Monday, November 12, 2012

Wikipedia now has new HTML 5-based video player

The hugely popular online encyclopaedia, Wikipedia, and its sister sites, now have a new video player, as per an official blog post. It is no rocket science now to gauge that with a new video player, the content on the online encyclopaedia will only grow richer, thereby making educational videos available to more people, in more languages and of course, for free.
Wikipedia Logo is the cover
Offering support for closed captions in multiple languages

Elaborating upon the recent changes, Guillaume Paumier, Technical communications manager, shares that the new video player is the same HTML 5 player used in the Kaltura open-source video platform. The video player has been integrated with MediaWiki, the software that runs Wikimedia sites such as Wikipedia through an extension called TimedMediaHandler. In essence, the new video player replaces an older Ogg-only player that has been in use since 2007.

As for the new video player, it supports closed captions in multiple languages. The new video player is based on HTML 5, and it plays audio and video files on wiki pages. Among other things, the new video player brings to the table features such as advanced support for closed captions and other timed text. The new video player allows contributors to transcribe videos; it is being considered to be a significant step towards accessibility for hearing-impaired Wikipedia readers. Even captions can easily be translated into many languages, creating more room for the potential audience.

TimedMediaHandler, as has been elaborated comes with support for the royalty-free WebM video format, making it possible to seamlessly import videos encoded to that format, such as freely-licensed content from YouTube’s massive library.

“Even further behind the scenes, TimedMediaHandler adds support for server-side transcoding, i.e., the ability to convert from one video format to another, in order to deliver the appropriate video stream to the user depending on their bandwidth and the size of the player. For example, support for mobile formats is available, although it is not currently enabled,” adds the post further. 

The 'Share' feature on the new video player offers a short snippet of code to directly embed videos from Wikimedia Commons in web pages and blog posts, as is the case here.

The post goes on to reveal that some features provided by TimedMediaHandler have been available to users of Wikimedia Commons during development, in experimental mode. This enabled registered users to turn on the beta features in their personal preferences to enjoy a nicer interface and edit subtitles. Since the new player is compatible with existing subtitles created during that time, there is an existing body of captions that it can already load and display, like on this mash-up of interviews of Wikipedians.

"On the internet, video is a very static medium: it rarely changes once uploaded. In contrast, the success of Wikipedia relies on numerous volunteers constantly editing and improving each others contributions. Appropriate tools will hopefully reduce this dissonance, like Kaltura’s sequencer, which empowers users to remix videos directly online. Successfully translating its radically collaborative nature to multimedia content will be critical to Wikipedia’s transition into the age of video," the post reads.

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