YouTube Adds Automatic “Captioning”

YouTube Adds Automatic “Captioning”

January 2010

OK, it’s not perfect. But it is VERY COOL! You can now activate transcription on any video on several YouTube channels. The transcription is done with an untrained speech recognition engine, so the results are variable. As you might expect, the results for clear speech in a noise-free background are pretty good, and the quality degrades to nearly unusable for a poor speech signal.

The announcement is available at: – here are a few of the highlights:

“YouTube added a feature that generates video captions. “We’ve combined Google’s automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology with the YouTube caption system to offer automatic captions, or auto-caps for short. Auto-caps use the same voice recognition algorithms in Google Voice to automatically generate captions for video.

“The feature only works for English and it’s been enabled for a small number of channels that usually feature talks and interviews: UC Berkeley, Stanford, MIT, Yale, UCLA, Duke,UCTV, Columbia, PBS, National Geographic.”

If you pick a video from one of these channels, you’ll see an “up arrow” in the lower right corner of the video window. If you place your cursor there, you’ll see a “CC” symbol with a “left arrow” to the left of it.

If the “CC” symbol is gray, click it to turn the captions on.

If the “CC” symbol came up red, or if you clicked the gray symbol to turn it red, then captions are on and you can proceed to the next step. Hold your cursor over the “left arrow” to the left of the “CC” symbol, and you’ll see a brief menu. Click on the “Transcribe Audio” Option, and click “OK” on the resulting popup, and captions should appear.