Video viewers today often see lines of text at the bottom of the TV, computer, or mobile device screens. These texts on-screen are captions. Some videos may also have a transcript of the entire video dialogue, which you can download and print.
Both captions and transcripts are helpful in information accessibility and comprehension. But they are products of two methods—captioning and transcription. They have their respective benefits, legal requirements, and uses, and they can be used together to provide more user-friendly and accessible media content. Both use modern technologies, but still benefit from human skills and expertise, although some are now automated to quickly convert video and audio to text, such as an AI transcription software.
Differences between captions and transcriptions
In transcription, the video’s audio is captured into written text used for different purposes. It provides a hard copy of the spoken word.
Transcription is the basis of captions and can be used to access the audio-only component of the content. Captions, which can be open or closed, are now legally required to ensure that videos are accessible to all users.
Transcripts can be written in two ways.
- Verbatim. It means the transcription is word-for-word and includes all sound effects and utterances, which can benefit scripted speeches like skits, movies, and TV programs.
- Clean read. The transcriptionist edits the text so it can be read fluidly without distracting verbal and non-verbal actions. Clean read transcripts are suitable for recorded speaking events and interviews that are unscripted.
On the other hand, captioning transcribes the audio, but the process divides the transcript into chunks (caption frames). Each caption frame is time-coded to synchronize with the video and audio on the video section that is currently shown on screen. Captions must describe speech and sound effects, mention any sound that does not appear on the screen, like background sounds, and identify the speakers.
Captions become part of the video content and cannot be used outside of it. A transcript, a word-for-word caption of the video’s audio, is available as a separate document and can be used as a reference, a script, editing guide, or production guide for creating other related video content.
Similarities and benefits
Captioning and transcription allow users to access video content in various ways, on-video, and off-video, respectively. In a learning environment, both processes assist in making resources accessible and meeting the legal requirements.
Transcription is an excellent supplement to audiovisual content and gives more users access to information. In the online environment, transcripts can help improve English comprehension, increase user interaction, and improve search engine optimization efforts.
Likewise, transcripts and captions allow search engines to “read” the videos’ content, helping your video materials rank higher in search engines, ultimately increasing viewership and traffic to your website.
Captions help every viewer, including the deaf and hard-of-hearing, get access to and enjoy video and audio materials. As most people do not turn on the sound when watching videos on mobile devices, captions help them understand the content without disturbing anyone.
Now you know the difference between transcriptions and captions. Knowing about them helps you realize their importance and how they help improve access to information.