There are many digital video formats, including MOV (QuickTime Movie), WMV (Windows Media Video), MP4 (MPEG 4), and others. The captioning tool used in these tutorials, Camtasia Studio, can import video in most of these formats. However, a few formats, such as FLV (Flash Video) and AVI (Audio-Video Interleave), must be converted to MP4 before they can be captioned in Camtasia.
The following illustrates the decision and production processes involved in captioning a video file:
Tools used in this tutorial
- Handbrake (version 0.9.5 at the time of this writing)
- VLC Media Player or Windows Media Player (version 12 or later)
- Digital video files (on computer hard drive)
This tutorial will guide you through the process of converting digital video files to the MP4 format. MP4 is recommended for many reasons:
- MP4 video is highly compressed to save disk space, yet it preserves video quality.
- MP4s can be played in a wide range of media players, including Windows Media Player (WMP) version 12, which was released with Windows 7. Support in WMP 12 means that MP4 videos can now be embedded in PowerPoint presentations! (Incidentally, QuickTime videos can now be embedded in PowerPoint, as well).
- MP4s are supported by a wide range of Apple devices, like the iPad and iPhone.
- The MP4 format supports embedded closed captions, which can be turned on or off in players such as the VLC Media Player and others (but not Windows Media Player at this time).
To convert DVD video to the MP4 format, use the free, open-source application called Handbrake. Handbrake is a video transcoder, which means it converts video from a variety of formats, including DVD, to the MP4 format. When captions and subtitles are available in the video source, Handbrake is able to preserve them in its saved output.
Follow these steps to convert DVD video to the MP4 format:
- Start the Program
Start Handbrake by selecting it from the Windows Start menu or by double-clicking on its desktop icon.
- Open the source video
Open the DVD by clicking on Handbrake’s “Source” button, as shown below:
- Choose destination and file name
To select a destination for the converted video, click on the Browse button. You may want to save the video to the computer desktop temporarily, or your network drive.
Give the video a descriptive title and a file extension of .mp4, as shown below:
- Select the Normal preset
Presets are a collection of video conversion settings that yield optimal results for specific playback devices. Handbrake has a number of presets, corresponding mostly to various Apple technologies—iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc. The “Normal” preset, however, is applicable to all devices; it saves the video at its original dimensions.
Click on the “Normal” preset, as shown below:
- Start encoding
Once the previous steps have been completed, click the “Start” button, as shown below:
Progress will be indicated along the bottom of the program window:
Note: The program does not make a sound to indicate when conversion is complete. Also, there may be a few moments at the end of conversion when the status bar shows 100%, but the file is not completely saved. To know when the work is truly complete, look for these indicators: The “Stop” button will change back to “Start” when conversion is complete,
and the status bar will state “encoding finished” when the conversion process is complete:
- Verify Output
Once Handbrake has finished saving the video, you’ll want to verify that it contains all of the desired content, along with any subtitles or captions that were selected. Simply play the video in the media player of your choice.
You’re now ready to move on to Camtasia Studio, where you will combine the video you just saved with the transcript, synchronize the text with the audio, and save a new captioned video (see Adding Captions in Camtasia Studio).