Creating Your Own SRT Files for Captions

Adding captions to videos is a great way to meet the needs of deaf or hard of hearing students. Many video hosts now support captions, so getting captions on your video is usually just a matter of creating the appropriate file that contains the subtitles. That file is often identified by its abbreviation, an “SRT” file (short for “SubRip Text“).

If you’re doing this for a YouTube video, you can create the captions file without any special software, the process is incredibly easy, so we won’t talk about that here. But if you are using another video host such as Wistia, the options are slightly different. You might be able get captions for a fee (English only, they don’t do translations!) – just order them, and in a few business days they’ll be added to your video, no muss, no fuss.

However, the ready-made option might not appeal to some for a couple of reasons – for one, you might not want to pay for your captions. But more importantly, when someone else does the captions, you are stuck with how THEY choose to display the text on screen. For example, they may choose to put three long sentences on the screen for a long period, where YOU might have preferred to have those three sentences appear individually and sequentially. So let’s assume that you are a bit of a control freak and want to prepare the subtitles yourself – how do you do it? There are several techniques you can use to prepare an SRT file. It’s possible to create them through properly formatting a simple text file with times and text, but the process of syncing that to your video is cumbersome. It’s much better to use a piece of software to make the SRT file.

If you are a Camtasia user, that software conveniently has the ability to manually create, import & export captions. No need to go into that further here, just click the links in the previous sentence to view the excellent tutorials created by Techsmith.

Another option option for creating captions is the program called Aegisub. It’s free and available in multiple platforms. It’s also super-powered in the sense that it can create specialized subtitle files, such as those for Karoake, and if your video host supports them, you can even make SRT files with stylesheets allowing you to change the appearance of your subtitles, even within the same video (for example, you could change the color of the text for the subtitles of different speakers). The only problem with Aegisub is that it can be difficult to get started with the software – the interface is a bit intimidating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 2.14.57 PM

But don’t let that stop you, it’s actually pretty easy to use. So if you want to take a crack at Aegisub, CLICK HERE – it will take you to a video that covers the very basics of getting from a video script to an exported SRT file. Have fun subtitling!

By Josef Martha

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