Sep 11, 2018

Adding time codes to YouTube videos

For years now, I have advocated the use of tables of contents for long instructional videos, recorded webinars and suchlike. I saw these in a few instances, but it was never clear how the indices were produced, so I suggested merely writing a list of relevant points and their play times and scrolling manually. Understandably, not many adopted this suggestion.

Then I discovered that my video editor (Camtasia) could create tables of contents for a video automatically when creating a local file, an upload to YouTube or other exports if timeline markers were added at relevant points. The only disadvantage for me with this approach was the limit on the length of the descriptive text attached to the markers. Worse than Twitter in the old days.

But when I accidentally added a marker I didn't want and removed it from the YouTube video description (which is where a TOC resides on YouTube), I saw that things were much simpler than I imagined. And a little research with tutorials made by others confirmed that any time code written at the beginning of a line in the video's description will become a clickable link to that time in the video.

So I've begun to go through some of my old videos with a text editor opened along side. When the recording gets to a point that I want to include in the table of contents, I simply pass the cursor over the video, take note of the time, and then write that time code into the text file along with a description of any length.

Afterward, I simply paste the contents of that text file into the description field in YouTube's editor. When the Save button at the top right is clicked, the new description for the video will be active, and viewers can use the index to jump to the points they want to see. Because only a few lines of the description text are visible by default, I include a hint at the beginning of the text to let people know that the live table of contents is available if they click the SEE MORE link.

If Kilgray, SDL, Wordfast and others involved with the language services sector would adopt techniques like this for their copious recorded content on the Web, the value and accessibility of this content would increase enormously. It would also be very simple then to create hot links to important points in other environments (PowerPoint slides, PDF files, etc.) to help people get to the information they need to learn better.

Not to do this would truly be a great waste and a shame in many cases.

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