Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Online Video Annotation Takes A Giant Leap Forward: Meet The All-New Mojiti

Online video annotation has just taken a giant leap forward, giving you the opportunity to add subtitles, text, animated shapes and pointers, freehand text and drawings, images, webcam video and even RSS feeds directly into your web-hosted videos.


Until now a range of online video annotation services have made it easy to take your source video and add subtitles, animated graphics and even voice-overs right from your browser. But none of them have combined all of these features, and added a great many more to the mix, until now.

Today the latest release of Mojiti effectively gives you a simple-to-use mini-motion-graphics studio to play with, bringing to you a mixture of tools ranging from the incredibly useful - such as subtitling, dubbing and picture-in-picture video - to the quite simply fun.

Whether you need a tool that will give you the opportunity to bring your videos to speakers of other languages, add picture-in-picture commentary on the latest news, jot freehand annotations over video demonstrations, or just put together fun video greetings cards, Mojiti 2.0 has something for you.

In my video review of the expanded Mojiti feature-set, I take you through:

  • The basics of Mojiti - if you haven't encountered Mojiti before, I give you a quick overview of the service
  • Text-based annotation - incorporating text-boxes, subtitles, speech-bubbles and thought-bubbles
  • Shape-based annotation - allowing you to create a number of shapes and pointers, and even animate them in time to the action of your video
  • Flash-based annotation - giving you a range of animated clip-art elements to spice up your video presentations
  • Multimedia-based annotations - bringing you the ability to add photographs, freehand notes and pictures, audio recording, web-cam captured picture-in-picture video and even news tickers bringing in the RSS news feed of your choice
  • Portability - Mojiti is now available as a browser plug-in, meaning that you can annotate web video not just from the Mojiti website, but from any one of twenty-seven supported video sharing sites, including - naturally - YouTube and MySpace video

To see all of these tools in action, along with my thoughts on why Mojiti has just brought online video annotation to the next level, read on:



Mojiti - Overview

Mojiti is by now a well-established platform for annotating video content hosted on other popular video-sharing platforms. The premise is simple - you upload your video into the Mojiti interface, and then set about easily adding 'spots' to that video.

Spots are another word for annotations, and come in a number of forms. Mojiti has thus far succeeded in making it easy for you to subtitle, add notes to and highlight parts of your video using shapes and pointers. This is done by stopping the video at any point, choosing the type of spot you want to apply, deciding how long it will play for in the video and customizing the spot to your needs.

To the right of the video player, you have a simple navigation bar that lets you skip directly to any one of the 'spots' you have added to your video, so that you can quickly and easily change, adapt or delete them as necessary. It is also possible to change the points in the video at which these spots begin and end, either from the main video player console, or directly from the navigation bar.


Once you have added your subtitles, highlighted points of interest or inserted pop-up information blurbs to your video, you can embed the results into any website, just as you would with a YouTube video.

In this first video I take you on a whirlwind tour of the Mojiti interface:

If you want to get a more thorough idea of how this works in action, I have talked through the whole process in a previous video-article about subtitling your Internet video.

Today a whole new batch of features was unveiled to the public on the Mojiti website. In this full review of Mojiti I take you through the different varieties of 'spot' available in this latest edition of the service:

Text-based Annotation

One of the strengths of the original Mojiti was its text-annotation line-up, and nothing has changed on that front. Mojiti has proven to be very popular as a web-based subtitling tool, not least because of its ability to import and export industry-standard subtitle files in the .srt and .sub formats.

In this next video I demonstrate the different text-based annotation tools available to you with Mojiti:

  • Simple text boxes, which you can format to your tastes with a range of colors, text-sizes and borders
  • Subtitles - allowing you to add easy-to-read captions to any movie
  • Speech and thought-bubbles for that comic book effect

Text-boxes are a great way to add notes to a video, adding extra information about the content of your video, and the comicbook-like speech and thought-bubbles might have their uses for entertainment purposes. But where Mojiti excels in this department is with its subtitling. It has never been easier to quickly and effectively add subtitles to a video, and this is going to save a lot and time and money for independent video producers looking to add cross-language appeal to their online video content.

Shape-based Annotation

The primary function for the shapes that you can add to your clips is likely to be as a means to highlight and point-out content within the frame of a video. With a little bit of patience, it is possible to have these shapes move in time with your video, as they can be easily animated by dragging them around the screen in realtime, and recording your actions.

As an example, you might want to have an arrow pointing to one member of a group of people. As the chosen individual moves through the frame, you can have the arrow move with them, so that they remain highlighted wherever they go.

You can choose between a circle, rectangle, 'no-smoking'-style cross-out and an arrow. It is possible to change each in a number of ways. You can:

  • Resize them right from the video screen by dragging a bounding box until they fit what you are looking to highlight
  • Rotate them, also from the main video window
  • Apply a range of formatting effects, including the ability to change transparency, color and the thickness of the line surrounding the shape

I could see these animated shapes being useful in screencasts and presentations, in situations where it might be important to point out a key part of the screen to the viewer.

Similar features exist in professional screencasting tools such as Techsmith Camtasia, which has a considerable price-tag, so it is nice to see them present in a completely free web application like Mojiti.

Flash-based Annotation

Animated flash-based clipart might well appeal to those simply looking to spice up their videos with simple graphical elements. While I personally find them a little tacky, I have no doubt that the selection of animations available will find their way into the videos of the MySpace crowd. Think of them as the video equivalent of emoticons and you will have a good idea of what's on offer here.

Among the flash animations present are:

  • A beating heart
  • Streaming confetti
  • A birthday cake
  • A pair of kissing lips

These might well be of use to those looking to add a little color to their straight-to-camera vlogs, or as a simple way of creating video greetings cards, for instance.

As with the shapes, you can animate, resize and format your flash animations, giving you the chance to get creative with them if they take your interest.

Multimedia-based Annotation

The features that really excite me most are the multimedia additions to the Mojiti line-up. I think that each of these features is going to be useful in a number of different situations and settings. Bundled under the multimedia heading you have the following annotation tools:

  • Imported images - you can import a photograph or any other image file that you have previously uploaded to the web. All you have to do is enter the URL of your image, and it will appear in your video, ready to be resized, positioned and animated
  • Freehand annotation - this will be of particular appeal to graphics tablet / tablet PC users, as you can draw or write directly onto the video frame. You also have the option of animating your drawing, so that it appears in stroke order, a stroke at a time, which creates the look of your drawing in realtime when played back. You can of course choose line-thickness and color in the settings
  • Audio dubbing - I for one am really glad of this addition, as until now there were very limited options available for annotating the audio track of your video. While audio-dubbing is pretty simple in Mojiti, and really a matter of just recording your mic over the original audio track, it is a much welcomed feature
  • Picture-in-picture video - you can now record your web-cam right from the Mojiti interface, and resize and position the video anywhere you like within the frame of the video you are annotating. This a great feature that will let you add personalized commentary to a clip, in-sync with the video itself
  • RSS-ticker - this is a great feature that allows you to place a dynamic RSS news feed right into your video. Once you have given Mojiti the URL of your RSS feed, it creates a news ticker at the bottom of the video, which users can click on to move between news items

These new media-rich additions to the Mojiti annotation suite are likely to be very popular for the sheer range of uses that they can be put to.

Among the uses that might be made of the image importing feature is that of placing a logo or watermark in the video, to brand your content with your website, channel or social networking identity.

Freehand annotation is going to be useful to those wishing to give feedback on video submitted work, as well as people delivering presentations, marketing pitches and video tutorials. I am looking forward to making use of this feature myself in future screencasts.

Audio dubbing has a whole range of applications, as outlined in my guide to dubbing Internet video. Whether you are creating a second language version of your video or simply adding reflections and notes over the audio track of a video, this will prove very useful.

Picture-in-picture video is another very impressive feature I can see being put to use by those delivering presentations - allowing them to show their presentation delivery at the same time as their PowerPoint slides. Furthermore, this is going to be popular with people adding their critique or commentary to existing video content, for web-based newscasters and interviewers, and for those looking to work with simple split-screen effects, to cite but a few examples.

Finally, the RSS news-ticker would prove a valuable addition to any regular Internet TV show affiliated to a website, so that the content of the two could be effectively merged, in addition to news sites looking to dynamically update the content of their video, and video bloggers looking to offer the latest incoming news to their viewers.

This is a useful line-up of tools that makes a lot of things possible that would previously have required either professional video-editing software or Flash / ActionScript programming skills. Now, anyone can get creative with their video content in a number of interesting ways.

Portability - The Mojiti Bookmarklet

Mojiti has always been open to other services in that it borrows video hosted from other sites to annotate, rather than hosting them itself. A new addition turns that relationship on its head, however, but allowing you take Mojiti to those very hosting sites.

All you have to do is install a simple bookmarklet to your Firefox or Internet Explorer browser toolbar. From that point onwards, whenever you visit any of the twenty-seven supported video sites you will be able to click on this button, and Mojiti will load into whichever site you are visiting.

So, if you are over at YouTube and get the urge to annotate a video you are watching, you simply click on the Mojiti bookmarklet, and you can start editing the video, right from the YouTube interface. This is a very nice little addition to what is a major update of Mojiti, and it is great to see Mojiti expanding their service beyond their web destination - taking a lead that I am sure others will follow in due course.


Mojiti already had an impressive amount of features for adding value to online video content, but with the new release today it has taken the online video annotation game to the next level. Rolling together a huge array of different means to enhance and add to your online video, Mojiti has managed to step well beyond the functionality of its nearest competition. Furthermore, in providing the ability to embed RSS, dub audio and create picture-in-picture video, Mojiti has managed to bring features to the humble web application previously seen only on powerful desktop apps.

From one application it is now possible, without spending a single cent, to:

  • Add a variety of text-based annotations including quick-to-implement subtitles, which can be exported as industry-standard subtitle files
  • Add animated shapes and clip-art to your videos, whether for fun, or to highlight and point out key information
  • Bring in a range of multimedia enhancements such as a dynamic RSS news feed, web-cam-authored picture-in-picture video commentary, freehand annotations and audio-dubbing

Furthermore, I don't even have to go to the Mojiti website to do this anymore, as Mojiti annotation is now available via a simple plug-in for my Firefox or Internet Explorer browser. This means that I can visit YouTube, or any one of twenty-six other video sharing sites, and annotate my videos directly from there, with the click of a 'bookmarklet' button.

The new Mojiti is going to be of value to a whole range of users, from those giving online presentations and delivering video-news, to educators, screencasters, video bloggers and multi-language web publishers. With a feature-set like this to compete with, the other video annotation sites are going to have to do some hard work to stay in the game.

Mojiti has just upped the ante, and if you have any need to enhance or annotate your online videos, I highly recommend you checking it out.

Additional Resources

If you would like to learn more about Mojiti and video annotation, you might want to take a look at the following links:

  • The Mojiti website
  • A Online demo video of Mojiti
  • Vidavee Graffitti lets you add motion graphics to online vide
  • Bubbleply offers a similar experience to Mojiti, with greater emphasis on adding 'bubbles' to your video
  • Splashcast has some great annotation and aggregation functionality
  • Click.TV allows you to add chapter-like notes to points in your video
  • ReviewTube lets you add text annotations to your online video
  • Veotag creates great looking text annotations to your online video
  • My guide to subtitling video directly compares Mojiti and Bubbleply in action

Originally written by Michael Pick for Master New Media and originally published as: "Online Video Annotation Takes A Giant Leap Forward: Meet The All-New Mojiti"

[ Read more ]
Readers' Comments    
blog comments powered by Disqus
posted by Michael Pick on Thursday, April 5 2007, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.




Real Time Web Analytics