Whether you want to educate, entertain, inform, or be the next viral hit online, video captions are a vital aspect of reaching the widest audience possible. Video captions make videos more accessible for people that are D/deaf or hard of hearing, as well as individuals with English as a second language. Not only that, but video captions are a great way to make your videos SEO-friendly and easily searchable on the internet. Video captioning is the right thing to do, but how do you do it exactly?
In case video captioning seems a little perplexing, here are some DIY captioning suggestions to get you started.
DIY Video Captioning Tips
1) Don’t wait to add video captions. Make sure you include captions by the time your video goes live.
That way, if you are a teacher providing video educational materials, your students will already have access to what they need. You won’t need to tweak anything throughout the term. And if you are posting online, adding video captions right away will help maximize your initial impact in search results and views.
Please note that you should not assume YouTube auto-captions are accessible. They can often be incorrect or offensive. Auto-captions may also create distractions or completely misrepresent your video.
2) YouTube has a great platform for creating captions for videos, and it's free to use!
With any Google account, you have access to your own "Creator Studio" space and YouTube channel. In the Creator Studio, you can write captions directly into each video's captioning area or you can upload transcripts. YouTube auto-synchronizes your captions to your video. Then you can manually adjust the captions' timing if needed. You can also download these caption files from YouTube and save them to your computer for future use elsewhere.
The video viewer can customize the appearance, font, and size of the captions. That makes this platform a great tool to provide a basic level of accessibility without spending a lot of extra time on video captioning. You can also initially upload your video as private. Then, once you've captioned the video, make it live so it’s all there at once, ready to go!
3) 3PlayMedia offers a wonderful and free conversion tool to DIY captioners, available here.
Different video platforms will often require different formats of caption files. Don’t freak out! The easiest way to handle this is to still caption your videos in YouTube, then download an .srt file. In the platform’s Help or Support area, look up which caption file formats the platform accepts. If you have existing video captioning but a finicky video player that requires a different file type, definitely try this converter before anything else!
Interested in having Strada caption your videos for you?
We'd love to! Learn more at our captioned media page or click the button below and we’ll get in touch.
Liz Chibucos is Strada’s Accessible Media Manager and works on a variety of projects from closed captioning to accessible text to audio description. Liz works for Strada by day, plays music by night, and currently resides in Portland, OR.