Premiere: Import, Modify and Export Captions

Posted on by Larry

While Adobe Premiere Pro CC provides the ability to create captions manually, much more often captions are created outside of Premiere, then imported.

NOTE: If you are interested in how the captions for this tutorial were created, here’s a review of Simon Says – On-Prem that creates captions for Premiere, Final Cut and Avid.

Let me show you how to import, adjust, move and export captions.

NOTE: Here’s  complete workflow for importing, editing, exporting SRT captions, then importing them into YouTube.

IMPORT CAPTIONS

The caption file was saved in SRT format, which is a text file. This screen shot shows what it looks like in Text Edit.

To import the caption file, choose File > Import and navigate to the SRT file.

NOTE: There are a wide variety of caption files, not all of which Premiere supports. Here’s an article that describes supported caption file formats for Premiere and what most social media outlets require.

Here’s the caption file in the Project panel (on the right).  There’s no image because the captions don’t start until later in the file.

If you drag the caption file into the timeline, notice that the duration of the captions doesn’t match the duration of the movie. This is because the captions don’t start at the very beginning, so the clip doesn’t either.

Instead, put the playhead in the timeline where captions start (07:22 in my example), then edit the caption file into the timeline using the shortcut: [Period]

NOTE: Check your track patching, the blue box on left, as captions need to be above all other tracks.

MODIFY CAPTIONS

To change the location of the caption track, drag it.

To change the contents of a caption, for example, to fix a typo, display Window > Captions, then select the caption clip in the Timeline.

To change the text, select it and re-type in the Captions panel.

To change formatting, depending upon the caption format you are working with, use the option bar at the top.

NOTE: Not all captions support all format options; SCC and SRT are particularly limited. If you want maximum formatting control, create titles, not captions.

To change the timing between captions, either:

– or –

NOTE: Captions can not overlap. As well, there are rules on when and how often captions can change as well as where they are located in the frame. If Premiere blocks you from moving a caption, it is probably due to one of these rules.

To create a new caption, click the Plus button in the lower right corner of the Captions panel.

To delete a caption, select it in the Captions panel and press Delete or click the Minus button.

EXPORT CAPTIONS

To export captions, choose File > Export > Media.

Only one language of any caption can be burned into the video and the video must be in QuickTime MOV format. Otherwise captions must be exported as separate files, called “sidecar files.”

NOTE: Burned-in captions are a permanent part of the video, they cannot be turned off later. By default, captions are not burned-in.

To burn-in captions into an exported file, choose Burn Captions Into Video from the File Format menu.

Here’s what burned-in captions look like (ah, the text at the bottom). If you want nice formatting, create titles (like the text at the top).

To create a sidecar file from an exported file, choose Create Sidecar File from the File Format menu. Depending upon which caption format you select, you may be confronted with a variety of options. See the caption specs for your distributor to determine what you need.

This screen shot illustrates the popular – and simple – SRT format. I recommend that you NOT enable SRT Styling because there is no standard for interpreting SRT formats. This means that there is no guarantee about how your captions will look on someone else’s TV.

SUMMARY

Importing and exporting captions is straight-forward. The hard part is creating the captions in the first place, then taking the time to make sure they are accurate in terms of spelling and timing.


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2 Responses to Premiere: Import, Modify and Export Captions

  1. I appreciate all your work. As an ethnographic filmmaker working with Swahili and Maasai language speakers, I spend half my life with subtitles.
    I’m writing what hopes to be an exhaustive analysis of subtitling for Premiere. My goal is to address the hundreds of nightmares described in Premiere’s captions blogs – why the problems happen and how to avoid or correct them.
    In any case, I noticed a typo on your “Import, Modify and Export Captions” page. You wrote “the duration of the captions don’t match …” Not important, but you might want to fix it.
    Thank you for all your work.

    • Larry says:

      Peter:

      Smile…. I always want my work to be accurate, even when I don’t proof-read carefully.

      Thanks for the note – and best wishes on your analysis.

      Larry

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