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Multimedia Localization

Digital Video:
Maybe the most common although little interactive multimedia type are videos or movies which in todays digital world are most commonly used as digital video. It is usually highly multimedial and combines still and moving pictures, written and spoken text as well as other audio (sounds). Whereas on hardware storage (CDs and DVDs) it is mainly Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) coded (Video CD or VCD: MPEG 1, Super VCD or SVCD and DVD: MPEG 2) video. In contast to this, most abundant on the Internet, it is mainly non-streaming AVI, Audio Video Interleave (video has to be first completely downloaded before watchable) in highly compressed formats such as DivX (Digital video eXpress) and XviD (XviD is a word play, read it in the reverse way it and you might find a familiar term - found at Doom9.net) which actually both also use a MPEG ISO standard (MPEG-4). On the Macintosh platform, non streaming videos are mostly Apple Quicktime, which is also available for Windows. In contrast to this, steaming video can be watched while it is still downloading, rather waiting until the entire file is completely received. This is possible by using a special format which delivers the video in "chunks" and the use of a special server software. Originally developed in 1995 by Xing Technology Corporation (acquired by RealNetworks on August 10, 1999), streaming is now available for most other video formats (Microsoft Windows Media, Quicktime) as well as other formats such as Macromedia Flash.

Fig. 1: User Interface of Avral Tramigo Showing the Internal Approach of Text Layer Translation
Please click on the image for a closer look!

Digital video may contain two kinds of localizable information: readable text such as sub titles or annotations as well as the display of text documents and spoken text. In most traditional formats, both these types of information can not be extracted. However, if an MPEG video follows the appropriate standards, tools like TMPGEnc can extract the audio streams - in proper AVI movies (including DivX and XviD) the same can be done by VirtualDub. Written text within the movie can only be extracted by OCR (optical character recognition) in case of a good resolution but not saved back into the file. An exception are subtitles/captions located in external subtitle streams in media such as DVDs. Here specialized OCR software such as SubRip can extract (subtitles are actually bitmaps!), edit and sometimes translate subtitles (Subtitles Tranlslator) and save them in a variety variety of formats. Especially offline DivX and XviD files can be easily associated with text based subtitle files which can be displayed synchronized to the movie in any font, size, color and position by a variety of specialized and partly free players (BSplayer, ViPlay and DivX Subtitle Displayer).

Fig. 2: Standbild einer SMIL-Präsentation mit Link zum Streaming Server
Please click on the image for a closer look!

Another, much better approach is the design of digital video, where localizable text and audio is already separated from the video. A very promising and feature-rich approach is the W3C recommended Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL, pronounced "smile") format - after SVG and XLIFF another application of XML to multimedia. SMIL supports streaming video and audio, integrated with images, text or any other media type. As in the case of SVG, SMIL is another highly promising and powerful XML technic which despite its advantages, up to know, is not widely used. From its promising beginnings there is a variety of partially visual SMIL editors (good examples are the Tagfree 2000 SMIL Editor and the SMIL Composer SuperToolz by HotSausage), but unfortunately, there are only a few newer authoring systems to support the extended SMIL 2.0 standard: GRiNS Pro Editor for SMIL 2.0 by Oratrix and the Open Source Java based LimSee2 which is still under heavy development ??xy Fluition xy??. On the player side, only the RealOne Platform by RealNetworks and the GRiNS for SMIL-2.0 Player offer full support for the SMIL 2.0 Language profile whereas Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 and higher supports many of the SMIL 2.0 draft modules (called HTML+TIME 2.0) including Timing and Synchronization, BasicAnimation, SplineAnimation, BasicMedia, MediaClipping, and BasicContentControl.

Fig. 3: TagFree's SMIL Editor 1.0
is one of the most intuitive visual SMIL editors- it unfortunately does not support SMIL 2.0 yet
Please click on the image for a closer look!

A nifty small helper application to develop multilingual subtitled SMIL presentations is the freeware TransTool developed by the Cognitive Development Lab at Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. TransTool can generate SMIL files for playing video clips along with captions and codes. TransTool can also be used as a transcribing and coding tool that synchronizes video and text such as transcripts. These tools greatly facilitate tasks such as creating video events with multi-language transcripts, showing synchronized views of the same event, and the incorporation of video clips into presentations and web pages.

Fig. 4: TransTool developed by the Cognitive Development Lab at Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Please click on the image for a closer look!


© 2003 by Dr. Thomas Wassmer, e-mail: tom at softreviews.org


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Multimedia Localization




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Macromedia Flash

Digital Video

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