Fun with YouTube Subtitles

weather is a network

I had a bit of unexpected fun yesterday. One of the things (on my long list of things) to explore this summer is closed captioning (subtitling/transcribing) videos and getting a manageable workflow going. As we begin the Fall semester in about 6 weeks, I want to have a plan for implementing transcriptions as a part of the many videos that we will begin to produce in the new building (you know that ITCC thing I keep talking about?). I’m working on that workflow and hope to have recommendations soon.

Meanwhile, I was playing around with the YouTube Closed Caption tool. It looks to be a great way to start the process of getting automatic transcriptions for video, although, as it is the subject of this post – it’s not perfect.

But, that’s the beauty of it. Let me show you.

One of the videos that was transcribed, again automatically by YouTube simply by uploading it, was a video on the Domain of One’s Own project. In the video, you’ll recognize some DTLT staff members, Martha Burtis, Ryan Brazell, and Tim Owens, as well as some UMW faculty, Jeff McClurken, Andi Livi Smith, and Sue Fernsebner, and one UMW student, Jack Hylan.

What was particularly entertaining was the attempt by the transcription service to get term Domain of One’s Own, and LMS, correct. On rare occasions it would get the terms right, spelling out the words “domain of one’s own”, albeit in lower case, and the acronym “LMS”. However, it did struggle. Here’s where it got entertaining. It seems to pick on Martha and Jeff the most. First, Domain of One’s Own . . .

two main ones

munich won Tonys

demand of ones own

dominicans out

YouTube’s struggles with LMS (as in Learning Management System) were equally funny.

in relation to the Alamosa


alum ask

As well as saucier versions . . .

alum ass

elem ass

And my favorite . . .

clothes wellsley Almazan

The actual spoken words from the above clip are “closed walls of the LMS”. See YouTube Closed Captions can even teach you about geographic locations you didn’t know about – Almazán, Spain. And I never knew about it’s association with Wellesley. Oh, and don’t forget Alamosa, Colorado.

To finish up the fun, there were a couple more transcription errors – one just basically silly, and another one fun in a teenage boy kind of way. First . . .

hammock resume

You can guess what the real spoken words are in this next one . . .

the poop i need to jump through

After it’s all said and done, it is amazing what an accurate job this automatic transcription service does. Anyone who has the task of creating captions for a video might find it to be a quite entertaining task. I hope the student aides that I assign to this task think so as well.


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