Caption Your Media in a Flash

posted in: "How To" Guides, Accessibility, Video | 0

Closed Captions. You know that they’re a necessity for your video and audio.

Creating closed captions for your video and audio can be very time-consuming if you do it yourself, or very expensive if you want to pay someone else to do it. Of course, captions are essential for your elearning, but they’re not only for students that are deaf or hard of hearing. There are so many situations in which captions are very helpful for learners. Consider staff completing your elearning at a service desk, who can’t turn on the audio, or students that speak English as a second language, and who like turning on captions to help with understanding.

If you’re planning to create DIY captions, you have two options: either reuse your script that you recorded as a voiceover, or if you recorded off-the-cuff, you can use YouTube to shorten the time you spend transcribing.

If you used a script, many video editors facilitate copying and pasting in the text and then setting timing to match the video. You can also use YouTube for this. YouTube will automatically sync your transcript to the video. You’ll just have to upload the video.

Without a script, YouTube helpfully automatically generates closed captions for all videos uploaded to the platform. However, generated captions lack punctuation and generally need a little copyediting. If you’ve just created an audio file, depending on the length, you may still find it a valuable use of your time to pop into a video editor to produce a blank video with narration that you can upload to YouTube.

As an educator, I frequently record off-the-cuff videos introducing a new module or providing feedback on student work. Cleaning up the captions and adding punctuation takes me about twice the time that the video is long. That is, a five-minute video will take me about ten minutes to create perfect captions. Doing captions from scratch can easily take as much as five times as long as the length of the video.

Caption your media in a flash

How To Do It

Once uploaded, give YouTube a few minutes to automatically generate closed captions. It’s really quick for short videos (10 minutes or less).

In the video editor, head over to Subtitles/CC.

Screenshot of YouTube

You’ll see the automatically generated subtitles: English (Automatic). If they’re not there yet, give it a few more minutes!

To begin editing, click on the captions file. A new panel will appear to the left with the generated captions. Click Edit in the top right to begin editing.

Screenshot of YouTube closed captioning editor

Clicking on each caption will automatically cue the video to the relevant section. You can play and replay the video to be sure you’ve got it right.

Once you’re done editing, be sure to Save Changes, and your captions are good to go. Now, your YouTube video can either go live and you can feel confident it’s fully accessible. Or, you can download the captions file under the Actions dropdown. I prefer to use .SRT (SubRip) caption files, but that’s because I use Camtasia. Choose any format that plays nice with your video editor.

Remember, you can always open caption files in your computer’s plain text editor to make small corrections, too! Just right-click and choose the program that you want to use.