Let SMIL be your umbrella: software tools for transcribing, coding, and presenting digital video in behavioral research

Behav Res Methods. 2005 May;37(2):359-67. doi: 10.3758/bf03192704.


Video-based techniques have become central to many areas of social science research, although their use has been limited by the expense and complexity of tools for working with video information. New standards for the representation of digital video make the manipulation of video for observational research a far less time-consuming and expensive process than it once was. We provide an overview of SMIL, a cross-platform markup standard, and guidelines on how it can be used to edit, synchronize, caption, and present video clips with no need to modify the original digital video files. We also present TransTool, a free Windows program that can generate SMIL files for playing video clips of interest along with captions and codes. TransTool can also be used as a transcribing and coding tool that synchronizes video and text such as transcripts. These tools greatly facilitate tasks such as creating video events with multilanguage transcripts, showing synchronized views of the same event, quickly extracting clips from longer video files, and incorporating video clips into presentations and web pages. Example SMIL files and the TransTool program can be downloaded from http://www.psych.uiuc.edu/-kmiller/smil.

MeSH terms

  • Behavior*
  • Electronic Data Processing*
  • Humans
  • Research*
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Software*
  • Video Recording*