Sharing And Growing With The First Amara Townhall Meeting

by Seelan Palay November 02, 2012
A report on the first live gathering of the Amara online subtitling community.

Amara TownhallOn October 24 2012, Amara held it's first ever live community gathering/discussion (aka townhall). The event was a great opportunity for Amara users to address ideas and concerns, and to get a sneak peak of what's being developed for the system.

The townhall was video broadcasted to Amara's YouTube channel using Google Hangout, which was an interesting new format in itself. Up to 9 participants could video stream from their webcams, and a large number of viewers could type their comments and questions in a live chat box.

As the gathering happened way past midnight, I was the only representative from the EngageMedia subtitling team who was able to attend. Also participating were members from the Captions Requested team, the Global Voices team, and others.

Dean Jansen, Co-Founder of Amara, began the session with a presentation on the latest modifications in progress for the system. Participants then posted queries in the open discussion session afterwards, which were moderated and replied to by Dean and Amara coordinator Jules Rincon.

Questions asked were mostly technical in nature, such as being able to edit timing in different languages, uploading new .srt files over old ones, the need for a compiled list of activities by different users, new hotkeys for functions such as video playback speed, and subtitles not appearing well in full screen. The full screen issue has been identified by Amara as one of the most difficult problems to solve due of the nature of Flash, so let's be patient while it's being worked on.

Amara SubtitlingOne very important detail for Amara users to note is regarding the syncing step (step 2) in the subtitling interface. We all know that the “Down Arrow” key on the keyboard can be used to place subtitles and sync them on the timeline. And then we usually wait till the next line of subtitles before pressing the hotkey again. 

Depending on the time gap between the previous line and the next, most subtitles may end up being unnecessarily long. Most of us would then spend quite some time on step 4 trimming down the subtitles to the correct lengths.

But what we wouldn't have known is that by using the “Up Arrow” key, we can precisely cut the length of each line of subtitle within step 2, the syncing step, itself. On the right is a screenshot to help illustrate what I mean (as you can see, there is no indication that the "Up Arrow" is a hotkey). Please feel free to email me if this is still unclear.

The entire townhall was recorded, transcribed, and is available for viewing here. You can also visit this forum thread for updates on issues related to the townhall.

Thank you to everyone from the EngageMedia community on Amara for all your support and questions. I'll do my best to represent you again in the next live meeting.

Seelan Palay
Lingua Desk


Join the EngageMedia team page, where you can quickly and easily add more translations in the languages you know, contributing to having more people around the world understand these important stories from the Asia Pacific. Also join our Facebook group for more regular updates.

Claude Almansi
Claude Almansi says:
November 01, 2012

Thanks, Seelan: this is a great summary.

Re clicking the up arrow to end a subtitle - on the Macs I've used Amara on, the down arrow to start a sub never worked, and nor does the up arrow now to cut one. Have you perhaps had a different experience on a Mac?
Re the great live transcription of the Town Hall that's integrated into the YouTube video: there is now also closed captioned version made with Amara. Watching it in the player is rather disconcerting because of the timing differences between the YT live transcript and these CC subs, but the latter produce a transcript - http://www.universalsubtitles.org/en/videos/MPqwvR1dkkH1/en/416960/ - that can be read through more quickly than watching the whole 1-hour video :D

Seelan Palay
Seelan Palay says:
November 02, 2012

Hi Claude, glad you liked the post.

I've not heard of the problems you've mentioned on Macs. I don't own one but I know people who do and they use those Amara hotkeys with no issues.

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