Easy YouTube caption creator - a very rough first ‘build’

OK, before I start, let me just emphasise that this tool is not meant to be anything complicated and I’m not suggesting that it in any way replaces other existing ‘Swiss Army knife’ style captioning tools - this is a one-trick pony! And the trick this pony does is help to caption YouTube videos. If you’re expecting something mind-blowing, prepare to be disappointed (cue smiley face icon moment).

What it does

I’ve put together a little tool that lets me create a caption file - suitable for YouTube - in what I think is a quite easy manner. You need to have a transcript done first (that’s the hardest part!), but if you have that, the aim is to make it a case of listening to the narrative in the YouTube video and then pressing the ‘a’ key button when each line in the transcript appears which then time-stamps that line for you.

What it doesn’t do

Pressing the play button on the embedded YouTube video does not automatically start the timer required for time-stamping the caption text (because pressing play is not tha same as the bideo starting due to connection speed and how long it takes to buffer video, so there is s separate timer control. This is far from perfect. What I would like is:

  • for a control on the page to start the YouTube video loading/buffering
  • listen/wait for the video to actually start playing
  • trigger off the timer so the two are in sync

This sounds do-able, but I’ll confess I’ve never tinkered with YouTube API at all. What I would appreciate is any advice on that front, even if it’s just to say "Yes, that’s possible, take a look here" … and I’ll give it a look when I get a moment free :)

All feedback appreciated:

Filed under: Tools
Posted by Ian on Wednesday, February 4, 2009


  1. So says Steve Lee

    You might also be interested in the Project:Possibility community captioner project as I think the team looked at some of these issues.
    I can hook you up if you are.

    Added February 4, 2009 at 3:22 pm

  2. So says Overstream

    Good work.

    Added February 5, 2009 at 8:59 pm

  3. So says Stuart Johnston

    Very good idea - well done.

    Added February 10, 2009 at 1:21 pm

  4. So says Joe Clark

    You would probably want to include a –0.3sec offset for reaction time.

    Added February 10, 2009 at 11:20 pm

  5. So says Bill

    I would prefer the SubRip (.SRT) format, and that the file be “valid” for further refinement in other editors. Subtitle Workshop does not accept the created file as valid.

    Added February 18, 2009 at 11:18 am

  6. So says E.Palfreyman

    Our son put a video on You tube it was 5 mins 1sec long and included 2 boxes: 1 with the word gay in and the 2nd with the word lesbian in at different places within the total video.

    We deleted the two boxes with the words in for obvious reasons, but the video timing then went to 4 mins 15seconds WHY is their a difference of 46 seconds?

    could anyone please help and explain.

    Added March 2, 2009 at 4:03 pm

  7. [...] There are also rumours of developments for captioning (subtitles) on YouTube circulating at Accessify. Exciting [...]

    Added April 23, 2009 at 10:37 pm

  8. So says sugar@girlsandnylons

    What is Pressing the play button on the embedded YouTube video does not automatically start the timer required for time stamping the caption text because pressing play?

    Added July 17, 2009 at 7:48 am

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