The mission of the Department for Disability Support Services is to provide to individuals with disabilities support services that will enable them to access programs, services, facilities, and activities of the university; to enhance disability awareness among students, staff, and faculty; and to provide academic courses.

Captioning and Subtitling Multimedia

Why it needs to be done?

What are the issues?

Audio, video, and other multimedia should always be captioned or at least have a transcript. This includes VHS tapes, DVDs, audio tapes, flash animations, etc. If these media are not already captioned or have a transcript, this needs to be created. Unfortunately this is a very time consuming process and may require specialized software and hardware. If you have questions about this please contact Disability Support Services by email or by phone at 737-1016 and some there can help you create it or create it for you. If you would like to know more about how to do it yourself continue reading.


Creating the transcript

There is no easy way to do this yet. It is much easier using the script that was used when the video was made but if there is not one then one must be created. This usually takes at least two to three times the length of the audio/video itself. For colleges and universities you maybe able to hire student help to create one after the video is done. Another option, if it is for a class, is to have the class itself write it if it is short. The class could study by writing and the professor would have a transcript of the video. This can be a plain text file that will be later imported and synchronized with the media.

Synchronize the transcript with the multimedia

This used to take just about as long as writing the transcript but there are now programs that allow you to synchronize an hour of media in about five minutes. Normally what you have to do is play the audio/video file while you have the transcript open and add a timestamp to each line that will be displayed.

Creation of synchronized media

To create digital versions of the synchronized video use one of the tools listed below and export the synchronized transcript. Try to use RealTime (.rt) or QuickTime Text (.txt) as the format. In the future you should use the SMIL format for everything once it becomes more widely supported. You should use a combination of SMIL and RealText or SMIL and QuickTime Text with most video players that are out there now. With SMIL you can have multiple videos, captions, and subtitles synchronized and playing at the same time. For example you can have a main video with audio on the left, a video of an interpreter synchronized on the right, and a synchronized transcript below both of those. Synchronized video can also be embedded in webpages as well.

To create an analog (VHS) copy of the synchronized video you will need specialized hardware called and encoder, a program that can output the lines to the encoder, and a VHS tape player to record the captioned video. The captions can be done as open or closed captions as well. Open captions are always displayed no matter what. This is good for use with projectors if you do not have the equipment to decode captions. Closed captions are only displayed when you turn them on. Usually this is done with through the television but you may also get another piece of equipment to do this if you are using a projector or anything else that does not have a decoder built in. Many external foul language filters can decode captions and display them on screen. The software that I use is called CPC Caption Maker but there are others out there as well.

General Information


Alignment Studio

Automatic Sync Technologies


Subtitle Workshop

CPC Caption Maker

Examples and Tutorials

Creating Captions for Rich Media

SMIL with MAGpie

SMIL with Real

SMIL with QuickTime

SMIL with Microsoft