How to annotate your YouTube videos

Two years ago I covered the start of the 2008 Republican National Convention for WXOW Channel 19 in La Crosse, Wisconsin. I arrived in Minneapolis the weekend before the convention began to get my bearings in the city. When my crew arrived I didn’t want us getting lost driving around town or discovering too late that our media credentials were limited.

Of course I was also curious to get a sense of the atmosphere in the town. This was the first time I had covered a national convention and I had lots of questions along with the excitement that comes with a new assignment. While my husband and I were driving around the streets in St. Paul outside the Xcel Energy Center on Sunday August 31, 2008 we came across an anti-war protest. I suddenly realized that we couldn’t follow them in the car, so I told my husband to stop the car. As soon as the car stopped I was running towards the protesters to catch up. I wanted to capture what was happening on my personal video camera. I had my cellphone in my backpack so I knew my husband and I would be able to find each other afterward, whatever afterward meant.

The YouTube system makes it easy to add text bubbles, annotated notes or even highlight portions of a video that you want to draw your audiences’ attention to. The most time consuming part of creating annotations for a video is placing the annotated notes in the appropriate spot on the video timeline. Once you have written the text you want to have appear as annotated text, YouTube makes it clear where the user should simply copy and paste, or write in, that text.

Below are the steps I took to annotate my video “The other RNC 8.”

How to add annotations using YouTube video

  1. Sign into your YouTube account
  2. Click on your username and choose ‘My Videos’
  3. Choose the video you want to edit and click the ‘Edit’ button
  4. Click on ‘Annotations’

    Annotation button

    Choose the annotation button

  5. Choose ‘Sort by: Appearance Time’
  6. Click the play icon to find the section of the video where you want to add your annotation. Or you can move the red cursor along the timeline.
  7. Decide whether you want to add: speech bubbles; notes; spotlight; video pause
  8. The information for each annotation will appear on the right panel
  9. You can choose to switch what type of annotation you are using by clicking on the annotation icon.
    Editing the annotation can be done in the right pane

    Editing the annotation can be done in the right pane

    Editing can also be done in the video pane

    Editing can also be done in the video pane

  10. You can also change the size and shape of the rectangular box that contains your text.

    You can alter the size of the note box

    You can alter the size of the note box

  11. If you decide that you didn’t place the annotation is the correct location you can move it using the individual time frames (See the top image under item #9 to see an example) assigned to each annotation or by altering the size of the blue brackets on the timeline.

    Slide the blue brackets to move the location of the annotation note

    Slide the blue brackets to move the location of the annotation note

  12. To delete an annotation click on the trash icon.

    YouTube annotation editing screen

    YouTube annotation editing screen

  13. Click on ‘Publish’ when you are finished adding or editing your annotations.

Video Transcript
(Annotation) Veterans for Peace participated in an anti-war protest at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota on August 31, 2008.

(Crowd) Will somebody take the bullhorn please?

(Protester) We will continue on with the march…the rally point.

(Protester) If you go to the left you will be participating in the civil disobedience. If you go straight you will not be participating in that.

(Police) We are also following behind the civil disobedience. Over.

(Annotation) Many protesters along with a group that would later be known as ‘the other RNC 8’ left a designated protest route.

(Annotation) A casket representing fallen soldier Lance Cpl. Alexander Arredondo who was killed in Iraq was wheeled to the security fences near the Xcel Energy Center.

(Crowd) Hey guys, turn around. Give me the peace sign. David!

(Crowd) What are they doing? Walking to jail? Hey you all can go over it too, you don’t have to crawl under it.

(Crowd) Be gentle! Be gentle! Be gentle! Be gentle! Be gentle!

(Crowd) Better come quick the cops are coming this way.

(Police) Let’s go back. Will you back all the way up? Thank you.

(Protester) We’re just trying to get there.

(Police) Alright. Thank you.

(Annotation) Elizabeth (Betty) McKenzie, a 78-year-old nun and Jeanne Hynes walked through a security fence.

(Crowd) We love you. Thank you for doing this.

(Crowd) Are you okay? Do you need water? Let us know if you’re not.

(Jeanne) They have been explaining everything very nicely, but they’re gonna bring in a team in to bring us downtown.

(Crowd) Make sure you get vegan food in jail.

(Betty) I’m Betty McKenzie.

(Crowd) Betty, do you live in the Twin Cities?

(Betty) I live in St. Paul.

(Annotation) Elizabeth (Betty) McKenzie is a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in St. Paul.

(Crowd) And how old are you?

(Betty) 78. How old are you?

(Crowd) I’m 34, I think.

(Betty) Oh…well you could be my grandson.

(Jeanne) Well that’s one of the reasons why we are here. There are too many young men and women who are dead…I’m Jeanne Hynes. My message here today is no war.

(Crowd) Who are you trying to deliver it to?

(Jeanne) To anyone that is interested in hearing it and maybe some people who have not heard it before. Because we believe that marching with the veterans is a great honor.

(Betty) There is never a justification for war.

(Jeanne) If you’ve ever marched with a group of men and women who have been there and done that or who are parents and brothers and sisters of the dead and the injured it makes you feel as if you really owe them something. And we are willing to go one step further than just march.

(Annotation) Eight protesters from the August 31, 2008 Veterans for Peace march were found guilty of misdemeanor trespassing. They were sentenced to pay a $100 fine or perform 20 hours of community service.

Hilary Fosdal is the associate new media editor at the Law Bulletin Publishing Company located in Chicago, Illinois. You can follow her tweets @hilaryfosdal.

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