Closed Captioning 101

A guide to creating accessible videos with MovieCaptioner

Captioning Best Practices
According to the National Association of the Deaf, about 37 million people in the U.S. have some type of hearing loss. For those who have a hearing disability, captions are essential for ensuring equal access to information. Captioning is the process of converting the audio content of a video into text and displaying the text on the screen so that it will appear at approximately the same time that the audio is delivered. There are two types of captions. Open captions are permanently hard coded into the video file and cannot be turned off. Closed captions, on the other hand, are included as a separate component of the file, and can be turned off as needed. For this reason, closed captions are preferred over open captions for ensuring access, as they provide more flexibility. It is not just people with hearing disabilities who benefit from the use of closed captions. Closed captions can also be helpful to a number of other people, including: • students who speak English as a second language, or those who are learning to read. • students who benefit from content presented in multiple modalities, and visual learners. • students accessing the video in a context where the audio cannot be heard (think a busy student union building where you might be trying to preview a video without headphones) or when there is a need to be silent (while waiting in the lobby of a building, at the library, etc.). In both scenarios, the content would still be accessible by turning on the captions. • students viewing an old film with poor sound quality, or one where the people on-screen have a heavy accent that is difficult to understand. • anyone who is not familiar with the vocabulary of the topic covered in a a video or podcast. To provide some guidance for caption authors, the National Association of the Deaf developed a Captioning Key available online at In general, when captioning you should: • Try to limit captions to 2 lines to prevent the captions from interfering with the action shown in the video. • Left align captions that are 2 or more lines of text. • Caption as much of what is said in the video as possible. This may include captioning slang and dialect. These are are just a few of the guidelines suggested by the National Association of the Deaf in their Captioning Key for Educational Media. For a more extensive discussion of these guidelines, please visit the Captioning Key website at

Setting Up Your Computer for Captioning
There are a number of captioning solutions available for the Mac. These include: • World Caption, a free application from the University of Wisconsin-Madison that can add captions to a QuickTime video from an existing transcript. • MacCaption, a commercial product from Computer Prompting and Captioning Co. (CPC) intended for the professional video production market. MacCaption includes advanced features such as caption positioning. • MovieCaptioner, a commercial product from Synchrimedia that combines transcription and captioning in one application. This guide will focus on MovieCaptioner, as it provides a cost effective and easy to use solution that should meet the needs of most educators who want to get started with captioning. Installing MovieCaptioner on your computer involves three steps: installing MovieCaptioner, adding the ClosedCaptionImporter plugin to your QuickTime Plugins folder, and making sure QuickTime Player 7 is installed on your computer. To install MovieCaptioner: 1. Go to the Synchrimedia website at and select Buy, then MovieCaptioner. A single user license for MovieCaptioner is $99.95. If you want to test drive MovieCaptioner before you buy it, you can also download a 14-day trial of MovieCaptioner. After you purchase your license, you will receive an email with a link that will let you download the full version of the application. The email will also include the user name and password you will need to enter to unlock the full version of MovieCaptioner on your computer. 2. The full version of MovieCaptioner will download as a compressed file. To install MovieCaptioner, locate this compressed file (it should be in your Downloads folder) and double-click on it to expand its contents. 3. Drag the icon for the MovieCaptioner application from the unzipped folder into your Applications folder to complete the install. You can also copy and paste the MovieCaptioner demo application from the unzipped folder to the Applications folder if you are unable to do drag and drop. 4. Before you start using the full version of MovieCaptioner on your computer, make sure you remove the demo version of the application if you downloaded the 14-day trial. You can remove the demo version by dragging its icon from the Applications folder into the Trash. The next step for setting up MovieCaptioner is to install the ClosedCaptionImporter plugin for QuickTime. To install the QuickTime plug-in needed by MovieCaptioner: 1. Visit the Mac OS X Reference Library  page for ClosedCaptionImporter. 2. Select Download Sample Code. 3. Open the downloaded folder and copy the ClosedCaptionImporter.component file to your Library/ QuickTime folder. You can copy the file by right-clicking on it and choosing Copy or by using the keyboard shortcut Command, C. To paste it, right-click inside the destination folder and choose Paste or use the

keyboard shortcut Command, V. Make sure QuickTime is not running on your computer when you copy the plugin into the correct folder. Note: if you have upgraded to Mac OS X Lion, you can access the Library folder by opening a Finder window and choosing Go, Computer. You should then see an icon for your hard drive (it should be named Macintosh HD by default). The Library icon should be visible when you open your hard drive. MovieCaptioner relies on QuickTime Player 7 when creating the captions. The final step for setting up MovieCaptioner on your computer is to make sure you have QuickTime Player 7 installed. If you have QuickTime Player 7 installed, it will be found in your Utilities folder. If you do not have QuickTime Player 7 installed, you can install it from the Optional Installs folder of your OS X install disc. Mac OS X Lion does not have an install disc. If you have upgraded to Mac OS X Lion, you can download QuickTime 7 from the Apple website.

Closed Captioning a Video
To caption a QuickTime movie with MovieCaptioner: 1. Launch MovieCaptioner by double-clicking the application’s icon in the Applications folder or the Dock. 2. Open the MovieCaptioner preferences by choosing MovieCaptioner, Preferences. Select the default settings for your caption text and background, and set the Repeat Interval. This setting will determine the amount of video MovieCaptioner will loop through as you work on each caption. I prefer to set this option to five seconds of video. 3. Select Load Movie and locate the movie you will be captioning. For a movie that will be viewed on an iPod, iPhone or iPad, the movie should have the .m4v extension. 4. When prompted, save the MovieCaptioner project file. 5. To create your first caption, select Start and as you listen to the video, type the caption text in the area below the video preview window and press Return to move to the next caption. 6. When you have completed all the captions, choose Export, Transcript (with timecode). This will create a backup of your captions. This step is important if you want to caption more than one version of the video. You could then import the transcript by selecting Import, Text in Line Form. Note that you will have to delete the first caption after you import the transcript. This can be done by selecting the caption and choosing Remove Caption at the bottom of the MovieCaptioner window. 7. To adjust the timing of the captions so there is no lag, choose Edit, Shift All Start Times.  Enter 1.5 seconds for the time, select Sooner and then choose Shift Start Times. 8. Export the captions by selecting Export, Sonic Scenarist (SCC Embed with QT). 9. Choose a save location for the SCC file. This is the file that contains the timing information for the captions. You can save this file anywhere on your computer. Once QuickTime has embedded the captions into a single movie file you can even delete this file without losing your captions. 10. The captioned video file will open with QuickTime. If you’re satisfied with the captions, choose File, Save As to save the captioned QuickTime movie. Make sure you select “Save as self-contained file” in the QuickTime Save As window. QuickTime will save the file with the .mov extension even if you captioned a movie that originally had the .m4v extension. To change the extension, open the folder where you saved the file and click once on the file’s icon to select it. Click again and wait a few seconds until the text becomes editable. You will then be able to type over the filename and change the extension to .m4v. You may get a warning asking you to confirm that you really want to change the extension.

Fine Tuning Captions with MovieCaptioner
When creating closed captions with MovieCaptioner, you can improve your captions by doing the following: • split long captions that would take more than two lines of text. This will prevent the captions from interfering with the content displayed on the screen. • use the Set Timecode button to manually set time codes and improve the timing of the captions. To split a long caption, place the cursor where you want the split to occur and select Split Caption at the bottom of the screen. To manually set time codes, first add the Set Timecode button to the interface by selecting View, Show Set Timecode button. Once the Set Timecode button is visible at the top of the screen, select the first caption, click on the Set Timecode button and start pressing Return each time you hear the beginning of the next caption. The first caption will already be done, so you will start pressing Return when you hear the second caption in your video. When you’re finished manually setting the time codes, export your captions by choosing Export, Sonic Scenarist (SCC Embed in QT).

Apple Distinguished Educator Profile

Luis Perez
Apple Distinguished Educator Class of 2009 University of South Florida • iTeach Initiative Technical Specialist Tampa, Florida

Luis Perez is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Special Education at the University of South Florida. He served as the Project Manager of the Tech Ease 4 All website, a collection of assistive technology and web accessibility tutorials hosted by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology at USF. Currently, he provides professional development and technology integration support to faculty and students in the iTeach Initiative of the USF College of Education. Luis maintains a Mobile Learning 4 Special Needs wiki at http://, and he has presented on accessibility and assistive technology at national and international conferences including those of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and the International Technology and People with Disabilities Conference (CSUN).

About the Program
The Apple Distinguished Educators (ADE) program was created to recognize K-12 and higher education pioneers who are using a variety of Apple products to transform teaching and learning. Today it has grown into a worldwide community of visionary educators and innovative leaders who are doing amazing things with technology in and out of the classroom.

See the incredible content ADEs are sharing on iTunes U. Watch their creative teaching ideas in action — and then see the students’ amazing results. Learn how educators are engaging students with mobile devices and personalizing learning like never before. Experience some of the projects happening in classrooms around the world.

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