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Video Captioning on the Web


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A history of closed captioning and a comparison of online caption editors. For my presentation at Refresh DC on June 16, 2011.

Published in: Education
  • This is really great! I work for Student Disability Services at Cornell University, and I'm putting together some information to show professors regarding why they should caption any A/V materials in their classes -- this is a fantastic resource!

    BTW, I've captioned several videos myself at this point (I normally work in the classroom as a C-Print Captionist but I also make videos accessible for the students I work with), and my software of choice is Aegisub, which is also free. I think it's great that there are so many choices out there. :)
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  • Great info. For an easy-to-use desktop solution, please try MovieCaptioner (Mac/Win). We offer a free ebook 'Get Started with Video Captioning' (in PDF or iBooks format) that is a good guide for people new to video captioning. It's really very easy with the right tools! Here is the link:
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Video Captioning on the Web

  1. 1. VideoCaptioning on the Web
  2. 2. Russell Heimlich★ Sole developer at the Pew Research Center★ Creator of★ Frontend and Backend Developer★ I care about accessibility
  3. 3. What Are Video Captions?“Captions are text versions of the spokenword allowing the content of web audioand video to be accessible to those who do not have access to audio.” –
  4. 4. What Are Video Captions?★ You know them as the text on the bottom
  5. 5. Captions vs. Subtitles★ Captions are a transcript of the audio and key sound effects for deaf viewers.★ Subtitles are translations of the audio in another language for hearing viewers.★
  6. 6. Open Captions vs. Closed Captions★ Open captions are burned in to the video and always on the screen.★ Closed captions can be turned on or off and are independent of the video.
  7. 7. Open Captions vs. Closed Captions★ Open captions are like a flattened image★ Closed captions are like Photoshop layers
  8. 8. Who Benefits from Captions?★ Deaf viewers★ Hard of hearing★ Second language learners★ Anyone watching TV in a noisy environment★ Machines (online)
  9. 9. The History of Captions How we got to where we are today...
  10. 10. PBS’ French Chef (1972)★ First television program that was accessible to deaf and hard of hearing viewers.★ Used “Open” Captions (burned onto the video)★ Source:
  11. 11. Closed Captioning★ First demonstrated in 1971 at a Hearing Impaired conference in Nashville.★ 2nd Demo at Gallaudet College (now Gallaudet University) on February 15, 1972.★ PBS station WETA broadcasted the first closed captioned programming in 1973.
  12. 12. The Early Years of Closed Captioning★ Real-time closed captioning wasn’t available until 1982.★ A separate set-top box was needed to decode
  13. 13. Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990★ Gave FCC power to enact rules on the implementation of Closed Captioning.★ Required screens 13” or greater to have built-in chip to display closed captions.★ Enforced on July 1st, 1993
  14. 14. 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act★ Ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities★ Public facilities (excluding movie theaters) had to provide access to verbal information on televisions, films or slide shows
  15. 15. Telecommunications Act of 1996Requires people or companies that distributetelevision programs directly to home viewers tomake sure those programs are captioned byJanuary 1, 1998.Source: National Institute on Deafness and OtherCommunication Disorders
  16. 16. 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010★ Requires broadcasters to provide captioning for television programs redistributed on the web.★ Source: Bill H.R. 3101
  17. 17. How Do I Caption MyOnline Videos?
  18. 18. By Online I Really Mean YouTube★ YouTube receives 48 hours of video a minute★ 3 Billion views a day!★ According to ComScore, as of April 2011, YouTube is the top online video property.★ Source: YouTube Blog & ComScore
  19. 19. In other words...
  20. 20. Paid Captioning Services For those with more money than time
  21. 21.★ $95 for 30 seconds★ 2 hours for $1,420
  22. 22.★ $7.50 / video minute★ $75 minimum
  23. 23.★ $3 / video minute★ Done by humans
  24. 24.★ $2 / video minute★ Machine / Human Analysis
  25. 25. Do It Yourself ToolsFor those with more time than money
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  32. 32. What about YouTube itself?
  33. 33. Adding Captions Screen
  34. 34. Upload Your Own★ Supports SubViewer (.sub) and SubRip (.srt)★ YouTube has it’s own similar format called SBV★ Any of these can be created in a text editor★ YouTube will convert it to SBV for you!
  35. 35. SubViewer (.sub) Format{Start frame}{End frame}Text ( | = line break ){1471}{1538}..and the continuance|of their parents rage,...{1540}{1634}..which, but their childrens end,|nought couldremove,...{1636}{1702} now the two hours traffic|of our stage.
  36. 36. SubRip (.srt) FormatSubtitle NumberStart time --> End time (HH:MM:SS,milliseconds)Text (one or more lines)Blank line100:00:20,000 --> 00:00:24,400Altocumulus clouds occur between six thousand200:00:24,600 --> 00:00:27,800and twenty thousand feet above ground level.
  37. 37. YouTube’s SBV FormatStart time, End time (H:MM:SS.milliseconds)Text (one or more lines)0:00:03.490,0:00:07.430>> FISHER: All right. So, lets begin.This session is: Going Social0:00:07.430,0:00:11.600with the YouTube APIs. I amJeff Fisher,0:00:14.009,0:00:15.889[pause]
  38. 38. Upload A Transcript★ No timecode? No problem.★ Upload a transcription and YouTube will sync it to the video automatically★ English and Japanese Only
  39. 39. Automatic Transcriptions★ Uses speech recognition to auto-caption video★ Same quality as Google Voice Transcriptions★ Manually Started (could take a few days)★ Source:
  40. 40. YouTube Captions Fail
  41. 41. Auto-translate Captions From the Player★ Machine translation available on the fly.
  42. 42. YouTube Caption Limitations★ You can only add captions to your own videos!★ Poor audio quality = poor caption quality★ Caption data only available via API to logged-in users
  43. 43. Other YouTube Caption Tricks★ Add ,cc to any search to show only captioned videos★ In the player, press... + to increase font - to decrese B or b to toggle caption background★ Captions are repositionable ( only)
  44. 44. To sum things up...
  45. 45. ★ Video captions are important★ Plenty of services to do caption videos for you★ Not a lot of good tools available★ Tedious to create captions from scratch today★ YouTube is easier/cheap way to caption videos
  46. 46. One More Thing...
  47. 47. Demo of
  48. 48. The End. Questions?★ Follow @kingkool68★ Follow @VidCapper and★ Accessibility DC Meetup June 21, MLK Library★ Accessibility Camp DC, October 22