3 Steps to Add Closed Captions or Subtitles with QuickTime

August 26, 2011 BY TOLE KHESIN
Updated: August 13, 2020

Overview

This blog article is a step-by-step guide on how to add closed captions or subtitles to video using the QuickTime Pro software, which can be purchased for PC or Mac for about $30. After a caption file is downloaded from your 3Play Media account, it can be added to a video, and the position of the captions can be adjusted to be above or below the video or overlaid. You can use QuickTime text descriptors to specify the exact styling of the captions and their background. Also, we explain how to add a CC toggle button that lets users turn the captions on or off.

Adding captions with QuickTime Pro

Step 1 – Download Your Closed Captions File

1. Log into your 3Play Media account at http://account.3playmedia.com.

2. Navigate to My Files. Click the download link beside the appropriate file and select QT.

3. Unzip the file after it downloads.

Adding captions with QuickTime Pro

Step 2 – Use QuickTime Pro to Add Closed Captions

1. Open the video file in QuickTime Pro. (If you don’t have QuickTime Pro you can purchase it from Apple for $29.95.)

Adding captions with QuickTime Pro

2. Using QuickTime Pro, open the captions file that you downloaded from your account. This will open a separate QuickTime window that shows just your captions without the video. Copy the captions to the clipboard by clicking Edit > Select All and then Edit > Copy.

Adding captions with QuickTime Pro

3. Go back to the QuickTime window with the video and make sure that the play head is at the beginning. Add the captions by clicking Edit > Add to Movie.

4. Close the QuickTime window with the captions.

Step 3 – Adjust the Position and Style of the Closed Captions

1. The default position of the captions is above the video. To move the captions below the video, navigate to Window > Show Move Properties > Text Track > Visual Settings and change the vertical offset.

Adding captions with QuickTime Pro

2. You’ll need to know the pixel dimensions of your video. You can get this information by selecting Video Track > Visual Settings.

3. To position the captions underneath the video, make the vertical offset equal to the height of your video. For example, if your video pixel dimensions are 640×480, you should change the offset to be 0 x 480.

4. Close the Movie Properties window.

5. Select the QuickTime window with the video and select File > Save As and select Save as a self-contained movie.

How to overlay the captions on the video and adjust text style

1. Find the caption file that you downloaded from your 3Play Media account, and open it with a text editing program.

2. Make the background transparent by adding {keyedText: on}.

Adding captions with QuickTime Pro

3. To improve visibility of the text, you can add a drop shadow using these text descriptors:

{dropShadow: on }{dropShadowOffset: 1, 1}. In this example, the drop shadow will be positioned 1 pixel to the right and 1 pixel down.

4. You can adjust other style settings using the text descriptors shown in the table below. Or you can see the complete list of QuickTime text descriptors.

5. Save the caption file and add to the video as described in Step 2 above.

6. Adjust the vertical offset of the text track so that the captions appear where you want them. For example, if your video pixel dimensions are 640×480, you might want to make the offset 0 x 440.

QuickTime Text Descriptors

QuickTime Pro Text DescriptorDescription

{keyedText: on}Displays closed captions or subtitles with a transparent background.
{dropShadow: on }Creates a drop shadow for the text.
{dropShadowOffset: 1, 1}Offsets the drop shadow 1 pixel to the right and 1 pixel down. {dropShadow:on} must be specified.
{dropShadowTransparency: 127}Specifies the transparency of the drop shadow. Value must be between 0 and 255.
{anti-alias: on}Display anti-aliased text.
{font: Arial}Specifies the name of the font.
{fontstyle: plain}Specifies the text style. Options are: plain, bold, italic, underline, outline, shadow, condense (decreased spacing between characters), extend (increased spacing between characters).
{justify: center}Specifies the text alignment. Options are: left, right, center, default.
{size: 18}Specifies font size.
{textColor: R , G , B}Sets the RGB text color. E.g. {textColor: 65535, 32000, 0} is orange.
{backColor: R , G , B }Sets the RGB background color.
{textBox: top , left , bottom , right}Specifies the dimensions and location of the box containing the closed captions or subtitles. For example, {textBox:0, 0, 45, 640} creates a box that is 45 pixels high by 640 pixels wide starting from the top left corner of the video window.

How to Add a CC Toggle Button to the QuickTime player

Adding captions with QuickTime Pro

1. In order to add a CC button that lets your users turn the captions on or off you will need to download the free QuickTime sprite. The file that you need to save is called toggle_caption.mov

2. Open the toggle_caption.mov file in QuickTime Pro. This will open a separate QuickTime window that shows the CC button. Click Edit > Select All and then Edit > Copy.

Adding captions with QuickTime Pro

3. Go back to the QuickTime window with the video and make sure that the play head is at the beginning. Click Edit > Add to Selection and Scale. You can now close the QuickTime window with the CC button.

4. Navigate to Window > Show Movie Properties and rename the text track to “caption”. To do this, select the text track and then click once on the text itself.

5. Select toggle_caption > Visual Settings and position the CC button by adjusting the horizontal and vertical offset. Close the Movie Properties window.

6. Select the QuickTime window with the video and select File > Save As and select Save as a self-contained movie.

QuickTime Player Settings

You need to change the QuickTime player settings in order to view closed captions or subtitles. Navigate to Edit > Preference > Play Preferences and check the boxes “Show closed captioning when available” and “Show subtitles when available”.

Adding captions with QuickTime Pro

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