Adding subtitles to my work for the hard of hearing…

Thanks to my friend Adam Loretz who has started a transcription/ subtitle service, my first piece to feature subtitles is now online.

Vimeo is easily my hosting service of choice. The player is nicer. The community 1000 times nicer. But support for subtitles currently is only via hard ones. They are working on it I believe. Youtube does let you add subtitles via a .srt file to any video. This is what would be great for Vimeo. Of course these are just English subtitles, but if there is interest apart from the hard of hearing for other languages, then I am up for it…

Adam has done a brilliant job here and I cannot recommend him enough. I am going to get him to do Great Wooden Boats and The Redneck Hippie asap! EDIT: Redneck Hippie done!!



  1. Philip I love the idea of subtitles for the hearing impaired, but this will only work for people that have flash installed, so most cellphones won’t work and all media boxes will not work. I have the Roku Box and it uses H.264 to read video files.

    For the hearing impaired if they want to watch these videos they need a hard encode file.

  2. I wonder how difficult it’d be for Vimeo to offer this as part of their cross-encode process?

    Analyse the audio content of a video for speech, convert that to an SRT text file with timecode. Wouldn’t take too much processing power (Siri runs on a fairly modest iPhone CPU) – fair enough it’d not be 100% accurate, but better than no subtitles at all.

  3. Philip,

    I’m hearing-impaired and have been following your videos for quite a long time. Your videos were a major factor for me to purchase the Canon 5D II camera. I have not regretted the purchase. Your videos and tutorials are very visual and I was able to pick up the important points. Of course, having some of your videos subtitled would be a major plus for me and the other hearing-impaired people who might be interested in making high-quality video.

    Again, truly want to thank you for thinking about the rest of us. 😉

    William Dodd

    P.S. Definitely looking to the subtitled Redneck Hippie video. The narrative looked interesting.

  4. DVD Studio 4 when it was working allowed you to add subtitles which were switchable by the end user. My aunt who was a secretary transcribed my DVD about Type 2 Diabetes and I used Supramotion for the Mac to deliver the words to the speech…it was a heck of a lot of extra work.

    Premiere Pro is suposed to offer some type of transcribing service, I think you are getting up to speed with Premiere I will let you know.

  5. re: foreign language subtitles

    English subtitles are also useful for foreigners that know some English but not enough to understand everything the subject is saying

    anybody reading your blog shouldn’t need more than that, you know…

  6. Philip,

    One incredible story after another. I absolutely love your work, very inspiring.

    I’m intrigued by this new aspect ratio of your videos.

    You are shooting all of this material on the Epic in 5K and then do you create a custom aspect size sequence in FCP7 for 1080? I have a Vimeo account as well and whatever size format you upload, Vimeo will conform to it?

    I love the wide shots where you can see all of the lenses on the top shelf with him at the bottom, it’s awesome.

    If you don’t mind elaborating more on how you achieved this, I would be forever obliged!

    Thanks for all that you do!


  7. Good to get the debate on subtitling started!

    Unless I am very much mistaken, the MPEG4 video format has a similar structure to QuickTime, in that it can have multiple tracks in different types – the MP4 format is a ‘container’.

    Therefore, it can contain a text track – nay, multiple text tracks – like QuickTime movies can. So you can have multiple languages, including different languages, descriptive stuff, and so on. It’s also how chapters are done.

    You can also have multiple AUDIO tracks too.

    The disappointing thing is that even the iTunes store for movies doesn’t bother supplying subtitle tracks or even the ‘director commentary’ tracks that it jolly well could do if it had the market pressure. You can rip your own from your purchased DVDs of course, so why Apple’s suppliers are so lazy defeats me.

    Furthermore, I’ve been looking for an HTML5 implementation that will allow the ‘crowdsourcing’ of subtitles. A Swedish/bilingual friend commented on how appalling some translations can be, and I think we’re all agreed that we’d prefer subtitles to dubbed movies – with the caveat that some languages are a little verbose.

    So please let’s get more demanding for subtitles and alternate audio tracks, and press for track based rather than burned in subtitles.

  8. As a teacher of English by profession, I have used your movies in the classroom several times. For educational use, it is more practical to be able to turn on or off the subtitles depending on the level of the students. With srt-files used by YouTube, this can easily be done, but not so with Vimeo’s hard subtitles. Yet another subtitle technology is used with the videos. They also have transcripts in many different languages.

  9. Phillip,

    I love the quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” This is exactly what you’ve done and as a member of the deaf/filmmaker community I cannot express how much appreciation I have for you putting in the extra work to reach a minority that’s oftentimes left in the sidelines when it comes to entertainment or accessibility.

    I’ve added hard subtitles via fcp 7 for my bigger projects such as the two below but certainly could use a easier method for subtitling!



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