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How to Create Closed Captions in QuickTime Pro

Step 1: Create a text file

The first step in creating closed captions is to create a text file with the dialogue you wish to include. In a Mac platform, use the application Text Edit. In a Windows platform, use the program Notepad to create this file. Each line is a new caption. Press return every time you want a new line of caption to appear on the screen. So if the dialogue is slow, have fewer words per line than if the dialogue is very fast. We can also edit the length of time each caption remains on the screen. We will learn that later. Next, we need to format the text. Go to the Format menu and choose Make Plain Text from the drop down menu. To the left is an example of what your text will be formatted to. Save and close your file.

Step 2: Export your text file from QuickTime Pro

Open QuickTime Pro. In QuickTime Pro, go to File/Open. Open the text file you have just created.

Your text file will open in a QuickTime Movie as seen to the left. Watch your movie. Note any formatting changes that you don't like. Is the black box too big for your text? Do you have too many words per line? Does it move too slowly or quickly? These are all things we will learn to change later, but it is important to take note so you know what to change. Now, go to File/Export. From the Export drop down menu (shown above) choose "Text to Text," as highligted in blue.

Next, click on the "Options" button to the right of the Export drop down menu. Choose "Show Text, Descriptors, and Time." Under Show time relative to start of: Choose Movie. Then click "OK," then "Save." (To get to Text Export Settings, first click on this Options button.)

Step 3: Edit the Settings of Your Exported Text File

Open your text file that you just exported in either Text Edit or Notepad. You will see something similar to the file at the right. All of your dialogue still exists, however, we are now able to see the codes within the text that control how it will behave in your QuickTime Movie. The first change we will make is at the top of the file: We will change the width to 320. If you are importing closed caption to a split screen movie, you'll want to change this value to 640 instead. This will ensure that the captions stretch across the screen of the movie.

(Make sure the width is set to 320.)

When watching my text movie in QuickTime Pro, I noticed that the black box was too tall for my text. My text went two lines in some places, but never three. (Change the height value as noted to the right. ) To accommodate for two lines of text without being too large, I will change the height value to 40. If you only have one line of text through out your captions, you can change the value to 20. Additionally, you will notice that beneath each line of text is a time code in parentheses. You can tweak the time code markings here to change the length of each caption. We will go over this in our final formatting touches. Save your text file.

(This is the time code. It is telling me that my final caption of: "with what you are saying at this very fast speed" will enter the movie at 20 seconds. By altering this time code, along with the time codes for the rest of the captions, I can ensure more precise timing.)

Step 4: Putting the Text into the Movie

In QuickTime Pro, open the text file. You will see a movie file as seen above.

Select the entire movie by dragging the "out" handlebar all the way to the end as shown to the far right. Select Edit, Copy to copy the footage. Pull the "out" handlebar all the way to the end to select all of the footage. In QuickTime Pro, open your lesson video. With the time code at the beginning (or at the point that you want the captions to start) go to Edit, Add to Movie.

Step 5: Editing the Text Track

Your new movie will look like the one to the right, with the closed captions running on the top of the film. In this movie, it will cover the heads and actions of many of the participants. Therefore, I want to move the captions to the bottom of the movie, below all the action. To move the captions in your movie, first go to Window, Show Movie Properties.

Don't uncheck this box.

Make sure "Text Track" is selected.

The properties dialogue box for your movie will open, as seen above. At the top, there will be a text track option. Make sure this is highlighted (without unchecking the "Enabled" box), and select the Visual Settings options to edit the caption location. Choose the "Visual Settings" option.

Scaled Size should be 320 x 65.

Make sure the second box of the offset is at 240. In the Transformation box, make sure that the scaled size is 320x65. In the offset section, change the second box to 240.

Step 6: The Finishing Touches

At this point, you may continue to edit the looks of your captions. In my case, I still think the black box is too large, so I've decided to minimize the height to 40, as seen to the right. Additionally, I noticed that the timing for certain captions were very off, so I edited the timecodes, as seen below.

Below each line of caption is a bracket with a time code. It is coded as [hours:minutes: seconds:frames of seconds]. Here I will lengthen and shorten amount of time that each caption is on screen.

To the right is the final, edited version of a movie with limited closed captions. Watch your movie with the captions and continue to make any edits you see fit.


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