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News and Notes related to Digital Media Transcription, Analysis, and Captioning.
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  • What’s the Deal with WebVTT?

    Posted on May 1st, 2015 Alex No comments

    As you might have noticed, InqScribe version 2.2.3 includes a new subtitle export format: WebVTT. Why should you care? Although it’s a young format, WebVTT has quickly become a new standard, supported by HTML5, YouTube, and Vimeo. Here’s a quick overview of what you can do with WebVTT:

    What is WebVTT?

    WebVTT is a text-based format similar to Subrip SRT. What’s special about WebVTT is that it’s compatible with HTML. You can use WebVTT to provide extra information about HTML video, including subtitles, closed captions, descriptions, metadata, and chapters. Not only does this make videos more accessible, it helps keep them organized, and gives you a space to make notes or annotations.

    Here’s a sample of what a WebVTT file looks like:

    WEBVTT 1
    00:00:00.000 --> 00:00:15.365
    Start of video.
    
    2
    00:00:15.366 --> 00:00:17.432
    Puts down toy.
    
    3
    00:00:17.433 --> 00:00:25.632
    Picks up toy again.
    Calls out.

    How do I use WebVTT?

    To export a WebVTT file from InqScribe, simply prepare your transcript and select “File > Export > WebVTT…”

    Once exported, you could use the WebVTT file to create captions for YouTube and Vimeo videos. For instructions on how to take your InqScribe transcript into YouTube, head over to our guide here.

    To use your WebVTT file with an HTML video, just enter the appropriate references into the <video> tag of your HTML code. For more on how to integrate a WebVTT file into an HTML video, check out this guide by html5doctor.com.

    If you are using WebVTT for a browser-based HTML video, there are some additional styling options available. You can control formatting such as bolding and italicizing by adding HTML and CSS tags to your transcript. Although InqScribe transcripts do not currently support styled text, you can still use tags in your transcript to specify how the text will appear in the video. Below are some examples of acceptable styling tags:

    <b>Make this bold</b>
    <i>Make this italic</i>
    <c.myclass>Apply CSS class "myclass"</c>
    <v Sue>Identify who is speaking</v>

    Note that WebVTT also supports a few custom position and display options not supported by InqScribe. Specifically, if you’d like subtitles to appear karaoke-style or control per-subtitle positioning, you’ll need to manually edit your exported WebVTT file with a text editor. You can read more about these limitations in our WebVTT User Guide entry here.

    For more technical information, head over to the WC3 Community Group report. If you have any questions or comments about using WebVTT, send us email at support@inqscribe.com.

  • InqScribe 2.2.3 released

    Posted on April 12th, 2015 eric No comments

    We just released InqScribe 2.2.3, a free update for all InqScribe users. Get it here: https://www.inqscribe.com/download.html

    If you are currently using InqScribe 2.2.2, you should download 2.2.3 as soon as is convenient. 2.2.2 was accidentally released as a “development build”, which behaves exactly the same as a production build except that it has a built-in expiration date. That date is April 13.

    If your version of InqScribe refuses to open, stating that it has expired, it does not mean your paid license or evaluation license has expired. All you need to do is download and install InqScribe 2.2.3 and you’ll be up and running again.

    We are acutely embarrassed by this error and apologize profusely.

    In addition to removing the expiration date, version 2.2.3 adds support for exporting to WebVTT, which is becoming a common means to add subtitles to streaming video. Both YouTube and Vimeo, for example, allow you to upload WebVTT files to caption your videos. You can read more about InqScribe’s WebVTT support here.

  • Hard Coding Your Subtitles: Actually Not Hard

    Posted on April 1st, 2015 Alex No comments

    There are quite a few ways to creates subtitles in InqScribe (check out a list of them here). Using the built-in “Save Subtitled QuickTime Movie” option is probably the quickest and easiest, but if you or your colleagues don’t have access to QuickTime 7, sharing the exported video file can be a problem. If you’d like to ensure your subtitled movie plays the same across all devices, hard coding your subtitles may be the answer for you.

    “Hard coding” or “burning-in” subtitles means taking the subtitle track and writing it into the video itself. If a video file has burned-in subtitles, it ensures the video will look the same no matter how it’s played. Note that you won’t be able to toggle subtitles on or off; if they’re burned-in, they’re there for good. To be clear, you cannot use InqScribe to burn-in subtitles. You can, however, export your InqScribe transcript to a Subrip .srt file and use free online tools to create a video file with hard coded subtitles. In this post, I’ll explain how to use InqScribe with VidCoder and Submerge.

    First, you’ll need to create and prepare your InqScribe transcript. Once it’s ready, export as a Subrip .srt file by selecting “File > Export > Subrip Format…” Note the save location of the file- you’ll need to access it soon. Now that you have a subtitle file, it’s time to burn it into a copy of your source video. To do this, we’ll use the free VidCoder (Windows-only) and Submerge (Mac-only).

    VidCoder (Windows-only)

    VidCoder is a free, open source software that uses Handbrake as it’s encoding engine. Designed for DVD/Blu-Ray and video encoding, VidCoder also allows you to hard code your subtitles. Here’s how:

    1. Download VidCoder from their CodePlex website: https://vidcoder.codeplex.com.
    2. Install VidCoder by opening the executable file. It should be called something like “VidCoder-1.5.3.1-x64.exe.”
    3. Launch VidCoder. From the startup menu, select “Video File…” Locate your original source video and select “Open.” Note that you’ll want to load the source video, NOT a subtitled QuickTime movie created in InqScribe.
    4. Once the video loads into VidCoder, you’ll have a few more options. Under the “Subtitles” heading, select “Edit…” Then, select “Import .srt File” Locate your .srt file and click “Open.”
    5. You’ll see your subtitle file loaded into “External subtitles.” Make sure to check “Burn in” and then click “OK.”
    6. Now that you have your video and subtitle file loaded into VidCoder, select “Encode” in the bottom right of the menu. Once it’s finished, you should see the new encoded video file appear in your specified folder.

    Submerge (Mac-only)

    Submerge is a tool designed specifically for hard coding subtitles on Mac. You’ll find it comes with more options to adjust subtitle position and appearance than freeware like VidCoder, although Submerge has a price tag of $9. Fortunately, Submerge offers a free timed demo for new users to try out.

    Note that we are in no way affiliated with Submerge or its creator, but are simply offering it as a possible subtitle burn-in solution to InqScribe users.

    To get started with the demo version of Submerge, first select “Download Demo” from the website: http://www.bitfield.se/submerge. Once it’s downloaded, open the zip file to complete installation. Then, launch Submerge and follow the directions in the quick start video below (as a warning, it contains loud music you may wish to mute):

    Do you use a different tool to hard code subtitles? If you have any recommendations, we’d love to hear from you. Likewise, if you have any questions about creating subtitles with InqScribe, just shoot us an email at support@inqscribe.

  • inqscribe.com Is Momentarily Offline

    Posted on March 31st, 2015 Alex No comments

    4/01/2015 UPDATE: inqscribe.com is now back online!

    inqscribe.com is offline due to an upstream issue with our service provider.

    Until service is restored, feel free to direct any questions about InqScribe to support@inqscribe.com. Note that our support page is still accessible here. If you’d like to request a 14-day trial license of InqScribe, just shoot us an email with the subject “InqScribe Trial Request.”

    If you’d like to purchase InqScribe, you can still do so via our Kagi store page:
    http://store.kagi.com/cgi-bin/store.cgi?storeID=6FALD_LIVE&& 

    Apologies for the inconvenience.

  • EDITED: InqScribe Website Maintenance

    Posted on March 29th, 2015 Alex No comments

    UPDATE: We’ve just been informed that website maintenance for inqscribe.com has been pushed back to March 31, 2015 between 04:00 and 13:00 UTC. That’s midnight to 9am tonight EDT. The site inqscribe.com will be inaccessible for 60 to 90 minutes.

    On Monday March 30th, 2015 inqscribe.com will undergo some routine maintenance between 04:00 and 13:00 UTC. As part of this maintenance, inqscribe.com will go offline for 60 to 90 minutes. We apologize for any inconvenience.

    As always, if you have any questions or concerns, send us an email at support@inqscribe.com.

  • Speedy Shortcut Configurations

    Posted on February 17th, 2015 Alex No comments

    One of the easiest ways to speed up your transcription process is to setup shortcuts. You don’t have to be a professional transcriptionist to reap the benefits of quick-access commands. Whether you’re a newbie, a casual user, or aspiring to become InqScribe elite, improving your shortcut (and snippet) setup will help center your focus on the transcript, rather than on controlling media.

    To be clear, InqScribe already has some shortcuts pre-loaded. Your operating system also uses designates certain keys for system-wide shortcuts. We’ve listed these in-use shortcuts and suggested some available trigger keys in this Knowledge Base article. To sum it up, here’s what you’ll want to avoid:

    • Key combinations that are already in use by your system (system defaults)
    • Key combinations that are already in use by InqScribe (InqScribe defaults)
    • Keys that you’re likely to type in your transcript.

    To help get you started, we’ve created two sample configurations- one simple, one more advanced. These configurations should work on most systems, so you won’t have to worry about any of the conflicts described above.

    A Simple Shortcut Configuration

    If you don’t have much experience transcribing, here’s a setup that will be easy to learn:

    Cue Shortcut

    Tab Play/Pause (default)
    Ctrl/Command-Tab Skipback 8 seconds (default)
    Ctrl/Command-0 Insert current time
    Ctrl/Command-9 Cue
    Ctrl/Command-8 Review

     

    The idea is that these shortcuts are kept simple and are located within your field of vision, unobstructed by your hands. Even for beginners, we recommend using Cue and Review as opposed to Fast Forward and Rewind- it’s simply easier to control. In case you’re not familiar, the “Cue” command is essentially a modified Fast Forward. The media will play forwards at a speed of your choice until the trigger key is released, at which point it will resume playing. The “Review” command functions in the same way as
    a Rewind.

    An Advanced Shortcut Configuration

    After getting more acquainted with InqScribe, you may wish to incorporate more shortcuts and revamp your setup. Here’s a sample configuration for a more advanced user:

    Tab Play/Pause (default)
    Ctrl/Command-Tab Skipback 8 seconds (default)
    Ctrl/Command-0 Insert current time
    Ctrl/Command-9 Cue
    Ctrl/Command-8 Review
    Ctrl/Command-[ Change Play Rate -0.1x
    Ctrl/Command-] Change Play Rate 0.1x
    Ctrl/Command-J Go To Previous Timecode
    Ctrl/Command-L Go To Next Timecode

     

    Generally, the less you have to take your hands off the keyboard, the faster you can type. This shortcut setup will give you more independence from your mouse. One important addition is the ability to fine-tune the play rate to match your typing speed. The Go To Previous Timecode and Go To Next Timecode shortcuts now allow you to quickly review your timecode placement, which is crucial if you plan on creating subtitles from your transcript.

    Note this setup leaves Ctrl/Command-2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 open for custom snippets.

    If you use shortcuts with other programs in your workflow, you might try configuring InqScribe to match them. For an example, check out this previous blog entry about adopting Final Cut Pro/Avid shortcuts.

    Although the ideal setup will vary from user to user, these shortcut configurations should give you an idea of how to optimize your InqScribe experience. If you have any shortcut tips you’d like to share with other InqScribe users, send an email to support@inqscribe.com.

  • InqScribe Version 2.2.2 Released

    Posted on January 16th, 2015 Alex No comments

    We’ve just released InqScribe version 2.2.2. To download the free update, simply launch InqScribe and select “InqScribe > Check For Updates…” (Mac) or “Help > Check For Updates” (PC). You can also download directly from our website at inqscribe.com/download.

    What’s new in 2.2.2? Although it’s not the overhaul we’re working towards, we’ve made some improvements and fixed a few bugs. The update should help improve stability and clarify some of InqScribe’s error messages. To review a list of changes, click here.

    Along with these tweaks, version 2.2.2 resets our evaluation licenses. Unfortunately, this means if you requested a trial after January 1st, you may not have received our full 14-day trial period. If you’re in this affected group, you should receive an email containing a new 14-day trial license. Note that to take advantage of our trial offer, you will need to have InqScribe 2.2.2 installed.

    As always, if you have any questions or feedback about InqScribe 2.2.2, please contact us at support@inqscribe.com.

  • What is a Codec Anyway?

    Posted on November 13th, 2014 Alex No comments

    If you work at all with digital video, you’re bound to run into issues of media compatibility. What makes a video incompatible? Will it work in InqScribe? It’s a complicated subject. In this post, we’ll explain a few key terms that should help you understand how digital video works (and sometimes, how it doesn’t work).

    Codec

    Codec stands for coder/decoder, and it does just that. Raw video tends to take up large amounts of storage, and codecs allow us to shrink down the file size, usually without loosing too much quality. Codecs achieve this by taking the raw video data and encoding it into a shorthand. Once encoded, codecs also play a role in decoding this shorthand.

    Note that codecs are independent of a video’s file extension. So, .mp4, .avi, .mov, etc. are not codecs. A .mp4 file could use a H.264/AVC or MPEG-4 Part 2 codec, for example. You can see which codecs are supported by QuickTime via Apple’s support page here. To check which codecs you have available in Windows Media Player, follow Microsoft’s directions here (use drop-down bar on right to select your version of Windows).

    Although some are more popular than others, there are dozens of different codecs out there. Since each uses a unique coding language, it’s important to use codecs that are compatible with your workflow (and that you have access to- some codecs are proprietary). What should you do if you come across an incompatible codec? Transcode! More on that in a bit…

    Container

    QuickTime "movie could not be opened" message

    Look familiar?

    As its name suggests, a container file packages compressed video data. Containers identify and sort out codecs, which are the ones doing the actual compressing. Most common video containers are compatible with multiple codecs, so don’t assume one container is always going to have the same codec.

    Chances are, you’re more familiar with containers than you are with codecs. They’re more visible because the file extension is often associated with the container. A file with the name “Sample.mp4″ has a file extension of “.mp4″, which indicates the MP4 container. Other examples of containers include AVI, MPEG-2, FLV, and RM to name a few.

    In addition to a file’s codec, programs such as QuickTime and Windows Media Player will have their own specs for which containers they support. So, to drive this home: just because you have a compatible container for your video file, it doesn’t mean you have a compatible codec. And vise-versa.

    Transcode

    To transcode is to convert from one encoding to another. When you transcode a file, you are essentially changing a video’s codec or its container, perhaps both. The terms “transcoding” and “converting” are generally used interchangeably.

    It’s worth noting that transcoding a file will result in some loss of quality. The extent of this may or may not be noticeable.

    If you’re interested in transcoding, check out our blog post on Media Conversion Tools for more information.

    Mux

    To “mux” a file is to combine multiple channels into one. When referring to video files, these channels are typically audio, video, and/or subtitle tracks. Muxing is useful when compiling several of these tracks into one output, such as when you’re creating a DVD or Blu-ray disk.

    Since not all media player can process muxed files, you might not always want a file to be muxed. This is when demuxing comes into play.

    Demux

    To demux a file is to extract the individual tracks back into their separate channels. Demuxing is useful when you come across an unsupported muxed file.

    Since transcoding will rewrite a file’s video and audio data, it can actually be used to demux a file. So, when in doubt, transcoding can solve several different problems associated with incompatibility.


    Understanding these terms and concepts should equip you to deal with incompatible media. And remember, if you’re ever having trouble getting InqScribe to recognize your media files, just send us an email to support@inqscribe.com.

  • How to Add Captions to Facebook Videos

    Posted on October 8th, 2014 Alex No comments

    As you may or may not have noticed, Facebook has been making some improvements to its video feature. Part of this campaign includes the newly added support for caption/subtitle display. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Can I use InqScribe to add subtitles to my Facebook video?” The answer: yes, yes you can.

    Facebook video screenshot

    Here's what your subtitles will look like in Facebook

    The following process entails creating your transcript, exporting it to the Facebook-compatible Subrip .srt format, and finally uploading your video along with the .srt file to Facebook. Note that, at this time of writing (October 2014), adding captions is only available in the US for the English language, and it won’t work on mobile or tablet. This is subject to change as Facebook continues to develop their video features. In the likely even that Facebook alters their subtitling process, we’ll keep these instructions updated in our Knowledge Base here.

    Facebook is a little picky when it comes to the format of the Subrip .srt captions, so pay special attention your filename and line endings (see steps 3 and 4). With that in mind, here’s how to add in your captions:

    1. Open up InqScribe and prepare your transcript with text and timecodes.
    2. Once its ready, export your transcript as a Subrip .srt file by selecting “File > Export > Subrip Format.”
    3. Select a name for your file and specify its save location with the “Choose…” button. Here’s the important part: Facebook requires you to place “.en_US” at the end of your filename. So, your file will end up looking something like “Example.en_US.srt.”
    4. Now, in the Export Settings menu, click “Advanced” to bring up the Advanced Options. Set Line Endings to “Windows (CR/LF)” and click OK. Don’t forget this step! In our testing, Facebook will only accept Windows or Unix line endings.

      line endings screen shot

      Make sure to set Line Endings to "Windows (CR/LF)"

    5. Press OK and your Subrip .srt subtitle file will be saved in the location of your choosing.
    6. Now, login to Facebook and upload your video (instructions from Facebook here).
    7. Once you have located your video, select “Post” and the video will begin uploading. Then, select “Edit This Video.” You’ll be taken to the menu pictured below where you can add in your subtitle file.facebook video upload screenshot
    8. Under the Captions section, select “Choose File” and locate your Subrip .srt subtitle file.
    9. Select “Save” and the subtitles will be added to your video!
    10. To display subtitles, press the “CC” button at the bottom of the video player on playback.

    If you didn’t name the .srt file correctly, you’ll see the message “You uploaded a .SRT file with an incorrect filename. Please use this format: filename.en_US.srt”

    If you don’t see any subtitles after uploading your .srt file and clicking the “CC” button on the video player, then you might not have selected the correct line endings in step 4.

    You can also add subtitles to a video you’ve already uploaded. To do so, select the video and expand it. Click “Options > Edit This Video” at the bottom of the video player and refer to steps 7-9.

    Questions? Comments? Contact us at support@inqscribe.com.

  • Media Conversion Tools

    Posted on October 2nd, 2014 Alex No comments

    Sometimes you go to transcribe your media in InqScribe only to find that InqScribe won’t play that media type. InqScribe relies on the QuickTime 7 or Windows Media Player 11 specs for media playback, and is able to play most anything that can be played in those players. But if your media is not supported by either of those two players, you’ll need to convert it to a format that is.

    Converting, or transcoding, involves decoding the original file, and then encoding the file into a new format. It’s not quite as simple as renaming a file “Example.avi” to Example.mp4.” If you’re totally confused, check out our blog post “What is a Codec Anyway?” for an explanation of codecs, containers, transcoding, and more.

    After a quick Google search for “media conversion tool,” you’ll soon realize that there are a lot of options out there. Some of these tools will be more useful to you than others, and some might even install unwanted malware on your computer. Which one should you use? While we don’t endorse any single media converter, here are a few that have worked for us (and our users) in the past:

    HandBrake

    https://handbrake.fr/
    HandBrake is a well-known, trusted, and free conversion software available for Mac, PC, and Linux. Since it’s a software, you won’t need to upload or download your video to a website (unlike Online-Convert below). Everything is done locally on your machine and you don’t need an internet connect to convert files. HandBrake supports batch file processing, which comes in handy if you’re planning on converting multiple media files. The drawback is that video conversion is limited to MP4 and MKV outputs. However, if your goal is to convert a video into an InqScribe-compatible format, the MP4 container will work just fine. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to HandBrake:

    1. Download and install HandBrake from their website.
    2. Open HandBrake and click “Source” in the upper left portion of the window. Select the video or audio file you wish to convert. For example, “Desktop > Documents > My Videos > SampleVideo.mov.”
    3. Select where you’d like to save the new transcoded file by clicking “Browse” in the Destination section. By leaving it blank, it will save automatically to your desktop.
    4. Select the Container of the transcoded file. For video, you’ll have two options, MP4 and MKV. MP4 will work best with InqScribe.
    5. Next, in the bottom half of the HandBrake window, you’ll be able to edit various settings such as the frame rate, bit rate, and codecs of your media file. Adjust them to your liking.
    6. Click “Start” and your file will begin converting. HandBrake will notify you when the converted file is finished. It will then appear in the location of your choosing.

    Online-Convert

    http://www.online-convert.com/
    Online-Convert is a relatively new conversion tool that is gaining some traction. This website supports a wide variety of formats and, best of all, using the website doesn’t require you to install any software. The only thing you’ll download from Online-Convert is your converted media file. Note that, as a web-based converter, this option requires you to upload your video to the Online-Convert server. If you have a very large file and/or a poor internet connection, this option may not be the best for you. As per their terms of service, all uploaded files are deleted from the Online-Convert database within 24 hours, though even this policy may be an issue if your files are confidential.  Here’s how the site works:

    1. From the homepage, select your converter and file type. For example, “Video converter > Convert to AVI.”
    2. You will then be taken to a new page where you can adjust your  media settings. First, upload your original media file by selecting “Choose files…” You can also convert files from a URL or directly from a DropBox account. Going along with our example, you might select “Desktop > My Documents > Videos > SampleVideo.mov.”
    3. Adjust the settings to your liking. These settings will vary depending on whether you’re converting audio or video, but know that you’ll have the option to specify the audio/video quality, bit rate, frame rate, and length of your media file.
    4. Once you’ve chosen your settings, select “Convert file” to proceed. You should see a green bar appear indicating the progress of your upload.
    5. When the upload is complete, you will be taken to a new page with the text “Your file has been successfully converted.” Your converted file will automatically begin downloading. Soon you will have your converted media file ready to go! In my case, I received “SampleVideo.avi” in my Downloads folder.

    Do you use a different media conversion tool? We’d be happy to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Email us at support@inqscribe.com.