The importance of adding closed captions and subtitles to a video is central to our mission here at Amara. So we want to make it as easy as possible! To that end, we’ve put together a quick article on adding closed captions and subtitles to mp4 videos. Read on to learn a few tips and tricks for managing videos and subtitles both online and off.
What are captions
Captions refer to subtitles in the same language as the video. Closed captions are captions that can be turned on or off by the viewer. Captions, or same-language subtitles, were first introduced as an accessibility measure on public television in a few countries around the world.
In modern captions, we have seen a rise in auto-generated captions which has had both positive and negative effects. While auto-generated captions can save time for creators, they also are known to have more errors than human-created captions. While figuring out how to add captions to videos, consider the final experience of the viewer and make sure that all captions are reviewed by a person!
What are subtitles
“Subtitles” is a term that is used for both same-language and translated subtitles. Subtitles started in the operatic tradition, when audiences were viewing operas in languages they did not speak themselves. Subtitles in opera houses could be shown above or beside the players on the stage. But modern subtitles are usually shown at the bottom of videos unless the subtitle needs to be repositioned to the top of the screen to not block important text like name cards or news ticker tape.
Add subtitles to mp4 on video platforms
There are a few ways to add subtitles to mp4 videos online. Whether they are same-language subtitles or translated subtitles, the process is the same. There should be a video file and a subtitle or caption file to get started.
Some platforms, like YouTube, allow users to type and synchronize subtitles manually along with the video or upload subtitle files from their computer.
Most popular video platforms offer some kind of automatic captioning for videos in certain languages. But any automatic caption should only be treated as a starting point for creating accessible and accurate captions and subtitles.
Creating, organizing, and synchronizing subtitles can be difficult to manage. But with Amara Teams, creators can have a private workspace where they manage subtitle requests and deliveries. Amara Teams have integrations with YouTube, Vimeo, Kaltura, and Brightcove where subtitle edits can automatically synchronize to the host platform.
Add mp4 subtitles on social media
Around 85% of social media users scroll with their sound off. And if the look of a video isn’t enough to keep their attention, they might just keep scrolling without a care. Subtitles are another opportunity to reach people who are bombarded with information from their phones every day. A great first line popping up in the subtitles could get their attention more effectively than a muted video.
The best bet for someone looking to add subtitles to mp4 online free is to use an unformatted SRT subtitle file. Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok usually don’t support more complex subtitle file types or additional formatting. We created a guide on making your own srt file from your video or transcript.
Using unformatted SRT for your mp4 videos means that the subtitles won’t have any styling, positioning, or other formatting.
Adding subtitles to mp4 videos offline
Adding subtitles to mp4 videos offline is sometimes as easy as drag-and-drop. Choosing a video player, that is the first step in how to play mp4 with subtitles. Review the supported subtitle formats for your video player. Then either create or download your subtitles in a supported format. If dragging the subtitle file on top of the video player doesn’t work, check in the menu bar for options for importing subtitle files.
Sometimes there are timing issues that make subtitles and videos not match up. But luckily a lot of video players include a bulk time shift option. Check for keyboard shortcuts for moving the subtitle track forward or backward to match the speech in the video. If that doesn’t work, the Amara Editor has a bulk shift function that is easy to use. Simply add a video to the Amara platform, enter the Amara Editor, and click under the clock icon to bulk shift subtitles. This can be done for videos in the free workspace or in an Amara Team.
Subtitle quality and the importance of review
When it comes to creating quality captions and subtitles, more heads are better than one! Adding a final review step before publishing for others to see can boost the quality of the captions or subtitles and the enjoyment of the final audience.
And if more help is needed, we have some quickstart guides to creating quality captions as well as some tips for translation and review. Gather and share all the resources available to make the world a bit more accessible!