We’ve all been there when we finish making a video and realize we still need to subtitle our videos. You upload the video anyway.
Not so fast! Today, I’m going to show you why you should subtitle your videos, and how to become a pro at it.
Growing up, I didn’t have television, and it wasn’t because my parents couldn’t afford one. In fact, we had several televisions around the house, but closed captioning didn’t exist when I was a kid. I was born profoundly Deaf, and use American Sign Language to communicate.
What Happens When You Don’t Subtitle Your Videos
- People who need subtitles for learning purposes are at a disadvantage. If you have an online tutorial website and don’t subtitle your videos, you’ve lost some customers and students. I’ve cancelled my subscriptions from educational and premium tutorial websites for this reason alone. I don’t sign up for websites that don’t subtitle their videos either. Try watching an non-subtitled tutorial video with mute on and you’ll see it’s not easy following instructions.
- Non-subtitled advertisements attract less interest. There’s nothing worse than wanting to know about something before buying and you still don’t know what it is. Movie previews are notorious for this, I’d check out the preview but I would still have no clue what the movie is about. I don’t watch a lot of movie previews much now, and this applies to advertisements too. If I see it’s not subtitled, I’m not going to bother watching the whole thing.
- Your reputation is not as stellar as it would be if you subtitle your videos. Businesses or people who don’t subtitle their videos get a bad reputation for accessibility. This happens in video games, movies, education, and everywhere that use video as a medium- we are among the people you cater to, whether we’re students, customers or viewers. Providing accessibility through subtitles give people reason to trust you, or your brand and product in videos.
Most people don’t realize how helpful subtitles are, and it isn’t just for Deaf people or people who don’t speak your language. Subtitling your videos make it easier for children and adults in learning what you’re talking about. It’s been proven that using closed captioning and subtitles increases literacy, so all the more reason to start subtitling your videos! I hope I’ve convinced you to roll up your arms and get the job done.
7 Steps To Becoming A Subtitle Expert
It doesn’t have to be hard, and becomes almost second nature the more often you do it. I’m a big fan of Amara because it lets you work with your online videos from popular online video streaming services like Youtube and Vimeo. Since those platforms are most commonly used for online videos, I’ll be showing you how to turn your collection of videos into even better content that’s available for everyone!
- Sign up at Amara. You’ll need to get an account there, and afterward, you can add any video by entering the link to the video in the box under ‘Add a Video’, as seen in this screenshot. I’ll be using a video as a demonstration that I used in my film workshop a few weeks ago (link). We shot a brief video of someone doing introductions to use for my subtitling demonstration in the later part of the workshop for my students.
- You’ll see options for languages to subtitle your video in. Select what your native language is, and then select what language you are subtitling in for the video. Here, I’ve selected my language as English, but I’m subtitling in American Sign Language, since that is what the presenter is using. So it makes sense to indicate that even though the subtitles are English, the speaker is using American Sign Language so your viewers can also take that into context.
- Once you do that, you’ll be taken to a video on the next page, showing you how to get started. I recommend watching the video in learning how to subtitle, they’re great for beginners and provide comprehensive information on how subtitling works on Amara. Finally, the real work starts where you have to enter text into the box below the video on the next page after you finish watching the video. See how I’ve put in my first line, “Hello everyone! It’s the Film Workshop Weekend.” in the box so far.
- You’ll notice there are two buttons, a green one that lets you play the next 4 seconds and a blue one that lets you replay the last 4 seconds. Use the blue button if you need to replay the last four seconds until you’re happy with your line of text for those four seconds. Click on the green button when you’re ready to move on to the next four seconds of the video and enter a new line of text. Once you’re done, click on ‘Done? Next Step: Sync’. You’ll be timing your subtitles next.
- You’ll get a video explaining how you can sync your subtitles to the video using the timeline. Simply play the video, using the blue button to replay if needed and adjust the subtitle length if you feel it’s too quick to read or too long. Most of the time though, four seconds is good enough if you’ve kept your subtitles short. You can put those block back to back if you want to, and in my video, I have to because the speaker doesn’t stop signing until the end of the video. So use your best judgement, and aim for comfortable reading time length for your viewers.
- Once you’re happy with the timing of the subtitles, click on ‘Done? Next Step: Subtitle info’. You’ll want to enter a description for what your video is about so people can find your video through search engines. It’s also useful to have a short summary of what the video is about.
- This is really the last part now. We’re almost there! Here, you get a chance to correct your subtitles before you publish. Otherwise, you can click on ‘Done? Submit your work’ and download your new subtitle file preferably in .srt, although there are other formats available. I like to download subtitle files in .srt format because it’s quicker if I do my corrections using text editors and re-upload the file. Plus, it can act as your transcript if you wanted to provide that also. You will need to upload the .srt file with your online video on Youtube or where ever else your video is hosted on. That’s it!
Congratulations, you’re on your way to becoming a pro at subtitling!
It will take some time and effort to get comfortable with subtitling your videos. Amara is really great for subtitling your videos, and isn’t difficult to use once you get the hang of it. You’ll be getting more fans and helping increase accessibility throughout the Internet by taking accountability for your own videos. I’ll be sure to do the same for you so you can understand my videos in American Sign Language too :)