Camtasia, Udemy, and Closed Captions

I almost cried yesterday. I’m doing final review of the Excel for Self-Publishers videos and I clicked on the MP4 files to watch them and couldn’t see my closed captions. A little digging on the Camtasia site and it turns out they’re only visible in the HTML version of the video.

So I thought I was screwed. That the twelve hours or so I’d spent adding closed captions to the course videos had been wasted, and that I was going to have to redo all of that work.

But a little digging and I found out that wasn’t the case. Which is good. Because I was quite upset until I figured that out.

So for anyone thinking of doing a video course, here’s a the recap of all of this drama and how to deal with.

I did my first video course without closed captions. Didn’t even occur to me to create them.

When I uploaded the course to Udemy they added captions to the videos for me. Which some would’ve just shrugged their shoulders and said, “great”, and continued on their merry little way. But I couldn’t have captions on my videos that were auto-generated.

Especially when the system seemed to think I was saying “H.M.S” every time I was saying “AMS”. I also had at least one instance of “fake news” and “ass” show up that weren’t legitimate. So I spent hours going through those videos and fixing the captions. (Think 3 minutes per minute of video to do captions. Minimum.)

That took care of the AMS course, but on this course I didn’t want to do that through Udemy. What if I want to take the course videos elsewhere later? Doing it in Udemy means I lose that work and have to redo it.

So I dug around. And it turns out that you can do captions in Camtasia.

(Click on More. Choose Captions.  Click on the little gear icon and then choose the Speech to Text option. Add to Entire Timeline, and then go through and edit them. Use Enter to play. Don’t click on that little play icon unless you want to hear the same clip repeat over and over and over.)

(Edited to add: And make sure that you don’t have any blank sections in your captions. Camtasia seems to generate them for every transition point, but Udemy won’t accept them, so merge them with the prior or next caption.)

So I managed to get my captions added and figured it was all good. But then I pulled up the MP4 and nada. No captions. I dug around to figure out why.

Turns out they don’t show in the MP4 file unless you burn the captions into the video. What they like to call open captions.

But that’s not what I wanted. Not everybody will want captions burned across the bottom of their video. Especially an instructional video where you might need to see what’s under that text.

And I also had the issue of how to proof those captions if they weren’t visible in the MP4.

The proofing part turned out to be easy. Just use the HTML file that’s generated when you use Share -> Local File. I had to tell my computer it was okay to play the “dangerous” content, but then I was able to watch the video with captions on by clicking on the little CC option in the bottom right corner of the video.

But I still had the issue of how to get those captions loaded to Udemy.

Turns out it’s a multi-step process.

You can export the captions from Camtasia under Share->Export Captions. But you can only export as a .srt or a .smi file. Still, at least it’s possible. (Not well-explained anywhere, but possible.)

Problem is, Udemy requires that you use a .vtt file format for your captions.

So I had to do an Internet search to find a program that would convert from .srt to .vtt. I found one. It does the work in about two seconds. But I have no idea how reputable it is, so I’m not linking to it, and my computer may be overcome by ransomware in the next week or so if it’s a bad site. But it is what it is.

Once you do that conversion, you can then go to the Captions section of the course dashboard on Udemy and upload the captions file for each of your videos. So it’s a separate upload, but it does the trick.

Do all that and voila! You will have captions that you created in Camtasia on your videos in Udemy.

Good times.

But I figured I’d share to save others the couple of hours it took me to figure that all out.

Author: M.L. Humphrey

I have spent close to twenty years as a regulator and consultant in the financial services industry. I am also a former stockbroker with degrees in Economics, Anthropology, and Psychology from Stanford and an MBA from Wharton and I have self-published more than a hundred titles across non-fiction, fantasy, and romance. This website is where I tend to talk self-publishing with a small smattering of business, life, and Excel mixed in.

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