Experiments in writing, by Marjolein Hoekstra @OneNoteC

Archive for the ‘Tutorials’ Category

Creating Office Mix Closed Captions

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Ever since the Microsoft Office Mix team announced that their PowerPoint 2013 add-in was now supporting closed captions, I’ve been wanting to try it out. I’m a very strong proponent of producing videos #WithCaptions and I thank the Office Mix Team wholeheartedly for acknowledging the importance of offering this courteous feature.

When I talked to Microsoft’s Preston Peine about his #OneNoteWithPreston series, he challenged me to go for it with his most recent Office Mix presentation “Class Notebooks with Shared Computers“. It so happens that Preston – through the Mix privacy settings – made the .PPTX source of his Office Mix presentation available for remixing, so I could just download that .PPTX file and open it in my own copy of PowerPoint 2013.

For those with little time on their hands, here’s the end result of my efforts:

Preston Peine’s Mix presentation:

Class Notebooks with Shared Computers #WithCaptions


Class Notebooks with Shared Computers - with captions

Class Notebooks with Shared Computers – with captions


Why closed captions?

There are multiple reasons to caption a video. I can think of these reasons:

  • as a courtesy to the hearing-impaired
  • to support non-native speakers
  • to promote better comprehension and retention
  • for SEO motives – captions are indexed by search engines

There’s an upcoming movement that promotes video captioning. It uses the #WithCaptions hashtag on social media. For more inspiration, watch the video in this recent Upworthy article Pretty Much a No-Brainer.

The remainder of this post contains notes about my first experiences creating closed captions for Office Mix. I followed the development team’s excellent instructions for closed captions on the Office Mix Uservoice Knowledge Base, basically boiling down to a few steps. If you want to follow along with the steps in this post, make sure you have performed these three:

  1. download a copy of the original .PPTX of an Office Mix and open it in PowerPoint 2013 + Office Mix
  2. upload the new Mix to the Office Mix website, enabling offline video creation and mobile viewing
  3. downloading an .MP4 video to produce closed captions using 3rd-party services


Office Mix Closed Captions Basics

If you haven’t read up about the new Office Mix closed-captions feature, I suggest you read up about it at these two links:

Deliver Compelling Presentations Using Office Mix Slide Notes and Closed Captioning (Office Mix Team for Microsoft Office Blogs, April 14, 2015)
Office Mix – How to Add Closed Captions (Office Mix Team on Uservoice forum, continually updated tutorial)



Closed Captioning feature announcement


Using YouTube’s Subtitle Generator

To create the subtitles, I first uploaded the video version of my Office Mix to YouTube. Next, I opened the YouTube Video Manager onto the Subtitles and CC tab.

The Subtitles and CC tab of YouTube’s Video Manager


As you may know, YouTube provides automatic subtitles for videos in many languages, based on its speech recogntion technology. You can read more about this feature in YouTube Help – Automatic Captions.

The Automatic Captions feature of YouTube is the reason I first uploaded my video to YouTube. You don’t have to start from scratch, but can use the auto-generated captions provided by YouTube as your starting point.

Now, although YouTube does a fair job at speech recognition, the resulting subtitles still have to be checked and corrected manually – one by one. The YouTube caption editor is very easy to use, and probably couldn’t be made more efficient. Still, in my experience, correcting each of the captions remains a lot of work. It can help a great deal if you already have an accurate script available up front – in my case, I didn’t.

More about editing auto-captions here: YouTube Help – Edit Captions

A tiny hurdle is that YouTube doesn’t natively support the file format .TTML that is required by Office Mix, so I ended up exporting the subtitles intermediately in the .SRT format. See which subtitle formats are supported by YouTube, and why the .TTML subtitle format that is required by Office Mix isn’t one of them, in YouTube Help – Upload subtitles and closed captions


Converting subtitle file format .SRT to .TTML

The next hurdle was how to convert YouTube’s closed-captioning format .SRT to .TTML, the format required by Office Mix. I discovered that the free video captioning service Amara lets you add existing .SRT subtitle files to imported YouTube videos, and also lets you export those subtitles again in .DFXP format. The DFXP subtitle format turns out to be compatible with .TTML.

Exporting Amara subtitles into the TTML-compatible DFXP file format

Exporting Amara subtitles into the TTML-compatible DFXP file format

Two Amara help pages are relevant here:

How to add existing subtitles, captions, or transcripts to videos

How do I download subtitles and translations from a video on Amara?


Final step: adding the subtitles file to Office Mix Online

Office Mix Online requires the import file for your subtitles to have the .TTML file extension. Now that turned out easy enough: if you simply edit the file extension of the .DFXP file (downloaded from Amara) and rename it to .TTML, Office Mix Online will accept it.

Office Mix Online successfully imported the TTML file

Office Mix Online successfully imported the TTML file


Have you tried your hand at creating closed captions for Office Mix yet? How did you do it?


Creating Interactive Sheet Music with YouTube and Delivr QR Codes

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In just a few steps musicians can benefit from applying QR codes to tag their printed sheet music. The QR codes enrich the score they are studying by linking it to relevant online information, such as recorded performances and background information. A smartphone capable of scanning QR codes is essential in this method.

In my spare time I very much like to study playing the piano. I particularly get passionate about specific challenging pieces from composers such as Schubert, Grieg and Chopin. Although my old piano teachers probably wouldn’t have approved, I usually start by locating online recordings of these favorite compositions. That way I get a feel of what they ideally should or could sound like straight from the beginning.

I have found QR codes to be a powerful and versatile instrument [!] to facilitate the process of familiarizing oneself with a musical piece. To start with a spoiler and to pique your interest, here’s a picture of what a piano score might look like with a QR code attached to it:

Grieg "The Butterfly"

Fragment of Edvard Grieg's "Butterfly" sheet music with QR code

Grieg Butterfly QR Code

Grieg Butterfly QR Code


In this post I’d like to present a simple outline of what steps to take and what preparations are required to get you started. As you can see from the screenshot, I picked the romantic song Butterfly from Edvard Grieg’s 10-volume Lyric Pieces.

At some point you’ll notice that I link my QR code samples to recordings on YouTube. Once you understand the process, you can easily substitute any other service of your liking.

If you feel inclined to do so, please feel free to scan the QR code on the right to get a feel for the possibilities. Otherwise, hang in for a quick three-step tutorial:




The Three-step Process QR code input form QR code input form
  1. Get familiar with a QR code generator. My personal favorite is the web service Besides being slick, simple and straightforward, there’s no need to sign-up to get started. If you do sign up, you can explore their advanced features and build sophisticated, mobile-friendly landing pages. The Delivr bookmarklet— a convenient button on your browser toolbar— turns the process of creating a QR code into a swift and painless effort.
  2. Install a QR reader on your smartphone if you haven’t got one already. I’m quite pleased with QuickMark. QR readers for a couple of well known smartphone brands are listed here:
  3. Experiment with creating, printing and scanning QR codes until you feel familiar with the process. I print my labels by opening the PNG version in a separate browser tab, and then tweak my printer settings and the page set-up until I get it right. Pretty much any regular printer will do. I use a Dymo LabelWriter to print my labels, as this allows me to print QR code labels one by one at size 25 mm x 25 mm – just right for sheet music. Some smartphone QR readers require a larger size, depending on their camera resolution.


Let’s assume that you’ve created a QR code using Here’s what the Delivr QR preview-and-share interface looks like:

Delivr preview-and-share interface

The Delivr preview-and-share interface


Apart from creating a bare-bones QR code, also allows you to create full-fledged mobile landing pages. You do need to create an account with the service to access additional features, such as descriptions, hyperlinks, a comments section and social-media sharing links. Here’s a screenshot of what the Grieg Butterfly landing page looks like after someone scans my Grieg Butterfly QR code. The blue parts are hyperlinks:


Delivr landing page

Delivr mobile landing page

Pretty cool, don’t you think?



Several types of users might benefit from using QR codes:

  • Music schools, music conservatories, teachers and their students
  • Professional and amateur musicians, singers, directors, composers
  • Sheet music publishers and distributors of digital sheet music can offer their client base additional info. QR code tracking can be of interest to them. A QR code can also be useful from a copyright point of view.


Additional Ideas for Possible Target Links

Besides linking to a YouTube video, you could also consider any of the following music-related target pages. Maybe the following list inspires you to find your own sources. Where possible, I’ve linked to web pages and services related to Grieg’s Butterfly piece. Note that many web services now offer mobile-friendly interfaces to their sites, for example Mobile YouTube and Mobile Wikipedia.


Further Reading about QR Code Technology

I have found these resources to be quite helpful and interesting:

  • 2D-code – a multi-author blog with news, reviews, tutorials, tool comparisons and many other useful bits (RSS)
  • Real-World Hyperlinks – an introductory article about QR codes by Adrian Roselli
  • QR Code Demystified – a 6-part (!) discussion of anything a web developer would want to know about QR codes, by Jason Brown
  • QRDressCode – very cool! curated by QRboy Laurent Sanchez from the refreshing French QR code blog QRDressCode (RSS) Even if you don’t speak French, the images are a treat to the eye.




I hope this explanation inspires you to experiment with QR codes. Maybe you’d rather use a different QR code generator, or a different QR code scanner on your phone—it doesn’t matter because the mechanism of linking a real-world object to the online world remains the same. Do feel free to contribute your ideas in the comments section.


Written by CleverClogs

July 8th, 2011 at 3:26 pm