Captioning Content with a VTT File

By: Verbit Editorial
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Thanks to the meteoric rise of digital media, online accessibility is more important than ever. Now that millions of viewers are streaming content on their computers and mobile devices, content creators must meet an ever-growing need for accessibility solutions. Accurate captions are likely the most in-demand of all those tools. 

Recent studies have shown that 50% of consumers view captions as a must-have. The high demand for captioning is likely related to the fact that 92% of mobile users view online videos with the sound off. Anyone hoping to ensure equal messaging to audiences who watch videos with no sound and those who are Deaf or hard of hearing must take the time to caption their content. 

Fortunately, creators have a wide variety of methods available to them when it comes to captioning their content. The first step, however, is understanding which style of captions is the best option for a particular project. Let’s take a closer look at one of the most popular captioning formats: VTT files.  

What is a VTT file?

A VTT file is a type of captioning file that is compatible with most major media hosting platforms. “VTT file” is essentially shorthand for WebVTT file or Web Video Text to Track File. Captions created in the WebVTT format will contain a .vtt extension. As a result, most users refer to these simply as VTT files.  

A VTT file will contain the transcript of the audio track of a video as well as the time codes that sync the captions to the video. A VTT file will also contain metadata about the file itself, which makes this format a bit more complex than some others.  

What is the Difference Between VTT and SRT? 

Users who researched how to add subtitles to a video may be familiar with another popular captioning format: SRT files. Webvtt files are similar to SRT files, but there are a few important differences.  

While the VTT file format is similar to the original SRT file format, it has some additional capabilities. SRT files are plain text files, which means they do not contain any metadata. VTT files do contain metadata, as well as information about formatting the captions. For instance, with VTT files, the user can adjust the color, font and placement of their captions. However, SRT files only allow for basic font formatting and placement adjustments. 

Is a VTT File Better than SRT? 

When it comes to captioning content, it’s not necessarily a question of SRT vs. VTT. In a vacuum, neither file format is better than the other. Additionally, both file formats are compatible with popular media hosting sites like YouTube and Vimeo. With that said, one of these file types may better suit the needs of a particular project.  

For example, the simplicity of SRT files tends to be beneficial for high-volume projects. Also, the plain text nature of SRT files might make them more user-friendly for translators. Content creators new to the captioning process may choose SRT files as well because adding them is relatively straightforward. 

Creators hoping to have more control over the specific formatting of their captions, however, may want to use VTT captions rather than SRT captions. The additional information that VTT files store may also make them a good choice for creators looking to offer closed captioning for any content they post on multimedia platforms and eLearning sites.  

How to Create a VTT File 

As we’ve discussed, VTT files can be comparatively complex file formats. While it is possible to create a VTT file manually, this process can be extremely laborious and time-consuming. Creators or employees without adequate training are also prone to making substantial transcription errors. As a result, someone will need to review and edit the captions meticulously. This process may add considerable time to production.  

The fastest and easiest way to create a VTT file is by partnering with a professional captioning and transcription service like Verbit. Verbit’s process is unique in that it uses a dual approach to transcription. When a user uploads a video to the platform, Verbit’s proprietary artificial intelligence software produces an initial transcript that professional human transcribers then review for accuracy. The end result is a caption file with up to 99% accuracy that Verbit can provide in as little as four hours.  

What Sets Verbit Apart 

Verbit’s approach allows users to produce a high volume of VTT captions and VTT subtitles without compromising on accuracy, cost or efficiency. The Verbit team also specializes in other captioning formats like dfxp files and scc files, making them well-equipped to support a wide range of accessibility and outreach initiatives.  

Partnering with Verbit also means access to solutions like audio description, live transcription and translation. Together, these tools make it possible for creators to offer equitable, engaging viewing experiences to all audience members. Reach out today to learn more about how Verbit’s integrations with key media hosting sites like YouTube, Panopto and Brightcove can streamline the captioning process and improve the accessibility and visibility of video content.