If you caught our interview last week with Tim Schmoyer, the YouTube personality behind VideoCreators and ReelSEO, you’ll be happy to see that we’re back with more! In the comments last week, some of you were wondering about easy ways to caption YouTube videos, and that’s exactly what Tim and Tole Khesin (of 3Play Media and CaptionsForYouTube.com, 3Play Media’s solution for providing the easiest, fastest way to add professional captions to YouTube videos) discuss in this week’s interview.
The two cover the various possibilities for easy and cost-effective captioning, as well as questions surrounding YouTube’s auto-captions.
Are YouTube’s Auto-Captions Acceptable?
A lot of people think that they can use YouTube’s auto-captions and they’ll have it covered. Unfortunately, that’s not really the case. We understand speech recognition pretty well because we use it, too – the difference is that we also use professional transcriptionists who clean up the mistakes. Most people have probably observed that YouTube’s auto-captions are riddled with mistakes. They can work pretty well for videos that are professionally recorded and have only one speaker, but in reality most videos aren’t like that, and when you have accents, background noise, or complex vocabulary, speech recognition software gets derailed very easily. Typically, speech recognition produces about 60-70% accuracy, which means that 1 of 3 words are wrong. The thing about speech recognition is that when it’s wrong, it’s wrong spectacularly, which can provide some unintended comedic value.
Because of the inherent limitations of speech technology, auto-captions don’t get indexed by Google or YouTube, and therefore do not help with viewership or SEO. Google only indexes your uploaded captions, assuming that anything you upload will be better than the auto-captions.
From an accessibility point of view, auto-captions are definitely better than nothing, but I think most people would agree that if you’re relying on that text to understand what’s happening in the video, auto-captions are insufficient. It actually frustrates some accessibility advocates because there are so many people who don’t caption their videos because they believe they have it covered with auto-captions.
The Best Resources and Tools for Cost-Effective, Accurate Captioning
Finding the right tools for captioning your video content depends a lot on how much content you have. If your video collection totals 5 or 10 minutes, it might make the most sense to just do it yourself. You can type out the spoken words on a text document and upload those transcripts to YouTube, who will automatically sync them with the video and turn them into captions. Keep in mind that transcribing the videos yourself will probably take you about 5-10 times the duration of the video, so a 10 minute video might take an hour or two.
If you have a lot of video content, you can use captioning software to make the process easier. You’ll still have to do the transcribing, but these programs make the process of formatting and uploading your captions much easier. A few of these DIY options are CaptionTube, Subtitle Horse, YouTube Subtitler, and Magpie. Another great tool is the free caption converter by 3Play Media.
Options for Outsourcing Captioning
If you are not interested in doing the transcription work yourself, pretty much the only option for getting accurate captions is to outsource the work. You can send your video to a company that specializes in captioning and transcription – and this is where we come in. CaptionsForYouTube.com is the fastest, easiest way to add professional captions to your YouTube videos. The way it works is that you log in with your YouTube account, select which videos you want to caption, and that’s it. We’ll create premium quality captions that are at least 99% accurate and send them right back to YouTube for you. There’s no need to go back and upload those captions – they’ll show up in your video automatically as soon as they’re done.
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