Captioning the world, two formats at a time?

May 20th, 2009 by Steph.

Back to looking at captioning of video content…

Originally, we did Quicktime video captioning, since our tutorials were all Quicktime files (for podcasting). Then, we opted to switch them all over to Flash for the new website (which has yet to be completed). It was almost like having to do it all twice!! The process was incredibly painful, and you constantly have to tweak to get it right. This really isn’t something that most people would be willing to do…

The first problem we face is the transcribing of the video — luckily, I usually work on short (5 minute), scripted videos. That means I basically have a transcript to work with at the get-go. How would this work when dealing with a lecture, or other kinds of live, unscripted and often lengthy types of presentations??

The next consideration is format — do you want to podcast, stream, embed flash in a webpage… or even put on a DVD to be viewed on a television? For those of us working manually, this needs to be decided before you start — and you pray you don’t change your mind later, or need to offer it in various formats.

This brings me to the focus of this post… captioning software. This is my first real look into the features available in software, and the costs involved. The two that keep coming up in my searches are both available at – CaptionMaker for Windows, and MacCaption for Mac. Neither one will do audio-to-text, so you need to have a transcript to start. Basically, both are tools that will make the captioning (placing text on the appropriate screen, at the appropriate time, in the appropriate format) a little simpler for the person doing it, AND can export to various formats. Sounds like a great idea to someone like me, who has spent far too much time taking my caption info from Quicktime and trying to master the art of "find & replace" in order to get it in the right format for Flash.

The problem? These come with an incredibly high price tag. I find it baffling that the cost of the software for making a video would be less than the software for doing the captioning. This isn’t to say that it wouldn’t be worth it — actually, that’s something that needs to be assessed. How often will it be used? By how many people?

In any case, this blog will serve as a reminder that I need to find a better solution than the fully manual process I use now…


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