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Search Captions on Hulu

December 21st, 2009 by Eugene Wei SVP, Audience

Today we’ve added a new beta feature to the site in Hulu Labs: Captions Search. You can now search the captions for thousands of videos across hundreds of shows.

You can initiate a captions search from the Hulu Labs page for the feature, but the more permanent home for captions search is in the new Captions tab on any show or video page for any program with captions.

Captions Tab

Recently I watched an episode of House, and they made a funny joke about the resemblance between Dr. Foreman (Omar Epps) and Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. I couldn’t remember which episode it was in, let alone which moment of within the episode.

With the new caption search, I just type in “mike tomlin”, and voila.

House Captions Search Result

If you just want a quick preview of the search result, hover your mouse cursor over the image and a short segment of video around the search term will play in the thumbnail. To see it at full size, click on the search result text and we’ll send you to that spot in the full-size video. (House knows about football? He truly is a man for all seasons.)

One bonus that comes with caption search is what we’re calling the heat map. This is a visual graph of the user interest throughout the span of a video and is available on any captioned video that has accumulated enough user views. It appears at the top of the captions tab for those videos. We analyze a variety of viewer behaviors to generate the heat map.

The first use for the heat map is as a navigation tool: You can click on any bar in the graph to jump to that section of captions. If you search the captions for a video, we’ll highlight bars in blue in the heat map to indicate where the matching results appear in the video.

But a second use is to find particularly popular segments within that video. For many videos, interest is fairly linear across a program, but for some shows, the pattern reveals intriguing spikes.

For example, here’s the heat map for one episode of a popular show on our site.

Heap Map for Glee

You’ll notice a peak about three-fourths of the way through the video. This is the ninth episode of Glee, titled “Wheels,” and that mesa in the graph represents one of the musical numbers for which the show has become so beloved, in this case a performance of “Defying Gravity.”

In fact, in almost every episode of Glee you’ll find these peaks in the heat map corresponding to the musical numbers. In the episode “Mattress,” the peak about halfway through is for the kids’ performance of Van Halen’s “Jump” (with a smaller but visible crest just a few minutes earlier for a cover of Lily Allen’s “Smile”).

Heat Map for Glee

Lest you think Glee is the only show capitalizing on this music craze, check out this episode of The Colbert Report. What is that Everest of viewer interest at the end of the episode? Let’s just say we’re convinced now, there’s nothing Colbert can’t do.

Heat Map for Colbert Report

In the Pilot of V, what is the spike about eight minutes into the episode? Hint: hello, Morena Baccarin!

Heat Map for V

As this feature is still in beta, we’re curious to see how you use it and what you’d like to see from it. Your feedback, as always, is welcome at .

Happy holidays!

Eugene Wei ()
VP, Product

Last comment: Aug 15th 2017 20 Comments

What’s New in Hulu Labs

October 8th, 2009 by Rebecca Harper Editor

Have you visited Hulu Labs lately? It’s a section of Hulu.com devoted to new products and features that are still in beta, so you can share your ideas on how to make these services more useful to you. It’s home to Hulu Desktop (which offers a lean-back viewing experience from your PC), Recommendations, Time-Based Browsing and our Video Panel Designer (a tool that helps you embed multiple Hulu videos to your website), but today we’ve added two new items for you to check out: Hulu Desktop for Linux and Hulu Publisher Tools.

Hulu Desktop for Linux
Since launching Hulu Desktop, we’ve read thousands of comments about the product. Among all the suggestions, there was one that far outnumbered all the others: our users wanted Linux support.

So while we were tweaking the user interface, adding a few keyboard shortcuts and fixing bugs on Hulu Desktop, we were also working on Linux support. Part of our commitment to help everyone enjoy content, after all, is to provide support to all three major computer operating systems. Hulu Desktop for Linux is compatible with both Ubuntu and Fedora distributions, and will support input from hundreds of infrared remote controls. (See the FAQ for more details.)

If you’re a Linux user and want to check out Hulu Desktop for Linux, you can get started here. Since this product is still in Beta, we encourage your feedback. Jump on our discussion boards to share your ideas, make requests and report any bugs to the Hulu Desktop team.

Hulu Publisher Tools
Designed for bloggers, site editors and webmasters, Hulu Publisher Tools makes it easy to browse and discover premium videos — from Hulu and other sites — to embed in articles and blog posts. In addition to content featured by the Hulu team, our publishing tool features a comprehensive directory that offers the opportunity to preview videos and copy embed codes from a single page. Editors can also create custom playlists for Video Panels that can embed multiple Hulu videos in a single unit.

A search bar lets you type in any keyword — “obama,” for instance — and we’ll call up all the relevant videos pulled by our web crawler. You can select a few clips that look good to you, preview them if you like, and copy the embed codes. And if all the content is from Hulu, you can put together a Video Panel in seconds and embed it on your blog, like I’ve done below with some recent clips from Modern Family.

Go to our Labs section to get started with Hulu Publisher Tools, and we always welcome your feedback via the discussion boards or by email .

Rebecca Harper ()

Last comment: Nov 10th 2011 3 Comments

Lab Doors Are Open

May 28th, 2009 by Eric Feng

An interesting stat I’ve always bought into is that you learn an order of magnitude more about your product after you ship it. For example, only 20 percent of the original Hulu.com code from our beta launch is still in use — we had to rewrite the other 80 percent to adapt to the ever-changing, and often unanticipated, needs of our users. It’s uncanny how users can take features in directions you never thought of, and teach you how to make them more interesting and useful along the way.

To help us learn from user feedback even earlier in our development lifecycle, we’re excited to open up a new Hulu Labs section on the site today. At Hulu Labs, we’ll provide sneak peeks at some of the upcoming releases from our product roadmap, some of which are personal projects and hobbies our devs have been cooking up. From new recommendation algorithms to tools for building custom widgets to a time-based view for browsing your favorite shows, we’ll be sharing a variety of these new creations with you at Hulu Labs and looking forward to your thoughts on how to make these products better.

Headlining our Hulu Labs release today is Hulu Desktop, a new downloadable application that allows you to find and enjoy your favorite Hulu videos in a rich, full-screen computer window that you can control with your mouse and keyboard or any six-button PC or Mac remote control. Hulu Desktop was built by a small group on our engineering team (two devs, one designer, one product manager) who asked themselves one day: how can we make it easier for users to immerse themselves in the great shows and movies Hulu is fortunate to have access to? Our answer was to build a new PC and Mac application that gives users the option to step outside of their browser, keyboard and mouse and into something different. We’ve always aspired to provide the best video viewing experience possible on your “lappity-toppity boxes” and make online video more fun to watch. And working together with our media partners, we hope Hulu Desktop is another positive step towards building a legal, long-lasting service that earns us the right to continue serving you.

As with other Hulu Labs projects, Hulu Desktop is still in beta and undergoing changes, but we’re excited to give you this early look and hear what you think. Please share your feedback with us — the good, the bad, and the ugly — anytime on the Hulu Labs discussion board.

Eric ()
CTO, Hulu

Last comment: Feb 1st 2015 72 Comments