with captions extracted from hashtagged Twitter feeds. And now, every time I look at Martin Hawksey’s RSC MASHe blog, he’s pushed the idea on further…

So for example, the latest installment is anytime captioning of Youtube videos – simply start watching YouTube video in the uTitle environment, and you can tweet along to the video, captioning it as you do so (Convergence @youtube meets @twitter: In timeline commenting of YouTube videos using Twitter [uTitle]:

A great attraction of this service is that it allows a viewer to watch the video at any time, and yet drop twitter captions into the video at the appropriate point. (The original demo grabbed captions from a live hashtag stream to add to video recordings of live presentations, and set the zero time to the start time of the event/recording.)

uTitle integrates with Twapperkeeper, a Twitter archiving service that I think has received some amount of support from JISC, so it’ll be interesting to see if the uTitle use case helps drive innovation on that front as well as in video annotation. (So for example, at the moment, uTitle uses a Youtube video ID hashtag, as well as a time stamp, to identify tweets that are captioning a particular video. As Twitter opens up its annotation service, it’ll be interesting to see if the identifier can be pushed down to the annotation layer (maybe replaced by a blanket #utitle hashtag in the main tweet?) and Twapperkeeper support extended to include annotations. (I’d also be keen to see Twapperkeeper supporting the archiving of timestamped friends/followers lists, to allow for visualisations and analysis of the growth of networks over time. This may go against Twitter ToS of course (I haven’t checked…)).

Playing with the service just now, it struck me that if I was “live tweeting” along to a video I was watching, by the time I had written a tweet, the time stamp would have moved on. So by the time I post a tweet, it will appear as a caption maybe 10 or 20 seconds after the point in the video it refers to. A simple trick might be have a setting that would stop the timer in the tweet when someone starts typing a new tweet, so that on playback the tweet appears at the time in the video when the commenter started to write the tweet, rather than when it was finished and posted?

(Of course, it’s also possible to pause the video, and even move the playhead back to set the timestamp as required; but I think the above approach is more elegant?)

Another possibly useful tool might be something like the iPod “30s rewind” button, that just nudges the playhead back a few seconds (this might be useful for example if you’re typing a comment as the video plays, and you miss something you want to listen to again…)

There are probably lots of other “freeze time” options that make sense when capturing “live” comments against a recording, but none spring to mind just at the moment!;-)

PS As to where Martin might push uTitle next, I can’t wait to see…:-) Maybe Google will add the idea to Youtube along with Google Moderator and the new Youtube video editor? Or maybe martin will find some API dangly bits around the Youtube Replay it service that’s just started rolling out as a Google live search feature, and which allows you to “zoom to any point in time and “replay” what people were saying publicly about a topic on Twitter.”

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

One thought on “uTitle: Anytime Twitter Captioning of Youtube Videos”

  1. Having people use this service is definitely unearthing some useful enhancements like the auto-mark feature (which is simply brilliant).

    Your little play with other Martin’s (Weller) video with other other Martin (Bean) also turned up some interesting problems with RT appearing in the timeline (my hammer solution is to filter out all tweets that have RT in them, might regret that one).

    It will also be interesting to see how people respond to using their timeline to comment. When I was putting together the demo version I was very reluctant to ‘spam’ my followers with abstract tweets. The protocol you used of warning your followers before launching into comment mode might address this to a degree.

    Uhmmm – don’t know where I going with this one myself. Need more people to use it and request features. I’m sure also if someone had some funding for further dev. it would focus my mind ;-)


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