How to caption a Vimeo video

Video sharing service Vimeo added closed caption functionality back in 2014, and creating a caption file and adding it to the videos you upload is simple. 

To add captions to a video on Vimeo, you will first need a caption file. You can engage a professional captioning company to create a file, or use one of the do-it-yourself captioning sites. There are a number of tools which allow you to create captions from scratch which can then be added to YouTube videos.

The list includes the free CADET (Caption and Description Editing Tool) that was launched in May 2017 by the not-for-profit National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) in the USA. CADET is very easy to use. Another DIY tool is Amara which is an open-source, non-profit project of PCF, the Participatory Culture Foundation. And another option is dotSUB which has been around for quite a while and is quite straightforward to use.

Note, you will only be able to upload a caption file to Vimeo if you own the video. However, if you choose to go with Amara, anyone can caption any video on Vimeo then make the captions available to be viewed by anyone on the Amara website.

To create caption files using Amara:

  1. Once you have uploaded your video file to Vimeo, paste the URL of the video you want to caption in the field provided then select 'Subtitle'.
  2. Under the video you want to caption, select 'Subtitle me'.
  3. In the pop-up screen, select the down arrow and then the language you wish to use for captions (subtitles).
  4. Click 'Continue'. You will be given the option to view an instructional video about captioning with Amara. If you would like to skip this video, click the checkbox next to 'Skip' and then click 'Continue'.
  5. You will be taken to a page that is divided in two columns. On the left column, you can add captions as the video is played. On the right column, you are provided with options to play and pause the video as you caption it. Amara has defaulted to play videos in intervals of 4 seconds. There are also another two options, ‘magical autopause’ and ‘no automatic pausing’, which we would advise you to experiment with so you can see which one is best for you.
  6. To caption the video, you can either select the 'Play next 4 seconds' button found on the right hand column or press the Tab key on your keyboard. Once you select this button or press the Tab key, the video will play for 4 seconds before it stops to allow you to type captions.
  7. Type your captions in the text field provided under the video. Once you are happy with your captions, press 'Enter' to continue on a new line. Repeat this until the whole video is captioned.
  8. Once you have typed all the captions, select 'Done' on the right side of the screen.
  9. The next step allows you to synch your captions to the video. To synch your captions to the video, press the down arrow key on the keyboard or select 'Tap when next subtitle should appear' (on the right hand column) whenever the next caption should appear.
  10. When you're finished synching your captions select 'Done'.
  11. You will now be asked to check your work. You can play the video with the captions running, and make changes to the caption text if necessary.
  12. At the stage, you can also complete the synchronisation process. In step 9, you only created points where the captions should appear, but not where they should come off the screen. In other words, captions will run continuously unless you create gaps between them. Underneath the screen you will see your captions represented as a series of grey boxes. Using your cursor, you change the timing of your captions by moving the sides of these boxes to left or right.
  13. Once you are happy with your captions, select 'Done? Submit work', and anyone will be able to watch the video with your captions on Amara. If you own the video, you can save the captions as an SRT file, which is compatible with Vimeo.


Uploading captions to Vimeo:

  1. Once you have your caption file in SRT format, go to your video’s ‘advanced settings’ and click on ‘Upload a caption file’.
  2. Indicate which language the captions are in, and whether it is a caption or subtitle file. (Note, captions include non-verbal information such as sound effects, descriptions of music and, if necessary, the names of speakers, while subtitles are confined to a transcription of the dialogue.)
  3. When you have uploaded your caption file, check the box to activate it. Unchecking the box will deactivate it.


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