How to Add Captions to Video

How to Add Captions and Subtitles to Video

Adding subtitles to videos is beneficial for a range of audiences, and for a variety of reasons. It makes video content accessible for individuals that are deaf or hard of hearing, for those who don't fully understand the language of the video, and even for those who want to watch your video on the go.

Interestingly, subtitles are becoming more and more popular among young people. A recent study by the BBC found that 80% of 18-25 year olds use subtitles all or some of the time, largely to help them follow a show - especially if other distractions and devices are competing for their attention.

It's never been easier to add subtitles to videos. In this guide we'll walk you through three quick and easy ways to add captions and subtitles to make sure your content is easy to access for everyone!

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First things first: Get your subtitle file

Before you get started with adding subtitles to your video, you'll need to transcribe your video to get a script. This script will become the subtitle file, which you can upload on top of your video.

There are several ways to do this:

  • Do it yourself

Depending on the length of the video and how much time you've got on your hands, you could manually write out the subtitles yourself, noting down everything that's said as well as any background noises and additional information that would be useful for viewers.

  • Human transcription services

Human transcription services promise the best possible accuracy, and can include the elements necessary for captions like background noises, but since it's real-life professional transcribers doing the job, these services are often expensive and can take quite a long time.

  • Automatic transcription services

Automatic transcription services like Transcribe harness the power of artificial intelligence to give you fast, high-quality transcriptions in a matter of minutes. They're perfect for subtitles, and to turn them into captions you can simply go through the video and add in any extra details.

How to get a subtitle file using Transcribe

Here's a step-by-step guide for how to transcribe a video and get a subtitle file with our easy-to-use app or online editor:

1. Download the Transcribe app or launch the online editor

2. Upload your video file

3. Select the language of your video

4. Start the transcription process

5. Export your transcript with timestamps in SRT format

No matter how you choose to transcribe your video, save your subtitle or caption file with timestamps in SRT so that it's ready to upload to your video.

SRT is a file format specifically for subtitles and captions, made up of time coding and plain text, which video software reads and extracts in order to display subtitles on your video.

Three ways to add subtitles and captions to video

Once you've got your video transcript, the next step is to add it to your video so that it appears as subtitles. Here are three of the easiest ways to add captions and subtitles to videos for free:

How to add subtitles to videos with Google Drive

One of the easiest ways to add captions to a video is on Google Drive. It's quick, straightforward, and completely free. Here's how you do it:

1. Sign in or sign up to Google Drive

2. Upload your video

3. Click the More sign (three dots) and choose Manage caption tracks

4. Click Add new caption tracks

5. Select your caption file in SRT format

6. Choose the language of your new captions and give the captions track a title

7. Click Upload to add captions to your video

How to add subtitles to videos with the YouTube editor

Adding captions to a YouTube video is quick, easy and free too. You can do so directly on the platform. Here's how:

1. Sign in or sign up to YouTube

2. Upload your video

3. Open the video and navigate to Subtitles/CC

4. Select your language

5. Under subtitles, click Add

6. Upload your transcript (or opt to type your captions out manually or use the automatic captions function)

7. When ready, save your video

How to add subtitles to videos with Kapwing

Kapwing is an online content creation platform that you can use to add captions to videos, with the added bonus of being able to edit how they look on screen. It's free to use for videos up to seven minutes long, or you can upgrade to a $16/month plan for longer videos.

1. Sign up or sign in to Kapwing

2. Upload your video and open the file

3. Navigate to Subtitles

4. Upload your SRT file

5. Adjust the font, size, color, and position of the subtitles on your video

6. When that's done, save and download your video

Once you've added captions or subtitles to your video, you're ready to upload it and share it for your entire audience to enjoy.

Subtitles vs captions

The terms captions and subtitles are often used interchangeably, but there is a slight difference. Captions are designed for viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing, while subtitles are designed for viewers who can hear, but don't understand the language being spoken in the video.

Subtitles are typically used for video content that is likely to be consumed by an international audience, and they're simply a transcription of the dialogue.

Captions go a step further and also include background noises (like screaming, a knock at the door, or a crash of thunder), speaker differentiation, and other relevant information to make content more accessible for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

They come in two forms: open or closed captions. Closed captions (CC) can be turned off by the viewer, while open captions are embedded into the video and can't be turned off.

There are global guidelines in place to encourage web content accessibility, created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and standards for captioning can be found on the W3C website.

Benefits of adding subtitles and captions to your videos

Adding subtitles to your videos is beneficial for a whole host of reasons. Let's take a look at some of the key benefits:

  • Accessibility

Adding subtitles to your videos makes your video content more accessible for members of your audience with impaired hearing. It also makes it more accessible for international audiences, who have the chance to read along in their choice of language.

  • On-the-go watching

When members of your audience are out and about - perhaps on public transport or in a noisy environment - they might not be able to hear the video's audio. With subtitles, they can easily watch and understand your video content, no matter where they are.

  • SEO

Another benefit of adding subtitles is that they can boost your video's SEO. Search engines rely on metadata when trying to understand the content of a video, which includes subtitles! By adding them, you increase the chances of your video ranking in search results.

What type of videos need subtitles?

The short answer: every type of video! If you want to make your videos accessible, easy to watch on the go, and give them the best chance of reaching a wide and diverse audience, then it's a good idea to add subtitles to every video you create.

  • Subtitles for movies and TV shows

Many countries have strict laws about captioning for movies and TV shows for accessibility purposes. For example, in the US, laws and standards like the ADA, the CVAA, and the FCC serve as a guideline for achieving accessibility in the entertainment industry.

  • Subtitles for social media videos

Did you know that 85% of Facebook video is watched without sound? Adding subtitles to your social media videos encourages users to watch your content while they're scrolling through their feeds.

  • Subtitles for YouTube videos

Adding captions to your YouTube videos not only makes it easier for your audience to watch videos on the go, it also helps to improve your YouTube SEO, which can help you to grow your audience.

Adding subtitles to Vimeo videos and Dailymotion videos is important too.

  • Subtitles for business videos

Whether it's a pre-recorded webinar, an onboarding video, or a video for internal communication, video subtitling can help to increase engagement among employees and customers. It makes it easier for them to watch your videos from anywhere, on any device.

  • Subtitles for academic videos

Subtitles make it easier for students to follow and understand what's happening in academic videos, improving their knowledge retention and enriching their learning experience. Subtitles are also beneficial for international students, who might find it easier to translate the subtitles and watch the video in their mother tongue.

Final thoughts

Ready to create subtitles for your videos? Download the Transcribe app or launch the online editor to get started.

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