Captions are on-screen text descriptions that display the dialogue, identifies the speakers, and describes other relevant sounds that are otherwise inaccessible to the viewers of a video, television show, movie, computer presentation, or similar media production. Captioning was developed to assist people with hearing impairments, but can be useful to all people depending on their situation. For example, captions can be read when audio can’t be heard no matter what the reason, such as a noisy surrounding environment, or due to the need to keep quiet (no audio playing), such as in a hospital or in a library when headphones aren’t available. Captions can also help improve language comprehension and fluency, whether in your native language or a second language.
Captions can be either closed or open. Closed captions can be turned on or off, whereas open captions are always visible.
Captions are just text transcript files with time codes identifying when that phrase is to appear on screen. You can create your own caption file using software found online, but we recommend using YouTube to caption your personally created videos. (NOTE: if a non-captioned video that you want to use in your course does not belong to you, then check with the Library to see if they can assist you with finding a captioned copy of the video or find a suitable replacement).
Note: If you want to download a copy of the caption file, click on the caption file, then Actions. From the Actions menu you get the download option, and select .srt. This will allow you to download a copy of the caption file to your computer.
What is a transcript? It is a text-based representation of audio, in our case a text based representation of recorded audio. It is usually just a word document with all the spoken dialogue and sound effects in the audio recording typed out in text. Nothing fancy or formal necessary, although you can refer to the DCMP Captioning Guidelines for how to represent multiple speakers and sound effects.
You can create a transcript just by typing the dialogue and sound effects that are in a recording, into a Word document. But there are tools that can make this process easier. One option is the simple but effective Transcribe tool ($20/yr). It can slow down your audio file playback with very little distortion, enough that it keeps pace with your typing speed (Free 7 day trial).
So for video, you want to provide captions (synchronized to the video), and for audio recordings you will want to provide a transcript (not synchronized). Caption files in videos are just transcript files with timecodes.
Note: to create a transcription from a caption file, you can download the caption file as described above and remove the timecodes.
Many people prefer to write out a script before recording their audio or video file. A script helps you stay on track during your recording session and helps you make sure that you don’t forget something important. If you’ve written out a script in advance, you already have the text you need for the video captions and the audio transcript.
If you have a script, then creating a caption file on YouTube is much easier.
Note: if your script is properly capitalized and punctuated, you will not need to do any edits. That’s why this is the recommended method to use for captioning videos.