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New features on Cinemata: Whisper integration for multilingual speech recognition and more site updates

The latest version of Cinemata includes video management improvements and a new feature to help enhance filmmakers’ reach and engagement: the integration of OpenAI Foundation’s speech recognition system Whisper. This open-source software is designed to perform various tasks, including language identification, phrase-level timestamps, multilingual speech transcription, and speech translation into English.

How the feature works


Screenshot of Whisper’s integration in the Edit Media page

Enabling the feature is simple. After uploading their videos, users will be redirected to the Edit Media page once the upload is complete. Here, they can select the tick boxes Transcribe auto-detected language and/or Translate to English.

The system will then generate subtitles for the video. Users will receive an email notification when the subtitles are ready. They can then edit and improve the subtitles via the Edit Subtitle functionality.

Screenshot of the Edit Subtitle feature on Cinemata. Generated subtitles can be fine-tuned and edited here.

EngageMedia Content and Engagement Manager Jen Tarnate said the new feature opens up exciting possibilities for the community of social issue filmmakers in the Asia-Pacific. “This new feature is essential in increasing filmmakers’ reach, outreach, and engagement, [as] their content will have English subtitles. It will greatly benefit students and other content creators working on a tight budget. This new feature will enable them to showcase their work to a wider audience and help contribute to wider campaigns and movements concerning their social and environmental videos,” she said.

Cinemata’s Terms of Service, particularly the section on Acceptance of Terms, has been updated in light of the new feature. However, Whisper’s integration into Cinemata does not affect the site’s Data Collection and Privacy Policy.

Exclusive to Cinemata Trusted Users

Cinemata’s integration of Whisper is an exciting development that will benefit site users and filmmakers alike. The feature is exclusively available to Cinemata Trusted Users, a growing community of more than 50 site users – filmmakers, journalists, video activists, and film festival programmers committed to the site’s Editorial Policy. Trusted Users can publish their videos immediately. To apply for Trusted User status, contact the Cinemata curatorial team.

Site updates for all users

Aside from Whisper integration, the latest version of Cinemata includes more features long-requested by Cinemata users. Included in the latest release are the following:

Content creators can now upload the widely-used SubRip (.srt) subtitle files to the site. Previously, subtitle files are limited to WebVTT (.vtt).

Video timestamp sharing is now possible. This feature is handy when users want to share a specific moment, scene, or segment of a longer video with others, saving them from having to fast-forward to the desired timestamp manually.

Registered users on Cinemata can now reach out to each other via their profiles. Users can navigate to the About page of the person they want to contact and send a message, which will automatically be sent to a user’s email. This new feature makes it easy for film programmers and advocates who want to support Cinemata community members to learn more about the videos and contact content owners directly about their social issue advocacies.

More features coming soon

Cinemata has been undergoing developments since early 2022, and this latest update reflects the team’s ongoing commitment to support filmmakers and video organisations using the platform for their advocacy.

“We’re delighted to say that despite limitations compared to Big Tech video platforms, the Cinemata team continues to be responsive to the needs of social issue filmmakers from the region,” said King Catoy, EngageMedia Video Manager and lead of the site’s development. “In the next few months, we’ll be introducing password-protection of content, which will be particularly useful for site users uploading videos that require additional risk management. It will also come in handy for filmmakers who want to showcase their works to film festivals and film programmers.”

EngageMedia is also working with MediaCMS, co-developer of Cinemata, to make a new user interface to allow for easy downloads of subtitles on the Edit Subtitle page.

We invite everyone to support the development of Cinemata by exploring the platform, uploading your own videos, and sharing content with your networks. For suggestions or to share ideas for new features, email [email protected]. To stay updated on new videos, playlists, and announcements on the latest developments, subscribe to Cinemata’s bi-monthly newsletter.