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Cheapest, Fastest Way to Caption Your Videos

September 25th, 2017

Captioning your videos is one of the untapped marketing treasures for real estate agents today, as it delivers two huge, immediate benefits. First, it puts you in compliance with the intent of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and the Canadian CRTC Caption Laws and potentially helps you avoid getting caught up in a potential lawsuit when your videos are in compliance with web accessibility standards by including closed captions.

Second, and more importantly, you can tap an untapped market and potentially reach more buyers and sellers when you close caption your videos.

Now before your fret over the thought of how painstaking adding captions to your videos will be, there is a shortcut that can help you save time, money and a lot of frustration. It’s YouTube. Yes, the world’s largest video library – and also now the world’s second largest home for search, believe it or not – will automatically create closed captions for narrated videos you upload to your YouTube channel. Most importantly, it will time-code the Captioning and it will allow you to edit the mistakes that its automatic translation engine will most likely make.

But here’s the biggest thing: YouTube‘s automatic captioning is getting better and better over time, and it is often faster and easier to edit what they create for you than it is to start from scratch and create your own. However, if you have a video that was produced by someone else and already comes with a closed caption file, then YouTube also allows you to upload that file directly and use that version instead of these.

More about YouTube auto-captioning

YouTube’s automatic caption system is really designed to work best for shorter videos with a single narrator. So that means not all videos will have automatic captions. Some of the things that can prevent YouTube from adding captions include:

  • The audio is too complex
  • The language used in your video is not yet supported by automatic captions
  • The video is too long
  • The sound quality is poor
  • YouTube can’t easily recognize the narration (heavy accents, mixed with music, etc.)
  • A long period of silence at the beginning of the video.
  • When there are multiple speakers and their voices overlap

The good news is that YouTube also helps you start from scratch, with different ways to go in and build your own close captioning script. You can even pause the video, as you create the words to match the content, and YouTube will help by automatically time-coding what you create.

Overall, YouTube gives you several options to create close captions:

  • You can edit the automatic captions, if YouTube created them
  • You can upload a text closed caption file with time codes
  • You can type or paste in a full transcript of the video, and YouTube will set the time code, and then allow you to edit it to perfectly match the narration
  • You can transcribe the video and create the captions while you are watching the video, and again, YouTube will create the time codes.
  • You can also enable your video from community contributions, letting viewers caption and translate your content (but this is not a recommended option for businesses).

Can’t beat the cost or ease of use

YouTube has created all of this for you – for free. That’s right, one of the world’s most powerful closed captioning system for videos won’t cost you a dime, and it is super easy for you to control.

Let’s take a look at how all three of these options work:
What you’ll need:

  • Sign up for a YouTube account – free at youtube.com
  • Set up a YouTube Channel (create one here)
  • Upload the videos you want to caption to YouTube.

Step-by-step

Go to your YouTube Channel and follow these steps to access the Close Caption system in YouTube:

  1. Click on your Account Icon (a circle, top right) and Select “Creator Studio”
  2. The Menu at the left should reveal “Video Manager” – click on that
  3. This should display all the videos you have uploaded to your YouTube account
  4. Now look for the video you want to add the Close Captions to and Select the “Edit” button, just to the right at the bottom of the video you want to work on.
  5. You are now in the Editing mode for your video and at the top Menu on the far left should be a “cc” icon and “Subtitles/CC. Click on this.
  6. You will be asked to “Set video language” and for most cases, you will select English. Please note, however, that if you are in a Multilingual market, YouTube does give you the ability to chose from 187 different languages for Captioning and this could be a clever marketing advantage for some agents by creating custom videos with captions in different languages. If you are going to use English for all of your Captioning, you can set this here as the default for all future videos by clicking a checkbox to the right and this box will not appear in the future.
  7. A Blue box will appear: “Add new subtitles or CC” – click on this.
  8. English will appear as the language (with an option to search for other languages). Click on English.
  9. This is where YouTube gives you their three terrific options:
    1. You may “Upload a file” if you have a text file with a transcript and time codes.
    2. You may “Transcribe and auto-sync” – This allows you to simply cut and paste a transcript and then YouTube will add the time codes, and allow you to edit it to make sure the narration and the words are in sync
    3. You may “Create new subtitles or CC” – This is where you can transcribe your narration, and pause the video as you type in what the audio track says, with YouTube automatically creating the time codes.
  10. Once you finalize your captions, select “Publish” at the top right and then check your video to be certain your captioning is correct. If not, go back in and edit, and publish them again.
  11. If you want to download the closed caption file you created for another video program, after your captions are published, when you go to “Edit” your captions, an “Actions” menu will appear and from the pull down will be an option for an “.srt” file. That is a caption format file that once you select, it will download to your computer and you can important that to another video program, like the video screen capture program Camtasia, that uses this format for video captions to attach this file to the same video to be used in that other program. A detailed example is here.
  12. You also can download your fully captioned YouTube video to play offline. One way to do this can be found online here.

Video is one of the most powerful marketing tools available to real estate agents today and making certain your videos are captioned is not only a smart way to make sure you are compliant in the future, but also reach more buyers and sellers online today.

By Kevin Hawkins, an award winning freelance writer on real estate and technology topics.

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