Captioning Your Video

examples of captioned video
Ryan Pratzel

Why Caption Your Video?

Captioning video makes your story accessible to the hearing impaired. This helps ensure your message gets to a wide audience. Captioning is also required for many videos created for government clients, universities, museums and other educational institutions. Many corporations are also requiring videos be accessible. The question many people have is how do I caption my video and what is the best option?

Captioning Options

There are two basic types of captions, open and closed. Open captions are embedded in the video and the viewer cannot turn them off. Closed captions can be turned on and off by the viewer. This is the little "CC" button at the video of many video players, including YouTube. Closed captions give your audience flexibility to determine if they want the captions on or off.

How to Caption

The first thing to do is budget for captioning. If you video is going online to sites like Vimeo or YouTube, captioning is fairly easy. There are several services that offer captioning for online videos. ( is a good example) Once your video is edited, you upload a copy, normally an MP4 video file, and they will send you a .srt or .scc file. These are standard caption files and you can upload these along with your MP4 video to your streaming site. (E.g. YouTube & Vimeo) 

If you open the .srt or .scc file on your computer you're basically looking at a text file that has time stamps and text for your video. This file tells the video player when to display the text based on the timeline of your video. When this file is uploaded to sites like YouTube, the CC option will be visible on the video player and users can turn the caption file on and off.

One thing to keep in mind is YouTube can also auto caption a video, but the accuracy can be poor. Creating an actual closed captioning file can give you accuracy above 95%. In our experience, there is no software based captioning system that is nearly as accurate as a person creating the captions.

What does it cost?

Captioning costs depend on the length of your video, but in general, many services charge between $2.00-4.00 per minute. The more expensive services should guarantee accuracy and offer to correct typos and errors.