Skip to main content
Exporting to other platformsHelpHelp Index

YouTube Interactive Publishing

By March 22, 2021August 27th, 2021No Comments

Publish interactive films from Stornaway.io to Youtube

Stornaway.io to… YouTube?! What is this witchcraft?

It’s not witchcraft, but it is magical. We’ve made a game engine for YouTube – an incredible integration that lets you craft and test your interactive video experiences in Stornaway.io’s simple clean authoring tools, and then simply send them to YouTube and link them up to be playable interactively using YouTube’s end screen links.

The way it works is, Stornaway.io uploads all the videos from your project to YouTube, and then our Google Chrome extension automagically creates all the links at the end of every YouTube video.

So you can plan and test out your project easily in Stornaway.io and then make it playable just using the interactive features that already exist in YouTube!

There are lots of lovely Stornaway.io player features that YouTube can’t support (see below) but the ability to craft an interactive experience to YouTube’s audience of 2 billion is truly game changing.

As you’d expect, there are just a few things you need to set up and understand first, so here’s a quick guide.


NB – before you get started, please check the limitations of YouTube listed below – for instance, check that your videos are not under 25 seconds, are not what YouTube classifies as “Made For Kids” (see link below for details) and aren’t infringing copyright. Any of these will stop your videos being linkable.

What does YouTube interactivity look like?

To get a good taste of what YouTube interactivity feels like, try these two interactive stories:

Life Moves Pretty Fast, by us here at Stornaway.io:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnc6H72D_8k

A Heist with Markiplier, by YouTube Originals:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TjfkXmwbTs

YouTube’s “end screen” links are simple boxes with the name and thumbnail of the video they’re linking to.

For example, this is from the Downs Woods scene from Life Moves Pretty Fast when Wolfie’s having a mid life crisis:

So you can see there that you can include up to 4 links, just like in Stornaway.io
The Stornaway.io YouTube publisher will add them to YouTube anticlockwise from bottom left, or you can specify positions yourself using Stornaway’s Quadrant button style.

Or you can see here the first choice in A Heist with Markiplier:

YouTube Features & Limitations to Know Before Starting

There are a number of things that Stornaway.io allows that are not possible in YouTube. Stornaway’s player is a beautiful fully-featured interactive player, and YouTube’s interactivity is based on its simple end cards.

Here’s a checklist of things to know about the limits of YouTube interactivity before you publish:

  • You can only link videos that belong to you on your channel – and currently videos that you have uploaded from Stornaway.io.
  • Your videos must be longer than 25 seconds, because YouTube won’t allow you to create links on videos shorter than 25 seconds. This is the most common problem for people converting an existing Stornaway project to YouTube. If you have a video that’s shorter than 25 seconds, use your video editor to add a freeze frame, still or black video to extend it (the choices will show over this). Our upload process can’t check & report this yet, so it’s important to check before you start uploading.
  • YouTube has one type of link style – the End Screen box which shows the name and thumbnail of the video being linked to.
  • So your button link text will be the name of the island it’s linking to – eg name your island YES PLEASE or TELL THE TRUTH.
  • YouTube end screen choices can show for the last 5-20 seconds of the video.
  • Every link on YouTube is ‘cut on click’ – it will move on to the next video as soon as the user clicks the link.
  • YouTube does not have a default path. When each video ends, if the user hasn’t chosen a link, the player won’t make the choice for them and move on to the next video. (You can use Playlists to create a sort of default path, but links only show in playlists on desktop browsers.)
  • YouTube does not have Pause at End. When the video ends, it won’t pause to show the links, it will stop and show related videos suggested by the algorithm. If you want to extend the video to wait for your user to make a choice, use your video editor to add a freeze frame, still or black video to extend the end of the video.
  • YouTube does not have a timer bar overlay option or onscreen text and question overlays – if you want this, you’ll have to add it as a graphic in the video file.
  • YouTube cannot link to External URLs unless you’re a Partner. (If you are, you can created these manually after linking your project).
  • YouTube cannot include Game Logic to check back to see what has been watched previously.
  • Videos marked as Made For Kids (you need to tell YouTube if it is aimed at children under 13 – see their guidelines) or with automatically detected copyright infringements cannot have links added to them.

So there are a lot of things that Stornaway.io can do that YouTube can’t at the moment, but you can still use YouTube’s simple interactivity to create amazing interactive journeys for a huge audiences.

First, Get Yourself Set Up:

Link Stornaway to YouTube

NB – before you get started, please check the limitations of YouTube listed above – for instance, if any of your clips are less than 25 seconds, they won’t be able to be linked.


The first thing you need to do is link your Stornaway.io account to your YouTube channel.
(If you don’t have a YouTube channel, you need to create one)

Go to Account Settings, and click the “Link YouTube” button at the bottom.

You will then be asked by Google to confirm your choices and choose the channel you want to publish to. The app is still in Beta, so you may be prompted about it being tested – don’t worry.

If you have any problems or questions about this, drop us an email.

When you’ve accepted the connection, you’ll see a confirmation message at the bottom of your account page with options to unlink it.

Now you’re ready to move on to the other part of getting ready – installing the Google Chrome extension.

Install the Stornaway.io Chrome Extension

NB – before you get started, please check the limitations of YouTube listed above – for instance, if any of your clips are less than 25 seconds, they won’t be able to be linked.


The way this works is, first Stornaway.io uploads all the videos from your project to YouTube, and then a Google Chrome extension automagically creates all the links at the end of every YouTube video. It’s a beautiful thing, and it is totally groundbreaking in terms of letting creators dream up games and immersive interactive experiences on YouTube.

In case it’s not obvious from the description, you need to be using Google’s Chrome web browser. If you don’t already use Chrome to browse the web, you need to use it for this – you can download it from google.com/chrome

Step 1 of 3 – Add the Stornaway extension to Chrome:
Go to our page on the Google Chrome web store: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/stornawayio/npkafcjhdainelkogagnblfckpanmppa

And then click Add To Chrome at the top right and confirm that you want to install it:

 

Step 2 of 3: Pin it!
Our S icon will now appear in your Extensions panel at the top right of your browser. You can select the jigsaw puzzle icon here (1) to open the menu with all your other extensions (if you have any) and we recommend choosing to ‘Pin’ (2) Stornaway so that it’s always visible and easily clickable.

 

Step 3 of 3: Log in to your extension
The final step is to add your personal API key – this is what lets the extension know how to log into to your personal Stornaway account.

You can find and copy your API key on your Stornaway.io Account Settings page:

Click Generate if you haven’t already – and then highlight the long series of characters with your mouse and copy it to memory (choose Edit menu>Copy, or press Ctrl+C or Command+C)

Click on the S icon (1) to open the Extension window as a popup. You’ll see an empty text field (2) for your API key. Paste your API key in here (choose Edit menu>Paste, or press Ctrl+V or Command+V) – then click Save.

And that’s it! You’re now fully prepped! 🚀 🎉

Then Publish from Stornaway to YouTube:

Step 1 - Send Your Videos to YouTube

NB – before you get started, please check the limitations of YouTube listed above – for instance, check that your videos are not under 25 seconds, are not what YouTube classifies as “Made For Kids” (see link above) and aren’t infringing copyright. Any of these will stop your videos being linkable.


To start sending your videos to YouTube, click Export at the top of your Story Map, and then Validate your story.

If you have any Validation errors, follow the instructions on screen – you can see more about this in Questions and Help, below.

Once validated successfully, click “Add project to YouTube Export Queue”

Your videos will now start to be sent to the YouTube channel you linked to in the earlier stage – you will see a message with the current time in GMT. You can see their progress if you click “View your video’s export status”. This page doesn’t update automatically, and you won’t see any progress for the first few minutes.

How long will it take?
Videos take around 10-15 minutes to show up in YouTube, because of YouTube’s internal queue.  Total upload time for all videos tends to average about 90 seconds per 1 minute of video footage – so if you have 20 minutes of videos, it should take about 30 minutes to complete uploading. You can check the queue (above) and your YouTube Studio page to see them appear.

What if I see no progress or the extension still says ‘Upload Videos’?
See the ‘Questions and Help’ section below.

Success!
When all videos have been successfully uploaded to YouTube, the Export page will show the message “All the videos of this project have been uploaded to YouTube” – as shown below.

When you see this, you’re now ready to link them!

Step 2 - Automagically Link Them Up

NB – before you get started, please check the limitations of YouTube listed above – for instance, check that your videos are not under 25 seconds, are not what YouTube classifies as “Made For Kids” (see link above) and aren’t infringing copyright. Any of these will stop your videos being linkable.


 

Go to your YouTube Studio – at https://studio.youtube.com/

Click the S icon in your Chrome address bar to open your Chrome Extension (see the extension setting above).

Click “Link Videos”

You will see YouTube automagically opening and closing each video, and adding the links.

You need to leave this YouTube tab open when this work is happening. You can have other applications open over the top of Chrome (Word, etc) if you’re busy (we prefer to have a cup of tea or sit in the sun for a while), but Chrome cannot be doing anything else at the same time. If you close Chrome or go to another tab, the automation will be stopped, and you’ll have to start again.

How long will it take?
It takes around 1 minute per video on average to automate the link creation – so if you have 20 videos in your project, expect to wait around 20 minutes.

What if I have a problem?
See Questions and Help, below

Success!
When the linking is complete, the extension will open your Start Island and start playing your story.

You now have a fully interactive experience ready to share on YouTube!

Congratulations! Let us know on Twitter or by email so we can watch and share it!

Questions and Help

What do Validation errors mean and how can I fix them?

If you have 0 or 2 or more start islands, it will show an error message at the top left of screen – see below.

If you have missing default choices or timings, it will highlight the relevant island in red with an exclamation mark in the corner, and put red messages in the relevant part of the sidebar.

What if the uploads don't seem to be progressing?

As above, the files take time to upload – they won’t start to appear in YouTube for at least 10-15 minutes because of YouTube’s internal queue.

Double check the upload start time shown on the Export page, and refresh the queue page after 20 minutes.

If the Stornaway.io queue shows no progress after 30 minutes (and you’ve refreshed the queue page), then check the Deleted Videos section at the bottom of the queue – it may have files that have failed to upload and need to be resubmitted. Try clicking the re-upload button.

Or if the Stornaway.io queue tells you that files have completed but you can’t see them in your YouTube Studio page, you probably linked your Stornaway account to a different YouTube channel from the one you’re looking at. Check which account you’re looking at, then check the YouTube uploads page in your other YouTube/Google accounts accounts to see if the files are there.

If you still have a problem, it may be that there’s a problem with your YouTube account link – check your Account Settings page for errors, and if you see one, relink your channel. If you don’t see any errors but the queue’s not updating, that’s very odd – so drop us an email.

If this is the case, and you’ve uploaded to the wrong YouTube channel, you can feel free to delete them from YouTube. Then unlink and relink your Stornaway.io account to the correct channel.  Stornaway.io will be unaware of your mistake and will think that the files have been safely sent, so the queue won’t be reset. You’ll have to remove and re-add video files to your islands to reset the queue before re-uploading them to the correct YouTube account.

What if I see an error after clicking "Add to Queue"

It might be that there’s a problem with your YouTube account link, or it might actually be fine.

Go back to the Export page and refresh the page.

If you can see the black “View your video’s export status” button, click it and you’ll see your queue. As described above in “What if the uploads don’t seem to be progressing?”, the queue should progress after 10-15 minutes.

If you’re still having trouble and the section above doesn’t answer it, please send us an email.

The extension says 'Upload Videos' but I've done that already?

In order to complete the process, you will need to have videos uploaded to every island and tab in your project’s Story Map. You can still send videos to YouTube before you have every island completed in Stornaway.io, and do the uploads in several stages – but you won’t be able to move on to linking if you have any islands/tabs without videos.

If every island has a video, and all of these have been uploaded, then you’ll see the completion message “All of the videos in this project have been successfully uploaded to YouTube” in the Export page.

If you still see “Upload Videos” next to your project in the Extension and the “View your video’s export status” button on your Export page after your uploads are complete, that means there are still islands/tabs without videos in your Story Map.

Check through the tabs to find which don’t have videos, add them and repeat this step to add them to YouTube.

The extension said it couldn't complete linking

There are only a very few reasons the Extension will find a problem and stop.

If it does stop, unfortunately you will have to start linking again from the start, so it’s important to address the issues that it tells you about.

Reasons it might have a problem completing:

A video was too short
As we said at the top, every video needs to be longer than 25 seconds. Our uploader can’t check for this, so it’s important to catch this at the start. To extend your video, use your video editor to add a freeze frame or static or black footage to the end of the video.

The Chrome tab with YouTube Studio needs to be active throughout linking
You can’t switch to another tab or close Chrome

A video was no longer available
YouTube may have made it unavailable for copyright reasons after an automated scan of its content, or you may have deleted it from YouTube, made it private or marked it as Made For Kids (which doesn’t allow links to be added).

If you have any other error messages or problems, please email us and send us details and screenshots.