Make Your Social Media Videos More Viewable and Accessible with Open Captions

By Premiere Gal

Have you ever watched a video without audio while browsing social media? Are you more likely to watch content that has text overlaid on the video? Most likely the answer to both of these questions is YES!

A great example of exciting, catchy and accessible video is by a social video video news network called NowThis. What do I mean by accessible? Well, I mean two things: (1) The video can be watched and understood when played in an environment where you can’t turn on sound or do not have headphones and (2) the video is accessible for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. For example, just by following the three screenshots below of a NowThis video, we learn about an Uber Driver who founded a business opportunity with Pokemon Go. They show how easy it is to follow the story just by text and image:

The 2015.3 update of Premiere Pro’s 2015.3 allows users to add open-captions to video. What are open-captions? Unlike closed-captions, you can’t turn them off! The captions are literally burned into the video export, just as you see in the examples above. This is a huge asset for video editors who need to make short and catchy social media videos that can be fully accessible when uploaded to Twitter or Facebook. Premiere Pro CC 2015.3 also added a new destination publishing export setting for direct upload to Twitter. Below I show you how you can add open captions and then export your video with open-captions directly to Twitter.

1. Add your video or photos to your project and create a new sequence.

I downloaded three stock images to tell this short tutorial story. (By the way, I highly recommend this article “Stock Photos That Don’t Suck” it lists out over 10 sites where you can download public domain and/or creative commons licensed photos that don’t suck).

2. Add open captions by clicking “New Item” and then selecting “Captions.”

3. Choose “Open Captions” as the format type.

4. Double Click on “Captions” in the Project window to edit your open-captions. Drag the captions as a layer over your footage in your sequence. Type in your caption. Adjust time-codes to match the visual time-codes in the sequence.

5. You can make the text bigger, change the font, and color! Simply highlight the word you want to make bigger and change the font size.

6. You can also remove the background color by selecting the text, turning on the “highlight” color icon (the square to the left of the text icon) and then lowering the opacity from 100% to 0%. Voila, the background is gone. Looking good!

7. You can also adjust the placement of the captions using the 9 point grid above the first edit caption text box. You can see the text move based on which grid point is selected. In this case, it is in the upper left.

8. Once everything looks right, you can export directly to social media. Let’s do Twitter.  You can choose the Twitter 640x640 or Twitter 720p preset. I’d recommend going HD and choosing 720p.

9. Then under the tab “Publish” you can login into your Twitter account and export the video directly to your feed with a new custom status.

That’s it! Integrating open-captions into your video style, is not only a way to make your videos accessible & inclusive for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, but it is also good for business! Since more people are more likely to watch a video without audio, your viewers will be more likely to share and the video.

I challenge all video editors to start using this new open-caption feature in Premiere Pro CC 2015.3. If you start using it, we would love to hear how the video was received in comparison to non-accessible videos. Let us know in the comments section below. Looking forward to seeing your work.

Kelsey Brannan is a videographer, editor and creative director currently based in Washington, DC. She specializes in short-documentary videos, promos and explainer videos for social media. Currently she works full-time as a Senior Video Producer at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) at the U.S. Department of State in a federal contracting position with Async-Nu Microsystems. You can view her work at Kelsey is originally from the Bay Area California where she fostered her love for hiking, biking and the SF Giants. Follow Premiere Gal on Facebook.

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