GCC faculty are generally aware that captioning the videos you create is a best practice because captions allow people with hearing issues full access to your video content. You probably also know that YouTube will automatically caption videos that you upload, and that all you need to do then is edit the captions for accuracy and punctuation.
But if you’ve ever done this, you probably know there’s more to it than that. Questions come up when you reach certain situations in a video. This post is meant to help you take your captions to the next level by addressing some of the decisions you need to make while editing captions. In addition to accurately representing what is said in your video, you also want to make sure the captions are easy to read, and that they are equal or equivalent in content.
Good captions adhere to these guidelines wherever possible:
- Caption timing is synchronized with the video
- Captions stay on long enough to be read
- Individual captions display on no more than two lines
- Break captions at natural language breaks
- Speaker is identified if there is more than one person on screen
- Off-screen speakers are identified
- Correct spelling and grammar are used throughout
- Punctuation is used to clarify meaning
- Sound effects and music that add to understanding are included
- Vocal changes that add to understanding are included
- All spoken words are captioned regardless of language or dialect
- Uses of slang or accent are preserved and identified
- Nouns and verbs are kept with their modifiers
- Prepositional phrases are kept on the same line
- For a caption on two lines, line length should be roughly equal
- Names are not split between captions or between lines
Here are some visual examples created by AI Media. They include natural language breaks and not splitting someone’s name or title + name (you can click any image to enlarge it).
Here are some visual examples created by the Described and Captioned Media Program. These cover narration, using punctuation to depict hesitation, identifying speakers, including sound effects and music, and identifying dialect.
Speaking of music …
There are many ways to deal with music, and you want to pick the best way for your video, based on what is needed to help the viewer understand the video content. Music and other atmospheric sounds should be included if they are important to the story being told. Think about whether the sound is mere background noise (don’t include), creates a mood that is important to describe (include), or is part of the story somehow (include). Here are examples from AI Media on how to include music in your captions:
- If you know the artist and song title:
(‘IMAGINE’ BY JOHN LENNON PLAYS)
- Captioning song lyrics:
♪ IMAGINE ALL THE PEOPLE
# IMAGINE ALL THE PEOPLE
- Instrumental music (be descriptive and get creative!):
(ACOUSTIC GUITAR BALLAD PLAYS)
(GRIM BATTLE MUSIC)
(MILITARY MARCH PLAYS)
(BURST OF DISCORDANT MUSIC)
(DRUMBEAT STARTS UP)
When you have captioning questions…
Hopefully, these guidelines and examples have provided some useful clarity. If instead they leave you with even more questions, please contact Cheryl Colan, your Instructional Media Developer in the CTLE.