Did you know you can add captions and subtitles to your project timeline in Final Cut Pro? Well, it’s a game-changer for any filmmaker, television producer, or even online video maker. Why? Because it allows you to import closed captions and foreign language subtitles right into your project where you can edit and prepare them for distribution.

Editing captions and subtitles in your video editor vs just ordering them after you’ve exported can present a lot of advantages:

  • Embed captions directly in the media file to be ready for broadcast
  • Edit the look, feel, and timing of your captions within the editor
  • Create burn-in open captions easily vs. typing in titles by hand

What captions formats can I use in Final Cut Pro?

Final Cut Pro supports the following industry-standard caption formats:

  • CEA-608 (SCC): A caption standard for broadcasts and web video.
  • ITT (iTunes Timed Text): A format for delivering caption content to the iTunes Store.
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It’s always a best practice to check with your distributor to find out what captions format they support the captions file format you use in Final Cut Pro.

How do I get SCC or ITT caption files?

You can get captions and foreign subtitles in both SCC and ITT formats with Rev for your videos, films, and other media projects.

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Adding Closed-Captions in Final Cut Pro

Once you have your captions file ready, you can import the captions directly into Final Cut Pro. We’ve outlined the main steps to add captions to Final Cut Pro from Apple’s full captions workflow guide.

1. Import Captions File

  • Determine the caption format you’ll be using in Final Cut (SCC or ITT).
  • Create caption roles and set what format your captions file will be.
  • Then, import captions into the project timeline.
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2. Edit your Captions

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Pro Tip: When formatting your captions, you can add multiple text fields when using CEA-608 caption files.

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Adding Foreign Subtitles in Final Cut Pro

Adding foreign language subtitle tracks is essentially the same workflow as adding a closed captions file, but this time using your foreign language captions file(s).

1. Import Subtitles File

  • Determine the caption format you’ll be using in Final Cut (SCC or ITT).
  • Create caption subroles for each language and set what format your captions file will be.
  • Then, import captions into the project timeline.
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2. Edit your Subtitles

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3. Repeat for Every Additional Language

  • Create subtitle tracks for every additional language
  • Duplicate your first set of English captions or subtitles
  • Repeat steps 1 and 2 with your foreign language captions files (subtitles)
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Exporting Captions and Subtitles in Final Cut

Before you export captions in Final Cut Pro, you’ll want to determine how you want to deliver them with your media file.

Export Captions As a Separate File

You can export captions as separate “sidecar” files, which might be required for your delivery of the media files.

You can export your captions as separate files from the File menu.

Export Captions Embedded in the Media File

If your captions are in the CEA-608 format, you can embed them directly into the media file. This delivery method is generally the best for broadcast TV, DVDs, and DVR content.

Export Open Captions As Burn-In Titles

If you want your captions to always appear on the video (not able to switch off), then you can choose to export the captions as open captions, or titles. Open captions will burn-in on the actual video image itself so the captions will always be visible.

Your Captions Workflow in Final Cut Pro

With Final Cut Pro X’s latest advanced captioning system, Apple has created a very useful captioning tool that is on-par with professional editing systems and is broadcast-ready. As captions and subtitles become increasingly more demanded and required, Final Cut Pro offers some great tools for editors to ensure their video content is ADA compliant, accessible, and able to easily reach more international audiences.

Save time and money on your caption and subtitling workflow with Rev. Instead of hand-typing all your caption dialogue (and hours to format it perfectly), why not just order captions for $1 a minute? Your time is worth more than that. Use that time for more projects, editing, marketing, or distributing your content. You’re welcome.