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Show HN: Video subtitle maker (kapwing.com)
54 points by justswim on Dec 20, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 30 comments

Hi everyone! I'm Eric, one of the developers behind this. Adding subtitles to videos has been a really hard problem so we wanted to make a simple web tool for it. The other tools online only let you create an srt file or just overlay subtitles. But for content on social media, it's really important to burn the captions directly into the video. So that's what this tool is for! Thanks for checking it out!

> Adding subtitles to videos has been a really hard problem

For whom? When? There are decent applications for this, some of them even free.

I've seen fantastic fansubbing work, with beautifully rendered, animated subtitles; and that was already years ago.

Making basic SRT's is easily accomplished in a rudimentary program like the old Subtitle Workshop by URUSoft: http://subworkshop.sourceforge.net/

(Looks like those guy have been active lately and have some new stuff out: http://www.uruworks.net/index.html )

Burning subs into a video is easily done with a ffmpeg one-liner (using its "libass" renderer or whatever). (Someone nontechnical may need help putting together that oneliner, but after that it's just repetition.) It's generally a bad idea; don't hard sub if you can avoid it and make the video available without the hard subs.

Why is it important to burn the captions in? Can you expand on the social media reasons?

Not OP, but my guess is that videos autoplay on feeds (FB and twitter for example) but without sound. Therefore, burning in the subtitles is kind of a hacky way to engage users.

When Facebook autoplays a video, doesn't it also automatically enable the SRT subtitles?

joshshifman is right. On the Facebook and Instagram mobile apps, where tons of videos are consumed today, videos play without the sound turned on, and there's no way for creators to have the captions show up without burning them directly into the videos. There's a lot of research (https://www.facebook.com/business/news/updated-features-for-...) that shows that subtitled videos perform better for marketers and content creators.

Kudos on building a nifty tool -- I found your subtitle and other editors quite easy to use. Your key differentiator seems to be in bringing together several video editing tools under one web app. What would make it stand apart is if you let users add subtitles, sound effects, resize, etc. in a single workflow.

A few bugs I encountered:

1. The Blog and My Account links in the footer either 404 or do nothing.

2. On the subtitle editor page, I scratched my head a bit trying to figure where to type the subtitle. It'll help if you make the input text field look editable with a blinking cursor, pen icon, etc.

3. When I uploaded a 460x460 video to the subtitle editor, the subtitle options on the left overflowed the webpage and were not scrollable.

4. The command line output log that is displayed when the video is being processed post edit is TMI and could confuse a lay user.

Hope this helps.

For those who might be looking for similar online titling tools, there's also dotSUB (https://dotsub.com/view/). You can use the same timings to translate into other languages. Just FYI [edited to lower snark]

dotSUB is really cool, but it doesn't burn the subtitles directly into the video. This is really important for content creators on social media, because they don't get to control the player through which the video is watched. So this is an important differentiator for Kapwing!

Hi! I really like this!

I've used Aegisub to do dramas and music video translations before.

Which brings me to the inevitable feature request: more colours and stroking the text.

Every subbing job I've been involved in I've used yellow text with a black stroke because it's visible on any light or dark background without issue.

A low res example here: http://www.smh.com.au/content/dam/images/x/w/5/h/image.relat...

Is there a feature to put a semi transparent black rectangle behind the text so that you can read it when the video image is the same colour as the text?

Unfortunately not right now, but we are working on it. You can however change the font color! Thanks for checking it out.

Border colour options would be nice... or just having a preset with yellow text with black borders.

I'm always on the look-out for software that supports right-to-left languages (and Arabic specifically). Sadly, this doesn't. The final rendered video doesn't render Arabic properly. Looks cool, though, thanks for sharing!

Here's a free automated transcript. No typing required.


That needs some pretty heavy proofreading + editing, so there definitely is typing required.

Congratulations on launching!

I've never needed to subtitle a video so I don't really know who your competitors might be but none of the links posted so far in this thread (except for yours) seem to be very easy or intuitive to use.

I love your logo character too!

Wow that's pretty cool! What library did you use for this? Because it would be cool to call out any Open Source projects you used, to give back recognition to the Open Source contributors

Yes, we primarily rely on MoviePy (https://github.com/Zulko/moviepy/) to do the heavy lifting on the actual native video editing part of it. It's an awesome library!

I'd assume `ffmpeg` is doing most of the heavy lifting and possibly some imagemagick/graficsmagick.

Why would I use this over YouTube's transcriber application, which automatically transcribes most of the video and aligns the text to the audio?

Looking at the site, it appears to target other platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where videos are often viewed without sound, and which don't have built-in support for subtitles.

You can export the video from YouTube, just like you can export it from this application.


I'm not going to upload footage to a site to make subs.

There is no shortage of subtitling tools that run locally on your PC and just open the video.

It is hard to do in simple software like iMovie. The timeline UI makes it difficult to enter text and set the timings in an easy way. We like the idea of being able to subtitle a video without having to download any software too.

So yes, there are alternatives, but we believe that our product is much easier to use.

Kudos on launching. BTW is this free? Last I checked it seemed quite CPU intensive to encode/decode long videos.

It's free to use but we add a watermark. It costs $2 to remove the watermark for a single video, $10 for a monthly subscription for unlimited videos without watermarks. But actually you can also remove the watermark for free too. We wrote an interesting post about that here: https://www.kapwing.com/blog/skipping-our-paywall-with-an-ap...

As for the CPU usage - it is quite intensive so we set up a Linode instance dedicated to processing the videos. It costs us $80 a month, but Linode throttles it automatically. That's nice because if a lot of videos are being created, it just means that they get created slower for everyone. But they don't fail.

Would there be a way to download the generated subtitles as a srt as well?

Not quite yet, but we're looking into it. Any reason why you prefer having the .srt file? Is it helpful for uploading to other sites?

No, mainly archival and ability to playback from local media / my hardware player. If I spend hours subtitling something, I want ability to export my hard work.

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