Automatic video captions for YouTube

By Grant Jacobs 21/11/2009

Great news for deaf and hard-of-hearing people, or those wanting to follow videos in other languages: you can now ask YouTubeâ„¢ to caption their videos automatically using a voice translation service.

There’s an introductory article with instructions on the google blog and a demo:

(Demo of automatic captioning.)

Currently this service is limited to a few channels (education and some Google channels), but it is planned to be expanded.

Users can search for text within captioned videos, which sounds a great idea.

As if that wasn’t enough you can give a “raw” captioning, with no timing information, and let the service “align” the caption text to the audio track. I can imagine this will prove popular with adding song lyrics or movie/theatre scripts to the performances.

Voice-to-text translation isn’t flawless. In this video, for example, MIT translates to “mickey” at 1:05. I wonder what the powers-that-be at the MIT make of that…

I would imagine that those creating videos will be able to start with an automatic caption, then edit the captions if they contain any errors.

This post at doesn’t even need automatic captioning to make humourous errors:

Captions for the dead
Captions for the dead


I’m sure the dead people are thankful.

Other posts related to deafness on Code for life:

Things I didn’t write about today–tinnitus, The Human Genre Project & Press Display

Where’s here? (Hearing with one ear.)

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