Tech Corner: Roll Your Own Captions – Part Two

by Michael Lockrey

This is the second part of a series which aims to show you how to create your own captions.

In this instalment we will create a short video clip on YouTube with good quality, pre-prepared “block” closed captions.

Now, as I mentioned in part one, your assignment required you to create or download a one minute (or less) video clip and then upload it to your own YouTube channel. We will work through each of the relevant steps for creating captions on YouTube. However, I’m not going through the steps of creating a YouTube account and/or channel in detail. So if you have any difficulties getting set up, please email me at:

Step One – Create a plain text format transcript file

The very first step in creating captions for YouTube is to create a plain text transcript file of the audio track. You can use any text editor. I’ve shown the outsourced transcript here in Screenshot 1 which I then cut and paste into “TextEdit” for Mac OS X (Screenshot 2).

Screenshot 1: The Plain Text Transcript File

Screenshot 2: Text Edit (Mac OS X)

There are a couple of important guidelines here. I try to adjust the closed captions into semantic blocks that follow the sentence structure and align with the spoken words. Also, as a rule of thumb, I usually try to get no more than two lines shown as captions at any one time.

Once you’ve gone through and pre-prepared the plain text transcript file, save it and we’ll move onto Step Two.

Step Two – Upload the video clip to YouTube

I’ve chosen a short Jerry Seinfeld clip, “Political Party Mascots” (Duration: 1 minute) for this demonstration and I’ve provided links to the finished closed captioned version on my YouTube channel and an open captioned version on my VidCaster channel at the end of this article.

Go into your YouTube channel and choose “Upload video”

Screenshot 3: Upload Video to YouTube

Note: I usually change the settings from “Public” (which is the default) to “Private” until I’ve completed the closed caption file as we don’t need any more inaccessible video content out there do we?

Screenshot 4: Uploaded Video is Now Private

Once you’ve uploaded your video, you should see the following screen with all your uploaded videos:

Screenshot 5: Listing of Uploaded Videos

Step Three – Adding the transcript file

Next we click on “Edit” and then choose the “Captions” option, as shown in Screenshots 6 and 7 respectively.

Screenshot 6: Video for Editing is Selected

Screenshot 7: Choose the “Captions” Option

Next, we want to go back and add that text transcript file that we created initially. So click on the “Add New Captions or Transcript” option (as shown in Screenshot 7) and you will see the following screen:

Screenshot 8: Add New Captions

As we are using a text transcript, we need to select that option and then we choose the text transcript file that we saved initially and then we hit the “Upload File” button (blue).

Screenshot 9: Select the Text Transcript Option

Google’s YouTube then looks at the text transcript file that we’ve uploaded and compares it with its voice recognition transcription and creates a time-coded file. Please note: It can take up to 3 – 5 minutes to complete this step and you should receive a green light (as per Screenshot 10 below).

Screenshot 10: Green Light Indicates Caption File Successfully Attached to Video


Now you’ve created your first closed caption file. With Google’s voice recognition tools it is now possible for people who are profoundly deaf to create closed captions of any video (provided they can source an accurate text transcript).

Check out the video by selecting the “View on Video page” option (as per Screenshot 10) or by going back to your video channel and viewing the video as per normal. Now it won’t be perfect, but you’ve created a time-coded closed captioning file.

We will look in more detail at the steps you need to take to refine and improve the quality of the closed caption file in our next lesson (aka Part Three of this series: Roll Your Own Captions).


  1. Political Party Mascots on my YouTube channel: (using closed captions).
  2. Political Party Mascots on my “Accessible Seinfeld” channel:
  3. The Described and Captioned Media program guidelines are also recommended. Check them out at:

The Ultimate Captioned Phone - Harris Communications.