Reach more people. Caption and translate videos.

4 mins read

Reach more people. Caption and translate videos.

Reach the one in five Americans who do not speak English and others who prefer to watch videos on mute. Add captions and translations to your videos.

This blog explains how we captioned a video with the clips of the riot and impeachment hearing, and then translated the video into Spanish, Chinese and Hindi. We’ll also cover:
– Different ways to generate captions
– Why it is important to combine both machine translation and human proof-reading
– What is a video with a burnt in caption vs. a selectable close caption (CC)
– A map by county that shows the percentage of people who speak a language other than English at home

Captioned & translated video clip from impeachment hearing

This video is a montage of the EnglishSpanishChinese and Hindi videos of the same clip. You can watch any of them with audio directly on YouTube.

Caption and translate your videos to reach more people.

Captioning and translation tips

Videos can be automatically captioned with apps but should be proofread before creating captions.
Create your own captions offers more flexibility on how you can distribute videos rather than being tied to captioning service which is tied to a platform like YouTube or Facebook.
Videos can be automatically translated into over thirty languages, once captions have been generated.
Captions can either be ‘burnt’ on a video, or uploaded as a separate caption file (VTT) which can be uploaded to different video streaming platforms.

The original video is first captioned by software and manually proofread. It is then translated and captioned into different languages.

Proofread machine-generated captions

Captioning software listens to what is being said and transcribes that into words which are placed a the bottom of the video as captions. They are about 70-90% accurate depending on the app and how clear the soundtrack it. Proofread the captions manually to fix any errors before adding them to your video. Here are some errors we caught while translating this video.

Proofread machine generated captions before adding them to the videos.
Spanish and Chinese translations of the captions

Burnt captions vs Caption files

Videos consist of three elements – video, soundtrack and captions. Captions can be added to a video in two ways:
1. Embedding or ‘burning’ them into the video. Viewers can click on such captioned videos and watch them immediately.
2. Captions can also be added as a separate VTT file. “A VTT file is a text file saved in the Web Video Text Tracks (WebVTT) format. It contains supplementary information about a web video, including subtitles, captions, descriptions, chapters, and metadata. VTT files do not contain any video data.” This lets viewers choose the language of the captions that they’d like to see.
The English, Spanish and Chinese videos in this example have ‘burnt-in’ captions. The Hindi version of the video uses a VTT file for the captions.

Web Video Text Tracks (WebVTT) files contain supplementary information about a web video, including subtitles, captions, descriptions, chapters, and metadata.

Video with captions on YouTube


Languages spoken by county

This map shows the percentage of people by county who speak languages other than English at home. It can be freely shared with this link or embedded in a web site with this code: < iframe width=”300″ height=”200″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no” allowfullscreen src=””>

Reach the one in five Americans who do not speak English and others who prefer to watch videos on mute. Add captions and translations to your videos.

Takeaway: You spend a lot of time, money and energy on creating videos. Make sure to maximize their impact by adding captions and translations. Learn more here.


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DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.

Democracy Labs is a hub for ongoing technology and creative innovation that serves progressive campaigns and organizations at the national, state, and local levels.

Our focus is on long term, sustainable and affordable solutions. An approach that is longer than an election cycle, and isn’t purely dependant on volunteers, can enable more qualified candidates to run for office and for more issue groups to bring about positive social change.

Democracy Labs is a project of the Tides Advocacy Fund.

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