Pad.ma - Frequently Asked Questions
Pad.ma Frequently Asked Questions
General (Name, Philosophy, Current status)
Q: What is PAD.MA?
A: PAD.MA is an online archive of densely text-annotated video material, primarily footage and not finished films. For more information, see the
Q: What is currently in the archive?
A: The PAD.MA project was lauched in February 2008. It currently has 17 days 2 hours 15 minutes 9 seconds of footage, in 962 "events". The archive is growing quickly, so it is hard to describe its current state with any precision. But right now, the majority of material is from Mumbai and Bangalore: documentation of changing cityscapes, street and domestic life, commercial and intellectual activity, protests, chance meetings, police raids, train-rides, horse-carriages and other transports, conversations with various community, state and corporate interests, players and agents, art works, films, film clips, "found" footage, and much more.
Q: What is the broader context for this initiative? Why this, why now?
A: Starting in the 90's, the "DV revolution" in India and elsewhere led to rapid changes in imaging practices previously based on film, or analog video. One remnant of this process has been large archives of DV tapes, footage that remains hard to access, or deploy. Independent filmmakers and activists, NGO, and artist's communities, for example, are now contributing this material, without the precondition of them being finished "films", to the archive. At the same time, a lot of historically and politically valuable images have been "digitised" in recent years, but do not take full advantage of digital distribution systems. More generally then, the archive expands upon the perhaps inevitable destiny of all video in digital form: that it becomes possible to distribute, share, annotate, reuse and re-interpret it, even as the original "author's" intentions expire, and contexts change.
Q: Who administers PAD.MA?
A: Currently, members of the initial groups do, by rotation. To know more about the initiators, see the
Starting to use PAD.MA (Supported browsers, plugins, walkthrough)
Q: Which browsers do you support, on which platforms?
A: We currently support
, on Linux, Mac OS and Windows. We do not support Internet Explorer. However, if you wish to endeavour to make the site work on IE, please appeal to IE to support web standards in their next version. If, however, you do need to use the website on Internet Explorer, you can download and install the
Q: Do I need to install anything to view the videos on pad.ma?
A: No, if you use any of the above mentioned browsers, video will play without the use of any plugin software.
Q: Why do I need to register?
A: Many features on the site, including the ability to add and edit annotations, are only available to registered users. You can browse the site and play the videos without registering or logging in. For details, see
Q: Can you walk me through some of the basic sections/features of the site?
takes you to the home page, from where you can either search, browse, or click on one of the video icons featured below. Searching for an item leads you to a search-results page. Clicking on browse on the home page takes you to a view similar to the search results page, where you get an overview of all videos in the archive.
You will notice the interface looks very much like a desktop application and should feel quite familiar. Use the top level menu to explore various options and customizations of your default view.
In the search results view, you have various things you can filter your current list of videos by on the top and a list of videos matching your current search / filter at the bottom. You can change your filters by clicking on them, and pressing ctrl-click to unselect a filter. You can also type a search query at the top right, and use the Find menu next to it to do more specific and advanced searches.
You can sort your current list of results using the Sort menu, and can explore various ways to view and visualize your current search results by using the 'View as' drop-down menu.
You can enter a video by double-clicking on it in the results list, or by selecting it and using the preview browser in the bottom left of the screen to scroll to a specific point in the video.
Each video can be expanded into one of the following "views":
, in which event metadata such as the source of the video, and an overall description, is available.
, where you get an overview of clips in the video.
, in which you can play the video and add or edit annotations, including locations, keywords, descriptions and transcripts, on the timeline.
, which allows you to see the video in a larger size alongwith its annotations.
, on which you can find locations referenced in this particular event, or find videos by location.
Viewing (Viewing video, using the timeline, search, map, info page)
Q: What are those three screens in the Timeline view?
A: This interface is similar to video editing software. The screen in the center is the video player, which will play video if you click it. The one on the left shows the image at the current IN point, if it has been marked on the timeline (or the first frame if there is none). Similarly, the rightmost screen shows the image at the current OUT point. Pressing the "H" key in this view will open a help menu, which contains a number of keyboard shortcuts for navigating the player and timeline.
Q: Why do I need to mark IN and OUT anyway?
A: This is used if you want to add your own annotations (applying them to a section of the video), or to view all existing annotations over a span of video. More on this in the annotation section.
Q: Can I change the size and resolution of the video being played?
A: You can change the size of the video player and also the resolution of the video being played by using the settings menu on the top left of the video. If you are in a low bandwidth environment, or having difficulties playing the video smoothly, try the 96p resolution option.
Q: What are the colored horizontal bars?
A: Those are the video timelines. It is an image generated by using colour averages of every frame in the video. This is based on timelines in
Q: What is the relationship between the text columns and the video player?
A: The text boxes on the right side in the Timeline and Video Player views are the annotations corresponding to the current location of the play marker. You can open or fold them using the icon in the top left of each bin. As the annotations grow, there will often be places where multiple transcripts or descriptions occur at one position. This is normal and desirable, because annotations by different users are layered or stacked on top of each other. All overlapping layers at a given timecode (play marker location) can be seen in the right-hand column.
Q: I can't play any video. What is wrong?
A: You are probably using an extremely old browser version. Try updating your browser and trying again, or
if you require help.
Q: Where is general information about the video, its owner, etc?
A: This is in the Info view, which you can access from the "View" drop-down menu on top of any of the event pages.
Q: Can I see the locations on a map?
A: Yes, just go to the Map view, from the View menu in any event page. You can also see locations that are mapped in the Places annotation folder next to the video.
Annotation (Adding / editing textual content)
Q: What is annotation?
A: Annotation is the adding of textual information, in this case to parts or the whole of a video event. This is similar to the general concepts: comments, commentary, or marginalia.
Q: Who has put in the current annotations?
A: The first layer of annotations have been put in by the original contributors of the video event or members of pad.ma. Users are free to add annotations to any part of any video on the site.
Q: How do I add annotations to the site?
A: In the timeline view for a video, you can select IN and OUT points for the video as described above. You will see your current selection highlighted in blue on the timeline. Then, you can use keyboard shortcuts as follows:
1 - to add a Place
2 - to add an Event
3 - to add a Keyword
4 - to add a Description
5 - to add a Transcript
Or, you can click the + button next to the annotation you wish to add.
Then, simply enter your annotation into the text-field and press enter or click outside, and your annotation will be saved. If you want to edit one of your own annotations, just double-click it and start editing.
Remember, you need to be
to add annotations
Q: Can I generate annotations offline?
A: Yes, you can use one of various subtitling / transcription tools to generate a
file for your video. One can import the SRT file as a layer on pad.ma by using the Import Annotations function located in the video settings menu on the Timeline view for a video.
We have developed a transcription tool called
specifically for pad.ma that works as a Firefox plugin. You can use it to encode your videos to WebM and it will generate .srt files that you can import as annotations into pad.ma.
Downloading (Using BitTorrent, WebM, time)
Q: Where do I download the video?
A: On the View Editor / Player page, in the video settings menu, you will find a link to download a 480 pixel high (more than half of most screens) version of the video.
Q: What do I do with the file I downloaded? (torrent)
A: BitTorrent is a file-sharing protocol that is very effective for the distribution of large amounts of data among large numbers of peers, and this is what we use to share files on pad.ma. You will need a torrent client, in you open .torrent file, which then downloads the corresponding video file. Some popular torrent clients are
for Windows and
for Linux and Mac OS X. To learn more about it, check out the
article, and the many sources referenced there.
Q: Can I download the annotations, too?
A: You can get data out of pad.ma in various ways. Please refer to the
Q: Can I download only a small part of this video event?
A: Yes, use Download Selection from the video settings menu at the top left of the video player.
Q: What can I use to play the video once I have it?
A: The videos are all in the
format. You will need
or any other media player that supports the
Q: Can I use this video in my talk / class / film?
A: Yes. The downloaded video is 480 pixels tall (its width depends on the aspect ratio) which is fine for viewing full-screen. This material is released under the PGL, which generally allows for non-commercial use. For more details on the license applicable to the use of downloaded video, see the legal section of the FAQ and read the
page. If you need to use this video material with editing software or an application such as PowerPoint, you might need to convert it to a file-format that works with the application. Popular tools for such conversion are
Q: How much time will this take?
A: This, of course, depends on the size of the event and your internet connection speeds, but with torrents, downloads get faster the more people that "seed" a particular file, and they are resumable, which is a big advantage.
Q: How can I contribute video material to pad.ma?
A: We will be re-implementing public upload shortly, in the meanwhile, if you wish to upload video material, please
Q: Can I contribute images, texts or audio?
A: PAD.MA is primarily a video archive. Technically speaking, anything that has an image and a length in time is possible to archive, view and download. It is definitely possible to turn still images for example into such a "video format", for example as a series of images that plays like a slideshow. Texts may be put in as layers of description or transcript. Of course, all kinds of material, if uploaded elsewhere, can be linked to from specific sections of video.
Legal (TAC, License, use, reuse, human-readable)
Q: If I register, do I become a "member" of PAD.MA? What does this mean?
A: If you register i.e. create a login for yourself on the website then you become a user of PAD.MA. This entitles you to certain privileges as outlined in the terms and conditions, which include the right to upload material (video, image, sound, text) on to PAD.MA. This has to be material for which you own the copyright and thus can license under the PAD.MA General License or the PGL or under a Creative Commons (CC) license.
Users can annotate existing material on PAD.MA i.e. add their comments, insights and information. They can also download material from PAD.MA and are entitled to use, redistribute, display and other similar rights granted only to users, under the PGL or CC license.
Q: Can I redistribute the material on PAD.MA? Under what conditions?
A: The user who uploads the material on PAD.MA decides what license it should be made available under. On PAD.MA only certain licenses are acceptable, including the Pad.ma General License and Creative Commons licenses that are legally acceptable in the jurisdiction of India.
What this means is that generally material on PAD.MA can be downloaded, reproduced, publicly performed or distributed in part or whole, adapted and incorporated into other works or collections. There are certain exceptions though. In most cases these rights can only be exercised for non-commercial use, except when the user who has uploaded the material allows for commercial use (under a creative commons license. The PGL does not allow commercial use).
Another exception is that these rights are applicable only to the resolution in which the material has been downloaded from Pad.ma, and not to other versions or resolutions of the same material that might be available.
So the short answer is that as a Pad.ma user, you have the right to redistribute material, but this right is restricted to the material in the specific resolution in which it has been uploaded and licensed on Pad.ma.
Q: What is the PGL?
A: PGL is PAD.MA General License. It is the license that makes sharing, creating and collaborating for the archive possible. As a user you upload material onto PAD.MA and license it to other users to download, reproduce, publicly perform or distribute, adapt and incorporate into their own work or collection. These rights are only for the material in the resolution in which it has been uploaded or licensed.
The PGL is applicable to all the annotations and essays on PAD.MA, and also to some of the video material. The user can license the material they upload (i.e. video or film footage) onto Pad.ma under the PGL or Creative Commons Licenses that allow for redistribution.
The license is an important document, and is a kind of permission given by the owner of the copyright to others regarding how their work can be used. Originally used by the Free Software Movement for licensing of software, the same philosophy was translated into open content licenses for music, art, documentation and other material. Open content licenses, like the CC license or PGL, aim at subverting the shrinking of the public domain because of the encroachments by media empires and rigidity of the copyright regime.
For further details, read the license
Technical Overview (software, source)
Q: What languages is PAD.MA written in?
. It is based on the
video archive frame-work and the
user interface library that has been developed by
Q: Can I get the source code?
A: Yes, the code is available under the GPL. You can find out more at
Q: Where can I report bugs, or request features?
A: You can sign-up and file bugs on our
, or use our
Q: Can I use PAD.MA offline?
A: Yes, we can imagine an application where the downloaded videos and their annotations can be viewed and searched offline, but this has not been developed yet. It is on our list of things to do.