Showing posts from 2011

How to Create Soft Subtitles in QuickTime

A little-known way of displaying captions on QuickTime movies is soft subtitles. These are surprisingly easy to create and can be toggled on and off in the QuickTime Player under the View > Subtitles menu option. You will need to use MovieCaptioner and a freeware app called Subler.

To get the captions, you will need to create a .SRT caption file which looks like this:

It's simply a text file that contains the captions with start and end times. This can be created by hand, but it's much easier to create it with MovieCaptioner. Once you get all your captions done in MovieCaptioner, it's a simple matter of exporting as SubRip SRT. The YouTube Captions export can also be used to create the SRT file.

UPDATE: It has come to my attention that if you have any blank captions in your project (to make the previous caption expire), you will need to add a space to the blank caption or Subler will put the timecode there instead. You can either do this in MovieCaptioner or add it to …

Repositioning Closed Captions

By default, MovieCaptioner puts your captions at the bottom of your movie. If using QT Text captions, your choice is either below the movie, where it doesn't interfere with the movie at all, or you can have them overlaid over the lower portion of the movie either with a black background or with a 50% translucent background. What do you do, however, if you have a movie that has some content at the bottom, such as a lower third (speaker's name and title for instance) or some other content that you don't want covered? Again, you have 2 choices. One would be to use Sonic Scenarist (SCC) captions. These are the same type you see on TV and are supported by Apple's iTunes. The other choice would be to stick with QT Text captions, but do a little manual manipulation. Let's look at each.

Sonic Scenarist (SCC) Captions

Using both SCC caption and QT Text captions, you will need QuickTime 7 Pro ($30 upgrade to QuickTime 7 Player from Apple). With the SCC captions, you can place…

Starting a Video Captioning Business on the Cheap

Do you like to watch movies? Can you type fairly quickly? Congratulations, you are now qualified as a video transcriptionist. And just in time, too, as there will be a gold rush soon for video transcription services.

In October 2010, President Obama signed into law the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, which mandates further captioning of video for the Web. The bill will apply to any video that was originally aired on TV. As more and more videos are uploaded to the web, the demand for video captioning services will grow at an exponential rate. Government agencies, schools, museums, and many other types of businesses will need the services of a good video transcriptionist. Your biggest problem may be keeping up with the demand.

For about $150, you can start your own business from the comfort of your living room. Software would cost you less than $130, which would get you a copy of MovieCaptioner and an upgrade to QuickTime Pro. Now all you need is a web page (free…

Troubleshooting SCC (Line 21) Caption Files

From time to time you may get an error in your SCC caption files. Here is a (hopefully) helpful strategy for zeroing in on the cause of the problem. Knowing that it is a bad file in the first place is simple. I try to open it in QuickTime Pro. To be able to do this, however, you need to download a free plugin from Apple for importing SCC files into QuickTime. It is called "ClosedCaptionImporter.component". It can be downloaded (currently) from this link:

Once you download it, just drop the plugin into your QuickTime folder in your hard drive's Library folder...

If you have QuickTime 7 open, you'll need to close it to make the plugin available when you re-open it. Note that as of this writing, QuickTime 7 is necessary for all the features of QuickTime Pro to work. QuickTime X, the default QT Player that comes standard with Snow Leopard does not have all the functionality …

Making Closed Captions That Can Be Turned On and Off

I've gotten a lot of queries recently about how to make subtitles that can be turned on and off. One way, of course is the embedded SCC captions that are supported by QuickTime. These are the type of closed captions you see on TV. MovieCaptioner will add these to your movie automatically if you choose that particular export option. To turn these on and off just go to the View menu in the QuickTime Player and select Show Closed Captioning or Hide Closed Captioning. In the browser you'll get a CC button to toggle them on and off.

I've recently discovered that there is another, perhaps more visually pleasing way to add soft subtitles, those that can be turned on and off, to a movie using MovieCaptioner and HandBrake. I use MovieCaptioner to create my captions and get them all synched up with the movie. Then I export as a .SRT caption file.

Once I have my caption file created, I open HandBrake, a free video tool that I'll use to add the soft subtitles. It will ask you to loa…

Why Customer Support Is So Important

I was pretty surprised to read emails from my customers who do closed captioning for their videos, saying things like, "it really is amazing to have such great service" and you "offer amazingly responsive customer support". Why am I surprised? Because I just can't believe that other companies and especially software developers aren't seeing customer service as a rare chance to really connect with their customers as I do. I am fortunate not to get too many technical problem reports on MovieCaptioner. I can't say it's really luck, though. At first I had my share of issues to deal with, but I listened to my customers and from their problems I was able to see the weak spots in my software and focus on fixing them. Sometimes this required fixing an obvious flaw in the software that just didn't work as it was supposed to, but sometimes it was more a case of controlling the way the user could interact with the software to guide them away from possible…

Free Refills!

Don't you really like it when you go to a restaurant and there's a sign that says "Free Refills" on your drink? Well, I know a lot of people think I'm crazy, but that's my philosophy when someone purchases my software. Once you buy, you're in the club. You get free upgrades for as long as I continue to offer the software. Isn't that the way it should be? Why do software companies charge a premium for new versions of their software when often it's just a bunch of bug fixes anyway? Why should I have to pay for someone to fix what they should have gotten right in the first place? The way I feel is that free upgrades are a nod to my previous customers, a way of saying "thanks!" for supporting the software early on and helping me to improve it. When MovieCaptioner was first released a few years ago it had its share of major bugs, and being new to the software arena, I knew that I had to make up for my lack of programming ability by always str…

One Q to Rule Them All

Although I'm very grateful to Apple for their support of captions and accessibility in general, I do think that QuickTime needs some attention. With Snow Leopard, a new QT Player is automatically installed, called Quicktime X. Although QuickTime X has some nice features, like being able to record screen action, it has a number of faults as well. As soon as Snow Leopard was released, I found that my s/w for adding captions to movies, MovieCaptioner, was broken and I had to scramble to fix it. It turns out that QuickTime X does not have the same editing features as QuickTime 7 Pro, which I was leveraging for my s/w. QuickTime X cannot import text tracks, so in order to do so, you need to get your Snow Leopard install disk and do a custom install of QuickTime 7, then register it as the Pro version. Okay, so if you get QuickTime 7 Pro installed, you're back in business. But there are some other issues I'd like Apple to address in QuickTime as well.

1. Support for QuickTime spr…