Uploading a Transcript to Caption Google Drive Videos

Drop Down menu with Manage caption tracks highlighted
Google Drive video files support adding caption tracks. This is an important feature to create accessibility within classrooms especially when other captioning interfaces may not be available. If you right click on a video file stored within Google Drive, you'll notice a Manage caption tracks option. You can upload a caption file in either .SRT or .SUB format. These aren't exactly common file extensions that you see in the Google Suite. I've created .SRT files in the past and they are complex. The formatting requires a caption number, start and end times to the milliseconds for when the caption will appear, and finally the caption itself. I have used a paid app to accomplish this in the past. Not exactly a fiscally feasible solution for schools. Another option is using a text editor and manually creating this formatting. It's possible but not a user-friendly or reasonable solution especially with younger students. It's been really important to me to find a solution that works in schools because I'm committed to the idea that if students can create videos to demonstrate their learning, then accessibility can become part of the creation process. All of this is easier said than done until now!

Enter Jordan Rhea of plnnr.net who has created what I believe to be a reasonable school-based solution. Jordan is a fellow #COL16 cohort member and over the summer, I had submitted a Google Drive Captioning idea on plnnr.net which aims to connect "teachers and their ideas with developers who can make them reality!" Jordan reached out to me last week asking for more information and had a working prototype the following day. Amazing! Following some testing, feedback back and forth, and a couple iterations, he has created Caption Creator for Google Drive that is more beautiful and more functional than I imagined possible!  Jordan demos this tool and talks through how it works in this YouTube video. I look forward to further testing this solution with students later this week. You can expect to see more posts in the very near future about this process.

In the meantime, while testing Jordan't script, I learned lots more about Google Drive, Videos, and .SRT files. Similar to YouTube, Google Drive will auto-time captions to your video when uploading a transcript file. This means you don't actually need the complex formatting of a the caption number or start/end times in your caption file you just need the .SRT file extension. For classrooms, just getting started with creating accessibility this provides a nice entry point for teachers and students, especially if a transcript was used to create the video product. If students have a Google Doc script, they could download that Google Doc as .txt only and then rename the file so the file extension is .SRT and then upload the transcript to their video. Here's the steps.

Prerequisite: Google Doc Transcript of audio contained in Google Drive video that you wish to add captions to.

1. File > Download as > Plain Text (.txt)

Drop down menu file > Download as > plain text (.txt)

2. Choose downloaded Script file > Rename file extension from .txt to .srt
Change .txt to .srt

3. Right Click Video file in Google Drive > Manage Captions > +Add New Captions or Transcripts > Choose File > Select your renamed .srt file > Upload > Done

Upload caption tracks
Allow for processing time which will vary depending on the length of your video. Then, enjoy your captioned video! If you want to share, be advised that caption files enjoy the same sharing settings as the video. If your video is shared with editing rights, those users will also be able to edit your caption files.

I haven't tested this method if your transcript file includes captions such as [soft background music playing] or [no audio]. I am not sure how the auto-timing feature would accommodate these types of captions. However, I do believe the ability to upload a transcript provides one possible workflow to create accessibility in classrooms by adding captions to student-created videos contained within Google Drive.


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