Artikel-Schlagworte: „.ass“

Are you always happy with the way you present qualitative data – especially in case of audio- or videodata? If not, please proceed with reading. The main challenge of videodata lies in their dynamic nature. It inhibits us to simply print some tables, code descriptions, and rules of how to code (or not). However, subtitleing is a possibility to show how you work with your material and at the same time you (or anyone else) can watch the source material simultaneously. This requires overlay technique – and in fact it is not really subtitleing anymore.What you actually do is overlaying text (or symbols, …) along rules you define and that fit to your research project. You can place different codes or categories at different parts of the screen. That makes this method really fascinating. Overlay techniques offer many possibilities:

  • presentation of video-/ audiodata at confererences or for discussion
  • add-on to theses (Diploma, MA, PhD, etc.) or journal articles to demonstrate your work
  • teaching qualitative data analysis
  • evaluation of research
  • offering a consistent chain of reasoning, beginning with the simplest code and ending with a final interpretation

This procedure allows not only to overlay codes, metacodes, and other categories but also to add transliterations (true to audio), symbols, or whatever. It requires an export plug-in to be used from within your qualitative coding data software. Unfortunately, no software is capable of this at the moment. Therefor, a short description of how to achieve good looking results will be printed below.

My software of choice to code qualitative data is always AQUAD – mainly because of personal reasons (I am involved with its development). But you can choose whatever you like. Especially there is a R package („RQDA“) that allows to realize QDA too. Just explore it. What you need is a codefile you can read and a scripting language to convert it to a subtitle format. My choice is always .ass format (advanced substation alpha), because it allows for separate styles and many more features. I do not know any other subtitle format that offers so many opportunities. Aegisub is the editor of choice to create and to tweak on .ass files. One of the main fields of application of Aegisub is Karaoke. So it offers a great variety of features to define styles (change font, font size, color, move, rotate, etc. -> all these issues are covered by .ass format). Aegisub is a great tool and works for most OS and plattforms. Now for the procedure:

  1. Code your material or make a transcription (true to audio) or both. Use different code types (e.g. codes, meta-codes that summarize „ordinary“ codes on a more abstract level, etc.) so it just offers every possibility to fully answer your research question(s).
  2. Export your codefile together with time-codes to .ass format (save it as utf-8 because Aegisub works with utf-8)
  3. The conversion should assign a different style to each code
  4. Define styles within Aegisub – do what is necessary so that it looks nice and supports your work
  5. Adjust time-codes, styles etc. within Aegisub
  6. Play it externally (e.g. with mpc-hc, Videolan, MPlayer, XBMC, etc.). If you need another software player, install the ffdshow filter package that comes with an internal plugin to play .ass natively

Here can be offered only a very simple R script to convert AQUAD 6 .aco codefiles to .ass format. This script is still work-in-progress, but it works (at least for me). It assigns a different style for each code, but each style is identical. So you have to tweak on that with Aegisub. The script should be self-explanatory, otherwise contact me for support. Be aware that you should choose the right screen resolution and fps (frame rate) of your video.

Now you can play the video together with the subtitles, you can hardcode your subtitles into your video. Use VirtualDub for hardcoding subtitles into videostreams together with the „subtitler“ filter or the filter that comes directly with VirtualDub.

Final notes: You can use not only ordinary text, but also symbols. Text can be moved and rotated (see the Aegisub manual for details). With ASSDraw which is part of Aegisub you can create small vector graphics that can be used too (and moved, rotated, or whatever you like to do with them). If you want to produce a dvd, just read this previous posting about subtitleing and dvd authoring.