Making it Work
The last few days, I’ve been working on finding a simple, easy-to-use captioning system for short instructor created videos (course intro or a weekly summary/overview). It’s been an interesting process. I’ve discovered quite a few people and organizations working to help make videos on the web more accessible.
YouTube has a couple of features that allow for fairly easy captioning. YouTube has an automated machine transcription creator. It isn’t perfect, but it does prevent you from having to sync the timing and also you don’t have to type out every word. If you need a quick turnaround time, YouTube might not be the best option as sometimes it takes 24 hours or so to create the machine transcription.
Overstream and Universal Subtitles.org are two examples which allow you to caption YouTube videos (and many other web-based video hosts) and play them back with captions. The biggest advantage in this approach is that you can caption videos found on the web that you didn’t upload* . The alternative is to get the owner of the video to caption their video or provide you with the machine generated caption file for correction, which can then be edited, and sent back to the owner for upload. Depending on the willingness or availability of the owner it might be easier to just do it yourself (DIY).
* Only the owner of the video has native access to uploading & downloading the caption files on YouTube.
YouTube has a couple of features that allow for fairly easy captioning. YouTube has an automated machine transcription creator. It isn’t perfect, but it does prevent you from having to sync the timing and also you don’t have to type out every word. If you need a quick turnaround time, YouTube might not be the best option as it takes 24 hours or so to create the machine transcription.
- Record from Webcam & publish or upload prerecorded video.
- Wait a few hours and check for machine transcription.
- Download the resulting machine created caption file in.sbv format.
- Open the caption file in notepad (on pc) or textedit (on mac).
- Correct the machine created wording.
- Upload the corrected transcription file back to YouTube.
- Watch and share your newly captioned video.
- Another option is to write out your transcript first and upload it for YouTube to provide the timing.
Currently, Overstream supports the following video providers: YouTube, Google Video, MySpace Video, Veoh, Blip.tv, Archive.org, and Vimeo.com. The editing window is a little small, but you can zoom the timeline. The tutorial gives some good hints for aligning everything.
- Copy the video url (ex.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NWicnS0JWQ)
- Go to Overstream and choose create new overstream
- Paste the url (must be the long link version)
- If the url is correct, video will display in player window
- Play video and click add subtitle at appropriate spot
- Type the words you hear into the text box
- You can adjust the length of the text display.
- Once you’ve adjusted the first subtitle, create the next until you’re done.
- Save your newly captioned video
- Adjust properties (access, categories, comments, tags, etc…)
- Save properties and create link.
- Watch and share newly captioned video
Universal Subtitles works with all the most popular video hosting services and video players. It works in a collaborative Wikipedia-like fashion. The software is open source, can be used and improved by anyone. The editing window is more user friendly than overstream. The volunteer community is also quite helpful with translation to other languages.
- Copy the video url
- Go to Universal Subtitles
- Paste the url (you can use the short link!)
- A window opens up with all the permalinks, embed code, and social media sharing options.
- Click on Subtitle Me
- At first you just type along without worrying about edits and timing
- Each step takes you through a short tutorial (or you can skip them)
- Set the timing
- Review and/or edit
- Your done.
Captioning is really not as hard as you would think. The technology is evolving and automation is becoming better and better. In my tests, it took about 30 minutes to caption a 3-4 minute video.
As for the best platform, I personally like either the YouTube option (when time is available) or Universal Subtitles (when I need them immediately). Each individual should test out at least two options to see what works best for their particular circumstances. And look around the web; there are many other options out there.
Hope that helps,