Annotating sound and video

At the JISC innovation forum earlier this week, I was fortunate enough to run into an improptu demo of Synote by Mike Wald of ECS, who had hijacked the British Library’s sound archive project stand. Well, perhaps ‘hijack’ is a little strong – the BL demo was pretty much done and Peter Findlay was happy to tune in to what Mike was showing.

Synote is a rather nifty tool which lets users add annotations to specific points in a digital sound or video recording. These annotations might be notes, tags, or images; they act like bookmarks – they can be returned to easily as and when the need arises. Synote uses a transcript of the audio, which can be generated by speech recognition software if the audio is clean enough, or compiled by hand if not. The transcript plays alongside the content, and the users’ annotations are highlighted in it; clicking on a word in the transcript allows the user to skip ahead to the bookmark and, of course, the transcript is searchable. It’s been designed as a teaching and learning tool, but I think it has a lot of possibilities as a means of interacting with audio and video content present in archival collections. The project has a sourceforge page, so hopefully we’ll be able to have a go ourselves in due course.

-Susan Thomas

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