NEX-6 AVCHD video to editing Final Cut Pro

Getting video out of the NEX-6 to work with in Final Cut Pro X

To a large extent it was much easier to work with the video clips taken with the Canon 600D as they were discrete files that could be identified, copied or moved and worked with immediately in Final Cut Pro X. Things are a little bit different with the NEX-6 where the video is recorded in the AVCHD format. When you connect the camera up to the computer in order to get the files off and you go to the correct folder within the camera system all you see is one file called AVCHD. There could be a number of video recordings within this file, but you still only see one file which grows as you add more videos to it as you shoot them. I have been using an app called Free AVCHD to Mov and there are others that you can buy ranging between 5 or 6 dollars to 50 dollars. Since using this app has been useful and does what it is supposed to do I will probably get the paid for version if I continue using it.

Free AVCHD to Mov 2

Importing AVCHD files into Final Cut

It is possible to import directly into Final Cut Pro X the videos contained within this AVCHD file, but there are advantages in using software to convert those videos into the Apple pro res format. It does take some time to convert these video files and you do end up with files which are quite large. I have been doing some testing on importing videos into Final Cut Pro using both methods, first of all copying the AVCHD file from the SD card onto my Mac and then using an application to convert that file into the Apple pro res format and also by importing directly from the camera into Final Cut Pro X. For professional work obviously you’re going to use the Apple pro res as there is much more information contained within the file and you will get a better final product. On the other hand when you’re actually using Final Cut Pro X with a file that has been brought in from the camera through the import tool, the video clip will come in as a H.264 and to be honest for the sort of work that I do it looks like it will be plenty good enough. I can save space by just working with the smaller files and as far as I can tell Final Cut Pro X works just as well with the h.264 files as it does using the larger professional codec files. So to a large extent it really depends upon what the final destination is of your movie. The stuff that I work with tends to get output to YouTube with the resolution of 1280 x 720 so it looks like I will be just saving time by not having to convert them.

QuickTime conversion

Other standing Inspector and Other standing 3

Just for fun I did a right click on the AVCHD file and saw that there are a few apps on my computer that will open such files. QuickTime was in there and so I gave it a go. I was given the choice of which video clip I want to see in and chose one of them. It opened really quickly and I was able to play the video. I then decided to export the movie and I could choose the size. I went for 1080p but there were other lower resolutions available too. I got a file that was 18mb in size with a data rate of 14.58 Mbits per second. Then I did a save and it saved out at the same dimensions but with a higher data rate of 25Mbits per second. Either of these files could be used in video editing software.

The file that came out of the Free AVCHD to Mov is 460MB and the data rate is 365.1 Mbit/s. Quite a difference! The audio was at a different sample rate and the frames per second 50. When I did a save from Quicktime the frame rate came out at 49.9 which isn’t correct and may or may not be a problem.

So you can convert the AVCHD video to .mov clips for free and even without downloading any extra software. When importing the video clips in Final Cut you get the better quality as you would get from QuickTime so it could be the best approach to take for video that will be going to YouTube.

I have read in the Apple forums where there are people who undoubtedly know better than I do have said that it is better always to convert to the Apple pro res format. With that in mind I will be converting some of the jobs that I do into both formats and testing to see what gives me the best end result.

Posted in Final Cut Pro.

Integrating with Google Plus

Integrating YouTube with Google plus

When you consider that YouTube is also owned by Google and that there are now tighter integrations between the two services, it only makes sense to link your YouTube with Google plus. What would be the best situation would be to have your YouTube subscribers also connected with you on Google plus and of course at the other way around. So the thing to do in YouTube is to make sure that you have your Google plus profile URL available for your subscribers to see. You can put the URL, probably better as a shortened Google link, in your descriptions for your videos. Obviously, it probably would be a good idea to tell people about the fact that they can find you also on Google plus in your video.

Sharing Google plus YouTube people

To take the linking and sharing further and assuming that you have made a circle in Google plus for your YouTube interests, then what you can do is to share your YouTube circle. You can do this by going to the People section of Google plus and click on your YouTube circle. You will then see in the drop-down list, that you can get by hitting the small down arrow at the top of the list of people in the circle, an option to share that circle. This shared circle goes out into the Google plus stream and hopefully there will be some more interactions by other Google plus users with this shared circle. It will be a good idea to include yourself in the shared circle, you can do this at the time of sharing by clicking on a checkbox.

Here is a Google plus shared circle

The more you share the more you get

It seems that there is some truth in the saying which goes – The bigger hugs you give, the bigger kisses you get! What you are doing by sharing out your already made links and connections is giving out the love that you have created already. Reciprocation will ensue and other people will want to link to you because you are a person who shares. So you will have a wider set of contacts both within Google plus and with YouTube. The more subscribers that you gather on YouTube the more views your videos will attract and if you are having advertisements on your videos to earn money then that will be better for you financially too.

Posted in YouTube.

Throwing things in Motion 5

Motion 5 is all about getting things to move on the screen and creating video animations. In this video we are going to have a look at how we can place object on the screen and then have them move from one place to another. So in the library I found a graphic element of a buzzing bee and I explore a number of different ways of making the be bee move. One easy way of making the object move is to use the throw behaviour. All you have to do is to select the behaviour from the Motion library for behaviours and drag it onto your object in the list of objects in the Motion work area. You drag from the centre of the circle in the HUD which controls the behaviour and the further you drag the arrow, the further the objects will move and also the faster the object will move. You may need to zoom out a little bit if you need to drag the arrow further away from the centre.

Follow the path in Motion 5

If you want to have something more than your object moving in a straight line which you get by using the throw behaviour or using the move behaviour then you need to use something like the tool to make it follow a path. You can create a path that can have curves and these lines will have nodes that are controlled by bezier control points. This works the same way as when you are constructing a line in an illustration application such as Illustrator. It is quite easy to either get a path which is flowing with curves or you can make one which can have sharper angles. Once you have placed your line onto the canvas you can then hide it so that only the movement of the object is seen.

Making video animation in the Motion 5

Open up your Motion 5 application on your Mac and practice using some of the various tools available for giving your objects movement. It is easy to animate text in Motion 5. You will soon see that with this application it is very simple to create incredible video animation effects that will look quite professional. To a large extent the only limits will be the creative imagination that you have. It is also possible to work in a 3-D space in motion 5.

Posted in Motion 5.

A Homemade Camera Dolly / Slider

A slider or camera dolly

Using pieces of plastic tubing I made myself a cheap camera dolly which is suitable for rolling along a table or other flat surface. Sometimes though it can be a little difficult to find a handy flat surface to be able to run the camera dolly along in order to get that smooth moving shot. It is on these occasions where you might consider making either a slider or some sort of track that your camera dolly can run along. Here is a video that I just saw on YouTube which shows you how to make a camera dolly which will run along a couple of poles. It is a short video which gives you all of the necessary information about how to construct it.

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How cheap is it?

In the video he reckons that the cost of this camera dolly is twenty dollars, but realistically you have to also include the price of the roller wheels. You may possibly have some roller skates in the house that you could use although you may not feel that your getting the best camera dolly by you’re using wheels that are pitted or damaged in any other way. In any case it is not terribly expensive to buy a set of rollerskate wheels from eBay or even from your local sports shop.

Doing a proper job of making the cheap camera dolly slider

I did notice that during the making process in the video that there were a couple of things that he could have done before other tasks in the making process. For example the ends of the polls could be cut first so that you don’t have too break it apart in order to do that and then remake it again. You don’t need fancy tools like a Dremel, it is probably more likely that you will have a file in your toolbox that you can use. It looks like that he only used one carriage bolt to secure the aluminium angle to the piece of wood and I would suggest that using two would be better. Also you might get a better looking job if you use a couple of good sized screws rather than the carriage bolts.

How long do you need to let it run

Using this design only gives you about 1 metre of camera run and that might be sufficient for what you want to do. On the other hand what you could do is to use some plastic tubing of the right size and be able to get a much longer camera run.

Off to the shops and then to the workshop

There is a little shop nearby that will have all of the ironworks that I need and I already have bits of wood that I can use. I have already seen that these roller wheels are available in the sport shop, but I will have a look on eBay to see if they are cheaper. When I have all of the bits and pieces that I need I will be hitting the workshop and wielding some tools. Expect to see some examples of what can be done when using one of these home-made camera slider or camera dolly tools.

Posted in YouTube.

My green screen studio

Chromakey with Final Cut Pro

I am fortunate to have a nice handy space in my house where I can have a green screen studio set up permanently. I bought a green screen cloth which was large enough for me to be able to cut in size and the other part of it I gave to my son who is a cameraman. The cloth that I have, I stretched over a frame to get any wrinkles and folds out of it and then I bought some LED lights to use for lighting the greenscreen. I find that when I do some recording in front of the green screen it’s very easy to key out the green in Final Cut Pro X. The LED lights that I have not really the best, but they do a good enough job.

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My studio lighting for the subject which is usually me

I made some lights to fit into some soft boxes and I am very pleased with the way that these work. What I did is to buy a plastic board on which I could mount a number of light fittings. On one of these I added six light fittings so I can have six CFL bulbs and on the other one I added four bulbs. So the soft box that has the six lights in it I use as the key light and the other one I use as the fill light. To do some proper three-point lighting I should also have a light source to direct from behind the subject. I don’t have that at the moment, but it is something that I am considering getting. As it stands at the moment it works fairly well, but the backlight would give me a better separation from the green screen behind.

I fortunately have enough room in the studio to have my subject standing far enough away from the greenscreen. If you get too close, what can happen is that you will get some green spill from the reflected light. I have a marker on the floor that I use to know where I should stand and that also works well in relation to getting the focus set up correctly with my camera.

Getting good sound quality

One of the things that I don’t like about my studio is the fact that there are too many hard surfaces around which can distort the sound and make it a little bit prone to echoes. I have tried a few different microphones to record my audio. I started by using a shure SM58 and used a converter to go from the XLR connector to a 3.5 mm audio into the camera. This worked fairly well, but did give me a certain amount of hiss that I needed to correct for afterwards. Not too much of a problem, although sometimes if you over correct the hiss, it will start to destroy the vocal sound that you are trying to improve.

The next microphone as I tried is a cheap Chinese shotgun microphone which in some ways worked better. Mainly it was better because it left my hands free for other use. The sound was also slightly better and less cleanup was required afterwards. Even with moving the microphone closer to me to get a better signal to noise ratio I was still getting a certain amount of room Echo with the recording. Now I have a different microphone, a lavalier microphone which is working out the best yet.

Amplifying the sound with a Zoom H2 recorder

As with the cheap Chinese shotgun microphone, I route the Giant Squid lavalier microphone through the Zoom H2 recorder. The reason that I do this is so that I get the benefits of the better audio amplifier of the Zoom H2. The audio amplifiers that you find in the DSLR cameras are really not up to the job. If I had the money available then I would consider buying a Juiced Link or a Beachtek which give better amplification and are made for the job of connecting good-quality XLR microphones to a DSLR camera.

Getting an teleprompter

I have already bought some applications to use on my iPad to turn it into a teleprompter, but what I really need is to get a piece of two-way mirror glass. With that glass I would be able to talk directly into the camera using the teleprompter. If I was to put the teleprompter iPad to one side of the camera then it doesn’t look like I am talking directly to my audience. At the moment what I tend to do is to not use any prompters and often I will need to have more than one take so that I get what I want to say correct. The specialist type of glass required can be a little bit hard to find, I haven’t given up hope yet though.

Do you have a green screen studio?

Leave in the comments section below details about how you have set up your own greenscreen studio. It will be interesting to find out how you have yours setup. As you can tell, due to money constraints I have to go the route of the frugal filmmaker and I plan to add bits and pieces to my set up as I go. The best items I have added so far have been the two soft boxes and also the microphone I bought from Giant Squid.

Posted in YouTube.

Using keywords in Final Cut Pro 10

Final cut Pro X icon

When you are working with a large number of video clips that you are going to be using within various projects you need as many ways as possible to help you organise these video clips.

When you import your media, the media will be added to your event library. This is the first level of organisation for your source media files. So the event in the Event Library is going to be a project or part of a project. When you’re looking at this event browser you can sort your clips in a number of ways such as the creation date, but you might also want to browse by the date imported, the real, the scene, shot duration or file type.

Sort out your Source media

It is worth getting to know all of the tools that are available to you for cataloguing and sorting your source media within Final Cut Pro X so that you can find what you need quickly when you need to put media into the timeline.

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One of the ways to further sort your source media is to use keywords. Using keywords is a form of tagging and the best way to think of it is a way to add an extra layer of grouping certain video clips together. I would recommend that the tags that you use, don’t need to contain words that you’ve already used in the name of the file. You can already do a search to find those specific words. Where it becomes particularly useful is where you have, for example, different types of file, so audio, video and still images that you want to group together for a unique purpose.

Group video clips using Keywords in FCPX

You might have a keyword of green screen and this grouping of source media could include subject matter of all sorts, but if you had that keyword then you will make it very easy in all to find any clips that are shot with a green screen.

Screen Shot 2013 02 05 at 20 07 47

You can set a keyword that it will apply to the whole of the video and he also set a keyword so that it applies to only part of a video clip. So if you have a video clip that includes within the length of it some close-ups, some medium shots or shots of a particular person, you can then keyword those particular parts of the video. This could save a whole lot of time later, when finding sections within a video, you will not have to watch the video or scrub through the video in order to find what you need.

Keywords added automatically by FCPX Analysis on import.

Keywords can also be added automatically when you are importing video. If you are adding a folder with various sorts of media within it, you could have the folder name applied as a keyword to all of those bits of media imported.

If you are having the video analysed as it is being brought in there are some keywords that can be added automatically such as excessive shake. To get this to happen you just need to select the “Create Smart Collections at the Analysis” checkbox. This will let you find those clips with the excessive shake keyword.

It is even possible to use Final Cut Pro to find people and add keywords for you. The keywords that will get added to the video or still image will be one person, two persons, a group, close-up shot, medium shot and white shot. So it can be extremely useful to have Final Cut Pro create smart collections after analysis and depending upon the type of video editing that you are doing, it may well be that these functions will speed you up enormously.

Posted in Final Cut Pro.

Editing video on your iPad with Pinnacle Studio

Although iMovie has its good points, I believe that Pinnacle Studio the iPad video editor is the better application for editing video on your iPad. This is because with the Pinnacle application you get more control over how you integrate video and audio into your timeline. Last week I did try very hard to add just a short section of audio from iTunes on my iPad to just a small part of the timeline in iMovie. Every time I did it, it wanted to make the audio act as the background track to the whole of the video I was creating. This is not the case when you are using Pinnacle Studio.

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Creating a voice-over in Pinnacle Studio

It is very easy to add a voice-over to your video timeline in Pinnacle Studio . You just have to press the icon that looks like a microphone and up pops a control for adding audio. You then tap on the red button to start the audio recording. When you have finished recording your voice over you can choose whether you want to play the recording you have just made, keep it or cancel. It is useful to be able to hear the section of audio that you have just recorded to see how it fits in with your video.

If you find that that most of the recording is good, but with just one small part that needs to be cut out, then you can use the editing tools to do what you need to do. I show in the video how you can trim the front and the end of the audio recorded whilst in the timeline. I also demonstrate how you can use the blade tool to cut the audio where necessary, so that you can take bits out.

Working with transitions in Pinnacle Studio

You can set Pinnacle Studio so that when you drop video sections into your timeline it will also add a default transition. Most times this is quite useful and the transition that you have set will be the cross dissolve. There will be some occasions when you want to delete the transition completely. You just have two select it and then tap on the icon for the trash can and it is gone.

You can also very easily change the transition from the default cross dissolve to another one by dragging and dropping the one that you want on top of the one that you want to alter. Once you have done this you will be able to play your video and see the change that you’ve made straightaway. I have found that if you use the editor within the timeline to change the length of the transition you will have to re-render the video so that it plays a properly.

Posted in iPad.

Getting pissed off with YouTube Monetisation

Lately I have been getting very annoyed with YouTube because they are declining a number of my videos for monetisation and it is hard to find out exactly why. I suspect that it is because I’m using software and showing it in the videos and they are unable to distinguish as to the reason why that software is being shown. It does say in their guidelines that if the software is being shown and it is for an educational purpose then it is okay. In the past when receiving these notices from YouTube I have ripped out any music from the videos even though the music being used, was either royalty free or music I created myself using Garageband. To make a tutorial, it is fairly obvious it is going to be necessary to show the actual software. What is extra weird is the fact that there are some videos that I make which are incredibly similar which are accepted by YouTube for monetisation.

Rejected Video

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Accepted Video

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Both videos showing the same software. WTF?

Part of the problem is automation

It seems that the first pass at whether to accept or reject for monetisation is automated, as in not done by humans. I don’t know about the second stage, which is the point where an email is sent to the YouTube user, but I suspect that is also automated. Going by my experience so far, I can be fairly sure that if a video doesn’t get past the first stage, then it will not be accepted at all. It seems to be normal that the videos that are declined stay in limbo for a long time, months on end, before getting finally irrevocably marked with a big fat X.

Explanations are ignored by YouTube

When I have been given the opportunity to give them information as to why the video should be accepted, which is after the first email, I have tried a number of tactics. I have cut and copied information from their own guidelines and added a few lines of explanation, to say that these videos are tutorials. I have added information regarding all of the images and music that have been used in the videos. Sadly, nothing has worked so far. What would be really nice, would be if it was possible to actually talk to somebody at YouTube directly and to get the word from the horses mouth. Unfortunately, there are only generic email addresses to use for contact, if you are lucky enough to find them. No chance whatsoever, in getting a phone number.

What can be done about this problem?

Due to the size of YouTube and the social side of using YouTube, it is the place to be for having a video following. There are people that are making money as YouTubers and I really want to make a business of creating videos for YouTube. With what I have done so far I know that it is possible to earn some money from being a video guy on YouTube. So far I have been doing it as a maker of tutorials,showing off software in a how to format. Is this going to have to do change? Do I need to start making a different type of videos? Can I finally convince YouTube that they should follow their own guidelines when accepting or declining videos and continue the work I’ve been doing so far.

One possible solution to the problem is to put my videos behind a pay wall where I am not reliant upon advertising from AdSense. The problem with that, is the difficulties of getting people to those videos. I am toying with the idea of creating my tutorials on another network where people have to pay to access those videos. What I could do is to take the videos from YouTube and put them on this other site, maybe leaving one or two behind. Those that are left behind will be left there for the purpose of attracting new customers to my courses on this other site. What I also could do is to chop up the videos on YouTube so that only the first minute of tutorial is available. At the end of those videos will be a message to go to the new home for the tutorials.

Make a different type of video

I would rather continue doing what I’m good at, which is the making of tutorials, but I might have to look at doing something different. The big question with this of course is – What! I think maybe that I’m a little bit too old to try to enter the realm of college humour or impromptu dancing in the street. I don’t have a small baby that I could video doing something silly and funny. I’m not particularly keen on the idea of creating the “You’ve Been Framed” getting a kick in the balls type of videos. It has all been done before and is really not my cup of tea.

Some people are having a certain amount of success making videos which do reviews of hardware products. I don’t have access to these products to be able to do reviews, either getting test units or the ability to buy stuff to talk about.

It would be a shame to just quit!

The amount of money that I bring in from making the YouTube videos at present had started to grow during 2012. January 2013 has so far been a bit of a disaster with an approximately 50% drop from the previous month. The same number of views of the videos on my YouTube channel, but half the money. Maybe there are other things going on with Google and YouTube that should have me thinking about moving my stuff elsewhere anyway. It is starting to look as though a good way forward would be to start using that other tutorials site. I could create a course on there and just see how it works out, in terms of creating some income, while at the same time persevering with YouTube. It really would be a shame to give up on the progress that I have made building of the number of subscribers on YouTube by giving up on that video network altogether.

Posted in YouTube.

Importing media into Final Cut Pro 10.0.6

There have been some changes to the way that you import media into Final Cut Pro 10 in this latest version. Now there is a unified import dialogue window to use. To get this to show, you can press Cmd I and you get a lot more options about how you bring in video clips into Final Cut Pro X. For a start off you can have it show you a list and when you click on one of the files on the list, it shows you a decent sized thumbnail track in the area above that list. You can also have the import window show you your video clips in your folders and devices as thumbnails.

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Selecting clips and parts of video clips

In the past when I have been importing video clips into Final Cut Pro, I have always brought in the whole video clip. When I had that whole video clip in the bin of video clips in Final Cut, I would then choose the parts that I wanted from that clip to put in the timeline. I see that it is now possible to select sections of your video clips and to have them brought in to Final Cut as separate clips. If you have been shooting a long clip and there is only a couple of small parts of it that you require, then this new way to bring in video clips is extremely useful. You use the letter I on the keyboard to set your first in point and then you use the letter O on your keyboard to set the out point. To set the in points and out points of subsequent portions of the video, you use Cmd shift and I for the in point, then Cmd shift and O for the out point.

FCPX import media

Persistent selections within your video clips

When you select a portion of your video clip, whether it is when you are importing or when you are selecting clips ready to put into the timeline, you will find that if you have selected something, then go off to do something else and then return, those selections will still be there. This can be very useful to speed up the workflow as you no longer have to mark out items again that you have already previously selected.

What are camera archives?

Final Cut Pro X clip import

There will be times when you want to connect up your camera or the memory card that you took out of your camera, get the video clips off it quickly and get back to shooting video. You can make a camera archive using the import window in Final Cut Pro and then go back later to selecting the clips or parts of clips that you want to use from that camera archive. Using the camera archive tool is basically a quick way to make a complete full clone of your camera or SDHC, that you can work with later.

Favourite places to import from

It could well be that you often want to go to a particular folder on your hard drive, network attached storage or other permanently attached storage devices. For example, there could be a folder containing sound effects that you are continually adding to, you can drag this folder into the favourites, to always have quick access to these media files. Within Final Cut Pro 10 it is very easy to set up favourites to enhance your workflow so that you will be more effective and efficient.

Posted in Final Cut Pro.

Adding caption tracks to your YouTube videos with closed caption software

Screenflow version 4

We all want to get more viewers for our videos and one of the ways that you can do something to help your videos be found within YouTube, is to add a caption track. You will have already chosen a good title and added a good description to help the search engines find your videos. Now you can supercharge the search engine optimisation of your YouTube videos by adding more text that a search engine will just love with a captions track.

How to add a caption track to a YouTube video

Closed caption tracks

It is quite possible to add a caption track actually on the YouTube site, You don’t necessarily need closed captioning software. On the YouTube site it works fairly well and can be done reasonably quickly. There is a machine created closed captions track that will have been created automatically, but it will be complete nonsense and gobbledygook. If you are lucky there will be one or two sentences that it will have done the speech to text conversion that make any sense. Most times though you will need to rewrite the sentences completely. Or dictate them in using DragonDictate , which is my preferred way of creating YouTube closed captions.

Using the application ScreenFlow 4 to write your YouTube closed captions track

There is a new feature in ScreenFlow, in the latest version which has just been released, for creating a closed caption track. What it does is to split up the timeline into small sections and into each of the sections you put your caption text. You can type directly into a text entry box, you can paste the text in there or you can do as I do and that is to dictate. I like to use DragonDictate on my computer as much as possible, so that I can lean back in my chair, put my feet up and talk to the computer. So far it hasn’t started to talk back to me, well that is not quite true, if you count the text to speech that is available on Mac OS X.


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Youtube closed captioning with ScreenFlow 4

In the video I show you how you can extend the length of a section, so that it fits with the actual audio is on the video. It is a simple action of holding down the command key and using the up arrow to make it longer and the down arrow to make it shorter. So far, with the videos that I have created closed caption tracks for, it has worked fairly well and has been very easy to use. I have found that it is slightly more comfortable and therefore faster using ScreenFlow to do this job, than it is to do the same job on the YouTube website.

Get more video views on YouTube by using closed captioning software

So there you go you have some tips now on how to add a closed-captioned YouTube track. The text that you have created is another way for Google and YouTube to find your videos and pass them onto new viewers that are searching on the search engines. You can easily use specialised closed captioning software that made specially to do that job. On the other hand if you have ScreenFlow which is a very good Mac video screen capture application , you can use version 4 to make your YouTube closed captions. Then if you don’t want to spend any money, it is perfectly viable to create a caption track on the YouTube website.

Is it worth adding closed captions on YouTube?

Closed captioning software

Now that I have over 230 videos on YouTube, it would be rather tedious to go back and add captions to all of those. Even if I used the best close to captioning software available. What I may do with the videos that I have uploaded already, is to look at the ones that are most popular and at a caption tracks to those. At the moment, the YouTube videos I have that are most popular are the ones about how to add movies to iTunes and the videos showing how to add review questions to iBooks author . If you’re wondering if it is worth the effort in adding YouTube closed captions, then I would say yes, especially if you can use closed caption software and DragonDictate.

Posted in YouTube.