Amara: how to create more than one subtitle set for a language

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Claude Almansi

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Jun 17, 2013, 11:44:13 AM6/17/13
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I've occasionally objected to the April 1, 2013 rewording of the first post of Removing subtitles or videos on the help forum - and I still do, to the part concerning video deletion requests.

However "Removing Subtitles" offers invaluable info for creating more than one subtitle set for a language. This is often needed, for instance if a video contains written texts: these texts have to be included in the original subtitles to be used for translating, but not in subtitles to be used by deaf / hard of hearing people: it would be annoyingly redundant. Or a teacher might want to ask students to use Amara to take synced notes on a video. Or someone might wish to use it to script an audio description, etc. etc.

Initially, when Amara was Universal Subtitles, we were able to create as many subtitle tracks for a language as we needed / wanted. This is best illustrated by the rich list of subtitles in http://www.amara.org/en/videos/NmkV5cbiCqUU/info/learn-about-universal-subtitles/, the subtitling page for the 2010 video embedded in Amara's home page: up to 4 subtitle sets for some languages. Unfortunately, the change from Universal Subtitles to Amara also meant a new, far more directive line. So apparently, it became impossible to create more than one subtitle set for a language.

Nevertheless, the upload and roll-back bug occasionally did create a second set: see the two Portuguese, Brazilian subtitle sets in What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains [Epipheo.TV]. A bit unfair that we were prevented from doing what a bug could, but a positive sign nonetheless: the capability has not been removed, just blocked for us. And the "Removing Subtitles" part of the April 1, 2013 rewording of "Removing subtitles or videos" explains how to bypass this block. After sound cautionary advice against destroying other people's work, it says:

go to your subtitles' language page and open the subtitle editor – blank out each line in the editor and save your progress. Your subtitles will be removed from the list of languages in the sidebar of the video page.

Apparently, this does not work: once you've deleted all subs, if you try to save, you get a message telling you to either go back to subtitling or exit without saving. But if you leave a single sub - even with just a full stop - the software will save that. You can then reopen the editor, delete that last sub and again, the software accepts to save.

However, as the quoted passage says, this removes the subtitle set from the list of languages in the sidebar of the video page, and enables you to create a new subtitle set, but it does not delete the old one. If you go back to its URL (which is linked in the Activity subpage of the video) the page says:

The most recent revision for this language is blank, but there are older revisions that contain subtitles. View revision history.

And from that revision history, you can rollback to the last version containing subtitles - well, checking first that all other subtitle sets are marked complete and downloading them too, in case the rollback bug strikes.

Concrete example

I initially made http://www.amara.org/en/videos/3W6eCWh6h2HI/info/cory-doctorows-scroogled-read-by-wil-wheaton/ from a blip.tv video, uploading to it English subs that I got the YouTube software to sync the text of the short story on a private copy of the video.

It worked, but the automatic slicing of the subs made them awkward to translate using the translation interface. So I started a http://www.amara.org/en/videos/3W6eCWh6h2HI/fr/313301/ set of French subs, directly from the video.

However, after a while, the blip.tv file stopped streaming. So I added the URL of the mp3 file from which I had made the video. It worked for a little while, then Amara stopped streaming mp3 files. However, there is also an .ogg file for the same audio version of the story - it lacks the intro by Cory Doctorow, but better than nothing. So I streamed that,  unsynced the English subs, removed those for that intro and resynced the other subs, splitting them more logically too.

With decently split English subs, it was quicker to continue the French subs in the translation interface. So I downloaded as .txt the existing 313301 French subs made from the video, deleted them as above, and was able to create the 645772 French subs with a translation editor where I copy-pasted the old subs.

When I'm done with that, I'll be able to revive the 313301 set, and will be able to use it e.g. for a collaborative annotation activity.

Questions

  • If Amara staff gave us the necessary indications to bypass the block and make more than one subtitle set for a language in their rewording of Removing subtitles or videos,  why don't they simply remove the block?
  • Won't Amara developers look let us add labels to subtitle languages, as is feasible on YouTube? See the abundant use of this labeling possibility made in  Project Glass: Live Demo At Google I/O, http://youtu.be/D7TB8b2t3QE , to acknowledge the work of the Amara volunteers who made the subs.





Claude Almansi

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Jun 18, 2013, 4:15:40 AM6/18/13
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Mmm it didn't work today when I tried to do the same with the English subs - http://www.amara.org/en/videos/8qg05SBKJoN8/en/647240/ -of City of Sydney's plans for decentralised water: after I deleted all subs, Revision 2 did show the message about the most recent revision for this language being blank etc, but when I reuploaded the subs as English, instead of creating a different subtitle set, the software just reactivated the  647240 set.

Did the Amara developers put paid to this heretic use after my first message in this thread, or does the trick only work with not-in-the-original-language subs?


On Monday, June 17, 2013 5:44:13 PM UTC+2, Claude Almansi wrote:
(...) the "Removing Subtitles" part of the April 1, 2013 rewording of "Removing subtitles or videos" explains how to bypass this block. After sound cautionary advice against destroying other people's work, it says:

go to your subtitles' language page and open the subtitle editor – blank out each line in the editor and save your progress. Your subtitles will be removed from the list of languages in the sidebar of the video page.

Apparently, this does not work: once you've deleted all subs, if you try to save, you get a message telling you to either go back to subtitling or exit without saving. But if you leave a single sub - even with just a full stop - the software will save that. You can then reopen the editor, delete that last sub and again, the software accepts to save.

However, as the quoted passage says, this removes the subtitle set from the list of languages in the sidebar of the video page, and enables you to create a new subtitle set, but it does not delete the old one. If you go back to its URL (which is linked in the Activity subpage of the video) the page says:

The most recent revision for this language is blank, but there are older revisions that contain subtitles. View revision history.

And from that revision history, you can rollback to the last version containing subtitles - well, checking first that all other subtitle sets are marked complete and downloading them too, in case the rollback bug strikes.
(...)




Claude Almansi

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Jun 18, 2013, 6:43:52 AM6/18/13
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On Tuesday, June 18, 2013 10:15:40 AM UTC+2, Claude Almansi wrote:
Mmm it didn't work today when I tried to do the same with the English subs - http://www.amara.org/en/videos/8qg05SBKJoN8/en/647240/ -of City of Sydney's plans for decentralised water: after I deleted all subs, Revision 2 did show the message about the most recent revision for this language being blank etc, but when I reuploaded the subs as English, instead of creating a different subtitle set, the software just reactivated the  647240 set.

Did the Amara developers put paid to this heretic use after my first message in this thread, or does the trick only work with not-in-the-original-language subs?

It's the Amara developers. I now set Latin as the video language for blank video for trying Amara things, uploaded some English subs in

Revision 0 - http://www.amara.org/en/videos/kA60pDxrSXqt/en/647369/ - deleted them completely by Revision 2, getting the message about the most recent revision being blank.

And again, as with the Sydney video, when I reuploaded the English subs, they just reactivated the 647369/ track, instead of creating a new one as happened yesterday with the new set of French subs for the Doctorow video, in spite of these English subs not being in the video language either

Could Amara developers kindly concentrate on subtitlers' "suggestions to make Amara great" rather than on shutting off remaining opportunities for free use that formerly escaped them?

Like Make hidden links directly visible again, for instance.

Nicholas Reville

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Jun 19, 2013, 1:40:51 AM6/19/13
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Claude, have you been trying to do this on the new beta editor or the current editor?  The new editor is how we're working to fix the mess that is caused with branching or restricting branching (both cause huge problems in the current system).  We really want to clean up the whole process and the new beta editor should be released in the next few days or within a week.

npr





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Claude Almansi

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Jun 19, 2013, 4:26:41 AM6/19/13
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Thank you for your reply, and question Nicholas - with the old editor,
and the first tme, with the French subs of
http://www.amara.org/en/videos/3W6eCWh6h2HI/info/cory-doctorows-scroogled-read-by-wil-wheaton/
, I wasn't trying to get 2 sets of subs, I wanted to be able to
replace the "from the video" with a translationsubtitling interface
for the French subs. But was thrilled when the indications in the
"deleting" thread of the help forum produced 2 sets.

So when Michael Lockrey added
http://www.amara.org/en/videos/8qg05SBKJoN8/info/city-of-sydneys-plans-for-decentralised-water/
to the Captions Requested team shortly afterwards, I was hoping that
the same process would produce the same result for the English subs,
as 2 sets were really needed: one for Deaf people, including noise
descriptions, and one for translators, including transcripts of the
texts within the video, which need to be translated too.

When it didn't, and revived instead the pseudo-deleted thread, I was
disappointed, but used "English" for the subs for translators and
"English, British", for the subs for Deaf people.

That was the theoretical idea. However, Silvia chose to translate the
English, British subs for Deaf people in
http://www.amara.org/en/videos/8qg05SBKJoN8/it/647372/ : it's
unorthodox, but it makes total sense: there are Italian Deaf people
who don't know English and need noise descriptions too.

Ideally, Italian subs should have both that AND the translation of the
written texts in the video, but then they'd end completely hiding the
video. So I also translated into Italian the English subs for
translators, which produced
http://www.amara.org/en/videos/8qg05SBKJoN8/it/647525/ : this way
Italian-speaking users can switch between the two.

However, this switching possibility would be made much more
user-friendly if we were able to add a label to the subtitle language,
as can be done on YouTube. In particular, I'm thinking of videos that
have both signing and speech interpretation of the signing, which each
need subtitles that should be distinguishable via labels.

Labels would also solve the issue of identifying the language of
videos in non-ASL sign languages: so far the software only offers the
possibility to identify a video's sign language as ASL, in spite of
people repeatedly suggesting several other signed languages in reply
to Amara's offers to add more (which would end up being totally
unwieldy if you added them all). It'd be darned simpler if the main
category were just "signed" with the possibility to specify which sign
language in a label.

Moreover, re-allowing multiple subtitle sets for one language + the
possibility to distinguish them by a label would also widen possible
uses of Amara beyond subtitling/captioning: it could be used to:

- Script audio descriptions: the WebVTT standard that will enable such
audio descriptions to be read aloud by browsers seems to be getting
near, as YT now allows downloading subs as .vtt.

- Mark a video for editing: in particular, there are heaps of Google
Hangout videos on YT (like the one produced by the Amara Town Hall
last October), which were fine as they were being streamed live, but
are hardly consumable in replay, due to the vast proportion of time
spent on tech issues and glitches. If cuts could be marked and timed
in a set of Amara subs, then the video uploader could use the
resulting file to make these cuts, perhaps even with the YT video
editor, to obtain something usable.

etc. Amara's Masoretic-like drive to more and more sternly limit and
dictate what can be done with subtitling is concomitant with the
increasing space dedicated to enterprise/business services, and seems
to have been caused by them: understandably, business customers who
just want to tout accessibility and/or internationalization of their
videos but don't care a hoot about how this is concretely done, don't
want to have 4 apparently undifferentiated sets of subs for one
language synced back to their original videos.
However, these services rely on outsourcing subtitling to volunteers
to keep prices low. It therefore would make sense not to overly annoy
these volunteers with limitations to what they previously could do.
And subtitle labeling could help reconcile these conflicting needs
too.

Best,

Claude

Claude Almansi

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Jun 28, 2013, 11:06:25 AM6/28/13
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On Wednesday, June 19, 2013 7:40:51 AM UTC+2, Nicholas Reville wrote:
Claude, have you been trying to do this on the new beta editor or the current editor?  The new editor is how we're working to fix the mess that is caused with branching or restricting branching (both cause huge problems in the current system).  We really want to clean up the whole process and the new beta editor should be released in the next few days or within a week.

npr

Hi Nicholas

I'm replying again to your message above because I've found yet another example of why Amara should not be more byzantinely finicky than YouTube about the number of subtitle sets for a given language.

Stay Human - The Reading Movie (2013) is an over 3-hour long YouTube video advocating human rights in Palestine, where several people read aloud chapters of Vittorio Arrigoni's "Staying Alive in Gaza" in several languages. It is already subtitled there in Arabic, English, French, Italian and Spanish, with 2 sets of subtitles - plain and for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing - for English, French, Italian and Spanish (only for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Arabic). 9 sets of subtitles, made clearly recognizable by the use of labels when there are 2 sets for one language.

So I created the http://www.amara.org/en/videos/aFfFMMdF3J65/info/stay-human-the-reading-movie-2013/ for it and added it to the Captions Requested team.

Where there were 2 sets of subs for one language - French, Italian and Spanish - the Amara software crammed them together as if they were 2 revisions of a single set, though it did make two separate sets for English. And it decreed the Italian subs incomplete and all the other sets complete. True, the last Italian sub is not end-stopped, but then nor are the last subs in any of the other languages.

Cramming together the two versions is messily uncouth towards Deaf and Hard of Hearing  viewers.

And then, if you try to create a new translation, the software demands that you assign ONE language to the video: how on earth is one to do that in this case?

So apart from the possibility of having more than one set of subs for a language and to label them, as in YouTube, we also need a "multilingual" option in the drop list of languages. It would also be handy for the subtitling languages: the video that streams in http://www.amara.org/en/videos/0CbqnFr4lOhH/info/revoir-le-concert-en-grece-la-revanche-des-reves-avec-angelique-ionatos is actually half in French half in Greek and I made the first set of subs in both languages. But I had to toss a coin to decide whether I should call it French or Greek and the coin decided "French". Had there been a "multilingual option, it would have been much neater.
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