You read that correctly – in the latest release of Articulate 360, Storyline supports standard captioning and subtitling formats, for both audio and video files. This is a game-changer for e-Learning translation & localization, affecting everything from course development to translation workflows. At JBI, we’re very excited about this.
This post will look at why this added functionality is so exciting for e-Learning localization.
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A brief history of captioning & subtitling in Storyline
Until now, Articulate Storyline hasn’t supported any of the traditional workflows for captioning or subtitling. That meant that captioning any Storyline courses required a work-around that was more time-consuming than producing captions or subs using a dedicated program like MacCaption. If you want to see just how time-consuming this process was, check out our previous post, Captions & Subtitles in Articulate Storyline.
The ideal was for Storyline to be able to integrate the standard subs deliverable files used in video translation – like SRT, the format used on YouTube and Vimeo – into its courses. And this is exactly what they did. Not just for videos, mind you. They implemented captions support for any audio files embedded in the course as well.
But really, why is this a big deal?
For two main reasons:
- Subtitling is now a cost-effective e-Learning translation option. It’s hard to overstate how time-consuming it is to implement in-course subs – an e-Learning localization engineer had to create timed text captions boxes in each timeline, insert the voice-over script text into them, and then time each one manually. Because this process was so time-consuming, foreign-language voice-over has generally been a more cost-effective localization option for Storyline projects.
- Captioning for the deaf and hearing-impaired is crucial to comply with accessibility regulations. These new features mean that courses can be made accessible much more cost-effectively.
In fact, it’s very possible that reason #2 is driving these new features, especially as the FCC comes to mandate more accessibility requirements for multimedia and online video.
So what do the captions look like?
We did two tests of the feature.
First, we added a video to a slide, and uploaded its corresponding captions in SRT format. When we previewed the slide, a captions icon had appeared in the buttons panel – clicking it toggled on the captions, as you can see in the following screen shot (captions button is highlighted yellow):
Second, we inserted an MP3 file to a slide timeline, as well as its corresponding captions (again, in SRT format). Upon preview, the slide behaved in the same way – we clicked on the captions button and they toggled on, as you can see in the screenshot:
It’s as simple as that. We’ve yet to test whether multiple elements in a slide timeline can have captions enabled (for example, in slides that have both audio and embedded videos), but just being able to upload captions and subs files directly into the program is a huge step forward.
Despite how good the news is, there are a few things to keep in mind for localization:
- You still need a complete subs workflow. Remember that captioning and subtitling don’t happen by themselves. Nor has Storyline added a feature that can be used to create them. E-Learning localization projects that decide to subtitle still need to go through the full process, from transcription and time-coding, to integration and QA. JBI can help set this up for you.
- Subtitles are not a good alternative for many courses. Likewise, it’s good to remember that subs won’t necessarily be a good option for all e-Learning courses, especially ones that have a lot of on-screen text, in particular if it mirrors the audio. These courses still benefit from voice-over translation services.
OK, now go ahead – celebrate
Even with the above caveats, this is big. It makes course accessibility much more cost-effective, and it makes subs a real localization option for the e-Learning translation. And of course, it means that e-Learning multimedia courses can reach many more users, both in the United States and around the world.