Closed Captions for Video and Streaming

Back when I was doing videos on Facebook, I dabbled with its captioning tools. Everyone benefits from having captioning in place, whether you’re hearing impaired or want to follow along but have to keep the sound down. Facebook even gives you the option of generating captions for you.

Unfortunately, it’s a feature I dropped pretty quickly. Using Facebook’s captions served as a great starting point, but the process of meticulously adding in the captions word-by-word was incredibly time-consuming. A five-minute video could easily take 45 minutes to write captions for, even with the auto-generated captions as a starting point. With so many other things on the go, it was too much of a burden for me to carry.

Ever since, captioning in any form has been something I’ve wanted to roll back into my video offerings. As I’ve gotten more comfortable as a streamer, I’ve come to realize that my ability to communicate with viewers is the single-most valuable thing I have to offer. Having captions on everything I do would better showcase what I do best for everyone.

I may have stumbled on an answer.

Over the past few months, I’ve grown to become a big fan of Twitch streamer Ashnichrist. She used to stream Dota 2 full-time, but she’s shifted her focus towards creating content related to streaming advice. On one of live streams featured something I hadn’t seen before: real-time closed captions.

In a video where she describes her streaming setup, she revealed that she uses a service called Web Captioner. Any sort of automated captioning service is going to make mistakes here-and-there, but this seems to work well most of the time while doing a great job of keeping up to speed.

However, I didn’t like that Web Captioner didn’t seem to have options for transparent backgrounds. Digging deeper, I found a service by PubNub that does just that. The problem with PubNub is that the text won’t continuously scroll as you talk. When I ramble with little-to-no breaks, much of the speech will be hidden below the fold. For my first test, I stuck with Web Captioner.

I thought it went really well! Thanks to the video delay in my setup, the captions were showing up basically in real time, which is amazing! Will continue to play around with different layouts and different services to find a solution that works best for me, but I hope I can make closed captions a regular feature on my stream!

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