Category Archives: video interfaces

YouTube Finally Does Deep Linking

YouTube announced yesterday that you can finally form URL’s which allow for navigation to specific parts of videos. Also, if you’re writing a comment, you can just specify something in the form: MM:SS and this will be detected and turned into a link to that part of the video.

This is an interesting and I would argue non-intuitive way to specify links in videos. At the same time, it keeps the overall interface simple unless you’re an advanced user that knows the format for creating these links. It’s the expert interface way of doing things rather than the GUI approach. When someone hits, “add comment” why not augment the UI to let the user more visually specify where that anchor should be placed, perhaps even specifying an interval?

Videolyzer Alpha Online

Version of Videolyzer is now online! Videolyzer is a tool designed for journalists and bloggers to be able to collaboratively assess the information quality of a video, including its transcript. Information quality involves things like credibility, validity, and comprehensivness among other things.  Videolyzer was designed to support the analysis, collection, and sharing of criticisms of online videos and is initially geared toward politics. To try it out with some of the recent presidential debate content go to

NYT Interactive Presidential Debates

The New York Times recently published an interactive application for exploring the video and transcripts from the presidential and vice-presidential debates. Actual debate content aside, the application is quite a usable foray into the realm of multimedia (video + transcript) interfaces. Seen here is a screen shot of the application from the 2nd presidential debate.

Overall the interface has a good “flow.” At the top is the ability to search for keywords and see where they showed up in the transcript. You can see the comparison between the word’s usage between Obama, McCain, and the moderator. Below this are two timelines, the problem is that while they are all intuitive, they are in the wrong hierarchical order. The top most timeline is the most “zoomed out,” but the next one down is the most “zoomed in.” Really they need to be re-ordered so that the middle timeline is the bottom most. This would be a more intuitive layout from least detailed to most detailed. What IS really nice about all of the timelines and what really helps navigation is all of the textual information that pops up when hovering. Also there’s some segmentation showing parts of the video where each of the debaters is speaking. I found it really helpful to be able to click any of these segments and navigate the video to there. There is some navigational integration with the transcript which is interesting too. For one you can click on a block of the transcript and that will navigate you to that section of the video. But still we’re dealing with blocks of text rather than individual words being linked into the video.

The other fantastic aspect of this tool is that it provides some level of integrated fact-checks. The fact checking is produced professionally by the Times and is presented as aligned with the different question segments.¬† It’s difficult to follow though because it’s in a tab which competes with the transcript itself and so you can’t see the context or anchor to where the fact checking is referring. It seems it would be a lot more helpful for comparison’s sake to be able to see both the transcript and also the fact checking at the same time. The other problem with the presentation of the fact checking is just that’s it’s really dense and hard to read through. Again, better contextualization with the video and the transcript would really help here.

Comparison of Video Deep Tagging Systems

Recently I’ve been looking at and comparing different factors in the design of several deep video tagging applications including Viddler, The Click, Mojiti, and Gotuit’s Scenemaker. Basically, I’m looking at a few different factors in the design space of these systems including the coarse cost of adding annotations (e.g. # of clicks, navigation, typing text etc.), whether or not the video pauses when adding an annotation, how annotations are anchored (e.g. on segments or on points), and if annotation on annotations are possible including whether any notion of threaded responses is supported. Each of these systems touches the design space in a different way. The take away from this exercise is that there are several interconnections between the costs associated with interaction (including video pausing) and the type of anchor used and whether annotations can be added to other annotations. These different design criteria affect the efficiency and user experience of the resulting application.


Cost: 4 clicks + typing (navigation, add annotation, select type, type text, confirm)

After the add annotation button is clicked, the video pauses so that the following actions don’t interfere with watching the video. If you expand a comment the video does not stop.

Anchors: annotations are anchored to a single point in the video, thus both in and out points do not need to be specified. Anchors are shown on the timeline as points.

Annotation on Annotation: People can vote on a comment using a thumbs up / thumbs down metaphor as well as reply to comments (only to 1 layer deep).

The Click

Cost: 2 clicks+ typing (add annotation, type text, confirm annotation)

The video pauses while you are typing a comment, but resumes after confirming the annotation.

Anchors: Annotations are anchored to points within the video but are not shown in the timeline; the only way to navigate is to move to next or previous comment.

Annotation on Annotation: No.


Cost: VERY HIGH. 5 clicks + typing + navigation + positioning.

The video pauses when an annotation is added.

Anchors: Annotations get added to a segment of the video which defaults to 5 seconds long. The in point begins at the click point.

Annotation on Annotation: No


Cost: 3-5 clicks + typing + navigation ([position in], [position out], mark in, mark out, confirmation click), including 0-2 clicks for navigation

The video stops only when the “end segment” button is hit. Thus the video continues playing after the start segment button is hit so that the user can continue watching the video. This seems to be a result of the use of segments in the application since if it were a point marker you would have to pause at that one point. I like the idea of only pausing at the end segment click though.

Anchors: Segments with in / out points.

Annotation on Annotation: No.