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Method for Closed Captions in Premiere Pro
  • I'm working on a filmed play, and I'd love to add closed captions to the project. Since it's a play, I have a script as a Word file, and it shouldn't be difficult to take that text and convert it to a set of closed captions, right? Well, it's work, so here goes.

    First of all, captioning requires that each line be associated with a timecode, which determine when the caption appears and disappears. In the past, this would have to be hand-entered, but the latest release of Premiere Pro allows users to move sliders to adjust the timecodes. So the main hurdle here is getting the captions into Premiere Pro, where we can fine-tune the timing.

    Still, the transcript we're importing has to have some time codes in it. So we have to convert the script to a format that does. Here's a method that I use that isn't perfect, but it accomplishes a lot. 1) Paste the script into an Excel spreadsheet, so that each line of dialogue is in a separate row. 2) Insert columns before the dialogue. In one column, insert a number sequence (1,2,3, etc.) This will help you preserve the original order if you resort the list for some reason. You will probably have to break some longer stretches of dialogue into several rows, so these numbers come in handy. 3) Use two columns for your timecode, and use the format "hh:mm:ss". This can only handle timecode as far as hours, minutes and seconds. (Don't worry about frames for now.) 4) Take the duration of your video (say, half an hour) and divide it by the number of lines of dialogue. That gives you an average length of time for an average line of dialogue (say, three seconds). You can fill in the Timecode columns with timecodes that increase by three seconds.

    Basically, if you're good with spreadsheets, you can use Excel to reconfigure your captions pretty effectively. You can now use this spreadsheet with a word processor to merge this data into a format that works as a captions file. The easiest to use is the *.srt format, which looks like this:

    1 00:00:01,1 --> 00:00:06,1 ACT ONE

    2 00:00:07,1 --> 00:00:12,1 JULIANA: They’re not even up yet!

    3 00:00:13,1 --> 00:00:17,1 BERTA: That’s just what I said, Miss Juliana. Remember how late the boat got in last night. Yes, and once they got home, the young bride had so much to unpack before she would go to bed.

    The format is simple. The first timecode, followed by ",1" to signify frames. The two dashes and an arrow. And then the text of the caption, which ends with a double linefeed.

    Premiere Pro's Problems - Open versus Closed Captions. Now, you'd think that you could simply Import this file, apply it to your tineline, and adjust those timecode sliders to time the captions right. But that's not correct.

    You see, Premiere Pro cannot import SRT files as Closed Captions. It interprets them solely as Open Captions, and you can't change them afterward. (Converting Closed to Open, and Open to Closed, would be a great feature to request.) So you need to take this SRT file, and convert it again to a format that PP imports as Closed Captions. Such as SCC format, which looks like this:

    Scenarist_SCC V1.0

    00:00:00;00 942c 942c 9420 9420 94ae 94ae 9476 9476 c143 5420 4fce 4580

    00:00:01;03 942f 942f

    00:00:06;03 942c 942c 9420 9420 94ae 94ae 9452 9452 4ad5 4c49 c1ce c1ba 94f2 94f2 5468 e579 a7f2 e520 6eef f420 e576 e56e 2075 7020 79e5 f4a1

    00:00:07;03 942f 942f

    00:00:12;03 942c 942c 9420 9420 94ae 94ae 97d0 97d0 91b9 91b9 c245 5254 c1ba 2054 6861 f4a7 7320 ea75 73f4 20f7 6861 f420 4980 9770 9770 91b9 91b9 7361 e964 2c20 cde9 7373 204a 75ec e961 6e61 ae20 52e5 6de5 6d62 e5f2 10d0 10d0 91b9 91b9 68ef f720 ec61 f4e5 20f4 68e5 2062 ef61 f420 67ef f420 e96e 13d0 13d0 91b9 91b9 ec61 73f4 206e e967 68f4 ae20 d9e5 732c 2061 6e64 20ef 6ee3 e580 1370 1370 91b9 91b9 f468 e579 2067 eff4 2068 ef6d e52c 20f4 68e5 2079 ef75 6e67 94d0 94d0 91b9 91b9 62f2 e964 e520 6861 6420 73ef 206d 75e3 6820 f4ef 2075 6e70 61e3 6b80 9470 9470 91b9 91b9 62e5 e6ef f2e5 2073 68e5 20f7 ef75 ec64 2067 ef20 f4ef 2062 e564 ae80

    00:00:16;11 942f 942f

    00:00:17;03 942c 942c 9420 9420 94ae 94ae 94d0 94d0 91b9 91b9 91b9 4ad5 4c49 c1ce c1ba 2057 e5ec ec2c 20f4 68e5 6e20 ad20 ece5 f480 9470 9470 91b9 91b9 91b9 f468 e56d 20e5 6eea ef79 20f4 68e5 e9f2 20f2 e573 f4ae

    00:00:18;15 942f 942f

    00:00:23;03 942c 942c 9420 9420 94ae 94ae 1370 1370 c245 5254 c1ba 2049 2073 f7e5 61f2 20f4 68e5 f2e5 20e9 736e a7f4 94d0 94d0 6120 62e9 f420 efe6 2073 7061 e3e5 20ec e5e6 f4ae 2049 20f4 68e9 6e6b 9470 9470 49a7 ecec 2068 6176 e520 f4ef 2070 75f4 20e9 f420 68e5 f2e5 2c20 cde9 7373 ae80

    00:00:25;00 942f 942f

    Luckily, there is a website ( that enables you to upload an SRT file and convert it to SCC.

    At that point, you have to place the captions into your project, and then use the sliders to adjust the timecodes.

  • 3 Replies sorted by
  • Thank you for this workflow. But although it's 2017 working with subtitles or captions is still a horrible mess.

  • I know. It'd be much easier if we could convert open captions and closed captions into each other. That'd cut a lot of steps from my workflow.

  • I had several projects that needed closed captions. I messed around with doing them in Premiere, but it is so kludgy and frustrating, that it was cheaper just to pay to do them. They run about $1/minute for good results in multiple formats. My time is worth more than that. I do go through and proof them, but it's still a huge time saver.