Captioning comment from Harkle

May 16, 2007

Harkle logoGot this helpful comment about captioning from James, who’s part of Harkle. Harkle is a cool website that links to / collects captioned media and videos from all over the web. These videos could be news-related from CNN, or personal videos on YouTube — and while many videos are open-captioned, some have closed captions that can be viewed via Windows Media Player on a PC. Wonder if the Mac has a program that can show these captions?

Moxie Mocha iconThanks too to Moxie Mocha who recently wrote two posts about Rocketboom being captioned and getting Dance, Monkey, Dance captioned. With more people like James and Mocha contacting video producers (whether professional or amateur) about captioning resources, the more captioned videos on the web there will be. Keep it up!

Here’s the comment from James — I will definitely try out the resources mentioned below:

Nice work! Open captions like the ones you made in Windows Movie Maker have their merits because they are a permanent part of the video and for now, open captions are the only way to get captions on YouTube (unless you go to third party sites like,,, etc.), but they can get a little blurry when the video gets compressed. If anyone wants to try “closed captioning” for web video, here’s what I recommend, with lots of caveats.

Caveat 1: Captions are like sausage: if you like them, you’re better off not knowing how they’re made. Keep reading at your own peril.

Caveat 2: Like everything on the web, things keep changing. One reason I like the strategy described below is that you will have a “master file” that can be easily reformatted to work with most everything that will be available for the foreseeable the future.

There are a growing number of options for creating closed captions for the web, especially if you’re posting your videos to shared video sites like YouTube or Google Video. For the greatest of ease, you can go to the sites mentioned above. My only concern with these great sites is will they be around as long as your YouTube video?

For speed and accuracy but less ease, you can also try WGBH’s free captioning software MAGpie:

Caveat 3: At the moment (like I said, things keep changing) MAGpie is a good strategy if you post videos to Google Video. Hopefully now that YouTube is part of Google, this will also be a good strategy for your YouTube videos once YouTube hurries up and implements the captioning feature. Come on YouTube!

Once you get over the fairly easy learning curve, it’s probably one of the fastest ways to do your own captions. It works well on PCs but not so well on Macs ( (Caveat 4).

There’s a good MAGpie tutorial at

Caveat 5: MAGpie is in serious need of an update to catch up with the online video revolution, but it’s still valid if you’re willing to take an extra step to create an output that works . Once you create your caption file, export a version to Windows Media and convert it to the Subrip format in Subtitle Workshop (also free).

Caveat 6: I’ve left out a lot of caveats, but if you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line at and I will try to answer any questions you have and give you some tips that will help you work faster.

And please, if you make any captioned videos, please tell me about them at You don’t need to fill out the form completely. A simple URL will do.



3 Responses to “Captioning comment from Harkle”

  1. Alison Says:

    I’ve covered Harkle before, however I think a Firefox extension similar to BlogRovr would be a good way to go. I’ve recently e mailed relevant parties in the hope that this could be pulled off. Have included a direct link to this text.

  2. Proud Geek Says:

    Thanks Alison! I’ll check the extension out.

  3. moxie_mocha Says:

    Nice post, Proud Geek. ;)

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