Captioning your videos #3: Subtitle Workshop

May 17, 2007

This is the third (well, duh, it’s obvious because there’s a “#3” in the title!) in a series of reviews of free software or websites which you could use to add captions or subtitles to your videos. I’ve previously reviewed Windows Movie Maker and Jumpcut.
Subtitle Workshop logo

Acting on a tip from commenter drmzz, I tried out Subtitle Workshop by URUSoft. In a nutshell: this is a professional-quality program designed with one purpose: adding closed-captions to videos. And it does that purpose apparently very well. But it isn’t designed for “burning” captions or subtitles onto videos that we upload onto the web — instead, it creates a separate file that television studios then use to display closed-captions. Don’t use this program if you just want to caption vlogs and videos of your daughters scarfing down birthday cakes.

Subtitle Workshop is a free downloadable program for PC computers (sorry, Macs), and comes with a long list of impressive captioning features. Scripts / text files can be imported, and subtitles / captions can then be easily created (with a further list of features like splitting or combining lines of text, etc). The timing and length of these subtitles can easily be adjusted as well.

Here’s a photo of what the page looks like. Click on it for a larger version.

Subtitle Workshop screenshot

There is a learning curve, since this is professional-quality captioning software. I almost never read the users manual, but I had to for this one. I was used to adding captions along a visual time-line (like on Jumpcut and Windows Media Player), and having to use actual numbers (i.e., starting captions at 3,753, ending it 1,5 seconds later) was a bit of a mystery at first. And yet, in a short time, I had added captions to a video of my daughter enjoying her first birthday cake a bit too much. Piece of cake, pun intended.

But then I tried to save it, I was faced with a bewildering array of file options. That was when I realized this program was designed for creating a separate file for closed-captions to be used on television. That is, this program would not “burn” the captions onto the video itself, but creates a separate file for closed-captions. That meant this program was not designed for captioning the typical web videos we upload to YouTube, Xanga, etc. That wasn’t explained on the homepage nor in the users manual. And I finally found something about this on URUSoft’s FAQ page:

  1. How do I save the video file with subtitles?

    This is by far the most frequent question. What I have to say is that what you want to do does not have anything to do with Subtitle Workshop. The program is not meant for this task and never will. It can only handle text based subtitles and cannot “attach” them to any video. However, this does not mean there is no way to achieve this task, it only means that you can’t do it with Subtitle Workshop (although it can help a bit). Note that we do not recommend at all to burn subtitles into video file (unless it’s absolutely necessary) since the subtitles won’t be able to be removed after and it needs whole re-compression of the movie, due to which you will loose video quality and precious time.
    The first thing you need to do is save your subtitles in SubStation Alpha format (SSA), this is the only part in which you will need to use Subtitle Workshop. Then you need to have this tools: VirtualDub or VirtualDubMod (better), “subtitler” or “TextSub” plug-ins for VirtualDub. There are many guides in many languages on how to proceed, try to search for one on these sites:

Oops. All my efforts, for naught. I didn’t want to download additional programs to make this work. I wanted something easy and fast for captioning videos that I then upload to the web.

If you’re doing professional-grade closed captioning for your movies, then by all means use Subtitle Workshop. If you want quick, permanent subtitles on your videos, then I (as well as the designer of this software program) recommend you look elsewhere.

[EDIT:  See two excellent comments by drmzz and Jared Evans (along with a link to his blog post on this topic) on how to “burn” subtitles onto your videos using Subtitle Workshop and a separate program or programs.]

 

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17 Responses to “Captioning your videos #3: Subtitle Workshop”

  1. drmzz Says:

    Hello, ah haha, didn’t expect you to try this out so I should had included some more info the last time.
    Anyway, after typing the text in Subtitle Workshop, I’ll save ’em as .sub or .srt for the Google player. Upload the video at Google, then upload the .srt or .sub file as well. To burn it on video, I use VirtualDub. More info can be found from Jared’s former post on this: http://jarednevans.typepad.com/blog/2006/05/how_to_quickly_.html I believe VirtualDub can only work with .avi files. Am quickly typing this before heading to grad school. Nevertheless, I appreciate the new info on subtitling and such. Happy subtitling.(blow candles)

  2. proudgeek Says:

    Thanks, Drmzz! I guess I’m looking for something easier for the “everyday person” to use to do subtitling / captioning. But this way sounds fantastic for longer or more professional videos!

  3. Jared Evans Says:

    After you create the subtitle file with Subtitle Workshop, you can simply use AutoGK to generate a video with hard subtitles.

    All the details here:
    http://jarednevans.typepad.com/blog/2007/01/auto_gordian_kn.html

    The reason I choose the Subtitle Workshop/AutoGK approach is because it’s FREE and powerful if you take the time to learn this software. You can create a subtitle file with all the subtitle lines then simply load it into this program to set the timecodes of each subtitle line as you play the video.

    I’ve found this method to huge timesaver when adding subtitles to longer video clips.

    Also, I enjoyed your other posts about subtitling video clips because I like to see how others accomplish the same results.

  4. proudgeek Says:

    Have edited this blog post somewhat to refer to these two excellent comments as well as Jared’s blog post on AutoGK. Thanks, both!

  5. billcreswell Says:

    Ahhh – I had similar issues, and similar to you, I was looking for something easier.

  6. Edwal Says:

    This software is a piece of shit.

    Never mind how much I tried to synchronize the subtitles -I had a text file with them- the stupid program kept moving the times, desynchronizing everything and finally I gave up.


  7. […] Short tutorial for Subtitle […]


  8. […] / subtitles to your video; this is actually done via a separate file created by a program much like Subtitle Workshop and which is already being done for the shows we see on television. Hopefully more and more content […]

  9. Rao Says:

    I too had the same problem, so i was searching for and i came here and got some message. I hope the information given to you, might work. I downloaded AutoGK software. If i am successful, i will let you know. If you had tried, let me know how to do the same through my email.

  10. Auntychristy Says:

    I have attempted to restart my “syncronizing” again and again on the Subtitle Workshop and each and every line beneath it is off. I am not having much luck, I am not a guru and need a subtitles for dummy’s approach. Any one know of a program that automatically installs the CC option to downloaded movies or shows? …Teary-eyed with computer contempt….Christy

  11. proudgeek Says:

    Christy — ugh! I’ve only used Subtitle Workshop once, so I’m not sure how I can help you. And I see that some other commenter(s) to this post also complained about the timing issue. Maybe use Windows Movie Maker or Apple’s iMovie if you want to create open subtitles?

  12. ALAN JEFFERS Says:

    AAAAHHHH CUTE LITTLE BABY AND FINALLY GOT ENGLISH CLOSED CAPTION AND ANOTHER VEIDO COUNTIES I COULD NOT UNDERSTAND LANGAUGE SO I LOOK FOR ADJUST CLOSED CAPTION FOR ENGLISH ALSO I NOTICE SUBTITLE WORKSHOP I NEVER SEE THOSE BOX WHERE YOU BUY ?? FROM WALMART OR TARGET STORES ?? IF DO I WILL CHECK OUT THANK FOR SHOW US ABOUT WORKSHOP AND I GOING TO WORK ON VEIDO WITH CLOSED CAPTION ONLY I WANT MAKE ONE SO HEARING CAN LEARN SIGN LANGAUGE WITH CLOSED CAPTION FROM DEAF VEIDO CLOSED CAPTION PROGRAM WILL WORK TEAMS FUTURE BESTEST

  13. proudgeek Says:

    Alan — I think you can only buy and download Subtitle Workshop from Urusoft (see link in my blog post above). Good luck!

  14. Xavier Candiani Says:

    In my professional work I foudn DVDArchitect to be the most easy to use subtitler.

    X


  15. […] Captioning Your Videos #3: Subtitle Workshop […]


  16. […] Captioning Your Videos #3: Subtitle Workshop […]


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