Friday, October 24, 2014

Lloyd's Video Analysis Tool, Part 8: Prototype Ready for Some User Testing

I've been working slowly but surely on my video analysis tool. I've now finished the initial programming of all of the essential features, including the transcription tool. I've also spent some time on the graphic design of the project, which, while not great, now makes the tool somewhat more "presentable." I feel I now have a prototype that is ready to be shared and tested by some people who have been expressing interest in the tool. Getting feedback from people who are already analyzing video in their work, but who are also willing to put up with yet-to-be-discovered bugs and problems will be crucial.

I have prepared a short video to explain how the tool works. I intentionally did not mention LiveCode at all because I know the people with whom I'll share this video care deeply about video analysis, but don't care at all about how the tool was made.

Here's a list of the main features of the tool:
  • Defining as many video scenes as you wish in the video file you are analyzing (I just call them video entries).
  • Tagging the video scenes with as many tags as you wish.
  • Creating a list of "quick tags" to more easily add the most common tags or codes to a video scene.
  • Adding a comment or description to each video scene.
  • Adding a transcription to each video scene, along with a transcription tool inspired by the YouTube transcription tool.
  • The option to create reports of a video analysis project, including an "Excel ready" report option.
  • A file management system that saves all the projects inside a special folder in the computer's document folder.
  • The option to manually save (or export) back-ups of a video project (called "source files").
  • The option to import source files; this is meant as a way to share the project with another user of the tool. (However, you also have to share the video file separately.)
I'm particularly proud of the transcription tool. Although it still needs some work, I find it very effective way to create transcriptions because the tool directly controls the video as you type. When the tool is activated, only the space bar plays the video and every other key stops the video. There is also an automatic rewinding effect. I also included a 5 second manual rewind option.

There are still a few features I still would like to add to the tool. The one at the top of the list is a search option, mainly for searching among the tags.

All of my testing so far has been on the Macintosh, but I will also begin testing a Windows version of the tool.

I want to publicly thank a few people who made some very helpful suggestions based on demonstrations of earlier prototypes back in July and August: Dr. AnnaMarie Conner, Dr. TJ Kopcha, and Dr. Mardi Schmeichel. Dr. Conner is on the faculty in the Department of Mathematics and Science Education, Dr. Kopcha is fellow member of the Learning, Design, and Technology faculty, and Dr. Schmeichel is on the faculty in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice.

Special thanks to AnnaMarie and Mardi for taking some extra time to show me the qualitative analysis tools they are using for video. Mardi uses Dedoose and AnnaMarie uses Transana. AnnaMarie's research involves very complex and expansive use of video.

One of the most beneficial things about seeing a tool like Transana, especially within the context of a sophisticated video-based research program, is that it reinforces and clarifies my initial thoughts that my tool is not meant in any way to compete with them. My video analysis tool is meant for small scale, niche applications, only some of which will be research.

Finally, special thanks also go to Daisyane Barreto, a doctoral student in our department who has been testing an earlier prototype of my tool for the past month or so in the analysis of video data she has collected for her dissertation research. She reports that the tool is working well for her and I made some modifications to the current prototype based on my conversations with her.

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