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Tech: writing closed captions for YouTube vids

CapriUni 24 Oct 12 - 07:35 PM
GUEST,DrWord 24 Oct 12 - 10:01 PM
CapriUni 24 Oct 12 - 10:26 PM
GUEST,DrWord 24 Oct 12 - 10:40 PM
GUEST,Fossil at work 24 Oct 12 - 10:46 PM
CapriUni 25 Oct 12 - 12:21 AM
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Subject: Tech: writing closed captions for YouTube vids
From: CapriUni
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 07:35 PM

There are free closed-captioning tools online, that grab your uploaded video, and allow you to write captions as its playing. But the fiddliness varies, and sometimes, the websites go wonky. So I figured it would be worth my while to learn how to do it myself, offline. And I thought, as a Public Service Announcement, that I'd share what I learned this week.

First: It's simple, and more intuitive than you might think.

Second:: Subtitle tracks can be written in .txt format, in Windows Notepad; When you go to save them, choose "any file" in the "file type" menu, and then change .txt extension to .srt (I recommend saving the file in both formats) and hey, presto! you have a subtitle/closed caption track.

Third: 'Simple' does not necessarily mean 'easy,' however; You do have to mind your commas and colons, so don't proofread while you're tired. But it's no more complicated (and in some ways, far less complicated -- fewer "moving parts") than converting a printed musical score into ABC text format.

Fourth: This is precisely how uncomplicated it is -- here are the parts of a subtitle/caption code (each letter in this list represents a single line):

a) the number of the title (1, 2, 3, ...)
b) the start time (hour:minute:second,millisecond) arrow (-->) end time (hour:minute:second,millisecond)
c) text of the title
d) empty line

[What a closed-caption file looks like:]

Here are the first 14 lines of captioning that I wrote for my most recent video (the first caption appears 7 seconds in, and the last one ends just a smidge over a minute -- click on the little red [cc] button in the bottom menu bar):

00:00:07,000 --> 00:00:11,000
If my grief over Mother's death were a person,

00:00:11,400 --> 00:00:16,530
This would be the year it could buy its first drink

00:00:16,930 --> 00:00:19,270
With friends at the bar

00:00:19,630 --> 00:00:22,220
Slamming the mug down in triumph,

00:00:22,330 --> 00:00:25,130
Froth crowning its upper lip.

00:00:25,500 --> 00:00:28,540
Then, maybe, there'd be singing.

00:00:29,600 --> 00:00:32,860
Or, maybe, my grief, taking after me,

00:00:33,240 --> 00:00:34,850
Would be a teetotaler,

00:00:35,300 --> 00:00:38,900
content to drift on the rising tide

00:00:39,160 --> 00:00:41,510
Of friends' besotted laughter.

00:00:43,080 --> 00:00:46,470
If my grief over Mother's death were a person,

00:00:47,000 --> 00:00:50,410
I'd make a wish that its friends, when drunk,

00:00:51,330 --> 00:00:55,740
would only laugh -- Opening their arms wide

00:00:56,000 --> 00:01:00,940
for tipsy hugs And slurred "I love yous!"

[End of sample-snippet]

Fifth: Things I plan to do, next time, to make this easier:

a) make a boilerplate for the time code line, so I can just fill in the numbers, and am less likely to put a colon or comma in the wrong place

b) open Notepad, and write the captions as I go along with putting the video the together, so I don't have to go back and figure out the timing after the fact.

c) YouTube doesn't measure in milliseconds, just just round up to the nearest second, and don't worry about that bit.

Reasons to go to the "extra trouble" of writing a caption track:

1) It's the right thing to do; the last U.S. Census to include information on deafness or hard of hearing status was 1930. But the most recent estimates from Gallaudet University have about 13% of the total U.S. population have some trouble hearing speech clearly (and that's including all ages, from birth -- it goes up to about 30% when you get into the 60s). And that doesn't include people who can technically hear, but still have trouble understanding the spoken word (not to mention, either, the people who can hear, but may wish to watch your video with the sound off -- such as when they're watching videos in the library, or alongside someone who's reading, or...)

2) Even if no human uses the caption track you provide, Google/YouTube does. Putting a track on your video allows people to find it with greater accuracy in Google Searches -- based on the things you actually say in the video, even if they can't remember the title you gave it, or the exact name of your YouTube channel.

3) Once you have a caption track on your video, Google can provide a translation into other languages. Yes, Google Translate is often dodgy/spotty. But it can do a better job translating my poetry into Arabic (say) than I can. At least, it gives speakers of other languages a sense of the gist of what your video's about.

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Subject: RE: Tech: writing closed captions for YouTube vids
From: GUEST,DrWord
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 10:01 PM

been a fan of CC since early days
many happy hours @ deaf group home sitting next the TV interpreting for the kids.
Now an advocate for open captions [i.e. turning the captions ON] for seniors' residence TVs and for ESL/EAL students.
thanks for the thread. hope 'tubers amongst the 'catters take note.
keep on pickin'

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Subject: RE: Tech: writing closed captions for YouTube vids
From: CapriUni
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 10:26 PM

I've always been a mild/moderate fan of Captions, (open or closed), but I really fell in love with them when I was in grad school, and hanging out in the Disabled Services Student lounge, discovered I could comfortably and easily watch TV while folks sitting right next to me could study for their midterms, and nobody was put out.

After I got into the habit of using them as a matter of course, I realized that I had a higher level of comprehension watching the TV news ('Cause hearing as well as reading the info helped me catch what I was missing), and especially watching cop / murder mystery films -- ever notice how the really crucial clues are always whispered, right at the moment the dramatic music flares? ;-)

Now, I have the attitude that a video without some form of captions is only half-made -- as if the person didn't bother to light their video well, or check for squealing feedback on their mic. A quick-n-dirty direct-from-webcam video is one thing, but if you're going to make something polished, and write a script for what you're going to say, anyway, it's not that much more work to adapt your script into captions...

[*climbs down from soapbox*]

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Subject: RE: Tech: writing closed captions for YouTube vids
From: GUEST,DrWord
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 10:40 PM

[*climbs soapbox] what CapriUni said.


[*jumps off soapbox*]

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Subject: RE: Tech: writing closed captions for YouTube vids
From: GUEST,Fossil at work
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 10:46 PM

Nothing to say about closed captions (but will bear the advice in mind, so thanks for it anyway). [*edges soapbox to one side with foot*]

What I wanted to say is, that if you take away the extraneous code, CapriUni's example is a pretty damn good song! Or poem, if you read it without music. Nice words, well done CU!

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Subject: RE: Tech: writing closed captions for YouTube vids
From: CapriUni
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 12:21 AM

Thanks, Fossil!

I am actually planning on posting the whole poem -- and it is a spoken poem with two sung interludes -- to a Mudcat thread, once I've finished writing the journal post that accompanies it, probably to the Mudcat Poetry Corner...

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