We all tune out about 5 - 10 minutes into a video. When making videos, chunk the material into short segments rather than one long video. Write a script. Using a script will make you talk clearer, slower, and keep you to the point at hand. Plus, a script will save you a lot of time and money that you would then need to put towards creating or paying for captions.

If you take the time to write a script, not only will your video sound better, but you can load the script into YouTube, where it will automatically be synced to the audio. Win. Win. If you're doing a screencast or narrating a PowerPoint, keep in mind that captions display at the bottom of the screen. Try to keep that area clear so that you're not covering important content with the captions. When filming yourself, make sure you're in a quiet and plain environment. Make sure you don't have a television going in the background, your dogs aren't barking, and there are no distracting elements in the background (like overflowing garbage cans, weird posters, etc.). Viewers will become more interested in what's happening around you than what you're saying.

Adding Captions in YouTube

  • Don’t rely on YouTube’s machine generated captions. They are not reliable and do no protect you from an OCR violation. While they do improve when you speak clearly and slowly, they never contain punctuation, which makes for a confusing reading experience for the viewer.
  • If you used a script and have published your video to YouTube, creating captions will be a piece of cake.
    1. Go to the Video manager, and in the edit dropdown menu next to your video, select "Subtitles and CC".
    2. Select video language.
    3. Select "Add new subtitles or CC" (and select the video language again).
    4. Select "Transcribe and auto sync".
    5. Paste your script into the box, then click "set timings".
    6. Wait a few minutes while YouTube runs it's magic!
  • If you did not use a script
    • One option is to follow the steps above, but for step #6, you will listen to your video and transcribe it yourself before hitting "set timings" (anticipate transcription to take 3 - 5 times the length of the video). 
    • The other option is to use YouTube's machine generated captions, then to go through and edit them (there's no evidence that this takes less time than transcribing... so, again, start with a script if you want to do this the quickest way).
      1. Upload your video to YouTube.
      2. Eventually, when you select "Subtitles & CC" from the edit menu, you will see "English (automatic)" next to your video -- this sometimes takes a while and may not happen at all if there is a lot of silence at the start of the video.
      3. Click on "English (Automatic)" to review the machine generated captions.
      4. To edit the captions, click "Edit" in the top right corner.
      5. Click in the caption boxes to add punctuation (a must) and correct errors. While you type in your changes, the video will pause.
      6. Once you are done, click "Publish edits" in the top right corner.
      7. You will now see two sets of captions. Click on "English (Automatic)" again. In the "Actions" dropdown menu, select "Unpublish".
      8. You can also use this approach to create a caption file - which can be downloaded and uploaded into Panopto, if that is your preferred video hosting site.

Adding Captions in Panopto

  • First, make or upload your video to Panopto
    • Open your video in Edit mode.
    • Select Captions from the menu.
    • Click the "Import Captions" dropdown menu.
    • Select "Import automatic captions" (NOTE: this is only available for videos created after 12/17/16 - for videos created before that date, contact your eLearning administrator). 
    • Once the captions have processed, you can click in the individual boxes to edit the text.
    • Publish your video to save the changes.
    • When viewing the video, you can change the location, color, and size of the captions.

If you have money to spend

  • If your school has money to put towards captioning, there is another very simple option: use a captioning vendor. There are many captioning vendors on the market that will deliver you a caption file that can be uploaded to YouTube, Vimeo, Panopto, Canvas, etc. However, these services usually run over $2.00 per minute.
  • Check with your eLearning office to find out if you have a captioning budget, or speak with your dean to see if your division or department might have money to go towards captions.
  • The State Board recently contracted with 3Play Media to provide captioning services at a reduced cost. In some cases, the State Board is currently working on a plan to subsidize instructional videos. More information will be released as the process is developed.

Videos Made in Canvas

  • If you made a video in Canvas, you can still add captions using a free program called Amara. This is not the easiest approach. It involves transcribing and manually setting timings (which chunks the text so that a readable amount displays at just the right time - Panopto's caption editor works similarly).
  • Canvas Guide on using Amara

Caption Quality

  • When checking your captions for quality and accuracy, there are a few basic guidelines that may help:
    • Captions should be no longer than two lines, when possible.
    • Captions should stay on the screen for a minimum of four seconds, and a maximum of six seconds.
    • Captions should be aligned with the audio they represent.
    • Error-free captions are the goal.
    • Generally, these issues are taken care of by auto-syncing and captioning services, but mistakes do happen. It's worth checking your captions for timing and errors. Quality recommendations are frequently very detailed, but these are the basics
  • Quality Captioning


Resources on the Web

Contact Accessibility Coordinators

  David Wallis, Director of IT Services/Technology Accessibility Coordinator

   (360) 442-2251
Fax: (360) 442-2259

  Mary Kate Morgan/Director of Disability and Access Services & Special Populations

   (360) 442-2341