If you’ve ever needed to create accessible captions for your video, you don’t have to look much further than Camtasia Studio 8.1. It’s a highly user-friendly piece of software that you can try out for 30 days before making the decision to buy it. In this blog post, we’ll explore how to add captions underneath your video (the most accessible way possible) to your video using Camtasia Studio 8.1.
What you’ll need:
- Camtasia Studio 8.1
- A video file (Camtasia Studio 8.1 supports .avi, .mpg, .mpeg, .wmv, .mov, .mp4, and .swf)
- A web browser (to support playback with captions enabled)
- An audio file (not necessary if the video file already has its own audio track. Camtasia Studio 8.1 supports .wav, .mp3, and .wma)
Start by dragging and dropping your video in the empty white space on the left-hand side (the clip bin), or importing your video by clicking the Import Media button at the top:
Your video should appear in the clip bin. Drag it onto the timeline below the clip bin:
You may get a prompt here asking you to specify the video dimensions. This prompt should already have values filled in, and it would probably be best to go with those default settings unless you’re sure that different dimensions would be better.
Your video will then be added to the timeline:
Now that the video is in the timeline, we can start adding things to it—but first, let’s make sure that you’re adding them where you want them to be added. You can click anywhere on the timeline to bring the playhead to that point in time. For more precise control, you can also use the left and right arrow keys to move second by second.
Now that you’ve positioned the playhead in the correct place, let’s add some captions. Click the More button underneath the clip bin and then Captions (Note: if you have previously accessed the Captions tool, it may show up as a distinct menu alongside the other choices, like Callouts and Zoom-n-Pan—in other words, it will be in plain sight once Camtasia has been opened; it won’t be tucked away in the More submenu. This is Camtasia’s way of giving visibility to more frequently accessed tools):
At which point you should see this menu:
Adding captions with this interface is as simple as typing text into the indicated field above. Using the options in the top row will allow you to change the alignment, color, font, size, and background of the captions.
Typing the following caption in that box:
Will give you this result:
And you will see this addition reflected in the timeline with a purple box:
Once the caption has been added, you can adjust its position by clicking and dragging the caption box in the timeline to the left or right to slide it. You can also increase or decrease the length of the caption by clicking and dragging either end of the caption box.
If you append a new caption directly after a preceding one, it will be joined to the previous caption in a contiguous stream, and you will be unable to separate the two captions—trying to move one of them will result in moving the entire stream. This could be good for videos where people are constantly talking, but may prove problematic when there are gaps in speaking time:
If you want to create individual captions that can be controlled separately, then instead of appending new captions, you’ll want to first bring the playhead to the spot on the timeline where you want the new caption to be inserted, and then click the Add caption media button:
Notice the gap between this new caption box on the timeline and the previous two, which are conjoined. This indicates that it is a totally independent caption that can be moved around or otherwise modified as needed:
That’s about it for adding captions. Now comes the final stage: saving your video with the captioning enabled. To do this, click File and then Produce and Share… (alternatively, you could click Ctrl+P):
You will see a drop-down menu in the dialog that appears. Click it and select Custom production settings:
After selecting this option, click Next. The recommended output format should be MP4 – Flash / HTML5 player. Leave that as the selected option (or select it if it isn’t already) and click Next. In the menu that follows, you’ll want to click the Options tab:
Here, you’ll see a menu to adjust captions settings:
These are the settings that will determine whether your captions will be included in the final video and, if they do, how they will appear. For that reason, you’ll definitely want to make sure the Captions box is checked. Then, click the drop-down list next to Caption type. You’ll see three options: Closed captions, Burned in captions, and Under video captions:
If you select Closed captions, viewers will have the option to turn them on or off in the YouTube, Flash and local export, and Screencast.com share options.
If you select Burned in captions, users will not be able to control the visibility of the captions—they will always remain present at the bottom of the video. The biggest potential drawback with this option is that the captioning could cover up important information with the video, such as a speaker’s name, which usually appears around the same spot.
Therefore, it is recommended that you select the third option, Under video captions. This will slightly shrink the dimensions of the video to make room for displaying the captions underneath the video rather than at the bottom of it. This way, the captions will definitely not encroach on the video at all, thus making them the most accessible option as well.
For the purposes of this procedure, let’s select the Under video captions option and click Next two times. This final menu will let you name the video to be produced. Click Finish when done.
After the video has been produced, open the production folder. You should see a list of files that looks something like this (obviously, the video name—in this case, Main_Video_subtitled3—will be different):
Here’s the big caveat about Under video captions: they won’t appear in the MP4 video. To get them to show up, you have to open the HTML file, specifically the one with _player at the end of the filename. Double-clicking this file will open the captioned video in your default web browser.
Voila! You’re done.
NOTE: The only way to get captions to appear on an MP4 video is to select the burned in captions option during the production process. However, it should be stated again that by doing this, you may run the risk of the captions covering crucial content at the bottom of the video.
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