How to Code: Songs, Footnotes and Glossary

This week we started the session going over some common mistakes and mishaps from our homework. After Anne and Michael pointed out the mistakes we got some time to correct our codes so we could move on to the next tasks with a perfect code.

Then we learned how to code a song. This is special because the songs are displayed in two columns: one for the Likpakpaln transcript and one for the English translation. In order to do that we need to create a table in the code. This is the code we were taught to use:

<div type= “song”> 

<table type= “translation”>

<row role= “head”> 

<cell><hi rend= “bold”>Likpakpaln transcription</hi></cell> 

<cell><hi rend= “bold”>English translation</hi></cell>



<row> <cell><l>Maadim ee, bi koo’ pak Maadim ee too. (2x)</l></cell>

<cell><l>Maadim, all are full of praise for Maadim. (2x)</l></cell> </row>



In order for the lines of the song to be more legible we place an empty row between the lines.

We were also taught how to code footnotes and a glossary. Both codes work in a similar way where there needs to be a connection between the footnote or the word in the text and the corresponding number or explanation in the notes/glossary.

These are the examples we were given:


… <term xml:id=”footnote1″><hi rend=”superscript”>1</hi></term>

<div type=”Note”>

<head type=”subTitle”>Note</head>

<list type=”index”>

<label>1.</label><item><gloss target=”#footnote1″> explanation </gloss></item>




<cell><l><term ref=”#gloss1″>Asantes</term> passed here</l></cell>

<div type=”glossary”>

<head type=”subTitle”>A Glossary of Likpakpaln Words</head>

<list type=”gloss”>

<label>Asantes:</label><item><gloss xml:id=”gloss1″>plural form of Asante.

The Asante people, who are commonly known as Ashanti people or Ashantis, are one of the ethnic groups in Ghana that make up the Akan group. They inhabit the southern part of Ghana, especially the Ashanti region.</gloss></item>



Finally, we were placed into groups of two for our group project.

Introduction to video editing and subtitling

Subtitle Example: Bilinyi Chikpaab James narrates “Nachiin Pays for Feasting on Unyii’s Children” / Source: HHU Mediathek

Hello everyone!
In this post I’m going to tell you a little bit about our last “Demarginalising Orature” session. As you may have guessed from the title, we talked about and worked on video editing and especially subtitling. In the past few weeks we have learned about Konkomba folktales, language and culture, we have worked with some of the folktales by encoding them using TEI. And now the next step is editing videos of Konkomba people narrating the folktales. Ultimately, you will find them in the HHU Mediathek.

Our last session

So, what happened in our seminar? Firstly, our tutor Jana gave a presentation, introducing us to a video editing program called DaVince Resolve (DVR). She also introduced us to some of the basics of subtitling. E.g. the length of a subtitle, which should be no more that 30 characters per second. The ideal length is 15-20 CPS but as Jana pointed out, this is quite difficult to achieve. Futhermore, a subtitle should always start synchronously with the speech (defining a subtitle’s start and stop point is called spotting). If the subtitle comprises 2 lines, it should be presented in pyramid form, so the upper sentence should ideally be shorter than the lower one. There are many more rules and conventions regarding subtitling but naming them all would go beyond the scope of this blog entry.

DaVinci Resolve and SubtitleEdit

“Edit” page in DaVince Resolve / Source:

Then, a fellow student, Lisa, also gave a short presentation on DVR and also introduced us to another program. According to both Jana and Lisa, DVR can be a bit difficult to work with, especially in the beginning. But luckily Lisa is familiar with another subtitling software, which she introduced to us as well. It is called SubtitleEdit. You can find a very useful step by step tutorial for DVR and SubtitleEdit in her blog entry. Some “fun facts”: According to their website, DaVinci Resolve is Hollywood’s #1 post solution. Apparently, many films and TV-shows are edited in DVR. It was first released in 2004. SubtitleEdit, on the other hand, is a free open-source subtitle editor.

SubtitleEdit interface / Screenshot by Lisa


To sum it up, in our last session we learned about subtitles and subtiling tools. During our session, DaVinci Resolve made my laptop crash and there were definitely some initial difficulties. But SubtitleEdit is a bit more beginner-friendly and in the end we will manage to subtitle all our folktale videos, I am sure! Yet another step to conserving orality and making Konkomba folktales accessible to a broader audience!

A short introduction to Davinci Resolve

Working with Davinci Resolve is usually a little stressful for beginners. In this post I will show you the basics of subtitle editing, give some hopefully helpful points at the beginning and suggest a different program for editing subtitles.

1. Getting started

If you are working with Davinci on a laptop, get yourself a blue tooth mouse. It is easier to click precisely. Davinci uses a lot of CPU. Meaning it will crash at some point if it is run on a laptop. Because it is using this much CPU the video will probably stutter when you’re playing it in Davinci. This is normal and not a malfuntion. The more you edit, the more likely is the stuttering.

1.1 The good news is:

-Davinci is a non-distructive programm. If you want to reverse your actions just press STRG+Z.

-There are a lot of free tutorials on YouTube and most of the time you will find problem solutions quickly.

Let’s start with the basics:

You have seven panes in which you can work on different things.

These are the little symbols at the bottom.

From left to right they are:

  • media (this is where your media is shown basically)
  • cut (mostly used for cutting but you can do that in the edit pane as well)
  • edit ( where you will work most of the time generally)
  • fusion (you can remove greenscrens here)
  • color (you can remove greenscreens here but much easier and better)
  • fairlight (this is where you can correct audio)
  • deliver (this is where you can produce your videos)

For our purposes (which is mostly putting subtitles into videos) we are interested in two of them: „Edit“ and „Deliver“.

Click on the „edit“ pane button.

Now, what you see is still an empty project. But we obviously want to import some files so, how do we do that?

You can use the easy way and press STRG+I on your Laptop keyboard (sometimes it is CTRL+I – that varies).

Or you use the menu:

Go to File. Choose Import. Choose Media.

Double click on the file in the opened window and it should appear in your Davinci media pane on the left:

Drag the file into timeline 1:

The audio of the video will appear separately in „Audio 1“ directly under „video 1“. Always play the video to check if it is working correctly. Press „space“ to start the video and press it again to stop it.

2. Editing Subtitles

Above „Video 1“ there is a free space. Right click there with the mouse:

Choose „Add Subtitle Track“. Subtitle1 appears above Timeline:

Move the needle to the part where you want to put the subtitle. Right click on mouse and choose „Add Subtitle“:

The subtitle track appears in beige:

If you click on the subtitle track the subtitle edit pane appears on the right. You can type them into the video in this pane.

You can adjust the screen in Davinci by dragging it down.

To adjust the length of the subtitle move the cursor onto the side of subtitle block. When it shows two brackets keep left mouse button pressed. Drag them to the side you want the subtitle track to extend to.

It’s easier if you zoom in on the timeline. You can do that under the video (small lenses or -_______+. )

If you switch into the „style“ page in the subtitle options you can change size and colour.

To remove a subtitle track click on it and press STRG+X.

You will have to edit every subtitle manually. This will take you some time.

3. A suggestion

A suggestion:

I want to suggest editing subtitles with SubtitleEdit. The reasoning behind this is:

1. it would safe us time

2. we can seperatly safe the subtitle file

3. it is much more comfortable

Subtitle Edit is opensource.

The benefits of it are:

– You can import full text

File –>import plain text

– SE will show you which lines are too long (it marks them red).

– you can drag and drop the video into the program

– you have a big audio line. Visualization is very helpful.

– you can almost entirely manage the program with shortcuts

– you can adjust the subtitle length a lot more easily.

– colour changing is manageable by clicking right on your mouse.

– you have a lot of data formats you can save it under.

4. Final Steps

After you have finished the project in SE you can save it as .srt file and drag this file into your Davinci project.

Place the .srt file into subtitle timeline.

All the subtitles are there now. Usually they are connected and you can move them as a whole.

Adjust them by dragging.

Style changes can still be made in the side bar.

Export the video in the format you want.

Move to “Deliver”:

If you choose to „burn the subtitles into the video“ under ‘subtitle settings’ they will be in the video permanently. You can import them as a ‘separate file’ too. Or you chose to export them as ’embedded captions’.