For viewers of your videos who have a hearing impairment, video content without captions is not accessible.
These viewers could be potential customers, employees, investors – so including captions on your videos is an important part of demonstrating your approach to accessibility and maximising the potential audience for your video content.
In this article we will:
There is no right or wrong answer to how you choose to add captions to your videos – it’s a decision that you will make yourself based on your individual preferences.
We hope the information that we have included in this article will help you to make that decision.
Captions and subtitles are very different things.
Captions (or ‘Closed captioning’ to give it its proper name) is a way of displaying text on a video to provide more information or make your message more clear.
There’s a lot of different terminology around captions and subtitles for your videos so the first thing to do is to explain the difference.
The words ‘captions’ and ‘subtitles’ are often used interchangeably but they do, in fact, mean different things.
The University College of London defines captions as “A text version of the spoken part of a television, movie, or computer presentation. They are in the language of the medium rather than a translation to another language.”
Here is what closed captions look like on a typical video:
While ‘captions’ refer to the use of text in the same language as is being used in tbe video, the term ‘subtitles’ is used whenever the text being added on screen is in a different language from that being used in the video.
Rev.com defines subtitles as “lines of text at the bottom of the screen that translate the spoken dialogue into another language.”
When you’re adding closed captions to your videos, you’ve got 3 options:
Most of the social media platforms offer this for video content and it will involve an AI transcription of your video content.
The captions are automatically added in time with the audio in your video.
SRT Captions Files
SRT is a specific file type that is created by a transcription software.
This file is then uploaded along with your video file and is time stamped so that the captions are in sync with the audio in your video.
The benefits of using SRT files instead of automatic captions is that you will get the opportunity to review the captions before you download your SRT file.
While it is possible to edit your automatic captions on YouTube, it’s very often not done (because we forget) and it does mean that your video is available for public viewing before you have applied your corrections.
Some of these errors can be very minor (slight errors in how the AI has heard the voice) and others can be potentially very embarrassing or damaging to your brand or organisation.
This is where you make the decision at project design stage to hard code your captions into your video.
Doing this allows you to make a design feature of the captions (there is no option to change fonts or colours when you choose automatic captions or SRT files).
While this will add time to your initial video edit, it does ensure you are in full control of the captions and how they appear on your video.
Youtube’s help section actually notes that video captions may fail for a variety of reasons:
Thankfully, if you want a more accurate approach to ensure your company video provides the correct message, you can use SRT files or embedded captions.
An SRT file or SubRip subtitle file is essentially a plain text file that provides captions for your video matched with a timecode to make sure the audio aligns with the captions.
The file itself doesn’t contain audio or video, it’s just a text file you use alongside your video or audio. The image below shows a typical SRT file:
This video that we produced for Scileads earlier this year shows what a typical SRT file looks like in the final video.
At BlueSky Video Marketing we use Rev to create captions for our own content and our client projects.
Rev claims that their software is 99% accurate and our experience is that this isn’t far from the truth.
There are usually a few minor edits that need to be made, but for the most part it only takes a few minutes (depending on the length of your video).
It costs $1.50 per minute to use the service and it is a very cost effective, accurate method of adding captions to your video.
The Rev captioning service works by first using an AI transcription which is then reviewed by a human for accuracy before it is sent to you.
You can upload an audio file, video file or post a link to a public video for which you would like to create closed captions.
You can even connect with your Vimeo and YouTube channels so that once you’ve approved the captions files, they will be automatically added to your videos.
Rev can also identify the videos on your channel that do not currently have captions which makes it easy to determine what videos you need to focus on.
However, it will recognise automatic captions as a captions file – so you need to ensure you have turned off automatic captions as a default setting on your channel.
The platforms where video content is published regularly are increasingly adding automatic captions by default – so you need to opt out of this if you would prefer to create your own closed captions.
We use SRT files regularly to ensure that videos are accessible to everyone and to improve the clarity of the message.
It is possible to embed captions in videos and although it adds time to your video editing process, there are a number of benefits:
We use embedded captions regularly when producing square and vertical formats for customers as they are fully customisable and easily readable on all devices.
This video that we produced for Rhinowash this year shows how embedded captions can appear. This format is excellent for sharing on all social media platforms.
Captions are essential. That’s it.
The real question is what captions you should use.
All types of closed captions have their benefits and can be very useful in their own specific ways.
Our extensive experience in video has shown us that videos with captions enabled achieve better impressions, generate more enquiries and increase sales.
So let’s get using them!
If you want to learn more about closed captions or plan your next video project, you can book a call with Peter using the button below.