Video Captioning: YouTube Transcribe and Auto-Sync as a Workflow Tool

Milo Thiesen
Aug 7, 2017 · 4 min read

Recently I was tasked with writing documentation for a video captioning workflow, so I thought I’d make a medium post about it in the case that others are interested in the process.

The goal here is to add closed captions to all of the existing video distribution channels at my institution (Brightcove, YouTube, and Facebook).

My hope is that this blog post will show others how easy it can be to increase accessibility across video distribution channels by using the YouTube Transcribe and auto-sync tool combined with the download options that become available after the captions have been published.

Here we go!

Step 1: At picture lock, upload an .mp4 to YouTube and Brightcove, and send the video metadata (video description, title, credits, etc.) out for approval by Creative. (our video metadata approval process is done through Sitecore in staging)

Step 2: Gather the transcript and login to your YouTube account. Go to ‘creator studio’ → ‘video manager’ → ‘videos’.

Step 3: Search for the video you are working on. Click ‘Edit’ and choose ‘Subtitles/CC’.

Step 4: Click add new subtitles or CC and choose your desired language.

Step 5: Choose ‘Transcribe and auto-sync’, copy and paste the transcript into the text box, and click ‘Set Timings’. It can take a few minutes for YouTube to process the timings, but usually it is less than 5 minutes.

Paste text from transcript into text box

Step 6: Review timing and placement of text for accuracy. Hit publish when you are finished. You can adjust the timing of the captions by pulling at the blue edges of the text boxes on the timeline below the video.

Step 7: Download the timed file as a .vtt (Brightcove) and .srt (Facebook) into your archive. I recommend keeping this with your video master to future proof your video accessibility initiative.

Click on the published version to go into edit mode
Download a .vtt and .srt, save them in your archive for safe keeping and to future proof your accessibility initiatives

Step 8: Login to Brightcove, go to videos, search for the video you want. Click into the video, you will see that the text track area is in the bottom right hand corner of the video page. Here is a link to Brightcove’s documentation on how to upload a text track.

Step 9: Locate the SubRip (.srt) version of your caption file. Make sure that the filename uses the following convention.

Facebook .srt naming convention = filename.[language code]_[country code].srt

Ex. filename.en_US.srt

This is required for uploading a caption file to Facebook. Here is Facebook’s documentation on file naming conventions for caption files.

Step 10: Login to Facebook, go to ‘your videos’, click into video, choose options → Edit the video → choose file → select .srt from your computer → click save. Here is Facebook’s documentation on how to upload a caption track.

More Tools

ccSubs.com: You can use the website ccSubs to download the available captions from most YouTube videos. This includes auto-generated captions which can be a great starting point for legacy content.

3playmedia’s Caption Converter: There are many online tools that allow you to convert between different caption formats. Check out the Caption Converter from 3playmedia.com, it is one of my favorites!

Milo Thiesen

Written by

Museum technologist for digital asset management, digital preservation, and creative operations with a focus on photography, video, and 3D formats.

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