Open Captions vs Closed Captions

Rashida Beal
Jan 5, 2023
Open Captions vs Closed Captions
Open Captions vs Closed Captions

Due to the digital transformation, everyone has access to the internet. Even so, accessibility is still a common struggle. This is especially true when it comes to folks that are deaf and hard of hearing.

Captions for streaming services are a necessity. But the same needs to be said for content creators who focus on video content.

No matter what you create content for, adding captions can improve the engagement AND accessibility of your content

But do you need closed or open captions? Keep reading to learn more about closed captions vs open captions.

What are Open Captions?

You may have heard of open vs closed captions, but knowing the difference can be a challenge. Let’s start by reviewing what open captions are.

Open captions are captions that are always visible and cannot be turned off. These are not as common as closed captions. With these captions, the viewer cannot control the captioning. It’s a viable option when the media has built-in captions.

Open captions have the text burned into the video file. These captions are most often seen in places like movie theaters where they are provided a copy of a film with open captions.

They are also seen in loud areas including planes, noisy bars, airports, and hospitals.

Benefits of Open Captions

One of the main advantages of open captions is that they are easy to use and are made automatically available so one does not have to be concerned about turning on/off captioning.

It is also easy to add open captions to video files when you are creating video content. This can be especially useful if you post social media videos on platforms like Instagram.

What are Closed Captions?

The vast majority of people are more familiar with closed captions. Closed captions are used more broadly by social media services, television service providers, and video streaming services. Many programs on Apple TV, YouTube TV, Sling TV, Amazon Prime Video, and Netflix leverage these.

The main difference between open and closed captions is that closed captions can be turned off.

A viewer can simply select on the video player whether or not they would like captions to appear on the screen.

Closed captions are also easy to customize, especially with Maestra’s auto subtitle generator tool. You can choose from a variety of styles, languages, and features to make sure your captions fit with the style of your content while still being accessible to your audience.

You can also pick and choose sections to add subtitles. For example, if there is a part of the video you want to post that is difficult to understand or the people don't speak clearly (lowered voices or background noise), you can add open captions for just that specific section of the video.

Benefits of Closed Captions

Similarly to open captions, there are specific advantages of closed captions to consider.

Firstly, closed captions are more accessible to the vast majority of people and provide assistance to those that are hard of hearing. U.S. law mandates that any service like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc. supports closed captioning.

It can also make some content more watchable for both the purposes of academics and business. It makes the lives of those consuming content easier by having the ability to have captions on-screen.

Users also can select the type of experience they want when watching videos with closed captions, such as watching the video without audio and simply following along to the captions.

Closed captions can also be created in a variety of different file formats that are specifically geared toward the continued flexibility of both the content creator and the audience. Closed caption files can include SRT, SCC, and RT files.

Pitfalls to Avoid with Captioning

While captioning is a great tool, poorly implementing it can cause more headaches than help. That’s why it’s so important to do it correctly.

Here are some common captioning mistakes to avoid during video editing:

Media Player Automatic Captions

One pitfall that many fall into is relying on auto-closed captioning tools provided by media players. While they may be helpful, they can also prove to be inaccurate and are not reviewed by individuals to determine the accuracy of the captions.

It’s much better to choose an automated, accurate solution. Maestra offers just that with our automatic subtitle generator. Within minutes, you can add captions or subtitles to your video in over 80 languages. All you have to do is upload your video file to our platform, choose to generate the captions, translate captions into subtitles in the languages you want, proofread them, and download your new video.

Posting on Platforms Without Closed Caption Support

Another is to post video content to platforms that don’t support closed captions with no additional open captions.

This immediately makes your content inaccessible to a portion of your audience. Also, an individual will feel more inclined to scroll through your content without watching it because you do not include captions for videos with audio.

Be sure you know the caption rules of the platforms you are posting to. One includes open caption options when necessary so that your video stays accessible.

Hard-to-Read Captions

Finally, making your captions difficult to read is a huge error. Bad caption font makes it difficult for viewers to completely understand the captions of your videos.

Make sure your captions are large enough and legible. They should stand out from the rest of the on-screen content so that viewers can easily see them. We created this guide for the best caption fonts to try out!

Automatic Caption Generator

Captions make your video more accessible to those who are hard of hearing, and help you reach a wider audience. They also allow people to enjoy your video content without the sound on, which is helpful since many people scroll online without sound.

Adding captions to video files is important, but not as difficult as you may think! Maestra’s subtitle generator automatically adds captions or subtitles to your video content in no time. Try it out for yourself with our free 15-minute trial, or schedule a complimentary demo to learn more.

Rashida Beal
Jan 5, 2023

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