For businesses looking to save money on internal and external communication, the use and application of captions is well known. Allowing for a single video to be multipurposed by simply translating what is spoken or written can provide clarity as well as save time and money on production costs, but not all captioning is created equal. As it is important to know your options when it comes to captioning, today’s word will examine the most prominent format in captioning, the VTT (or WebVTT) file.
Shortened to the acronym WebVTT, the full name of this file type is “Web Video Text Track”. Though the name may sound complicated, it’s simply a description of how the file works. The first word is, as we all know, a shortened form of the World Wide Web, aka the Internet. Video, in this application, is simply an adjective denoting the relation to the visual medium and can be traced back to the Proceedings of the Institute of Radio Engineers periodical from 1934 (“Video frequency (picture frequency)… The picture carrier should include the video signal, synchronizing impulses, etc.”). Text, being the wording of anything written or printed and coming initially from the late 14th century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (“For in relating the pains of true knights, it is the title, token, and texts of their works.”), is the caption itself. The Track in this usage relates to the following of the timed succession of captions and was first used in this context (of a path to be followed) by Robert Greene in his work, Greene’s Never Too Late, beginning: “Down the valley again he tracked, Bag and bottle at his back.” Finally, file – relates to the computer file containing the captioning instructions, coming from the Journal of the Association for Computing Machinery in 1954 (“A ‘master’ tape..contains the file of unit records as at the last date of processing.”).
Without getting too deep or technical, VTT files offer certain advantages when compared with other formats. First and foremost are speed and ease of use: utilising HTML, VTT files can often be created faster and with less of a learning curve. Second, VTT offers a more robust functionality and more options for the appearance of captions, making the conversion of complex multimedia localisation easier. Third, VTT files allow the use of metadata. Fourth and finally is its applicability to modern media: compatibility with the HTML5 media players and cloud-based video management systems, such as Vimeo, YouTube, Brightcove, as well as virtually all major browsers on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Essentially, for quick, easy captioning (including metadata) that can be applied and changed to fit localisation needs and used on the most common internet platforms, WebVTT files are a term that modern global business needs to know in order to be competitive and cost-effective.
Contact EVS Translations’ Video Engineering Team today to discuss your multilingual video needs.