This blog covers everything you need to know about closed captioning. From what it is and what it does to why it matters, this articles has it all.

Needless to say, in this day and age, our lives are inextricably linked to the digital world. From how we entertain ourselves to how we learn, digital content is at the core of it all. As far as digital content goes, videos have the highest consumption rates.

The global average video consumption stands at 17 hours per week. Add to this the fact that about 5% of the world’s population suffers from some form of hearing disability; the need for accessibility speaks for itself. 

This is where closed captioning comes in. In this blog, we will explain and answer the question, “What is closed captioning?” and tell you everything you need to know about it.

Table of Contents:

What is Closed Captioning?

Closed captioning is the textual representation of what is being said in a video to make video content accessible to those with hearing disabilities. Subtitles and Closed Captions are not the same. Closed Caption, abbreviated as CC, unlike subtitles, assumes that a viewer cannot hear and includes non-speech elements such as sound effects, background noises, and the speaker’s identity. 

Subtitles work on the assumption that a viewer can hear but cannot understand the language spoken in the video. Its primary function is translating the audio into a language the viewer can understand. 

What are Open Captions?

Open Captions perform the same function as closed captions, providing a textual aid to understand video content. The only difference is that open captions are embedded into the video and cannot be turned off. 

Closed Captions, on the other hand, give the user control over whether they want to turn it on or off. This is possible because closed captions are added to video content as “sidecar files.”

Open Captions are used in scenarios where the medium that plays videos does not support sidecar files. 

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Types of Closed Captions

There are three primary types of closed captions:

  1. Pop-on captions: These captions pop up as blocks of text on the screen, typically positioned at the bottom. They are synchronized with the audio and change every few seconds. Pop-on captions can incorporate effects and speaker identifications, and they are commonly utilized in pre-recorded videos like movies, TV shows, and online videos.
  2. Roll-up captions: Roll-up cations, as the name alludes, scroll up the screen, usually from the bottom. These captions are always displayed one line at a time, with each new line pushing up the other. Roll-up captions are predominantly employed for real-time videos such as news broadcasts, sports events, and live shows. They don’t include effects or speaker identifications and tend to have slight delays or errors due to variations in the speed of the speech.
  3. Paint-on captions: These closed captions gradually appear on the screen word by word and are synchronized to the speaker’s mouth movements. They are often positioned near the speaker’s face or at the bottom of the screen. Paint-on captions can also include effects and speaker identification. Once popular in animated or music videos, they are rarely used today. 

Whatever type of close caption you wish to use, it’s always best to use a professional close captioning service to get the job done. The industry standard for Closed Captioning is 99% accuracy, which is a high bar. After all, since accessibility is the primary focus of this exercise, accuracy matters, and in these instances, it is better to let professionals do what they do best.

Also Read: How Digital Accessibility Companies Help You Promote Accessibility

Closed Captioning Formats

Although there are a multitude of closed captioning formats that have been used over the years, there are four that are primarily used today. They are 

Name of the Format DescriptionPrimary FeaturesCompatible with
SRTSRT is a widely used format that consists of plain text files with the caption text and the start and end time codes for each caption.Easy to create and edit with any text editor. Supports basic formatting such as bold, italic, and underline.Compatible with many online platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Windows Media Player.
WebVTTA newer format is designed for web-based videos, HTML5 video players, and streaming services.Supports more features than SRT files, such as styling, positioning, and metadata. It can also include cues for chapters, thumbnails, and navigation.Compatible with platforms such as Vimeo, Brightcove, JW Player, MediaCore, and Netflix.
DFXPA timed-text format that uses XML to encode the caption text and timing information.Supports multiple languages, regions, and styles within the same file. It can also include semantic information such as speaker names, roles, and emotions.Compatible with platforms such as Adobe Flash, Flowplayer, Kaltura, MediaSite, and Ooyala.
SCCA format that is used for broadcast television and DVD captions.It uses a binary code to represent the caption text and timing information. It can also include color, font, and position information for the captions.Recommended by YouTube for uploading captions to their platform.

The Importance of Closed Captions

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the rate of video consumption is skyrocketing at a mind-boggling pace, and ensuring equal access to all the fascinating content out there is a basic right. Be it for entertainment or education

Based on a market research report, the closed captioning services market is projected to witness significant growth. It is anticipated to increase from USD 5.6 billion in 2023 to USD 8.1 billion by 2028, with a growth rate of 7.7%. This data highlights the significance of captioning as both an essential requirement and a profitable prospect for content creators and service providers.

Adding Closed Caption to video content also helps with Video SEO, which can help video content rank better on Google searches. 

And finally, depending on which country you live in, you may be required by law to add closed captions to your content. Enlisting closed captioning companies to generate accurate and good-quality closed captions will also help your videos be legally compliant

Summing Up

Closed captioning is crucial in ensuring accessibility for individuals with hearing disabilities, enabling them to enjoy video content. It also serves as a tool for enhancing video SEO and ensuring legal compliance. If you are involved in the creation or distribution of video content, adding closed captions to your video can be a small contribution to making good video content accessible to the masses. 

If you are looking for a top-notch close captioning service, look no further than Hurix Digital. We use the latest cutting-edge automation technology under the supervision of our crack team to generate high-quality closed captions and subtitles for any industry. 

Contact us to know more.