Skill Scout Blog
Inspiration, tips & stories to help you make awesome videos.
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Video will make up 70% of all mobile traffic by 2021. And most viewers are opting to watch video without sound. Facebook reports a whopping 85% of videos are viewed without sound.
So what does silent video mean for you, video storyteller? Two things: captions and using text in the narrative. Both of these tools can make your videos more likely to be viewed, and without losing your message!
There is a difference between burned captions and modern captions.
Let’s start with the easiest and fastest way to get ready for silent video: adding captions to your video. In years past, captions were sometimes burned directly into video, which creates a layer of text over the video. Burning captions into the video forces the viewer to see them all the time. It also misses an opportunity for your content to be found by search engines byway of the text in your captions.
Modern captions give your viewer the option to toggle them off or on and can accommodate multiple languages. Captions are different that subtitles. It’s important to offer the option of both if you have viewers who span languages.
Here’s how modern captions work.
Rather than editing your video itself, you can use a tool to auto-generate captions (ex. YouTube’s machine-generated captions), or a service that has a real human transcribe and timecode your captions. Captions transcribed by a real human are more accurate, in my experience.
Both methods generate a separate file, called an SubRip Subtitle file or “SRT” file. An SRT file is just a text document with time codes that you can generate and open with any text editor. It doesn’t contain any video or audio, and is usually a pretty small file.
Here’s how to upload SRT files.
Let me pause and save you the hair-tearing frustration I experienced when first uploading captions to Facebook, who’s interface is pictured above. Sometimes you need a really specific file name and extension for your captions to be ready correctly. Facebook likes you to have your file structured like this: filename.en_us.srt
Pay special attention to the name of your caption file if you’re having trouble. Not speaking from experience or anything…
Captions are an easy win to get more views of your video, in the way your audience wants to watch. A+ for human-centered design.
Now, let’s talk about another cool way to design your video experience for silent viewing: text narration.
I’m pretty geeked about this trend, and I don’t think it’s going anywhere soon. Rather than captioning words that someone is saying in your video, think about using text as your silent storytelling narrator.
Use text call outs to tell the story.
Using text on screen to call out moments in a visual story is powerful. It allows for the viewer to consume a beautiful video without sound, and forces the filmmaker to be thoughtful in crafting a story with visuals and text alone.
Into this silent video? Here are some other helpful references.
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You're going to be awesome on camera! Just remember to have fun, be comfortable and your confidence will shine through.
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