SRT Caption Workflow from Premiere to YouTube

Posted on by Larry

The hardest, most time-consuming, and least fun part of captions is proof-reading. Especially if you are using captions generated by speech-to-text software. The words will be mostly right, but punctuation and capitalization are universally messed up.

I’ve found that it takes 5 – 10X the length of the video to properly proof-read a caption file.

If you are working with SRT captions, which is the recommended format for YouTube, you can correct them in the SRT file itself using Text Edit, BBEdit, or any text editor. Here’s what the part of an SRT file looks like. I’ve found it is much faster to correct typos in the text file than in Premiere.

IMPORT CAPTIONS

Open the project to which you want to add captions, then, choose File > Import. Navigate to the SRT file containing the captions for this project and click Import.

The caption file appears in the Project panel. The first frame is black because the captions don’t start immediately.

Edit the captions onto the highest track in your sequence. In this screen shot, I’ve zoomed in slightly so you can see the caption text.

At this point, verify and correct the timing of any captions that need help. The easiest way to do this is in the Timeline. Drag the In or Out of the caption where you need it.

You can see the captions in the Program Monitor. If captions are not displayed, click the Wrench icon in the lower right corner and choose Closed Captions Display > Enable from the Wrench menu.

You can also modify captions in the Caption panel. This displays captions for the currently active sequence.

NOTE: Captions must run at least one second and cannot overlap. Do adjust the vertical placement of captions on the screen. Don’t add formatting. Caption formatting is not supported in most applications. I recommend you turn it off for the export. If I need something fancy, I’ll use a title.

EXPORT CAPTIONS

You can export captions at the same time as the media file or separately. In either case, you will create a separate caption file, called a “Sidecar file.” YouTube strongly recommends using SRT files. It does not want embedded captions.

In this example, I’ll export both media and captions at the same time. Choose File > Export > Media.

In the Export Media dialog:

Premiere goes to work creating both media and caption files.

If your job is only to create the videos and captions, you are done. Deliver the media and SRT files to your client.

IMPORT INTO YOUTUBE

NOTE: If you are uploading a video for the first time, upload the video, then, in a second step, upload the captions.

VERIFY YOUR WORK

Play your video, enable Closed Captions and make sure everything looks OK.

Click the Subtitles category on the left.

Then, delete the automatically generated captions that YouTube creates.

EXTRA CREDIT

If there’s an error in your subtitles correct it, then return to the Studio. The button you clicked to upload captions now has options to replace or delete the captions you uploaded.


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