Institute for Language Sciences Labs


FAQ & Troubleshooting ILS Labs Video Coding System

Last updated on 26 November 2017 by Jan de Mooij

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This page contains answers to the most common questions about the ILS Labs Video Coding System. If your question is, “How do I use it?” checkout the how to.

This page is always under construction. If you find mistakes or have things to add, please send them to lab support.

Installing the Video Coding System

If you are working on a Windows computer where you cannot install new software and doesn’t have VLC, but you still want to use the ILS Labs Video Coding System, you can use the portable version of VLC.
If, however, Java isn’t installed on the system either, or you are working on a computer with another operating system than Windows, no solution is available.

The easiest way to get this to work, is to use the launcher for the ILS Labs Video Coding System. See the how to for instructions.

If you want to do this manually, follow these steps:

  1. Download the Zip package or 7zip package from (indicated with the text “no installer needed”).
  2. Use 7zip, or another archiver tool, to extract the contents of the (7)zip file to your computer. The easiest way is to extract it to your documents folder, but at the least you need to remember where you put it.
  3. Start the ILS Labs Video Coding System. Most likely you will see a window saying “Error! No installation of VLC was found on your computer” (if this is not the case, you don’t need this workaround and the program should start just fine).
  4. Click the button saying “I already have VLC”
  5. In the next window, click the button saying “Specify VLC Path”
  6. You will be provided with a window with which you can select folders. Find the folder to which you extracted the (7)zip file and select the folder called “VLC-x.x.x”
  7. Click “Open” with the folder from step 6 selected.
  8. Click “Got it! Close this application”
  9. Restart the program. It should now show you the New Project window.

The software runs in Java, so if Java is not installed, the program cannot be started.
Most likely you already have Java. How you can check if you have Java is described here:
You can download and install Java from

The videos in the ILS Labs Video Coding System are played using VLC. This is to ensure compatibility of the software with most computers. The computers in the lab have VLC installed by default. If you do not have VLC, you can download VLC from their site (or find install instructions):
If you install VLC in the default location, the ILS Labs Video Coding System should be able to find VLC automatically.

If this is not the case, you will be notified. Follow the instructions given by the program, or use the installer or the launcher (as described in the how to).

Starting the Video Coding System

Not all video’s are compatible with the ILS Labs Video Coding System, even if they play correctly. The Coding System uses the time information of the videos to calculate the look times. Some videos, however, lie about this time information.

Coding a video for which this is the case, results in looking times that can be off by more than 150%, so it is strongly adviced not to use those videos.

Since version 2 of the ILS Labs Video Coding System, the program automatically checks if a video is compatible every time the program starts.

Older versions of the Coding System do not perform this check and you are required to perform this check by hand. You can also upgrade to the newest version. See the how to for instructions.

If a video is incompatible, you are warned with a dialog box when you start the program. If no such warning is given, you have got nothing to worry about and you can use the video without expecting any issues.

If a warning is given and the video is incompatible, you should convert the video right away. See this how to for instructions.

In some cases, the software can’t execute the video compatibility check automatically. In this case, a warning is shown that indicates the check could not be performed. When that happens, please follow the steps below to perform the check manually:

  1. In the ILS Labs Video Coding System, take note of the total play time as indicated by the software. The total playtime can be found on the top right corner of the time line at the bottom of the screen.
    (Note: if you click this time, it changes from the total video time to the remaining video time. Make sure you note the total video time).
  2. Find the video you are using in your file explorer (Windows), Nautilus (Ubuntu) or Finder (Mac OS) to find the video.
  3. Right click the video and select “properties”. Go to the “details” tab and check the value for “Media length” (on some operating systems indicated as “Length”, “Duration”, “Media duration” or something similar).
  4. If the time found in step 2 is the same as that found in step 1, your video is compatible.
    If it is not similar (i.e. more than 100 milliseconds of) your video is not compatible and you should convert it to a more suitable standard.

    See the how-to for instructions on how to convert your video.

Using the Video Coding System

Yes, you can use the comment functionality for this.

The ILS Labs Video Coding System does not provide this option as part of its core functionality because the system was deliberately kept as general as possible. However, using comments, you can keep track of the type of look you code. For example, you can add a command ‘R’ if the subject looks to the right and ‘L’ if they look to the left. This is entirely up to your own imagination.

To add a comment to the look, first code the look like you would do normally. A new box for this look shows up on the time line. To edit a comment for a look, right click the box corresponding to the look and click “Edit comment”. A dialogue window pops up where you can enter a comment, or, for example, a label for the coded look.

The ILS Labs Video Coding System does not discriminate between different types of looks (i.e. it does not look at comments) when adding up the total looking time for each trial. To compare looking times between various types of looks, these times have to be manually summed for each type that is coded. The overview, containing all comments, can be exported by clicking the “File” menu and then the menu item “Export project to CSV”. In the field “Files of Type” select the option “CSV file (overview)” (note, this is not the default option).

Normally, only summaries for each trial are exported (in “project”) mode. The “overview” mode exports detailed data for both trials and looks. This export setting can be used to export comments added for looks.

This usually indicates you do not have writing permissions to the directory you selected as the save location for the project. Try saving the project in another location. Usually, your Documents directory should do fine, but – if you have access to it – a project folder may be used as well.

On MacOS, if your system language is set to another language than English, this problem can occur because the path does not exist. In this case, create a new folder inside the directory you previously selected to save your project, and save it there. This should solve the problem om Mac.

Yes, you can. Since version 2 of the ILS Labs Video Coding System, the project is backed up automatically every 5 minutes. If the program was exited suddenly, the next time you start the program, you are prompted to recover a lost project. The file selector window that is opened automatically displays the folder where your backups are stored. Each backup has a timestamp of the form YEAR-MONTH-DAY_HOURS_MINUTES-<projectname>. Simply select the version you wish to recover.

If you open or save a project, all previous backups are automatically removed. If you want to recover a file, do it before doing anything else! And save the recovered file right away

If you are not prompted to recover a file, changes are the file still exists in the backup location. Click open project from the new project dialog, and navigate to the backup location.

Manually recover a file on Windows

On Windows, the backup is made in the appdata directory and then in Roaming/ilsOTSVideoCodingSystem/autosave. The appdata directory is a hidden directory, so you have to enable show hidden files and directories to find it. The appdata directory is usually located on your C-drive under users/<your username>/appdata (if show hidden files and directories is enabled, the directory will appear semi-transparent).

Manually recover a file on Linux or Mac

On Mac and Linux, the files are stored under your home directory, in the subdirectorie ‘.ilsOTSVideoCodingSystem’ (mind the dot at the start, which indicates it is a hidden directory). Because this is a hidden directory, it is slightly harder to find it from the open project dialog, but you can use a terminal to find the file. To go to the directory, type

cd ~/.ilsOTSVideoCodingSystem

To show all files in the directory, type

ls -al

Then copy the file you wish to recover to another location, for example your Documents folder:

cp ~/.ilsOTSVideoCodingSystem <recoveryFileName> ~/Documents/<targetFileName>

Now you can use the open project dialog to open the file from the location you copied the file to.