YouTube now lets you correct automatic captions

Wednesday, 15 August 2012 14:33pm

An intern has developed a way of editing captions within YouTube, drastically increasing the quality of auto-generated captions across the video sharing service.

To provide captions on their YouTube videos, users can either upload their own caption files or use the 'machine transcript' function to generate automatic captions through Google’s voice recognition technology.  These are automatically generated with time codes and appear as captions on the videos once they are turned on. However, the auto-generated captions are renowned for their inaccuracy.

The new caption editor function, developed by a Google intern and his mentor, allows users to correct automatic captions within the YouTube website. Previously, making changes to captions meant users had to create a separate caption file, usually through third party services such as Amara. Once the captions are edited, changes can be saved directly to the associated video. Unfortunately, the new function does not allow you to change time codes, so it works best with corrections to spelling and grammar.

The ability to edit caption files directly online on such a widely used and free video streaming website is a positive move towards quality captions, particularly for Deaf or hearing impaired users.

Google has updated its instructions for uploading and editing captions. Our sister website, Access iQ, has guidelines for captioning multimedia.

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