Difference between Transcription and Captions
April 8th, 2021
14 min read
Whether you are watching a movie or a YouTube video, you cannot escape captions. Captions came to prominence, especially after Google declared that they were enabling automatic captioning on YouTube.
With millions of users consuming video content on YouTube, many got used to having captions in their videos. This habit created a strong enough demand that even creators outside of YouTube started providing captions with their content.
But with the increasing use of EdTech platforms, more and more viewers have started showing a preference for transcriptions over captions. Such a transition sparked a debate in the various creator communities.
- Are captions going to go obsolete?
- Are transcriptions going to replace captions?
- Which one is better? Transcriptions or captions?
Let’s take a brief look at the similarities and differences between transcription and captions to find answers to all of these questions.
Transcription is the process of converting content from audio/video to text format. The resulting file, called a transcript, is a simple text file.
Viewers can access the transcripts during or even after the playback. Unlike captions, which are available only during playback, transcripts have utility even beyond the source material.
Due to this added utility, many EdTech platforms, and even some universities, prefer transcription over captions.
If you would like to transcribe your educational content, visit Wavel for more information. We provide transcripts not only in TXT format but also in HTML, PDF, and DOCX formats.
Captioning is the process that involves displaying text inside of audio/video content for providing additional information to viewers. Captions increase the interactivity and engagement of any audio/video content. As such, it is beneficial to all sorts of viewers.
With closed captioning, captions become even more powerful. That is because you can enable/disable closed captions according to your convenience.
Not sure if there is any difference between captions and subtitles? Check out this article.
Benefits of Transcription
Given its versatile utility, there are many use cases where transcription can benefit both viewers and creators.
- Accessibility: For deaf or hard of hearing (DHH) people, it is easier to consume content with transcripts. For the visually impaired, transcripts provide information about visual effects and physical comedy, among others.
- Search Engine Optimization: Unlike humans, search engine bots (crawlers) cannot view or listen to multimedia content. By making the transcript of such content available on the website, crawlers can easily crawl it, improving its SEO rankings.
- User Experience: As mentioned before, transcripts allow users to consume any content in text format. While most of us prefer to consume content in a multimedia format, sometimes having it in text format is more efficient.
Benefits of Captions
People’s needs change as technology evolves. Before the internet, people were used to having captions embedded in their movies. Nowadays, people prefer their movies have closed captions that they can enable/disable at a whim.
The tendency to adapt as per the user’s preferences makes captions an irreplaceable part of content creation strategies. This tendency is not limited to closed captions either.
With their plug-and-play nature, closed captions help creators boost the watch time of their content; additionally, the chances of viewers interacting with the content if it has closed captions.
On the other hand, burned-in (or open) captions are changing the way social media creators are generating their video content. As social media platforms (e.g. Snapchat, Instagram Reels, TikTok) do not provide any controls in their video players, having captions burned in your content is becoming a norm. It helps engage pockets of the audience that watch videos on mute.
Although transcription and captions both have overlapping benefits, both technologies solve different business problems. In some cases, using transcription alongside captions even further enhances the user experience.
However, the rapid adoption of transcription in the education sector does signify that, at least in some domains, transcription will end up replacing captions.
But considering how mainstream captions have become in the last decade or so, it looks like most entertainment industries will stick to captioning their content for the foreseeable future.
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