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Captions & Subtitles May 5, 2017

Here at Pyramide Productions, we pride ourselves in being your source for accessible video in the greater Seattle area. We know the ins and outs of 508-compliance, and are excited to help you make the right choices for your next project! Plus, with 85% of online viewers watching videos with the sound off, they’re a great way to make sure you’re still getting your message across. Here’s a quick primer on captions and subtitles to make sure we’re all speaking the same language.


CLOSED CAPTIONS:

Closed Captions always include the script and sometimes include non-speech elements like sounds (siren, door slam, etc.). Closed captions are created in a separate file. that gets uploaded to your video player along with your video. When viewers elect to watch the video with captions, that file will run. Closed Captions have criteria that must be maintained to meet accessibility requirements. This includes white text on a matte black background, a certain font and size, a specific length across the screen, and sometimes, a set speed at which they play. When there is a minimum length of time a caption must be on-screen, you sometimes see a lag where the voice-over has moved on, but the text from the last segment is still on-screen.

The most common type of caption file is called a .SRT file, which Facebook, Vimeo, and YouTube all accept. Other available files types we can provide are VTT, TTML, SCC, and XML. After we deliver your final video, uploading it to your website or social media sites is your responsibility. Early in the video production process you should find out what caption file type your company will be using since there are costs associated with having captions redone in a new file type.


OPEN CAPTIONS:

Open captions look just like closed captions, but are burned into the video, so viewers don’t have the option of turning them off.


SUBTITLES:

Subtitles fulfill the same role as open captions, but you have flexibility around formatting, which creates a more high-end design aesthetic. For example, subtitles can run all the way across the bottom of the screen, appear on a sleek opaque background, and can be timed to match the voice-over.


What’s the difference in cost between captions and subtitles?

Captions are really affordable and the work is done once your video is approved as final. For closed captions, it takes us 24 hours to go through the captioning process and create your caption

files. For open captions, you’re also looking at a 24-hour turnaround to create the video with the captions burned in. Subtitles are a more expensive way to go because they’re time intensive to create and typically require a 3-day turnaround.


When should I bring up that I want captions or subtitles?

If you’re interested in captions or subtitles, you should talk with your Account Manager at the beginning of the project. Having this information early in the production process means that we can plan your shoot and video design to accommodate text-on-screen. That might mean shooting a subject from a slightly different vantage point, or positioning your lower-third graphics in such a way that it won’t be covered by your captions/subtitles.


I don’t think my video needs captions or subtitles, so why should I get them?

Closed/open captions are designed to make your video accessible to those who are hearing-impaired, but they benefit the general population by being able to watch videos with the sound turned off. Maybe you want to watch a video in bed while your partner or baby is sleeping? Maybe you want to watch a video in a noisy environment like on a bus? According to Facebook, 85% of all videos watched online are watched with the sound off. Everyone benefits from captions.

–S.R. Davidson, Pyramide Staff Writer

Pyramide Productions

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