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      6 Mins

      How To Burn Subtitles Into A Video For Free

      How To Burn Subtitles Into A Video For Free Featured Image
      Published on Jan 14, 2021 by Jon Payne

      When you can't add an SRT file to your company videos, how can you burn subtitles (or Closed Captions, CC) in, if you're not a video expert?

      Video: How to burn (or hardcode) subtitles into a video. For free.


      Video is a key part of any digital marketing strategy, yet so many of us upload them without thinking about accessibility. In the video above, you'll see how to take an MP4 and your subtitle file (proper name: SubRip Text or .SRT) and combine them using VLC Player. If you don't already have an SRT file, then I show you how to use Rev.com to to create one. Paying to have your SRT file created isn't free (burning it into the video is) but, it's very cheap. The subtitles for this video cost under £1. They're done by automatically using machine learning (which isn't quite AI but it's close), so they're not perfect but I didn't correct them, so you can see how close to perfect they are.

      Why is adding subtitles to your company videos important?

      At last count there are 500 hours worth of videos uploaded to YouTube every minute. Add to that; Twitter, TikTok and all the other platforms. Now think about how many videos you see with proper subtitles. Right? The lack of subtitles makes a great deal of video content quite inaccessible to a huge proportion of the people who want to view them. Adding subtitles is by no means the last word in accessibility but it goes a long way towards providing a more enjoyable experience for many of your potential customers.

      And, if you don't care about accessibility you're a dick. But even so, think about return on your investment. If you're uploading videos to social media marketing channels - 69% of users watch without sound, so subtitles are essential to get your marketing and sales messages across.

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      Would it be better to upload a separate SRT file instead of hardcoding the subtitles?

      Absolutely yes!

      On most platforms you can add an SRT file which is the best way to add subtitles to your videos. On other  platforms (I'm looking at you Twitter) this functionality comes and goes. In situations when you can't upload a video PLUS the SRT file, the next best thing is to upload a video with the captions burned into it. Not quite as accessible as an SRT file but better than nothing. 

      How to upload a video + SRT file?

      In the video demo on this page, I show you how to get your subtitles in SRT format from Rev.com. There are other suppliers but I love Rev. Once you've got that, here's the instructions for the main platforms that have the functionality to allow it:

      Adding closed captions on YouTube

      Add closed captions on LinkedIn

      Adding and removing closed captions on Facebook

      Captions on Wistia

      Captions and subtitles on Vimeo

      If you know how to reliably add SRT files to Twitter and Instagram, let me know - else burn your subtitles in using the instructions at the top of this article.

      Here's the transcript of the video (unedited from the automated transcription service) for those who find that helpful :)

      How do you burn subtitles to a video? So we've, I've created a video. You can use something like auto cap on Android. But on a PC it's a bit more difficult. Here, I've got Adobe Premier Rush with a video that I've created of Natalie Lam's promotion for a webinar. Over here, I've exported it and use the standard settings in Adobe rush, but there's no way to add subtitles, even if I didn't have subtitles yet. So I've gone to rev. I've logged into there. I've placed a new order requested automated transcription. I get the subtitles delivered here and I can go into here and edit them. So I they're, they're never absolutely correct with the AI, but they're pretty good. So I've edited subtitles in rev. I then downloaded a captions file. So I've selected captions, downloaded and hit export.

      I'm not going to do it again. I've already done all of this. And then, because I can't do it in Adobe premier, and you may have created a video in something like loom, or you may have created a video in something like soapbox. So what I've done is I've downloaded this free open source video player editor called VLC. It works on windows and Macs and all sorts of things and to create the subtitles and burn them hard into the MP4. First, what I've done is I have grabbed the file. Open file, find the documents, find the video of the lovely Natalie. Here she is. That's great. Okay. So, and then up here, yeah. Let me just pause you there and that and go, I've gone to subtitle and subtitle file. I've gone to the file that I downloaded from our friends at rev and press open that subtract, attract, added.

      Now, press play. I press play. And there you go, Brill stat, but that doesn't burn them in yet. So the next step I need to take is I need to go yeah. Convert and save, play it. Doesn't immediately try and save what you're already using. So you have to add the file. So that was in documents and you can see I've had 11 go to this. It was four. Okay. and then use a subtitle file browse going to that downloaded subtitle file again, I'm clicking on that. And then convert and save. And then here it will automatically try and use the standard and then it doesn't work, which is really annoying. So click on the little spanner. And I haven't changed anything here. It's just us as MP4 food slash mov haven't changed anything in video codec.

      What happened was when I exported it with a subtitle file the first time this wasn't ticked. So the subtitle fire went in and it said, okay, I'm going to put the subtitle file in, but I'm not. I'm going to remove the audio. So make sure you click tick, keep original audio track, and then go into subtitles and make sure you go click the overlay subtitles on the video. Otherwise it won't show and you can't find it hit, save, and then browse for where you want to save it. I have done loads. I saved it in here. I did loads. The final one that I got was called 11. And that's how you work here. I would suggest when you are saving that file that you so this is the name of the original file. Nat rush dash Oh four dot MP4.

      And then I've added dash SRT at the end of this one. So you can differentiate between the one that's got subtitles burned in. And the one that doesn't have subtitles burned in if you're using Wistia or Vimeo or LinkedIn or some versions of Twitter, and certainly Facebook, I would definitely recommend uploading the roar MP4 and the subtitle file. The SRT text file that you saw me use on this video to the platform directly, because that's much more accessible and inclusive for people with various disabilities. If you can't and you're on Twitter or in your Instagram or various other platforms that won't let you upload the subtitle file separately. That's when you upload it with the subtitles burned into the video, that's it. That's how you upload a burned subtitles into a video for free.

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      Jon Payne

      Founder and Technical Director of Noisy Little Monkey, Jon blogs about SEO and digital marketing strategy.

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