Captioning your videos #5: YouTube (but not quite yet)

June 18, 2007

YouTube Remixer logoThe popular video hosting site, YouTube just came out with a new video editing feature called Remixer. It also includes a captioning feature — and knowing just how popular YouTube is, I thought I’d give it a try.

Remixer is still in beta. After trying its captioning feature out, I can firmly say that this definitely has quite a ways to go. I give it two thumbs down because of its difficult-to-use captioning feature and numerous bugs that made it just about impossible for me to complete my project.

At first look, Remixer has a lot of promise. It uses new web technology from Adobe to make clicking-n-dragging editing of your videos relatively simple. You drag a video onto the editing window, and use the scissors tool to splice it into segments. You can add transitions and effects in between segments, and you can also add cool pictures and features to the segments themselves.

(Click on the photo for a larger version)

YouTube Remixer Screenshot

And the captioning function also held a lot of promise. Clicking on the “Graphics and Captions” function pulls up a list of features, two of which have to do with captioning: stylish captions, and plain captions. Clicking on one of these and dragging it to the edit-video window inserts an editable text box. You can change the font and color, and move the box anywhere on the edit-video window. So, at first, very impressive and smooth!

But then the YouTube Remixer’s shortcomings quickly becomes apparent.  You cannot edit the length of time the captions would appear during the video. That is, the caption would appear for the entire video segment length. I ended up having to cut the video into small segments, and each segment would have its own caption (or not) that lasts for the entire length of that segment. This is a very awkward way of creating captions. All the other programs or websites I’ve reviewed earlier (see my reviews of Windows Movie Maker, Jumpcut, Subtitle Workshop, and Overstream) made it possible for me to adjust the length that each caption / subtitle appears in the video.

While I was struggling to cut my video segments into even smaller segments so that I could caption each of them, I found a few more bugs and shortcomings: I couldn’t see the length of time of the individual segments — only the length of time of the entire video. So, I couldn’t judge whether the captions would appear long enough or be there for too long other than to constantly play each segment. In addition, after a while, the segments stopped playing. I couldn’t get them to play. Instead, I had to constantly press “Preview” to see the entire video, then I’d again be able to play the individual segments. Annoying like heck. Finally, as I inserted captions, I realized that I had to constantly make sure I was inserting them into the right place. That is, each time I clicked-and-dragged a new caption, it’d appear on a different place on the video clip depending on where my mouse ended up. Not good for a consistent look and feel of a stream of captions!

Oh yeah, and there doesn’t seem to be a way of saving your work in progress. If you leave, or if you’re interrupted, your work’s gone. Kaput. The final “Publish” seems to be the only way to save your work — and it’s a lot more final than I’d like.

Due to all these, I was unable to finish captioning a 25-second (yes, only 25 seconds!) video of my older daughter fingerspelling her sister’s name and then her own. Sigh. And I so much wanted to flaunt this to the whole wide world …

Knowing how popular YouTube is, and knowing that people would rather leave their videos there instead of leaving them with other web services that provide captioning, I was really disappointed in YouTube Remixer’s weak captioning feature. Let’s hope this improves in the NEAR future.

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11 Responses to “Captioning your videos #5: YouTube (but not quite yet)”

  1. Christian Vogler Says:

    FYI: Google video already supports subtitles. See here: http://video.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=26577

  2. Bill Says:

    Overstream is still the only one I am comfortable with.

    Christian,
    If I understood the Google Video captioning, it allowed the upload of captions, not the editing. If this is Not true, I would love to see how to do it.

  3. proudgeek Says:

    Thanks, Christian and Bill. Yes, that’s how I saw this too — Google Video supports the uploading of separate captioning files, but still doesn’t support actually editing / inserting captions onto videos through the same website.

  4. Christian Vogler Says:

    I just pointed this out, because there exists a slew of good applications that can create and edit subtitles, with far much less fuss than a web-based application.

    To me the question is basically: why would someone use a web application to do video editing, especially considering that video in general is one of the most bandwidth-consuming applications that we can think of. That is not to say that the concept is not cool (it is), but what happened to using the best tool for the job?

  5. proudgeek Says:

    Hi Christian — you raise a very good point about having applications on the computer rather than doing it on the web. That’s why I’ve reviewed two computer programs so far (Windows Movie Maker and Subtitles Workshop) thus far, and plan on reviewing others as well. Sometimes it’s more convenient to just upload smaller videos and edit it online, than it is to edit them using bulky computer programs. Sometimes people always prefer computer programs. So, it’s interesting to see the various options we have out there — where only a year or two ago, we only had one or two options. Hooray!


  6. Did you try out http://www.photobucket.com ?

    They have same remixer program as youtube…Hmmm.

    gwlj


  7. This was a very interesting and intriguing post because I have been trying to find a way to caption my YouTube and other videos at my blog (you can see one example here:

    http://www.adversityuniversityblog.com/2007/05/14/actual-flight-footage-for-flight-to-hartford/

    I’m deaf with a blog at Adversity University (see link attached to my name above). I want to provide captioning for the benefit of some of my clients and subscribers.

    So your post was very interesting. I didn’t see a box on your comment page where I could subscribe to this particular article in case you have new updates.

    So I hope you’ll email me with updates from time to time on this subject!

    Stephen Hopson

  8. proudgeek Says:

    Hello Stephen — thanks for your comment! I ended up doing (so far!) eight “captioning” posts, with the last one at:

    http://blog.proud-geek.com/2007/09/17/easiest-way-to-subtitle-and-show-your-videos-overstream-google-video/

    But to see a summary, go to the one before that:

    http://blog.proud-geek.com/2007/07/02/captioning-your-videos-7-opencaptionscom/

    Hope this helps.


  9. […] edit videos with text, audio, graphics, overlays, effects, and transitions with no installation.  The Proud Geek blog and other user reviews reflected the fact that the new tool was hard to use, quite buggy and […]

  10. Javier Says:

    http://TubeCaption.com allows users to add video captions to any YouTube video. Find a youtube video and use the editor to add captions. The editor is a lot better than most sites out there and the service is free. TubeCaption allows users to make money by adding captions to online videos by sharing add revenue.

  11. Bill Says:

    Mac users can use MovCaptioner to create .SUB and .SRT files easily for use with YouTube. Cost for s/w is only $25. Go to http://www.synchrimedia.com to download the demo version.


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