Every time I write closed captions for my videos I tend to forget how I did that the last time. So, this post is not only a reference guide for myself but also for my awesome readers who want to learn how you can add closed captioning to your videos.
First, let's start with the basics.
What are closed captions?
Closed captioning is essentially the subtitles or simply an overlaid text written on top of any video as it plays. This means that apart from just the audio and video you also get to read as you walk through any tutorial. Closed captions are super helpful from the accessibility point of view and are always considered as a good a11y practice.
My closed captioning workflow
I use ScreenFlow to record and edit my videos. So, this article will primarily focus on how you can write closed captions in ScreenFlow.
ScreenFlow offers an awesome caption editor to add, edit, and publish subtitles as caption tracks to a project. The closed captions track is not included by default at the time of recording a new video you need to enable it whenever needed.
I include captions in the screencast when I export the project into one of the suitable video formats (generally it is mp4).
Consider that I have one such video opened in my ScreenFlow editor ready to be closed captioned.
The first step is to enable the Captions track. Two settings need to be configured:
- Go to the menu [View] ❯ [Show Captions] enable it.
- Then again go to [View] ❯ [Show Caption Track] enable it.
These will add another track called the Caption Track right on top of the video.
Next, it's time to define some shortcuts to add these captions. To do so:
- Select the [ScreenFlow] menu
- Click [Preferences].
- Click the [Shortcuts] tab.
Following are my shortcuts for quickly writing the closed captions.
- Play Caption Track: Command (⌘) + P
- Next Caption Track: Command (⌘) + ]
- Previous Caption Track: Command (⌘) + [
Here is a quick 1-minute illustration of how I close captions my videos.
The workflow goes like this:
- After importing the video file enable [View] ❯ [Show Captions] and [View] ❯ [Show Caption Track] option from the View menu.
- This adds another grey-colored track right at the top of your timeline. This is the captions track which we just enabled.
- Try clicking through it and you find it divided into several sections.
- Each section can be treated as a caption block.
- Click one section and a writing box pops up where you can write the captions.
- To play the caption track hit Command (⌘) + P write the text and then hit Command (⌘) + ] to jump to the next caption track. Anytime, you want to jump back to the previous caption track hit Command (⌘) + [ shortcut.
- In this way continue with this sequence and start filling your captions track. It will take some time to get yourself accustomed to this flow.
- Finally, try playing your track and the captions appear successfully with your playing video.
- Now go to [Edit] ❯ [Captions] ❯ [Export to SRT] and export the SRT file to be uploaded with the video.
Caption tracks can be created in multiple languages. You can also export captions as an SRT subtitle file. Now with your own personalized shortcuts configuration, you can close caption your videos quite easily.
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