FCP X Tips 002: Closed captions in Final Cut Pro 10.4.1 [Video]

The new closed captioning tools in Final Cut Pro 10.4 provide an easy way to create more accessible content. Closed captions are also useful for creating content that’s watchable in environments where it’s not practical to turn up the volume.

Closed captioning can help expand your reach by assigning different languages to your captions for easy interpretation. Needless to say, this is a major new workflow addition to Final Cut Pro X, one that might pay dividends as far as broadening your audience is concerned. Watch our hands-on video for a brief look at some of the high level closed captioning tool set features.

Using closed captions in Final Cut Pro X is easy. You can add captions manually by selecting Edit → Captions → Add Caption. From there it’s just a matter of typing the text that corresponds to what’s being said in the video in the provided text box.

Captions appear right below the timeline and are attached to video or audio clips in the timeline. This means that as you rearrange footage, your captions will follow the appropriate clips. Of course, it’s also easy to move and trim captions using the same methodology that applies to clips.

Obviously, creating closed captions by hand probably isn’t something that’s sustainable for anyone who makes content on a daily basis. With this in mind, Final Cut Pro X supports the ability to import captions via File → Import → Captions. Automatic transcription Services like SpeedScriber allow you to upload video files to produce time-matched, editable captions that can be imported back into Final Cut Pro X.

The Caption Inspector is where you go to interface with an individual caption. The Inspector is used to edit caption text, formatting, color, and placement in the frame. The Caption Inspector is only viewable when selecting a caption in the timeline. You can also use the Inspector to quickly navigate between captions to speed up your editing workflow.

In addition to the Caption Inspector, an updated Timeline Index appears in Final Cut Pro 10.4.1 to support closed captions. The Timeline Index is a quick way to view all available captions including text, start time and end time. The Timeline Index’s Role panel is also updated to support captions, allowing users to quickly hide or show captions.

Exporting, as expected, has been updated to support closed captioning. It’s not possible to “burn in” captions to make them always appear on a video, but users have the option to enable captions using in-software toggles during playback.

Editors also have the option of exporting caption files directly using File → Export Captions. From there, you can select the roles (languages) that you wish to embed in a separate sidecar caption file.

Closed captioning support in Final Cut Pro X is a welcomed addition, one that I feel will be very popular among users who desire to produce content that’s more accessible. The tools and methodology involved with supporting and maintaining closed captions are, unsurprisingly, easy to learn and get used to if you’re already familiar with Final Cut Pro X.

Closed caption example video

Here is the final closed caption-enabled example video that I created with Final Cut Pro X. You can toggle captions on using the YouTube playback controls:

We’ll take a deeper diver into the particulars of closed captioning support in a future video. In the meantime, sound off in the comments below with your thoughts on the 10.4.1 update.

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