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News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Posts Tagged ‘video’

RfC: Should we support MP4 video on our sites?

A video of a cheetah, captured in slow-motion at 1200 fps. The video was released on Vimeo in MP4 format and converted to OGV format before uploading to Commons. It cannot be viewed in this format on most mobile phones and many web browsers.

The Wikimedia Foundation’s multimedia team seeks your guidance on a proposal to support the MP4 video format. This digital video standard is used widely around the world to record, edit and watch videos on mobile phones, desktop computers and home video devices. It is also known as H.264/MPEG-4 or AVC.

Supporting the MP4 format would make it much easier for our users to view and contribute video on Wikimedia projects. Video files could be offered in dual formats on our sites, so we could continue to support current open formats (WebM and Ogg Theora).

Currently, open video files cannot be viewed on many mobile devices or web browsers without extra software, making it difficult or impossible for several hundred million monthly visitors to watch videos on our sites. Video contributions are also limited by the fact that most mobile phones and camcorders record video only in MP4 format, and that transcoding software is scarce and hard to use by casual users.

However, MP4 is a patent-encumbered format, and using a proprietary format would be a departure from our current practice of only supporting open formats on our sites—even though the licenses appear to have acceptable legal terms, with only a small fee required.

We would appreciate your guidance on whether or not to support MP4 on our sites. This Request for Comments presents views both in favor of and against MP4 support, and hundreds of community members have already posted their recommendations.

What do you think? Please post your comments on this page.

All users are welcome to participate, whether you are active on Commons, Wikipedia, other Wikimedia projects—or any site that uses content from our free media repository. We also invite you to spread the word in your community about this issue.

We look forward to a constructive discussion with you and your community, so we can make a more informed decision together about this important question.

All the best,

Fabrice Florin, Product Manager, Multimedia
On behalf of the Multimedia team

Wikimedia Foundation’s Engineering and Product Group

A Multimedia Vision for 2016

How will we use multimedia on our sites in three years?

The Wikimedia Foundation’s Multimedia team was formed to provide a richer experience and support more media contributions on Wikipedia, Commons, and MediaWiki sites. We believe that audio-visual media offer a unique opportunity to engage a wide range of users to participate productively in our collective work.

To inform our plans, we’ve created a simple vision of how we might collaborate through multimedia by 2016. This hypothetical scenario was prepared with guidance from community members and is intended for discussion purposes, to help us visualize possible improvements to our user experience over the next three years.


The best way to view this vision is to watch this video:

Multimedia Vision 2016, presented by Fabrice Florin at a Wikimedia Meetup in San Francisco on Dec. 9, 2013.


Scientific multimedia files get a second life on Wikipedia

On Wikimedia projects, audio and video content has traditionally taken a backseat relative to text and static images (however, changes are underway). Conversely, more and more scholarly publications come with audio and video files, though these are — a legacy from the print era — typically relegated to the “supplementary material” rather than embedded next to the relevant text passages. And a rising number of these publications are Open Access, i.e. freely available under Creative Commons licenses that allow for the materials to be reused in other contexts.

Why not enrich thematically related Wikimedia pages with such multimedia files? That’s where the Open Access Media Importer (OAMI) comes in. It makes scientific video and audio clips accessible to the Wikimedia community and a broader public audience. The OAMI is an open-source program (or ‘bot’) that crawls PubMed Central — a full-text database of over 3 million biomedical research articles — and extracts multimedia files from those publications in the database that are available under Wikimedia-compatible licenses.

Over 700 OAMI-contributed media files are currently used in Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. This X-ray video of a breathing American alligator — originally published by Claessens et al. (2009) in PLOS ONE — is currently being used for illustrating the “Respiratory system” entries in the Bulgarian, Chinese, English, German, Russian, and Serbocroatian Wikipedias.

Such reuse-friendly terms are the key ingredient to making scholarly materials useful beyond the article in which they have originally been published. However, OAMI aims to make this material even more useful by making it accessible:

  • in places where people actually look for them (Wikimedia platforms are a prime example),
  • in one coherent format (in our case Ogg Vorbis/Theora, which isn’t encumbered by patent restrictions), and
  • in a way that allows for collaborative annotation with relevant metadata. This makes it a lot easier to browse and search the media files.


The humming teachers

At the annual meeting of Wikimedia Sweden, we decided that a video should be created about education and Wikipedia. The task of creating this video was assigned the Education Manager as a high priority. As the Education Manager then, I thought what a bliss to have such a creative task where possibilities are endless as a priority! I called up my previous drama teacher who quite recently had started up a production company with the dancing teacher and a few old pupils. They were happily to help. I was in charge of the fun (I do of course realize that we all differ in the aspect of what’s fun) aspects, such as writing a script, finding clothes to wear and playing parts.

But what was it going to be about?! Okay, I thought, people wanted it to be instructional. But all I could see blinking before my eyes was ‘BORING’. So no, no instructional video with someone simply talking or showing some Wikipedia pages (not to say that such a video may not be useful). So I began with characters. Who was going to take part in this little video? A teacher of course. And what would she be like? Ah, like someone I met at a conference who yelled at me for asking her to support the terrible Wikipedia which she knew made so much money whilst asking her poor pupils to contribute. So she was my role model.

But she also needed a savior. Someone to take her away from that negativity and to see the light and the greatness of Wikipedia. So there came the woman coming from above, and well, also in the trash can. She was just everywhere, and you couldn’t ignore her, just like Wikipedia! But then I thought, there should be something that teachers can hum, and say to each other as a jingle as to remember what to look for on Wikipedia with their pupils, and there was KÄ DI HI, which are the two first letters for references, discussion and history in Swedish. I saw in my little head a group of teachers, not totally unlike the singing von Trapp family in Sound of Music doing the Do Re Me, which had now turned into Kä, Di, Hi.

And this was the result.

We now have subtitles in English, Chinese and Portuguese for the video, with many more to come I hope. I look forward to the day when teachers and their pupils all around the world can joint the family of Wikimedia singing Kä, Di, Hi (or perhaps in English Re, Di, Hi).

Sophie Österberg, Wikipedia Education Program

Contributing to Wikipedia as homework: The Wikipedia Education Program

The Wikipedia Education Program has a simple premise: Professors assign their students to contribute to Wikipedia as part of their coursework. These contributions can take many forms: writing articles, translating articles from one language Wikipedia to another, and adding photos, videos, or illustrations to articles, among others.

These programs, which are run by Wikimedia chapters, volunteers, and Wikimedia Foundation, exist in more than 25 countries worldwide, and resources are available in many languages to support professors and students. For many students, the Wikipedia Education Program is their first chance to have a real-world impact through their school assignments.

The video above discusses the impact one such student in the United States program has had, but many more stories exist. Interested in learning more? Visit

Introducing Wikipedia’s new HTML5 video player

A new video player has been enabled on Wikipedia and its sister sites, and it comes with the promise of bringing free educational videos to more people, on more devices, in more languages.

The player is the same HTML5 player used in the Kaltura open-source video platform. It has been integrated with MediaWiki (the software that runs Wikimedia sites like Wikipedia) through an extension called TimedMediaHandler. It replaces an older Ogg-only player that has been in use since 2007.

The new player supports closed captions in multiple languages.

Based on HTML5, the new player plays audio and video files on wiki pages. It brings many new features, like advanced support for closed captions and other timed text. By allowing contributors to transcribe videos, the new player is a significant step towards accessibility for hearing-impaired Wikipedia readers. Captions can easily be translated into many languages, thus expanding their potential audience.

TimedMediaHandler also comes with other useful features, like support for the royalty-free WebM video format. Support for WebM makes it possible to seamlessly import videos encoded to that format, such as freely-licensed content from YouTube’s massive library.

Even further behind the scenes, TimedMediaHandler adds support for server-side transcoding, i.e. the ability to convert from one video format to another, in order to deliver the appropriate video stream to the user depending on their bandwidth and the size of the player. For example, support for mobile formats is available, although it is not currently enabled.

The player’s “Share” feature provides a short snippet of code to directly embed videos from Wikimedia Commons in web pages and blog posts, as is the case here.

Sponsored by Kaltura and Google, developers Michael Dale and Jan Gerber are the main architects of the successful launch of the new player. With the support of the Wikimedia Foundation’s engineering team and Kaltura, they have gone through numerous cycles of development, review and testing to finally release the fruits of years of work.

Efforts to better integrate video content to Wikipedia and its sister sites date back to early 2008, when Kaltura and the Wikimedia Foundation announced their first collaborative video experiment. Since then, incremental improvements have been released, but the deployment of TimedMediaHandler is the most significant achievement to date. (more…)

New Wikimedia Argentina outreach video answers question, “What is Wikipedia?”

This post is available in 2 languages: Español 7% • English 100%

Click on the image above to watch the video

In English

Wikimedia Chapters conduct outreach activities across the world to attract readers, photographers, free knowledge advocates and many others to participate on Wikipedia and its sister projects. Sometimes they find that simply explaining how Wikipedia works is an important first step to recruiting new collaborators.

In 2011, several members of the Wikimedia Argentina board were discussing new strategies to explain their work when they hit upon an important idea. Inspired in part by instructional and outreach videos produced by Wikimedia Italia, Wikimedia Germany, and the Wikimedia Foundation, they decided to produce a video that explained the central tenets of Wikipedia and the community that supports it.

“In outreach activities, we find that most people think they know what Wikipedia is about, when they really don’t,” said Patricio Lorente, President of Wikimedia Argentina. Lorente said they hoped the video would correct general misconceptions about Wikipedia and would be useful for screening at outreach events, during workshops and potentially for air on Radio y Televisión Argentina (RTA), a public broadcasting network.

Patricio Molina, who was in charge of the project, wanted to create the video with a clean background to prevent anything from distracting the viewer. Molina also suggested that the video include floating words and images around the presenter to reinforce certain concepts that chapter members deemed most important to convey. Through Molina’s contacts, Wikimedia Argentina was able to a find and hire a production team that could handle these requirements.

The production team recommended singer and actress Mariana Esnoz, who was found through a public casting, to star in the video. The chapter members, along with collaboratively writing the script, chose to have an actress instead of an actor handle the dialogue. It was important “to deconstruct the idea that Wikipedia projects —or anything Internet-based— has to do with computer ‘geeks’, but also because it was useful and in line with [Wikimedia’s] gender policy,” said Galileo Vidoni, Vice President of Wikimedia Argentina.

The production took five months, with three different “final versions” of the video under consideration just days before project completion. The three final versions had different instances of the Jorge Luis Borges article animation at the end of the video, “the hardest part of the editing process,” according to Molina. In the animation, viewers can see the development of the Borges article over time as it was edited, with its significant growth and depth depicted graphically.

“We saw that kind of animation in a video about the London Bombings in 2005, so we wanted to make something quite similar in order to show how an article is created,” said Molina. “It was really hard: we exported, vectorized and modified each HTML, handling them with Adobe After Effects.”

The finished product is excellent and hopefully proves very helpful in recruiting new editors to Wikipedia, and new chapter members to Wikimedia Argentina.

Matthew Roth, Global Communications Manager


En Español

Los capítulos de Wikimedia realizan distintas actividades de extensión alrededor del mundo para atraer lectores, fotógrafos, defensores de la cultura libre y otros a participar en Wikipedia y sus proyectos hermanos. En ocasiones descubren que simplemente explicar cómo funciona Wikipedia es un primer paso fundamental para reclutar nuevos colaboradores. (more…)

ABC joins Wikimedia in sharing historic footage

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), the national public broadcaster, turns 80 this year. To celebrate it has launched a new website called “80 Days That Changed Our Lives“, giving 80 pieces of audio visual content from the ABC archives a new lease on life. Today, the ABC has also announced that it has gone a step further by releasing some of these historical news reports to Wikimedia under a Creative Commons free license. This release of highly encyclopedic audiovisual history is not only a first for Australia, it is a first for Wikimedia.

1940s Mobile studio caravan, provided by the ABC

While this is the first collection of broadcast “packaged” footage released to Wikimedia Commons under a free license, the leader in the field for several years has been Al Jazeera, which has been sharing some of its contemporary footage on its own Creative Commons portal. With the Open Beelden project, the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision has also shared online many historical newsreels. Both of these collections have since been copied into Wikimedia Commons. The ABC is also following in the footsteps of Radio y Televisión Argentina, which has previously released some of its archival recordings and parliamentary speeches.

You can view the collection of files on Wikimedia Commons – all are available to be used, remixed and shared — at Category: Files from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Some of the important pieces of Australian history that now have freely licensed multimedia for the first time include:

You can check where these files are already being used within Wikipedia articles on the toolserver project. You can also read the press release by the ABC about this project and the blog post by Creative Commons Australia (which is hosted by CCi).

As a non-profit operated collection of educational and freely-licensed media,  and as the repository that serves the 283 language editions of Wikipedia, we believe that Wikimedia Commons is a perfect place for broadcasters and other GLAMs to share their archival content. Hopefully this release from the Australian public broadcaster will be the beginning of an ongoing relationship with the Wikimedia projects and the Wikimedia community,  and will encourage other broadcasters – especially those that are publicly funded – to join us.

Liam Wyatt / Wittylama – Project officer, ARC Centre of Excellence in Creative Industries and Innovation (CCi)

A gift of visualization on Wikipedia’s birthday

Earlier today the Washington D.C. based creative agency JESS3 posted the video above, and an informative web case study, – a follow-up to another recent case study they did on another big idea, the Internet. JESS3 (also donors to the Wikimedia Foundation) folks Leslie Bradshaw and Becca Colbaugh on the inspiration for the work:

In a collaborative effort to capture a historic moment in time for Wikipedia, we announced this morning “The State of Wikipedia,” a digital short aimed at teaching the layperson Wikipedia’s initial concept and consequent evolution into becoming one of the most visited web sites across the globe.

We look forward to see what the next 10 years hold for Wikipedia and how it will continue to help add contours, diversity and permanency to information the world over.

They were supported by long-time Wikipedian William Beutler, and the voice you might recognize is none other than the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales. The video is CC-BY-SA (it can be downloaded from Vimeo – Commons link as soon as we have it), which means anyone around the world can use, re-use, and share this great work that tells the story of our project and our movement.

A big thanks to JESS3 for taking the considerable time to put this story together. We think it will make a big difference in helping people talk about our big projects and the complex world of the Wikimedia movement. A great Wikipedia 10 birthday gift!

Jay Walsh, Communications

A Decade of Thanks!

People throughout the world are gathering at more than 450 events in 120 countries to celebrate Wikipedia’s 10th birthday.  I’m amazed and thrilled and humbled by the significant support Wikipedia has in every corner of the world.  When I started Wikipedia a decade ago, I  never imagined that everyday people in places like Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Bolivia, Ethiopia and Algeria would come together to celebrate Wikipedia in such an extraordinary way.

In ten years, Wikipedia has become so much to so many people.  Millions of people came together because they believed that access to free information was important and needed.  Thank you to everyone who has contributed. Thank you to the editors, donors and supporters. Thank you to those who believed in our mission and helped us along the way.  It’s because of you that Wikipedia exists: thank you for believing in the power of ordinary people to come together to do something remarkable.

It’s my hope that more people are now inspired to join the movement and help us reach our mission: a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge.  I look forward to working with all of you over the next ten years to reach our goal.
Happy birthday, Wikipedia!