How to Hardcode Subtitles

How to Hardcode Subtitles

Wondering how to permanently add subtitles into your video? Admittedly, going the extra mile and adding permanent, burned-in, or technically speaking, hardcoded subtitles to your video can benefit your brand significantly.

Because those subtitles are permanently linked into the video file and can’t be removed directly, your viewers can see them irrespective of the video host or the player they use. Naturally, this helps you drive more eyeballs and better engagement to your videos. 

So, in this post, let’s show you how to hardcode subtitles into your video.

We’ll cover the following:

  • What are hardcoded subtitles and why do they matter?
  • How to hardcode subtitles with VLC media player
  • How to hardcode subtitles online with VEED

Let’s roll:

What are hardcoded subtitles and why do they matter

A hardcoded subtitle is a caption or line of text that transcribes what the video says, playing without relying on subtitle plugins or uploading an SRT file.

What is an SRT file?

Files with .SRT or SubRip Subtitle file are plain video text files that contain a video’s subtitle information such as the sequential subtitles and time codes of the text so they match the audio. Here’s more on how to create a SRT file for your videos.

Unlike closed captions, these captions are burned into or merged with video images so no one can remove them once you’ve added them.

Typically, viewers can turn video captions on and off, depending on how comfortable they are with the text running at the bottom of their screens.

However, that’s not a luxury they can afford if they’re watching video content on platforms like Instagram, TikTok, or Snapchat. Those platforms don’t accept SRT files so viewers have to do without captions. Take Snapchat, for instance, it has no caption feature at all. 

The other two networks are slowly rolling it out. For example, with Instagram Stories, you’ve the option to add closed caption stickers. IGTV, on the other hand, auto-generates captions. As for TikTok, you get automated closed captions, but there’s no option to add subtitles in live video. 

But here’s the thing: expect weird interpretations with auto-generated subtitles that you can’t edit — not the text nor its placement. Sure you can change spelling in TikTok captions, but that’s as far as it goes. Meaning: you can’t change their placement or style. 

With Instagram Stories, you can customize the closed caption stickers — choosing from a few font and color options. But that’s all. 

All this is sad news for content creators.

Because 83% watch videos with the sound turned off. A higher number, 92%, view videos with sound off on their mobile device. To top that, 70% of folks watch videos on mute in public. 25% do the same in a private setting.

Translation: your videos won’t be able to garner as much engagement as they deserve if there are no subtitles. In fact, one of the reports shared above went on to recommend captioning videos as that makes 80% of consumers likely to watch the full video.

In this context, adding hardcoded subtitles that don’t require any SRT file or subtitle plugin to run are the best solution. They’re the tattoo to your videos – permanently inked into the file so there’s no worrying whether your audience might not be able to opt in to them. Bullseye!

So why does adding subtitles matter? 

Briefly, hardcoded subtitling videos helps you improve viewers’ experience and grow your engagement. 

Here’s a breakdown of the major benefits of adding captions to your videos:

  • Subtitles play for everyone regardless of their player settings. Whether your audience is on YouTube or TikTok, they can enjoy captioned videos without having to try and enable captions (and getting disappointed if they’re on Tiktok or IG).
  • Better video engagement. Since platforms like Instagram don’t allow you to upload SRT files with your video, you can get more eyeballs to your videos using hardcode subtitles as more people view it and watch time increases. With the increased watch time and user interaction with your video, your content is likely going to get more exposure. Chances of getting comments on it also increase as more people can understand what you’ve covered. 
  • Perfect sync between video and subtitles. With SRT files, media players have to decode and encode subtitles as they play the video. Any delay in managing the two means viewers are greeted with videos with poorly synced subtitles and the rest of the content. And here’s the kicker: some players, desktop, and websites are incompatible with softcode subtitles or don’t show the correct subtitles.

In contrast, hardcoded subtitles come with no extra baggage like requiring a plugin, player or SRT file to play. Meaning: the audio plays in tandem with the video, delivering your story perfectly to your viewers.

  • Great video accessibility and wider audience. With hardcode subtitles in place, differently abled folks like those with ADHD, autism, and hearing impairment can enjoy your video content – regardless of the player and video host.

For online educators using social to share their message, there’s more reason to rejoice. Why? Because captions can improve information retention and focus for people with ADHD and Autism.

People who don’t have any trouble with hearing or focus also tend to use captions for learning. So hardcode subtitling is a definite win-win!

Pro tip: Translate your videos using VEED’s automatic video translator. This way, you overcome language barriers too – boosting engagement with your content further.

 

How to hardcode subtitles with VLC media player

You now know that hardcoding subtitles comes with too many perks to ignore. So let’s get you started with adding burned-in subtitles to your video.

On a side note, if you prefer learning by watching, here’s a video walkthrough of how to hardcode subtitles into a video:

  

Using a VLC media player for this job is ideal for folks who are looking to add hardcode subtitles once in a while. Say, you are a creator who doesn’t focus much on video content.

If you’re a creator or social media marketer who lives and breathes video content though, feel free to skip this section and jump straight to adding hardcode subtitles the easy and fast way.

Now, for adding hardcoding subtitles with VLC.

What is VLC?

Developed by VideoLAN project, VLC is a free, cross-platform media player. It’s available for use on desktop and mobile platforms including Android, Windows, and iOS.

You'll need the following: 

  • Your masterpiece – the video
  • The SRT file containing video’s subtitles
  • The VLC player itself. Download and install on your computer for free from their website.

 🚫Heads-up: Make sure your SRT file is the correct one. If it’s wrong and you end up adding the subtitles, you’ll have to restart the subtitling process from scratch to add the correct subs.

To add the subtitles, follow these steps:

 

1. Open VLC media player

Open the VLC media player. There’s no point selecting your video and opening it using the “open with VLC” option since you’ll be selecting the video in the next step anyway. 

2. Add your video within the stream menu

Hover over the media tab and click on Stream. Alternatively, use the shortcut CTRL+S and the Stream menu will open up. 

Now, click the Add button to select the video file you want to burn the subtitles into.

3. Select the subtitles you want to hardcode

After you’ve added your video, tick the Use a subtitle file box and click Browse to find and import your SRT file. 

 

At the bottom of this window, click on the Stream button. Once done, you'll see the next page. Here, confirm the video source by clicking Next in the bottom right.

4. Add stream output file destination

Next you need to create the output location for your new video file. To do so, select File in the dropdown menu and tap the Add button next to it. 

 

Now, a File tab will open up and you’ll have to name that file whatever you want to call it. Don’t forget to make sure you add the “.mp4” extension to the end of your filename. 

 

Done? click on Next.

5. Activate transcoding subtitles option

In the transcoding options section, make sure you tick the Activate Transcoding box. Then click on the spanner icon next to the dropdown menu.

 

This will show a new window pop up. Here, under the subtitles tab, make sure that you tick the Subtitles and the Overlay subtitles on the video boxes.

 

Click Save, followed by Next. 

6. Save new hardcoded subtitles video from stream

On the last page, the only thing you need to do is click the Stream button in the bottom right of the window.

The video will then playback once all the way through and then a second time the playhead will move once again from start to finish in the timeline. It’s important that you let VLC finish transcoding your file. 

Don’t close VLC Media Player during this process.

7. Quit VLC media player the correct way

After the player finishes transcoding, all that’s left to do is quitting the player the right way. Closing VLC by selecting the cross on the window fails to save videos properly. 

So a good way to ensure everything is thoroughly saved: hover over Media in the top bar menu and then select Quit

 

That’s it. You’re done.


How to hardcode subtitles online with VEED

Hardcoded subtitles with VLC won’t cut it if you’re an online educator, marketer, social media manager, content creator or just anyone who deals with a lot of video content. 

Instead, you need a faster solution for adding burned-in subtitles that’s also easy to use. An online solution like VEED offers all this and more. In fact, not only does the software make it uber simple to automatically add subtitles, but it makes editing and resizing videos a child’s play.

Here’s just a glimpse of all the ways you can make a top-notch video with VEED – all while using only your email to log in to the tool. 

  • Record your video with the webcam recorder
  • Upload and edit your SRT files 
  • Translate your subtitles
  • Add music (not just subtitles to your video)
  • Resize and repurpose video for all major social platforms by using the canvas resize feature
  • Add filters and effects to your clips for a branded video experience
  • Add an audio visualizer to your music or podcast video content

As for hardcoding subtitles with VEED, you’ll need: 

  • Your video 
  • VEED (sign up is free 🎉)

On the plus side, you don’t even need an SRT file to get the ball rolling. VEED can do that for you. Now, for hardcoding subtitles in 3 easy steps (plus a bonus step to customize subtitles):

 

1. Upload your video to Veed

Head to www.veed.io and upload your video. You can upload any popular video file such as .MP4 .MOV .AVI.

You’ve the options to upload your videos from:

  • Camera
  • Dropbox
  • Personal folder
  • Device (phone, tablet, laptop or desktop)

The cherry on top: upload from YouTube directly using just the video link (URL).

 

2. Add or create subtitles

After you upload your video, you’ll find yourself in VEED’s project editor.

Click on the Subtitles tab in the editor’s left toolbar. You’ll get three options here: 

  • Automatically add subtitles to your video
  • Manually add subtitles to your video
  • Upload an SRT file for tracing video’s subtitles

Select whatever suits you. 

In case you don’t have an SRT file ready, select the first option. This will lead you to VED’s Auto-Subtitle feature that uses AI to automagically generate captions for your content. It then renders them permanently into the video or you can download the subtitles as a separate file (SRT, VTT, TXT, etc.).

 

3. Style your subtitles

You’re almost done now.

Except, as an online native, you know how important it is to create accessible, on-brand subtitles. And that’s something VEED offers you. Simply customize your subtitles before burning them into your video.

For this, click on Styles in the subtitles editor, play with your font, font size, color, text position, line and letter spacing, and more. You can also add branded or custom fonts if you prefer. 

Pro tip: Brand your subtitles by choosing a font color and type that’s part of your visual brand identity. But, make sure, there’s a balance between readability and aesthetics.  

 

4. Download your video with hardcoded subtitles

Once you’re done styling your subtitles, click the download button. With this, your video will start to render with the subtitles layered on top.

And you’re done. It’s 👏 that 👏  simple 👏

 

Best practices to format your hardcoded subtitles

Before we wrap this, it’s important we leave you with some tips to create legible subtitles. 

Essentially, it’s better to add no subtitles instead of adding subtitles that are challenging to read. Tall claim, yes. But it makes sense since unreadable subtitles are useless, serving only as a disruption that requires viewers to squint to understand what’s written. 

So how do you go about customizing subtitles to make them readable? Correct the following elements that often contribute to inaccessible subtitles:

Pick an easy to read font
Avoid selecting whimsical decorative fonts that are hard to read (this includes fancy, cursive fonts). Here’s a complete guide to choosing readable subtitle fonts.

Quick gist: Verdana, Lato, Times New Roman, Open Sans, and Times are some free easy to read fonts. However, they might not be able to capture your brand personality like the way a paid font does. And there’s more: each font is best suited for a purpose. For example, Verdana is ideal for small text.

Select an easy to understand color contrast
Make sure the color of your subtitle text doesn’t blend in with your video’s background color. Use high contrast colors so viewers don’t have to strain to understand the text. Use this resource on Web Aim to check contrast.

And, if you’re still in doubt, add solid background to your captions so they’re easy to read.

Luckily, VEED helps you do this too so you can add your subtitles, customize them, and make them readable with a background – all in one tool. That’s like having your cake and eating it too. 😄 The best bargain, isn’t it?

 

A few more dos for captioning:

✔ Always zoom out of the video to preview subtitles in the video’s original size. This way, you can adjust font size to make it legible for the post format.

✔ Pace your captions for readability so that viewers have the time to read and the text moves in tandem with the on-screen action.

✔ Format video for destination. This way, subtitles won’t get cropped out and won’t occupy the important parts in your content.

 

And, don’ts for captioning:

❌ Avoid adding subtitle text on the far left and right edges to save it from getting cropped out by the video host destination.

❌ Avoid squishing together letters in the text. Use VEED to adjust letter and line spacing for an optimal viewer experience.

❌ Avoid capitalization. Title case disrupts the viewing experience so sticking with the sentence format is a better idea.

 

Ready to add hardcode subtitles to your videos?

And that’s a wrap, folks. To recap, you need burned-in subtitles for better video engagement, particularly, if you’re using social media to market your content. Your audience will love you for this extra step. And, luckily, subtitling videos isn’t hard – thanks to VEED. So sign up for free and start subtitling videos today.

How to Hardcode Subtitles

Masooma Memon

Hi, I'm Masooma. I create research-backed, engaging long-form content. I write value-packed blog posts for app companies that aim to employ quality content to educate and engage with their audience.