How To Add Captions In Premiere

In this post I’m going to show you how to add captions and subtitles in Premiere Pro!

Hey guys, my name is Scott and I make full and mini tutorials like this one on Premiere Pro, Photoshop, and Freelancing tips. So please do consider hitting the follow button at the top right of this page so you don’t miss any of those! Ok let’s get into how we can add captions in Premiere.

I have a video clip here that I want to add captions to, this is a video from my other channel All Sports History if you guys want to check that out. So I want to walk you guys through how to create captions and customize them in Premiere. First, you want to make sure that the video you’re working on is basically done. You don’t want to be adding captions to a video file that you’re still working on, and then have to edit parts of it out. At that point, it becomes a hassle of having to clip out captions that are no longer needed. So once the editing is done, you can either manually create captions yourself or you can have it done by an online service like Rev.com or even for free through YouTube. 

But first, if I go up to File… then to New… then scroll down to captions… I can create a new caption file manually. From here, I can start to type in the words that I want and then drag and drop that file from my project window to my timeline. This is great if you just need a simple caption or two for one scene, but you can see how this would be a huge pain if you had to caption an entire video manually. So let me get into how we can create automated caption files.

To do that, I’ll need to export this clip by using the keyboard shortcut Command M, so that I can upload the file to either YouTube (which can create captions automatically for free) or I could use a paid service like Rev.com that will also create a caption file for me. That difference is that YouTube does a decent job of transcribing the spoken words into captions, but there’s usually quite a number of mistakes. Rev.com, because it’s a paid service, does a much better job of transcribing with fewer mistakes. But for this video, I’m just going to use YouTube.

So I’ve gone ahead and uploaded the video clip to YouTube and it’s already been published, but you can set it to private before uploading if you don’t want it to be seen publicly yet. Next, I can download the subtitle file by going into the video tab, clicking on the video’s details and then going down to subtitles on the left hand side. Then on the far right you’ll see there’s a subtitles column with the word “automatic” listed. If I click on the three vertical dots next to that, an options menu comes up where I can download the file. Now, this file will download as an SBV file, which I’ll need to convert into a SRT file for me to be able to bring it in Premiere.

There’s a few websites that can convert caption files, but the one I like to use is captionsconvetor.com. It’s pretty simple, just drag and drop the SBV file into the convertor, and make sure it’s set to convert into an SRT file. The new file should download automatically, and after that’s completed, we’re almost ready to bring this into Premiere.

The next step, before I can import the caption file is to check my import settings in Premiere. This is where you can customize the look and feel of the captions, so that when they get imported, they’ll already be set to how you want it. So inside Premiere, there’s a captions window that you can find by going to Window… and then making sure the captions option is checked. Now if I go over to the captions window, and look towards the bottom, there’s an import settings option. 

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The first thing we can change here is the type of file Premiere imports, it’s already set to SRT so I’ll leave it at that. Next, we can change the import setting to custom, because we want to override to default settings. In the video settings, we can select the standard type of file that will be imported. Typically, subtitles are meant for videos with spoken words in a foreign language and the subtitles are in the language of the audience’s region. Captions are typically in the same language as the spoken words, but are meant for those who are hard of hearing or maybe prefer to read as long as they’re listening. In this case, we’re going to select the option of open captions. 

And then for the rest of the video settings, we want to match them to the sequence settings of our clip. So 1920 x 1080 pixels in size, framerate is 29.97, and the aspect ratio is square 1.0. If you’re not sure what your sequence settings are, just go back to your clip, and right click on it. Then go to sequence settings, and a new window will pop up with all of that information. Don’t worry if the caption settings don’t quite match up with your sequence settings, you can always go back and change the import settings if needed and then you can re-import the captions file.

Back to the import settings, with alignment now we’re getting into the actual customizing of the look and feel of the captions. Now, each video file is different and you may want to play around with these settings to get the right look for your video. But what typically works for me is, spacing the rows and columns by 24 and 40. And then with the anchor, I usually have it set to center, so that the captions are right in the middle of the screen. And then for text alignment I also have that set to center, for the same reason. For line spacing and captions area, I have those set to 50 and 80 percent each.

Next, there’s the style settings. You can set your captions to import in a particular font and color. I usually go with a font that’s easy to read like, Arial or Helvetica, but you can choose pretty much whatever font style you want. Then you can select either bold, italic, or underline, which is pretty much self explanatory. Next, there’s font size and color. I usually keep my font size set to 34, because I don’t want it to be huge, but I also do want the letters to be big enough for people to easily read. And then I also go with the color white, as it’s usually much easier to read on a darker background. Speaking of backgrounds, you can create a black box behind the caption letters which help the words stand out more. Or you can set it to a different color than black, to make something more unique looking. From there, you can adjust the size of the background box to fit whatever you think is best for your video. In the case of this clip, I’m actually going to go without a background and just have the captions by themselves, so I’ll leave all of these size settings to zero. Next I’ll hit OK to save the settings, and now I can import my captions file.

From here, using the keyboard shortcut command I, it will bring up an import window for me to find the captions file. Now that the file is in my project window,  I can drag and drop that file into my timeline. From here, I can pull down the captions to the lower third of my video by going into the effects control panel. At the top where it says position, using my mouse I can pull the height down so that it lowers the display of the captions on my video. Next, I can scrub through my video to make sure that the captions are appearing how I want them to. If something doesn’t look right, I can double click on the captions, and then the captions editing window will appear. Now, I can go right to the timecode where there was a mistake, and then I can change anything that I need to for that particular caption. I can even alter the color, the size, the font, to any of my captions if wanted to.

So that’s how you can add captions and subtitles in premiere pro, what other kind of issues with captions are you having? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll see if I can answer them! For more information on Premiere Pro, Photoshop and Freelancing tips head on over to my YouTube channel. Also, check out my other tutorial videos which I’ve posted at the top of the page. Alright, that’s it for me guys see you in the next post!