Thursday, June 18, 2015

Captioning a Video for the First Time

Technology has advanced in leaps and bounds in the area of assistive technology.  Computers can convey content from programs and the web to users with visual impairments with little difficulty.  It becomes challenging when users with hearing impairments wish to access content in audio or video files. Closed captioning is when the transcript of a video or audio file is time synced to the content so that users can access the information in real time.  There are a variety of services and products available for closed captioning that range from computer generated to a live transcriptionist.


The cost for captioning can be a major obstacle for institutions because it can be expensive and time intensive. Luckily, many companies like Techsmith Camtasia Studio and Youtube offer captioning features within their products.  These features require the user to put forth a little extra time and effort to save on cost.  I wanted to share my first experience using the captioning feature in Camtasia Studio 7 so that you can learn from my mistakes.


I am creating some informational videos about making materials compliant with 501c accommodation standards for KUMC faculty and staff. When I was working on the first video, I was excited to find out that I could caption it! Studio has three options for creating captions.  1) speech to text that is auto-generated from the video audio, 2) sync text to the video and 3) manual captioning.

Human nature typically selects the option that appears to be the easiest.  I opted to use the auto-generated text because it appeared easy, but I ended up with a bit of a mess.  The first problem was I did not use the vocal training within Camtasia Studio before running the auto captions.  This training helps you enunciate your words clearly and helps the computer software to become familiar with your speech patterns.  I ended up with the word "ADA" showing up as "radiate" and many other errors. Although these were funny, it required a lot of time to manually correct the text. 


The second problem was the auto-generated text did not include punctuation.  I had to read through my entire script and manually add the periods, commas, semicolons and other punctuation.  This is very frustrating because the text displays in speech bubbles of 3-5 lines of text. You have to click on the next speech bubble of text to edit it.  In addition, there is no built-in grammar check so you must rely on your own skills.


The third problem was the captions are not linked to the video and audio segment.  The captions are separate items.  This becomes a problem if you decide to move clips around after adding captions.  I decided to move a few clips around and discovered my captions were out of order!  You can move the caption to match the clip, but it is time consuming and frustrating.


After this experience, I realized the easiest way to caption a video is to have a transcript typed up in advance.  This is very easy because you can copy and paste the entire document into the captions speech bubble.  Camtasia Studio will automatically break up the text into 3-5 sentence chunks for the captions.  You can then use the "sync text to video" option to match up the first word of each chunk with the audio.  This process is very easy and allows you to work at your own pace.


So, how can you have a positive experience?


  • Finish editing your video before captioning it!  This is critical because captions are not linked to the video clips.
  • Type up a transcript of the video in Word (or text editing program of your choice.)  It would be optimal to do this as a script before recording.  The script can easily be cleaned up after the final production is recorded. 
  • The sync feature is very easy! This is my recommended method of adding captions in Studio.
  • If you choose to use the voice to text feature, do the voice training before auto-captioning your video.  Be prepared for 80% accuracy or less and remember you will need to add punctuation.


There you have it; my experience captioning my first video.  It was far from perfect or even pleasant but I learned a lot.  I had access to Camtasia Studio, but you do not need fancy software to add captions to videos. Youtube users can add captions to their videos for free.  I would recommend watching tutorials about how captioning is supposed to be done. 


If you have Camtasia Studio, here are links to Camtasia Studio 7 Captioning Tutorials:
If you have any questions about Camtasia Studio or podcasting services on KUMC campus contact Teaching and Learning Technologies at tlt@kumc.edu, or 913-588-7107. 


For questions about  501c accommodations contact Cynthia Ukoko, cukoko@kumc.edu, or 913-945-7035. 

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