Should you use YouTube’s subtitle function, or add subtitles using FCPX or your video software?

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One thing I was quite naive about for my latest video was the sheer effort needed to put the subtitles on. I’m a translator so am fine with the language, for the most part, where I’m not I have ways of checking (just ask your wife), and I’ve put subtitles on both my own and another person’s videos before. I just forgot how tedious the process was, but now I think I know the best system.

All things considered, it’s best to use the YouTube subtitles function, rather than adding subtitles in your video editing software. There are a few reasons for this, but the biggest reason is that it’s also a way to add to your SEO, and a good one at that.

For my latest video, probably 3/4 is in Japanese so requires subtitles. I started by adding the subtitles through normal titles, before I realised that FCPX had a captions function. However, the captions function in FCPX is nowhere near as intuitive as the YouTube version. I had to keep copy pasting the captions, I couldn’t easily just add a new one, but it is there and you can turn it on and off when exporting your video.

So in terms of intuitiveness and SEO, YouTube wins out, but it’s still a risk because you have to tell viewers to turn the subtitles on, and that tiny little nuisance may be enough for them to stop watching. If that’s the case though, you probably couldn’t do videos in a second language in the first place.

Not by design, but as a means to counteract this, the first few minutes or so are in English, so if I’ve done my job and convinced people that the video is worth watching, it shouldn’t be a problem, should it? (Genuine question that time will tell)



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