Searching Inside Videos—How Do You Find What You’re Looking For?

Rebecca Rozakis
Updated November 27 2018
search inside videos
Rebecca Rozakis
Updated November 27 2018
in-video search

As more and more information gets recorded in video, we’re facing a new problem—video by itself is really hard to search.


In documents or on webpages, we’ve all gotten used to Ctrl-F or the little magnifying glass to bring up a search field. Can’t remember where in a 40-page document you saw the one paragraph about liabilities in Thailand (or horses during WWI or bananas or whatever it is you’re looking for)? No problem. Type in the keyword and you immediately get a list of every time that word shows up.


In basic video, though, you don’t have that option. You’re at the mercy of whoever entered the metadata. Did they mention that one detail you needed in the description? No? You’re not finding the video. And if you do find the video…you’re going to be watching the whole thing again to find the ten seconds you’re looking for.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though.


What Can Be Searched for Through In-Video Search?

We’ve moved past those dark days, fortunately. For a while now, it’s been possible to enrich videos with additional information that be searched using in-video search. You could always search on basic metadata:

  • Title
  • Tags
  • Descriptions
  • Categories
  • Technical data


You could also search on custom metadata, which might include things like presenter, date of event, licensing information, or more.


With in-video search, like Kaltura’s search, though, it was also possible to look inside the video.

  • Captions. When captions are added to the video, it becomes possible to find keywords within the audio track of the video itself. You can click on the timestamp to jump straight to the word you’re looking for.
  • Translations. Similarly, it’s possible to search within translations.
  • Slide text. When videos are created using Kaltura creation tools such as Personal Capture, you can also search for text within slides that appear in the video.
  • Chapters. In videos with chapters, these can be searched as well.

The search does not just return a list of timestamps where the keyword appears. It’s actually a list of links that will take you directly to what you’re looking for. Search, and we will Seek!


Leading In-Video Search

More recently, Kaltura has revamped its search capabilities to make searching inside videos even easier and more effective. One of the most critical advances is unified search.


What is unified search? It means that when you search in one place, you’re going to get all the results in one page, in one place. Whether your search term appears in the description, slides, captions, or anywhere else, you get what you’re looking for in one easy-to-navigate place.

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what does in-video search find?

The new search capability is based off elastic search, or eSearch. This is a very powerful and effective tool for dramatically improved accuracy and speed.

Now with this new search, all places the search term shows up can be found, sorted by the type, in a single place. Searchers can choose to look just at one type, or at all at once. So if you remember seeing a term in a slide, you can focus on just slide results and not get distracted by tags or captions. Alternatively, if you just want to find a video about a certain topic but don’t know where that information would show up, you can look at everything at once. It’s an extremely powerful tool, both for administrators and for end users. You no longer have to go to different places for different metadata.

using filters for video search

These new advances make Kaltura the leader in video search. They’re integrated with Kaltura’s video capture tools, Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) functions, and the MediaSpace and KAF integrations themselves. (A note: the new search is only available in MediaSpace/KAF integrations with the V2 UI.)

Partial Strings, Synonyms, Stop Words, Stemming

In-video search also obeys some of the more sophisticated search rules now.

  • Partial strings: This allows users to ask for a portion of a term they’re looking for and find anything that contains that fragment. It’s particularly useful for search-as-you-type.
  • Synonyms: Looking for “computer” but the speaker only ever says “laptop”? Find what you’re looking for even if you don’t have the exact same term.
  • Stop words: You don’t actually need extremely common words like “the” or “of” in your search term. By automatically ignoring them, the search engine returns more accurate results faster.
  • Stemming: Searching off the stem or root word also helps find what you’re looking for. If you search for “box,” wouldn’t you also like “boxes” to show up (and vice versa)?

Faceted Search

What if you don’t actually want to search across everything? Faceted search can help you narrow down your search before you start, if you already have a good idea of what you’re looking for.

For example, you may want to use a filter. Here’s an example of a filter using custom metadata. Maybe you know you’re looking specifically for a training video, or that a particular person is the speaker in the video you want to find.

picking specific fields to search in video

You can also specify from the beginning which fields you want to look in. For example, you may only want to search in captions and not include any slides.

Federated Search

Aside from search inside the video platform, some organizations also use federated search. This allows you to take the search results from videos and add them to the internal search mechanism on your own website. So a user might search and get not only all videos containing the term, but all pages and documents as well. It makes it easier to deal with syndication feeds, playlists, and more. It’s a powerful tool, but it does take some integration with your specific overall platform to get everything to work, so it’s not an out-of-the-box feature.

Get Searching (In Videos)!

Your content is only as good as your users’ ability to find it. So more advanced search automatically makes all of your existing video content more powerful and valuable. With advanced search tools, your users will never again be frustrated by the “black box” of video—anything they want to find is as easy as asking.