Creating Audio Annotations for Videos Using QuickTime 7 Pro
Making videos accessible to the blind and for those with vision impairments requires you to add audio descriptions describing what is going on in the video. Think of it as a narrator describing the action on a radio soap opera. This tutorial will show you how to easily add a second sound track to your video so it can be annotated. Best practices for creating annotations is beyond the scope of this tutorial. This will just cover the technical process.
We’re going to use both QuickTime 7 Pro and QuickTime X in this tutorial. We’ll be playing the movie in QuickTime X while we record our new sound track in QuickTime 7 Pro. You will also need to have headphones (to listen to the movie) and a microphone (to record your new sound track) connected to your computer. It is also helpful to type up a script of what you want to say while the movie plays and include the approximate timecode when you’d want to say it.
QuickTime movies generally have only one Video Track and one Sound Track. We will add a second sound track, then combine both sound tracks into one for greater compatibility.
This tutorial will be showing how to use one recorded sound track of annotations that syncs with the video, so it’s the same length as the video. Instead of recording one long audio track, you can also do this by recording separate audio movies for each annotation and then pasting them in where they need to go. The process is pretty much the same.
(Click each screenshot below for a more detailed view).
Open your movie in QuickTime X, then open QuickTime 7 Pro and go under the File menu and choose New Audio Recording.
Go to the Preferences window in QuickTime 7 and select the Recording tab. Set the Microphone pulldown to use your microphone (so it won’t record the movie’s audio playing in QuickTime X).
Close the Preferences window and we’re ready to start. To get the timing right you’ll need to click the red record button in QuickTime 7’s Audio Recording window, then quickly click the Play button in QuickTime X to start the movie playing. You should hear the movie playing in your headphones while you record the audio annotation into your microphone.
Begin reading your script at the appropriate times during the movie. It’s helpful if you can try to avoid times where there is dialogue, but sometimes that can’t be helped. After you’re done recording, click the black Stop square on the Audio Recording window in QuickTime 7. You can close the movie in QuickTime X now. You’re done with QuickTime X. In QuickTime 7, go to the Edit menu and choose Select All, then choose Copy. You can close your Audio recording now.
Instead choose Add to Movie.
If you are going to record separate audio tracks for each annotation, you won’t need to worry about playing the movie at the same time as you record. You can simply go through the movie and mark down the timecodes where you want to put each annotation and make a script of what you want to say for each. Do an audio recording for each annotation. Then open each annotation movie, copy it, close it, go to your target movie and move the playhead to the timecode you marked down for that annotation. Then just go to the Edit menu and select Add to Movie. Repeat this process for each annotation that you recorded.
You should now have 2 Sound Tracks in your movie (or multiple ones if you recorded and added each annotation separately). if you view the Movie Properties window.
For greater compatibility we’re going to combine the 2 Sound Tracks into one as sometimes a second Sound Track can be ignored or left behind when uploaded to a site. To do this we’re going to Export as a new movie. Note that just doing a Save As will not work. It will still have 2 Sound Tracks if you do that. Using Export will combine the 2 tracks into one. So, go to the File menu and choose Export,
choose Movie to QuickTime Movie as the export option, then click the Options button next to it.
Make sure Video is checked and click the Settings button to set your video encoding. I’ve chosen H.264 and set the quality to 80% on the slider that will appear on the Settings window. Make sure Sound is checked and here I’ve chosen AAC, a good choice for the audio compression. Click OK then give your movie a new name (so as not to confuse it with the original movie) and click Save. It will then begin exporting your new movie with the annotations.
Once it’s done exporting you can close your original movie (no need to save it unless you want to), then open your newly exported movie in QuickTime 7 Pro. If you go to the Movie Properties window, you’ll see that you now only have one Sound Track, but both the original video sound track and your annotated track are combined and will play together.
That’s it! Hope this little tutorial has helped you make your video accessible to those who can’t view it.