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Scalar Up Close: Working with Video Annotations

Scalar’s core feature-set includes a built-in video annotator which allows authors to mark up clips with commentary or analysis. In Scalar, video annotations act as a way for authors to draw readers' attention to a particular segment of a video clip; the annotations themselves appear to readers as pop up dialog boxes containing the author’s commentary or analysis as the clip plays (see above).

One of the more effective uses of video annotations is to create multiple, that is sequential, annotations for a given video clip—to write out commentary or analysis about multiple sections in the same video, creating annotations for each. When viewers play a clip annotated in this manner, each annotation created by the author pops up when the playhead gets to the point in the clip designated for that annotation. The effect is a running textual analysis of the clip as action unfolds. Those interested in seeing a set of video annotations functioning in just this way should take a look at Steve Anderson’s introductory clip, “Computational kitsch in mainframe era title design,” in his essay “Chaos and Control: The Critique of Computation in American Commercial Media (1950-1980)” (shown below) for which Anderson has created twenty separate annotations, each describing a particular segment of the three and a half minute clip.

Creating a video annotation in Scalar is straightforward. Simply navigate to any video clip in your Scalar book and click the "Edit annotations" button at the bottom of the page. Once inside the annotations editor (see below), click the plus button on the left to create a new annotation; use the two "Set" buttons to set the in and out points of the annotation to the current position of the playhead; enter the title and content for the annotation and click “Save.”

An added benefit of Scalar annotations in general, is that they, like all elements in Scalar project, are pages in their own right. This means that annotations in Scalar can contain not only text, but media as well, making it possible to annotate just about anything in a Scalar project with anything else. Want to annotate a silent film clip with multiple audio commentaries? Or annotate select areas of an image with various video clips? Scalar makes this possible.

For more information, see the section on Annotating Media in our User’s Guide.

Scalar Webinars: Announcing Our Summer Schedule

The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture will be offering a series of free online webinars this summer.

Our “Introduction to Scalar” webinars will cover basic features of the platform: a review of existing Scalar books and a hands-on introduction to paths, tags, annotations and importing media. Our “Intermediate Scalar” webinars will delve into more advanced topics including the effective use of visualizations, annotating with media and a primer on customizing appearances in Scalar.

Our summer schedule will include four dates:

Introduction to Scalar: May 28, 10am-12pm (PST)
Intermediate Scalar: June 18, 10am-12pm (PST)
Introduction to Scalar: July 9, 4pm-6pm (PST)
Intermediate Scalar: July 30, 4pm-6pm (PST)

Hurry, spaces are limited!

Register here.

Scalar's User's Guide

Ever gotten stuck trying to annotate a video in Scalar? Or just plain forgot how to add items to your main menu? Our comprehensive User’s Guide is always there to assist.

If it’s your first time using Scalar, using the Getting Started section is ideal to acquaint yourself with the basics. If you're in a hurry, you can explore a special section that gathers all of Scalar's QuickStart documentation in one place. If you're embarking on a large project, we highly recommend you read through the sections on Working with Media, Working with Content, and Working with Structure to familiarize yourself with all of Scalar's capabilities as well as some important considerations for using media in your book. The Advanced Topics section dives into some useful features for those who want to dive a bit deeper into the platform. Our Custom Styling section shows you how to tailor basic stylistic features of Scalar projects, like font size and background color. And finally, our section on Third Party Plugins and Platforms shows users how to insert third-party material such as interactive maps and timelines into your Scalar project using iframes.

For users who are logged in, a link to our User’s Guide is always located at the top right-hand corner of your page, next to “Dashboard” and “Index.”

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The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture

The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture was created with the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.