Planet Miro

February 26, 2015

by Amara - by amarasubs at February 26, 2015 03:28 PM


If you’re in NYC tomorrow afternoon, a member of the Amara team will be joining a discussion panel at 3:30 pm, at the NYU event Translation-Machination.

This event explores the changing circumstances of linguistic exchange and considers the implications of translation as a language technology from a media theoretical perspective.

It’s a free event and will no doubt spur some interesting conversation!

Event Time: February 27 1:00pm – 5:00pm EST
Event Location: 239 Greene Street, NY NY
Registration: (free) Bottom of this page.

February 25, 2015

by Amara - by pcfben at February 25, 2015 02:41 PM


There’s a ton of new API code that’s pretty much ready, but unfortunately it’s not quite live yet.  We just need to do a few more tests and then we will push it (hopefully like today or tomorrow).

The last endpoint I implemented was the users endpoint.  It went pretty smoothly.  The one notable thing was that I made the first non-backwards API change, which was to remove the user list as an API endpoint.  I couldn’t think of a reasonable use for browsing all the amara users, but please tell me if there is one.

The other notable change was in the browser endpoint view.  I added a checkbox for all optional fields when doing a POST/PUT.  By default it’s checked, but you can uncheck it to not send that field.

One thing that I always found very strange about APIv2 was how it treated several values: the absence of a field, the value being the empty string, the value being null, and the value the string “null”.  In some endpoints it would treat those things as being the same and others would treat them as distinct.  If you rely on that behavior, please test it out.


February 20, 2015

by Amara - by amarasubs at February 20, 2015 03:00 PM


Most orgs did 2014 wrap ups in the first week of January, but that gets a little overwhelming. We’re doing ours fashionably late instead – please enjoy!

Accessibility volunteers, making a difference for others

In 2014, we learned about, an amazing community of accessibility-minded folks who caption short videos for anyone who requests them. They are a friendly community, and are always looking for volunteers – visit the link above for info on getting involved and/or requesting captions.

@SubtitleYouTube has single handedly (double handedly?) captioned a LOT of videos during the year. It’s an inspiring effort, @SubtitleYouTube!

And of course Amara is home to some really neat accessibility groups as well, including the Captions Requested team as well as the Music Captioning team. Definitely worth a look.

Are there other volunteer accessibility communities we should point to? Please let us know!

Amara platform development in 2014

2014 was a HUGE year for Amara development! Here are a few highlights: Amara Editor and Embedder both went gold, the website speed and performance massively improved, we did a full integration with Vimeo. The improvements will continue in 2015!

Translation highlights from 2014

Volunteers rallied around Aaron Schwartz’s story, translating the feature film into over 12 languages and helping spread this imporant story worldwide.

Attitude Live, an amazing nonprofit organization, produces compelling stories about people living with disabilities. Their volunteer community translated an inspiring video about a woman named Maia Amai into 20 languages. The video tell’s Maia’s story, where she overcomes significant adversity to join the New Zealand wheelchair rugby team.

Another group of translators made Scientific American’s what happens when you die video available in over 24 languages (which has since gone very viral in Hungary!). Overall, we saw a LOT of fun and inspiring videos translated into all kinds of languages.

And every year we give a big shout out to the TED Open Translation Project, which continues to grow and evolve at an astonishing rate.

Do you have any inspiring translation stories we should be sharing? Please let us know!

Design in 2014: Websites, blog, and new tutorial video

We launched two beautiful new website designs: and Amara’s Professional Services Site, in addition to a cute and informative Meet Amara video. The Amara Blog also got a facelift and we’ve been posting there more regularly.

To sum it all up, we’re pumped about 2015! If you’ve been thinking about video accessibility or translation, please drop us a line (just reply to this email).

The Amara Team

Corrections: We mistook @SubtitleYoutube’s account name (though the link was correct).

February 18, 2015

by Amara - by pcfben at February 18, 2015 09:41 PM


This week I worked on one of the more complex API endpoints: the subtitles resource.  The reason for the complexity is the atypical output format.  Normally API endpoints return an object that’s encoded into JSON (or XML, YAML, or something similar).  The subtitles resource follows this pattern, but it also allows users to get the subtitles as straight DFXP, SRT, Web VTT, or any other format that we support.

This leads to a lot of weird corner cases, like what if the user requests DFXP, but there’s an error with the request.  There’s no way to encode that error as DFXP, so what to do?  In the new code I just used JSON as a fallback.  I think the old code did the same, but I’m not really sure.

Anyways, that endpoint is complete and live on production right now.  I’ve said this pretty much every week, but again if you write API code I urge you to check it out — especially in a browser.  One of the big wins from the API change is browsable API endpoints, and I it’s especially nice to use with the subtitles resource.  Try sending actions along with the subtitles to simulate a user hitting the publish/save draft/approve/send back buttons in the editor.  You can get to the subtitles API endpoints by starting with any video (<video-id&gt;).  Then following the links to to get to the subtitles.

Oh yeah, the API documentation should be building again.  There was an error from a change I made last week, but now it’s up-to-date again.  You can check it out at

February 16, 2015

by Amara - by amarasubs at February 16, 2015 07:28 PM

Screenshot of japanese site with Kon article

Satoshi Kon, acclaimed director, animator, screenplay writer, and  manga artist, made an impact on filmmakers around the world. In this video, YouTube channel Every Frame a Painting, dissects some of the unique techniques and ideas that Kon pioneered. The video also reviews specific points of influence Kon had in other filmmakers’ films.

Daily News Agency, a Japanese aggregator of news, tech, food, and media, featured the video (with Japanese subtitles) in this recent post.

Screenshot of japanese site with Kon articleAt Amara, it always excites us to see videos, such as this, shared across cultural contexts. We’ll continue to keep our eyes peeled and share anything that looks intriguing or neat.

What are Subtitles in the Wild?  We’ve been keeping an eye on popular videos with posted on the web with using the Amara embedder – when we see something interesting or exciting, we’ll share it.

An Important Note: Amara blog authors aren’t fluent in every language. If you see any factual errors, cultural faux pas, or have notes or other blog-related ideas to share, please let us know in the comments or at We love conversation!


February 10, 2015

by Amara - by pcfben at February 10, 2015 07:18 PM


Another week has rolled along, so it’s time to talk about the API update progress again.

This week I implemented the video language endpoint. It went a lot faster than the video endpoint since it was much simpler. In general, the coding is getting faster since the endpoints are getting simpler and also I’m getting more used to django rest factory. Combined with the fact that the other major project I’ve been working on is pretty much done, I expect things to really pick up starting this week.

Speaking of faster, I also did some work optimizing the various endpoints and hopefully made some big improvements. At least for the videos and video language endpoints, the number of DB queries has dropped substantially and I think this should make the API respond much quicker. Of course this needs to be tested in the wild, so if anyone does want to do a test with their workload I would be very interested to know the results.

Lastly, I started open up some tickets on our github tracker for future API changes.  The plan is still to avoid changes to the current interface for the refactor, so those tickets will not be getting implemented any time soon.  Still, if anyone has thoughts or if a change will be difficult to work around in your client code, please add a comment.

The changes have been merged to staging and are very close to being deployed to production. I’m expecting it to happen tomorrow.

DOIT Able Player

The University of Washington’s DOIT program (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) has a beautiful wealth of resources, videos, and programs aimed to help students, employers, and educators promote inclusion and success for people with disabilities.

The recently redesigned DOIT website includes resources for people with disabilities, such as scholarship opportunities, reading materials, and community directories. It also functions as a place for sharing and disseminating knowledge about how to make work, school, and other venues more inclusive – so anyone interested in accessibility can access best practices tailored to all kinds of situations. DOIT also hosts a video library, packed full of resources; this library includes a very robust (accessible) video player built in cooperation with a consortium of universities.

DOIT Able Player
We’re also proud to share news of the recently launched DOIT translation community on Amara, where volunteers can help translate their videos and share best practices for inclusion across the globe. DOIT has already become a hit in Japan, and hopes to act as a model for how accessibility can used to maximize the potential in everyone.

If you’re interested in making accessibility more global, we urge you to check out DOIT’s video translation effort: DOIT Amara team

February 09, 2015

by Amara - by amarasubs at February 09, 2015 11:25 PM

Screenshot of Emma Watson video embedded in

Late last year, at the United Nations, Emma Watson gave an impassioned speech about the launch of HeForShe, a project she’s spearheading along with UN Women. HeForShe calls for everyone to stand behind the concept of gender equality as a human rights issue. recently featured the Watson speech in a blog post and the video has been getting lots of views in Traditional Chinese. The site appears to be Chinese (possibly Taiwanese?) and has some focus on women’s issues.

Screenshot of Emma Watson video embedded in

At Amara, it always excites us to see videos, such as this, shared across cultural contexts. We’ll continue to keep our eyes peeled and share anything that looks intriguing or neat.

What are Subtitles in the Wild?  We’ve been keeping an eye on popular videos with posted on the web with using the Amara embedder – when we see something interesting or exciting, we’ll share it.

An Important Note: Amara blog authors aren’t fluent in every language. If you see any factual errors, cultural faux pas, or have notes or other blog-related ideas to share, please let us know in the comments or at We love conversation!

February 03, 2015

by Amara - by pcfben at February 03, 2015 06:17 PM


It’s been two weeks since I posted about starting work on the Amara API Refactor and I wanted to share the progress since then.

As usual, I underestimated the amount of work it would take.  Originally I was estimating 2-4 weeks of development time.  After 2 weeks, I can safely say that 4 weeks is the minimum amount of time and 6 is probably a better guess.

One of the things I didn’t realize would be so difficult is matching the old API exactly.  Things like the “meta” variable for paginated lists and making the input/output format selection all took longer than expected.  Hopefully I got it right, please tell me if there is a mismatch between the old output and the new.

With all of that said, there are a couple endpoints that have been implemented and the code was being deployed as I typed this out.  If you use the API, I would love for you to check out the new implementations.  One of the biggest improvements with the new API is the browser-friendly endpoints, so you should be able to navigate to the URLs in your browser and test them out.  Make sure you’re logged in to the site first and also make sure that any data you POST to the endpoints is really what you want.  Here’s the endpoints implemented so far:

Lastly, I’ve been putting in work to make sure the API docs are up-to-date and readable. contains a description of the new API. The sections are basically the same as before, but hopefully it’s a bit more clear.

January 30, 2015

by Amara - by amarasubs at January 30, 2015 12:03 AM

screenshot: CC button on video player

This guide shows how to instantly get a quote, plus purchase captions or translations for any video you’ve uploaded to Vimeo. This functionality is integrated directly into, for your convenience.

Step 1. Your Video Page

Ensure you’re logged in to Vimeo and then visit the video page (on Click the Settings button, then the Advanced button, and finally the Purchase button, as shown in this animation:

An animated image, showing video page, settings page, and advanced settings pages.


Step 2. Original Language

When you click the purchase button, you’ll be prompted for the spoken language in your video. In other words, if your video has English dialog, you would pick English on this first screen:

First screen of Vimeo purchase flow


Step 3. Captions or Translations

Next, you’ll decide if you just want original language captions (the option on the left) or captions with translations (the option on the right).

screenshot showing caption and translation buttons


Step 4. Services, Pricing Quote, Check Out

If you’re only purchasing captions, you’ll have a variety of service levels to pick from. You can use the Amara Editor for polishing up the final output.

If you’re purchasing translations, we’ll automatically pick the best captions possible, which is how we ensure the highest quality of translation.

Once you’ve made your quality and/or language selections, you can see the total price in the sidebar. Click the Check out button to finalize your purchase.

check out button

Step 5. Work in Progress

The work is started immediately, plus you should get an email confirmation. As soon as work is finished, you’ll get another email notification. The delivery time will depend on the length of your video, plus the services you chose.

Work in progress screenshot

Step 6. Enabling Captions & Translations

Once work is finished, you can enable the subtitles via the same Advanced Settings page for your video. Check the box on the left to enable the subtitles.

screenshot: enable subtitles area

Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of this page and click the Save Changes button!

screenshot: save changes button

Note: If you requested to review finished captions, before they are sent to Amara for translation, you’ll do that in this area as well – just follow the prompts.

Step 7. Viewing Your Captions & Translations

Once you’ve got subtitle tracks enabled, go to your video page and you should see a CC logo on the bottom right corner of the video.

Viewers simply click the CC logo to access available languages.

screenshot: CC button on video player

January 22, 2015

by Amara - by amarasubs at January 22, 2015 02:14 PM


Here’s an impressive example of someone stepping up, advocating for what is right, and then following through in a major way. Tyler Oakley, a relatively popular YouTube creator who is best known for LGBT advocacy, posted this video a few days ago – you really have to watch:

January 21, 2015

by Amara - by Dean at January 21, 2015 03:30 PM


In 2014, we focused on developing the Amara platform (making it faster and even more user friendly), building partnerships, and gaining long-term sustainability.  In 2015, in addition to continuing this work,  we also want to foster greater connections amongst online translation and accessibility communities. We’re starting with this new sub-blog: Community, Accessibility & Translation (aka CAT) – our goal with this space is to explore the values, communities, and issues that drive our work.

Amara attracts a uniquely diverse group of users, and we hope to reflect that uniqueness in this blog. We want to highlight the people who are making a difference, like Dawn, at iheartsubtitles, who is urging creators and producers to budget caption costs into their productions. We’d like to cross-pollinate with other large communities, for instance, the TED Open Translation Project community has published some great tips on language acquisition.

We’re also excited to spread awareness around groups like /r/CaptionsPlease on Reddit, a community of volunteers who help make specific videos accessible, upon request. These are just a few examples of a growing community of allies who are sharing best practices, advocating for a more inclusive world, and working to make the web a better place.

We’ll be doing plenty of writing here. More importantly, we will soon be inviting guest/cross posts as well. If you have any thoughts, ideas, or feedback you’d like to share, please get in touch:

January 20, 2015

by Amara - by pcfben at January 20, 2015 03:49 PM


The Amara API is going to be going through some exciting changes in the near future.  I’d like to take this opportunity to explain the reasons behind the change and discuss what it means for people who interact with the Amara API.

First off, let me say that there are no plans to change how the API endpoints themselves work in the short term.  All of the current endpoints will stay around and there are no plans to change the interfaces.  We are planning a small change to the URLs, but  that’s it and there will be a transition period when both the old and new URLs work.

So what is changing?

First off, we’re going to be doing a refactor of the code for several reasons:

  • We want to clean up the API code that we’ve written, which could definitely use it.
  • We want to switch from an old version of tastypie to django-rest-framework.  This has the nice benefit of providing browser-friendly endpoints.  They’re pretty awesome for exploring and debugging the API.
  • We want to move most of the API to our public repository

Like I said, this will only be a refactor.  All current functionality should still stay the same.  That said, it’s going to be a somewhat large code change.  If you have client code that interacts with our API, I would definitely recommend testing it with our new code during the transitional period.

The other thing that’s going to happen is a switch to how we handle changes to the API.  Right now we use a versioning system, where the version is included in the API URL (the /api2/ prefix).

This system isn’t really working well.  First off there are semantic issues with including the version in the URL.  But the main issue is it doesn’t fit in with the way we work on amara which is based on agile, iterative development.  It’s much better for us to make small, incremental changes, then to try to save them all up and then make a huge API change with a new version.  In fact, we have made several small changes like this to the API in the last few months and kept the API version the same.

What we’d like to switch to is a system where the API URLs don’t include a version.  Instead of we will use something like  Under the new system, it should be expected that small changes will happen over time.  To make changes as least painful as possible, we will provide tools to help API client manage them:

  • We have created the Amara API Changes email list to communicate API changes.  Whenever we are planning to make one, we will announce it on our blog, announce the date when it will happen, and send an out an email to the list.
  • Before the switchover date, we will return an HTTP header to indicate that the API will be changing.  The name will be X-API-DEPRECATED and the value will be the switchover date in YYYYMMDD format.
  • Clients can start using the new API before the switchover date using the X-API-FUTURE header.  The value should be the date of the API that you want to use, also in YYYYMMDD format.  If the X-API-FUTURE date is >= the switchover date then the new API code will be used.  If this date is in the past it will be ignored.

When will this all happen?  This isn’t set in stone right now, but I think this will be the rough schedule:

  • 2-4 weeks to implement the new API endpoints using the new URLs:  At this point users can try testing their clients against the new API code.  We will send an email and post to our blog as we implement endpoints.
  • 2 week early transition period:  At this point the new URLs will all be implemented and you are encourage to switch your client code over to using them.  The old URLs will continue to work as usual
  • New world order: after the transition period the old URLs will redirect to the new ones.

January 15, 2015

by Amara - by janetpcf at January 15, 2015 09:10 AM


Curious about how effective your crowd translations are? Wondering about your top languages or the diversity of your team? Amara’s enterprise teams, will now show you all the answers.



The new stats graphs can be found on the Activities tab of your team.


Fixes and features deployed to Amara:

  • UI adjustments for team activity stats (video tab) #1937 opened 8 days ago by syl22-00
  • UI adjustments for team activity stats (team tab) status 4 merged-to-staging #1936
  • Compute team activity statistics as task status 4 merged-to-staging #1935
  • Better looking page for 403 errors status 4 merged-to-staging #1933
  • Link to setup language profile on team dashboard is broken #1923
  • Do not allow unauthenticated users to submit videos #1902
  • YT quota limit prevents subs from being sent to YouTube #1858

December 16, 2014

by Amara - by janetpcf at December 16, 2014 07:03 PM


Amara users have probably noticed some serious speed improvements over the past month.   Average page load time has been halved, and some specific pages have seen even more dramatic improvements.  Today we’ve deployed another set of changes which mainly affect the video pages.

Here’s a quick summary of the features and fixes added to Amara in the past month:


  • Cache Video/Language pages better #1839
  • Refactor Video titles #1463
  • Speed up queries for the Action model #1473
  • Speed up teams activity page load time #1517
  • Improve performance for the team activity page #1266
  • Move videos page is slow #1837
  • Speedup admin pages that have a user field #1845
  • Stop counting video views #1879

And all the rest

  • Show the primary-audio language in the tasks list display #1580
  • Add ability to send custom message when a member joins the team #829
  • List of reference languages not displayed in the editor when subtitling into primary language #1821
  • Allow private versions to be selected in the reference language area #1893
  • Editor does not display reference language selector when original language is missing #1868
  • Add cal academy to communities page #1891
  • Outdated text on Account page #1887
  • Clicking Complete did not mark subtitles as complete #1752
  • Subtitles fail to save from new editor if user has non-ascii characters in username #919
  • Use API authentication for downloading subtitles #1876
  • Respect line breaks when uploading from TXT files #1764
  • Rename ‘pan’ to Panjabi #1436
  • Add Upper Sorbian, Lower Sorbian languages #1855
  • Broken link in email notification about reviewer’s note #1846
  • Line breaks in subtitle lines not displayed on diffing page #873
  • Add languages parameter to API User resource #989
  • Return the user languages in the API Language field #1491
  • Logout redirect page is wrong #1838
  • Featured link in footer broken #1843

December 03, 2014

by Amara - by amarasubs at December 03, 2014 06:09 PM

Animation of dragging Amara + Amazon link to bookmark bar

Amara has come a long way in the past 4 years, growing from a humble prototype into a powerful open platform! Today, Amara is used by millions to create, share, and view captions and subtitles — making it possible for more people to engage, participate, and benefit from all of the amazing content online.

Developed and maintained by the Participatory Culture Foundation (PCF), a non-profit ( 501c3) organization, Amara is built by a small team of individuals who share the belief that everyone deserves to communicate globally, with full access to the richest media on the web.

If you’re an Amazon shopper, especially if you’re doing holiday shopping, you can support Amara with each purchase you make. Simply bookmark the link below and use it any time you browse or buy on Amazon. A portion of each purchase will go to PCF, which ultimately helps us keep Amara going.

Automatic Option (easy!): Install browser plugin (Firefox or Chrome) and then visit this link one time – now all purchases will always benefit Amara.

Bookmark Option: Drag this link to your bookmark toolbar: Amazon + Amara

Animation of dragging Amara + Amazon link to bookmark  bar

November 04, 2014

by Amara - by darrenb73 at November 04, 2014 03:03 PM

Mary Beth Strawn in Jamaica

Each month we are spotlighting two of our team members so we can get to know each other a bit better, and recognize their individual contributions to Amara’s mission.

This month’s spotlight is on Mary Beth Strawn and Sebastião Nascimento! We caught up with them to hear about their favorite videos they’ve worked on, what’s happening in their lives right now, and what motivates them at Amara.

Sebastião Nascimento

What I cherish most about Amara is that there are constant opportunities for learning about fascinating people and captivating projects, whether we are dealing with architecture, culinary, music, cinema, radical sports, design, programming, you name it. Some videos are so exciting we just hope a sequel will pop up anytime on our task list, like that one documenting Fela Kuti’s candidacy for president of Nigeria, or the one tracking the thorough decomposition of one of Ryan Heffington’s choreographies into its most basic elements, or that one celebrating Reggae’s influence in the pioneering development of video game music.

Looking back, many of the most captivating videos are themselves the result of a creative field generated by the reciprocal influence between cultures. And that is precisely what I consider to be Amara’s most valuable asset: the scope of life’s experience of its translators stretching across so many cultures. Working within the Amara community we are constantly in touch with people who are passionate about languages and diversity, traveling and learning, people who instead of feeling torn between places, choose to turn their lives into bridges connecting other people, and not shying away from the efforts needed to make the allure of plurality transparent and accessible to others. Friends and people we admire may have brought us here to Amara, but then we come to admire the people we work with and they also become friends. What we do and the kind of people we become while doing it is what makes this so interesting and stimulating.




Mary Beth Strewn

Hello everyone! I’m Mary Beth. I live in Boquete, Panamá, in the western mountain region near Costa Rica.

Some unique things about me are… I’m pregnant with my first child. It’s exciting and scary all at the same time! I work for a Spanish school helping people plan their trips to Panama for a Spanish learning experience. I grew up in Georgia, USA.

I’ve subtitled for Amara for about 8 months now and I have to say that I really enjoy working with our team and producing quality content for clients, who I know appreciate it. A recent project I enjoyed is one where Tracey B. and I worked on a difficult video for a scrutinizing client. Although it was a bit of a frustrating task overall, I am appreciative of the teamwork that went into it and the new understandings I have for some of our guidelines.

I’ve enjoyed working with a few of the videos for an arts-related client. They always focus on interesting topics such as cooking, fashion, photography and art. Art is universal, so I love that we are able to help the client translate these videos into multiple languages for the viewing pleasure of thousands (millions?) of people.


Mary Beth Strawn in Jamaica

October 17, 2014

by Amara - by janetpcf at October 17, 2014 07:45 PM

Screenshot from 2014-10-17 21:43:12

Updates to 2014-10-17

Screenshot from 2014-10-17 21:43:12


  • New Amara homepage #1229
  • Speedup team activity page #1781 (pr)
  • Space between sendback and approve buttons #1780
  • At Typing step, display warning if any empty subtitles block syncing #1763
  • Change VideoUrl uniqueness to (url, type) #1750
  • Allow overriding subtitle editor video URL #1748
  • Properly refuse to log in users with no password #1745
  • Integrate notes more seamlessly into editor #1739

September 15, 2014

by Amara - by janetpcf at September 15, 2014 08:28 PM


Highlights from our latest deploy

Editor notes

Users can now add notes in the editor as they are working on subtitles.  Useful as a simple reminder to self, or a way to pass on information to others who may edit later.  These changes are specific to the current editor and are not implemented in the legacy editor.

Broadcasting video specific messages for task teams

For enterprise teams that use tasks, making a comment on the main page of a video on the comments tab, will notify all followers of the language as well as anyone who was worked on a task for that language.  This is helpful if there have been changes to the video or original language translation and you want to let all people who have worked on it know about the updates.

Uploading Subtitles / Drafts

You can now upload your subtitles directly from the editor.  From the Tools menu, just select Upload subtitles.  Once the subs are uploaded you can check them over, make any edits and save as usual.

For task teams, there is no longer an upload draft button on the task page.  Instead you go right into the editor which saves a few navigation steps.

Language bar

We’ve removed it from the top of every page.  You can edit and update your languages from the profile page.  If your languages are not set, you’ll be prompted when joining a team.

If you are the manager of an application-only enterprise team, setting the language is now a mandatory part of the application process.  This will make it easier to review your applications if you are looking for specific language skills.

Edit title and description

We’ve removed the Edit title and description with the overlay popping open from the editor progress steps.  Instead it’s a link in the Review stage.

Warnings for common subtitling mistakes

There are some basic guidelines you can follow to keep you subtitles easy to read.  We’ve added some warnings for these common mistakes, to help improve subtitle quality.  Warnings don’t affect saving subtitles and can be toggled on and off via the Tools menu.

Complete list of github issues

  • Automatic warnings for common subtitling mistakes #735
  • Enable users to upload new versions (or drafts) directly to the editor new editor #993
  • Prompt users to edit title/description for review/approve tasks #1409
  • Notify followers of all languages on comments left on the main video page #1470
  • Rework the workflow steps in the new editor #1523
  • Make users have set the languages they speak when joining a team #1576
  • Remove choose your languaes from every page #1578
  • Remove link to widgetizer on video submit page #1634
  • Note system for the editor #1638
  • Subtitle Action System #1667
  • Minor Editor CSS bug – overlay instructions #1671
  • Make the editor responsive to zooming #1396


September 04, 2014

by Amara - by janetpcf at September 04, 2014 06:11 PM


Fixes and features deployed to

The main feature of the deploy includes a changes to the youtube syncing behavior, making the account linking simpler and more visible to enterprise teams.  We’ve also added an improved ui to assist our site staff in tracking and correcting any syncing errors.

Here’s the complete list of changes:

#1488 Refactor youtube syncing to use external sites model

#523 Sync to multiple YouTube URLs

#1237 Remove “beta” from YouTube account linking controls

#1072 New videos added to linked YouTube accounts do not get Amara promo in the description

#1618 Incomplete subtitles syncing to Kaltura

#986 Uploading a new draft wipes out speaker name

#1573 Indicate which language is the primary audio lang in in the reference menu

#1612 Make RTL text displayed correctly in new embedder

#1651 Help link in the header menu resolves to a wrong URL

#1308 Local (dev env) errors on saving if title/description contain non-ascii characters

#740 Don’t allow modules to be imported 2 ways

August 29, 2014

by Amara - by darrenb73 at August 29, 2014 07:42 PM

thb photo3

Each month we are spotlighting two of our On Demand team members, so we can start to get to know each other a bit better, and to recognize each other’s individual contributions to Amara’s mission.

This month’s spotlight is on Tracey Hill-Bensalem and Brendan Ferreri-Hanberry! We got a chance to hear more about their daily lives, and their advice to a new team members.


Brendan Ferreri-Hanberry
I am located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where I am currently attending graduate school at UNC Chapel Hill in the information science program. I recommend the area if you like pine trees.

Subtitling is actually my idea of a break; it is more entertaining than much of my schoolwork. Other than that I read books, largely nonfiction relevant to politics, and practice meditation. One tip I’ve found is to use the Tab key to start and stop videos. I used to use the mouse to click on the play/pause button and it slowed me down somewhat.

I found out about Amara through Rick Doblin’s appearance on Joe Rogan’s show (which I had never heard before that night). He mentioned that the videos of the Psychedelic Science 2013 conference, sponsored by his organization, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, were available for volunteers to caption on Amara. I started captioning them as a volunteer and that was my first involvement with the company. I was hired as a paid team member soon afterwards. So thanks, Rick. Also, I like languages and information science, and Amara lets me deal with material relevant to both.




Tracey Hill-Bensalem
After spending most of my 20’s in Spain and France, working and studying, I got a job at The New Yorker magazine. I assisted with their transition to a digital workflow, first learning how it had been done for so many years (the Smithsonian actually came and photographed us amidst the pieces of cut paper, sentence fragments that were then pinned to boards, glued, and faxed to Chicago for typesetting! Imagine splitting a line by literally cutting it in two!)

I came across Amara while taking a few online classes via Coursera, where a professor suggested we might volunteer to improve the captions for their videos, and I did. With so many friends and family from other countries, many non-English speakers, as well as my love of learning, I am keenly aware and supportive of the importance and transformative power of giving people access to information.

My advice to new captioners? Nothing they don’t know already, being such a talented, bright group of people. I guess just take the time to make sure it’s your best work. Listen to the speakers, review your transcription as a reader, and watch the video as if you were a viewer. Good captioning, like good translation, should be transparent, smooth. If I learned anything after my time in publishing, it’s that no one is perfect, and we all can benefit from feedback and an extra set of eyes. I also learned that words…well, they are everything and they are magic.

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July 17, 2014

by Amara - by darrenb73 at July 17, 2014 04:12 PM


We always want to keep the lines of communication open at Amara, and getting to know each other and our roles within the organization is a great place to start.

This month features Marília Correia, project manager at Amara!

I live in Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil, and in my spare time I like to hang out with my friends and my fiancé and spend time with my family. I also love to travel to different places and meet different people.

At Amara, I’m both a freelance translator and a project manager. As a Project Manager, I work closely with Jenny, Aleli and our On Demand team to set up projects, organize teams of translators and captioners, assign tasks, monitor the workflow, and make sure that all projects are done by the deadline, and in compliance with the Amara Style Guide. In addition, I help our subtitlers with any questions that may come up. I’m passionate about what I do and I want to continue to help the team to grow even more. Being part of Amara is one of the best things that happened to me!


Photo of Marília Correia.

amara newsletter bio

Each month we are spotlighting two of our On Demand team members, so we can start to get to know each other a bit better, and to recognize each other’s individual contributions to Amara’s mission.

This month’s spotlight is on Melanie Ty and Michael Wilson! We got a chance to hear more about their daily lives, and their advice to a new team members.

Melanie Ty
I’m a proud and happy subtitler from the Philippines who is a work-at-home mother with three kids. Working with Amara On Demand has really provided me a steady income, which gave me enough to save for my daughter’s school fees. Aside from the financial benefits, I also gain knowledge from the videos I work on every day.

I still find challenges working at Amara. Sometimes we may have different interpretations of the guidelines, rules or instructions. What I’ve found is to always look on the brighter side of things and that it’s never wrong to ask for clarifications if you feel that you’re not doing it right. This is a team. We work as a team and we achieve things as a team.

Mel and girls
Melanie with her three children.

Michael Wilson
I live in San José Tepenené, Hidalgo, Mexico, where I teach English, computer skills, and science. My wife and I spend our free time as a traveling cinema show and are working on a documentary about our own town’s history.

I’m so proud of my kids… my daughter works to promote Fair Trade, my son is doing research at UCSC, and we have a two-year old boy who reminds me to play every day!

My advice to new Amara On Demand Subtitlers is to focus on teamwork – leverage the network. Also, be patient and practice slowly at first, to build skills before speed. When I factor in learning with making a living, and the way access to new information stands to improve my own life, as well as others lives in so many ways, it’s clear to me that this is a very worthwhile undertaking.

amara newsletter bioMike and his four children.

July 14, 2014

by Amara - by janetpcf at July 14, 2014 01:58 PM


Updates on

  • #1593 Update amara’s homepage to look better with embedder
  • #1587 Small embedder tweaks/suggestions
  • #1586 Improve embedder apparent loading time by showing thumbnail as soon as it is known

July 09, 2014

by Amara - by janetpcf at July 09, 2014 08:36 PM

Screenshot from 2014-07-09 22:11:23

Amara’s new transcript viewer

Today we started using our new transcript viewer on every video embed on our site. Screenshot from 2014-07-09 22:04:23   The new embedder boasts a sleak design as it displays the searchable transcript.  You can click on any phrase to jump to that place in the video, easily switch back and forth between languages, and follow along as the text progresses.

Finally, the new embedder supports both video and audio files, so we now have video page playback support for mp3 and ogg audio as well.

We’re so happy to have the embedder on our website.  If you’d like to try the new embedder to promote captioning and translation of  your videos, the embed code is greatly simplified. You’ll find it in the usual spot on the video page or in the embed code usage guide.Screenshot from 2014-07-09 22:11:23 There’s a ton of changes in this release to production.  Here’s the complete list.

  • #1529 Replace widget with new embedder
  • #1585 New embedder does not work on Internet Explorer
  • #1566 update loading gif for embedder
  • #1563 Keep thumbnails in youtube videos
  • #1560 Duplicate / in URL in embedder that causes issues on production
  • #1545 Display only one video in diffing page
  • #1542 embedder menu when there are no subtitles
  • #1535 Update the embed code on amara web site
  • #1533 embed controls display html5
  • #1531 embedded video doesn’t display if switching tabs
  • #587 MP3 upload is not working
  • #628 embed MP3 file empty subtitles
  • #678 Layout, timing issue with MP3 audio
  • #1490 Start using the new embedder on amara pages
  • #548 Editor: gracefully process video formats incompatible with the browser
  • #1525 Deal better with videos on https
  • #1414 Teams: blacklisted languages should not be available for selection from the list
  • #1540 Change ‘Tartar’ language to ‘Tatar’
  • #1539 Deleting a video from the site, deletes the billing record

June 05, 2014

by Amara - by janetpcf at June 05, 2014 11:27 AM


Changes pushed to

  • #1537 update location of loading gif for the embedder
  • #1532 IDL reset the net banners
  • #1530 update the order caption url for the embedder
  • #1528 New embedder should link “improve these subtitles” to editor

June 04, 2014

by Amara - by janetpcf at June 04, 2014 03:06 PM


Updates to 2014-06-04

  • #1519 Nicer loading of the embedder embedder
  • #1397 Do not include line break into character count new editor
  • #1219 Better embedder behavior when video has no video language embedder

janetpcf will be participating in the Reset The Net campaign to promote Internet privacy.

May 29, 2014

by Amara - by janetpcf at May 29, 2014 10:12 AM


The Easiest way to get Captions and Subtitles on your Brightcove Videos

Brightcove Customers have a new option for using Captions and Subtitles to reach a wider audience, improve their SEO and improve accessibility: Amara.

Yesterday we rolled out our Amara-Brightcove integration for getting captions directly on to your Brightcove videos.  And we’re boasting that we have the easiest integration around!



All you need to do is fill in a few fields on our team integration page.  Videos are added to Amara, and completed subtitles are synced back to Brightcove.



This new integration is available to Amara Enterprise and Amara On-demand customers.  To learn more and try it out, contact us!

May 28, 2014

by Amara - by janetpcf at May 28, 2014 08:53 PM


Changesdeployed to 2014-05-28

  • #494 Brightcove integration
  • #1511 Allow pages hosting an amara widget to be indexed with its content
  • #1505 ted not getting notifications on bulk approved videos
  • #1442 feeds ui should have a delete button to remove a video feed
  • #1455 Bulk approval of tasks: uncheck Select All if user starts to deseleced

Changed deployed to 2014-05-20

  • #1502 Limit batch_size when bulk-sending messages

May 17, 2014

by Amara - by janetpcf at May 17, 2014 09:47 AM


Changes deployed to 2014-05-17

#1454 add_amara_description_credit_to_youtube called too often
#1477 Add filters to bulk approvals page
#1416 Add guard against task backlogs
#1019 Improve line-break support for TXT format
#1494 switch youtube sync from srt to sbv to avoid HTML tags display on youtube.

May 15, 2014

by Amara - by janetpcf at May 15, 2014 08:20 AM


Managing your Amara Enterprise team has just gotten easier!

Over the past few weeks we’ve been focusing on rolling out an updated set of tools for Amara Enterprise Team Admins.

If you haven’t heard about Amara Enterprise, yet, well let’s just say it’s the easiest way to get your videos captioned and it keeps getting easier.  It allows you to leverage the power of a crowd combined with Amara’s unique, best in class subtitle editor.   You can learn more about how it can help you here.

Several the unique feature sets that the Amara Platform offers, including team membership controls, video organization and quality controls steps have just gotten faster and simpler.

  • Adding videos via RSS Feeds:  Many of our individual users know how easy it is to automatically add their videos to Amara.  They just add their YouTube username and their videos are added.  Now Enterprise teams have this option as well, with a few bonus features.  sciAmara supports automatically importing videos from YouTube, Vimeo, Kaltura, Brightcove, Wistia and any other hosting platform with syndication support for standard media rss feeds.  Add the feed once and your videos are kept up to date as you generate content. This keeps your subtitling and translating crowd busy and your content fresh!feeds
  • Team Video Organizing: If you like to keep your content organized.  Amara has now added a batch move feature, allowing you to organize, reorganize and then shift things around some more.  It’s too easy for those of use who like to keep things grouped.
  • Team Application Processing:  Application-only teams have been a standard part of the enterprise offering, however approving them can be a tedious process.  Not anymore! We’ve added bulk processing so you can see a complete list of your applicants and batch approve those you’d like on your team.
  • Team Messaging: Want to reach out to your crowd in their own language?  Have an urgent need for some French or Japanese translations?  Now you can choose to send email team members based on their language configurations.
  • Quality Control Checks: Amara’s quality control checks allow team admins to approve subtitle content before it’s published.  However there are times when there’s a backlog or a rush and you want your subtitles live, now.  Enter bulk accepting approval tasks.  Get a list of languages awaiting your approval, do a quick check of the latest revision, and publish!


Visit Amara Enterprise, if you’d like to learn more about the best subtitling platform and how we can help you make your web video and audio content accessible.


Changes deployed to 2014-05-15

  • #1482 front page modifications
  • #1476 show 3 lines of application text
  • #1478 Add more details to the bulk approvals page
  • #1375 ui for brightcove external sites configuration
  • #1430 TeamVideo.added_by does not allow null values
  • #1431 BC feed generated from user added tags is not correct
  • #1433 only bc videos added via the Feeds tab ui showing videos on the feeds page
  • #1435 feeds ui (adding adding and updating) should be admin only.
  • #1439 styling issue on feed page
  • #1440 error manually adding brightcove videos
  • #1445 bc feeds are not ordered by newest first


Changes deployed to

  • #742 Switch test_factories to factoryboy
  • #851 Approval tasks left unassigned after sending back to reviewer and re-accepting
  • #1322 Allow admins to batch approve approval tasks
  • #1323 Allow team admins to batch move videos from 1 team to another
  • #1411 Make Uyghur an RTL language status 4 merged-to-staging type: bite-sized
  • #1448 Updated _upload_subtitles.html template for webVTT
  • #1458 Do not bulk copy incomplete subtitles
  • #1459 Queries optimizations
  • #1461 Refactor sending notifications when sending bulk messages
  • #1466 Limit primary audio filter for moving videos to tedxtalks-import

April 28, 2014

by Amara - by janetpcf at April 28, 2014 04:53 AM


Changes deployed to 25-April 2014

  • #1319 Allow bulk approval of team applications
  • #1418 URL parameters stripped
  • #1419 ./ does not restart existing containers
  • #1320 Don’t show any default application text if the team has custom application text
  • #1321 Distinguish global search from intra-team search
  • #1408 timeout when messaging team members on a large team

Changes deployed to 18-April 2014

  • #1392 Autosave not working (automatically)
  • #635 Special characters in onsite notifications displayed as amp sequences
  • #831 Reinstate the option to message team members speaking a specific language


There is a still a bit more work required for #1408.  Can still get a ui timeout when messaging all members of a large (> 1000 members) team, however messages are sent.

Have open ticket to improve ui (thumb display) on the the members applications tab.

April 14, 2014

by Amara - by janetpcf at April 14, 2014 07:31 AM


Updates deployed to

  • #489 Respect line breaks in feedback comments for moderated tasks
  • #1387 Typo in Youtube panel on home page
  • #1388 Comments (reviewer’s notes) not saved when sending subtitles back fixed-in-branch
  • #1391 New Editor: change ‘Subtitling Guidelines’ to ‘Transcribing Guidelines’
  • #1393 Weird localized strings in language drop-down on Set Language page
  • #1394 Images won’t build due to recent openssl updates
  • #1395 Fix amara-dev-rabbitmq image after rabbitmq update

April 08, 2014

by Amara - by janetpcf at April 08, 2014 09:18 AM


Updates deployed to

  • #1381 Workflow too narrow for some locales
  • #1380 Adjust padding in subtitle boxes to prevent the “+” button to overlap with text
  • #1379 Reference text not displayed for some locales
  • #1378 Add Hawaiian language
  • #1377 Clicking accept on an approve task doesn’t mark it as completed
  • #1188 Permissions check broken: contributor can edit a published translation
  • #1148 Submitting Review and Approve tasks leaves translations marked as incomplete
  • Translations strings were updated, correcting an error where the video page would not display when using the pt-br locale.

April 03, 2014

by Amara - by janetpcf at April 03, 2014 04:11 PM


I’m so happy to announce that yesterday, we flipped the switch to make Amara’s new editor the primary subtitle editor.




This new editor provides a whole new level of flexibility when creating subtitles and is just the beginning of a new set of enhancements to the video captioning and translating experience.

Features include:

  • Side by side comparison of any language or revision with your working version.
  • Ability to use multiple source languages while working on a translation.
  • Ability to independently time translations, while still viewing the reference language.
  • Ability to lock and unlock reference and working text to control alignment.
  • Ability to insert or combine lines when working on a translation.
  • Ability to drag adjoining subtitle start and end times together.
  • Ability to drag a complete subtitle along the timeline.
  • Help gutter for each subtitle showing the number characters / line,  number of lines and lines and characters / line and reading rate (characters / second).
  • Ability to save a version and continue working without exiting the editor.
  • Simplified, cleaner and clearer dialogs.
  • No more artificial line-length limitations on upload.
  • New user help prompts at the start of each subtitling stage.
  • Reset functionality, for timing or text.
  • Clickable shortcuts in the ui.
  • Additional keyboard shortcuts and help.
  • Ability to revert to the last saved revision.
  • Auto-save (every minute)
  • Ability to copy subtitle timing from reference to working versions
  • Style guidelines (team configurable) available in editor view
  • Improved recovery (in the case of a save error)
  • Button to switch back to legacy editor.
  • Adding to our support for youtube, vimeo, and html5 video, we also have support for Brightcove video, flv videos, ogg audio and mp3 audio files.

The list is long, but words simply aren’t enough to describe the new editor.  Lucky for you, we have created a series of simple help videos to walk you through creating subtitles and translations with Amara.

Please head to the amara volunteer team, if you’d like to help subtitle these videos.


March 26, 2014

by Amara - by janetpcf at March 26, 2014 11:32 AM


You are so awesome!!!



I don’t think there are enough ways to say thanks to all the people who have been contributing to the Amara Translation team on Transifex over the past few weeks.

Our team has shown amazing growth in the number of translators, language teams and strings translated as we continue to prepare for the big editor switch over.

So thank you and thank you again.  For anyone else who wants to contribute, there’s always room for more.

March 17, 2014

by Amara - by janetpcf at March 17, 2014 07:36 AM


Updates to


If you haven’t tried the new editor yet, you should! 

  • #1274 Add Team guidelines to the new editor.
  • #1293 reduce help overlay height, clear instructions on ui click.
  • #1310 still have references to in code for translatable strings.
  • #1309 update docs for http notifications.
  • #1295 add the fileExt field to automatically synced Kaltura files.
  • #1271 Prevent videos from auto-playing when the editor it opened.
  • #1236 Contents within curly brackets are removed on upload by SRT parse