Arrrghhhhh - Closed Captioning on Videos


Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Mar 22, 2009 GMT
Jon maddog Hall

I first officially posted my video "Amazing Source" on February 6th, and to date it has had over 4200 views. O.K., probably 200 of those view were mine as I tried various tweeks to get things correct....

One of the things I have been trying to get correct was closed captioning. At first I thought this was going to be too hard and I was not going to do it, but two people, Joner Cyrre Worm and Felipe van de Wiel of Brazil, kept after me, urging me to create the translations. Eventually Joner shamed me into doing the closed captions by creating the timing file with most of the English typed in and sending it to me for verification.

Now his attempt convinced me on two levels. First of all, as I read the "pirate talk" that he had in his file, I could see where non-native speakers would have problems looking up some terms in their English dictionaries. "Matey" and "Yo Ho Ho" are hard to find in most dictionaries. Even if those words were included in foreign-language dictionaries, looking them up is hard if you did not know how they are spelled in English. Joner had tried, but question marks filled the spaces where "shiver me timbers" should have been.

Close captioning would put the English spelling of "Matey" on the screen, allowing the person watching the video to pause and look up the word.

What further convinced me was the explanation of closed captioning on the YouTube site, where they pointed out that some people have a difficult time hearing anything. That meant I was discluding people from my messages of Software Freedom. That went a long way to convincing me to make the extra effort.

What finally convinced me was the ease of doing the closed captions. Joner showed me a site:
where you can easily link to the existing video on various "video" sites, then use overstream to create a file that has the timing marks and the text for your native language. This file is called an "SRT" file. Once you have the marks and closed captioning correct, you can download the file and upload it to places like YouTube by editing your video's information, clicking on "Captions and Subtitles" and uploading the SRT file.

You can also create another copy of the file, and either you (or a friend) can substitute another language for your native language. Then you have a foreign language subtitle!

Once I got the hang of making closed captions in English, it was a lot easier for Joner and my other friends to translate the English into various languages. We even had "noise captions" on this video about patents which lent a lot to it for the hearing impaired.

Then something interesting recently happened. YouTube now offers a beta of "instant translation" for Closed Captions. If you do a closed caption in one language, the automatic translation tries to translate that language into another of your choice during the video. While this might not work very well for the "Arrrghh, arrgghhh, arrggghhh" of the Amazing Source pirates, it will probably work fairly well for the other more common words.

So try out "closed captioning". Help out those who would like to know what you have to say, even if we don't all speak the same language.



  • Have yo worked with non-web-based captioning systems?

    I'm looking into captioning a set of videos on setting up Linux systems, primarily for a hearing-impaired population. I did not create the videos but I got permission to add the captions from the original author. He sent me a DVD which I have converted to a series of VOB files.

    I have found several subtitle / caption editors in the Ubuntu repositories, though none are officially supported. I'm looking for reviews, as I'd prefer to know what I'm getting into before downloading a bunch of packages at random.
  • why is did come on closed caption but i want wach espn on monday nigth football

    for me our deaf human rigth went iam deaf i use becuse i wach espn for monday nigth football for the play by play same has real player and fash player same thik went commper by wach commper tv some co has make by sofewere on commper proram that meet if you going put top of your tv set to hard drve how this may work deaf guys has there idea put ontv untll commper work more like a tv if people like that problm of there idea doing that way is hard question i was wach that movie and sports proram if we want closed caption onjustin .tv were deaf people want that future were we like hope justin tv must have histv by the clased caption that show deaf people read on proram your mr stephen page thak for sport deaf people
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