Post-production Goodies

Today we’re going to take a quick look at a handful of useful tools to enhance your post-production workflow and help take your videos to the next level.


Open Captions

The ability to easily create open captions, commonly referred to as ‘burned-in’, which are always visible is surprisingly absent from most editing software. While out-of-the-box tools exist for creating titles, using these tools is a long and laborious process for authoring captions. Thankfully plugins for After Effects, Premiere Pro, Motion, and Final Cut have been created to do just that. These plugins import SRT caption files, a common format supported by YouTube and many other web video platforms.

SUGARfx Subtitles $99

Provides full control over the font & layout and is widely compatible; After Effects CS5-CC, Premiere Pro CS6-CC, Motion 4-5, & Final Cut Pro 7-X.

pt_ImportSubtitles $25

While cheaper, pt_ImportSubtitles isn’t quite as widely compatible as SUGARfx. This plugins supports After Effects CS3-CS6.

Open Caption Plugins


Racking Focus and Camera Mapping in 2D

Creating motion in still images brings the image alive when being used in video, but you can only go so far with the Ken Burns zoom and pan technique. Rowbyte has created a pack of After Effects plugins that allow for creation of depth in 2D images and video. The two you’ll get the most use out of with still images are the Camera Mapper and Rack Focus.

Buena Depth Cue $99

Buena Depth Cue


Color Grading Presets

If you’re not yet fully into color grading, but would like to do more with your videos in After Effects, Film Riot has a pack of 15 presets available. These presets are click to apply simple and cover a large range of styles including a daylight white balance correction.

Film Riot’s Color Preset Pack & Tutorial $15

Triune Color Presets


Advanced Color Grading Presets

Before making the jump all the way to full-bore color grading with SpeedGrade, Resolve, Colorista or REDCINE-X, Red Giant has a nice middle ground with over 100 look presets and light-weight grading controls.

Magic Bullet Looks $199 Academic / $399 Full

Magic Bullet Looks


Noise Remover

If you have to deal with grainy footage whether it’s low-light footage shot at very high ISO or old analog recordings, Red Giant’s Magic Bulllet Denoiser II does an amazing job with the available presets and provides fine control for customizing the output.

Denoiser II $99

Denoiser II


Aspect Ratio Masks

Triune also has a pack of aspect ratio masks for giving normal 16:9 widescreen video a film look. The pack includes:

  • 1.85:1 (35mm)
  • 2.35:1 (CinemaScope)
  • 2.40:1 (Panavision)
  • 2.55:1 (CinemaScope 55)
  • 2.75:1 (Ultra Panavision 70)
  • 3.00:1 (MGM Camera 65)

Aspect Ratio Pack & Tutorial $3

Aspect Mask

Current State of Captioning

In October of 2010 President Obama signed the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) into law. The CVAA expands upon the existing requirements set forth in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to increase access to current technologies, such as broadband and mobile, for those with disabilities. A key component of this law is the requirement that all captioned content that is delivered on television is now required to be captioned when delivered via the Internet as well.

In addition, the FCC added four non-technical quality standards in February including accuracy, completeness, placement, and synchronicity. Of those accuracy will be the most impactful to content creators. Primarily accuracy can be considered a measurement of correct words in the transcript compared to the number of incorrect words in the program. For example, a 9,050 word video with 68 errors is 99.2% accurate. However, errors could be anything from misspellings to missed words to punctuation that impedes comprehension. But the new restrictions are more comprehensive than just accuracy. “In order to be accurate, captions must match the spoken words in the dialogue, in their original language (English or Spanish), to the fullest extent possible and include full lyrics when provided on the audio track,” states the FCC. This includes the prohibition of paraphrasing and mandatory non-verbal information such as speaker identification, sound effects, and audience reactions. The FCC hasn’t given the specific accuracy requirement, but as a likely guideline the U.S. House of Representatives already requires a 98.6% accuracy for all of their floor proceedings recordings.

Schools and universities have long been held to provide accommodations under Section 504 and 508 to any student that requires them. This includes any media or online content used within a course.  The sheer volume of material that is created on a daily basis within a university can be a daunting task let alone tackling the vast amount of preexisting content. With so many organizations and businesses working just to maintain compliance many haven’t looked forward to the extended benefits of having captioned content.

Many student unions have video walls displaying several sources at once that would otherwise not be consumable.

Many student unions have video walls displaying several sources at once that would otherwise not be consumable.

With a large portion of the population experiencing hearing difficulties, but who aren’t deaf, captions can assist in digesting materials where they may struggle otherwise. This also extends to hearing individuals who may be unable to hear the content due to being in a noisy environment or where multiple pieces of content would otherwise compete with each other. From a lecture standpoint, when the material covered in a video is particularly difficult or convoluted, being able to read the transcript as the presenter is speaking can greatly assist in comprehension and notation.

Most universities host a diverse student population locally and this diversification is only compounded by new online course and program offerings. With the global popularity of massively open online courses (MOOCs) the traditional base of online students is even broader. On average OSU’s course offerings through Coursera are seeing over 60% of enrolled students coming from outside of the United States. Especially in language classes comprehending the written word is much easier before mastering speech nuances. Beyond those learning a new language or multilingual viewers, those that don’t speak the language of the content would need to rely entirely on the transcript and captions. Thick accents can pose comprehension problems even when the language between presenter and viewer is common.

Lastly, having transcripts available makes content more easily indexed by web search engines putting your content in front of more people through ease of discovery. A step beyond that, captions allow for searching within the content and being able to jump directly to the desired point of interest in certain products, such as you can with Mediasite, Ohio State’s new lecture capture solution. This increased usability gives students the flexibility to make abbreviated notes and return to the recorded lecture later for review or clarification while focusing on the lecture when in class.

With all of these benefits ready to be taken advantage of, the workflow for getting your content captioned can be discouraging to non-professionals. Fortunately, outsourcing has become a reasonably priced option. Among the many options available, OSU has its own. Transcribe OSU is a student-staffed, cost-recovery service supported by the OSU Web Accessibility Center, Office for Disability Services, and ADA Coordinator’s Office available exclusively to the Ohio State community.