How to Make Subtitles Automatically Using Speech to Text

Create video subtitle files with voice-recognition software.
... Hemera Technologies/ Images

You can create subtitles for your movies automatically using a voice recognition application, such as Dragon Naturally Speaking, to dictate the subtitles to a text document, and then use subtitling software to time, format and align the subtitle file with your video. However, you can skip a few steps in the process by using a speech-to-text subtitling and captioning application to dictate your subtitles directly into the subtitling tool.

1 Subtitle File Types

Simple subtitle files are plain text files that you can create and edit with a standard text editor. The most common subtitle file types include the SubRip, or “SRT,” the SubStation Alpha, or “SSA” and the VobSub format. VobSub format includes an IDX file and one or more SUB files. SRT, SSA and IDX are all text files, but SUB files can contain graphics.

2 Subtitle Format

Each subtitle entry contains four components. First, the number of the subtitle is located on the first line of the subtitle entry. The next line specifies the start time and duration for the subtitle text. The third line is the text for the subtitle, and the fourth line is left blank. The example below demonstrates the appearance of the third subtitle in an SRT file.

3 00:02:20,476 --> 00:02:22,501 Aye aye, Sir!

3 Manual Method

To create subtitle files using voice-recognition software, first dictate your subtitles to a text file using the speech-recognition software. Don’t worry about the time specifications while dictating your titles and captions. Speak the number of the subtitle, then speak the subtitle. Save the text file when finished, then open the file in a text editor. Format each subtitle in the four-line format, then save the text file with the “SRT” file extension.

Use a captioning and subtitling tool with a graphic user interface, such as InqScribe or Viddler Aegisub, to drag and drop the subtitles into the timeline of your video. As you apply the start and stop controls for each subtitle in the timeline, the time specifications are recorded to the SRT file in the proper format and location for each entry.

4 Automated Method

You can use automated subtitling software, such as Screen Systems’ Speech Recognition application, to dictate your subtitles directly into an interface while your video plays. You can then pause the video to modify the subtitle, if necessary. Use the drag and drop Start and Stop controls in the timeline to specify where each subtitle starts and ends.

Randall Blackburn has worked for several Fortune 1000 companies as a technical writer over the past seven years. He has produced a wide variety of technical documentation, including detailed programming specifications and research papers. Randall has also acquired several years' experience writing web content. Randall lives and works in Austin, TX.