Cinera, and Annotation Writing
Video annotations, at their heart, are very similar to chapter points in the DVD / Blu-ray releases of feature films. They give viewers a way to easily navigate to set points in a video.
Cinera, my annotation system, extends on this notion of ease of navigation by allowing additional information – e.g. references (externally linked, where possible), quotes, topic / medium categorisation – to be encoded in annotations, which viewers may use to navigate directly to websites referenced in the video, or even to filter out categories in which they are not interested or don't have time to watch.
Navigation is further eased across multiple videos through Cinera's search functionality, written by Asaf Gartner.
In essence, we capitalise on the fact that we are viewing the videos on a general purpose device connected to the internet – a fact on which DVD / Blu-ray authors cannot rely – coupled with the notion that the kinds of videos currently enjoying annotation treatment are not necessarily intended to be consumed in their entirety from beginning to end, but rather treated as reference material to dip in and out of, to create a context appropriate viewing experience.
Rather than read about it, however, you may prefer to watch Mio Iwakura's video How to Watch RISCY BUSINESS - The Annotated Episode Guide showcasing the system, and even try it all out for yourself since that very same video is itself annotated!
Cinera is written in C99, runs on Linux servers and depends on libcurl. Its source is open and available here, although note that it is currently unlicensed and not yet packaged up for easy deployment (although, if we're honest, those installation and build instructions aren't much longer than this parenthetical remark).
Still to come:
- configuration file parsing
- support for multiple sets of videos (dubbed "projects" in Cinera parlance)
- bookshelf, collating all references cited in a project
- filterable search
- FreeBSD port