Japanese YouTube Videos Get Auto Captions

YouTube is announcing the first expansion of its automatic captions system, which can generate captions for videos by analyzing speech, which will now cover Japanese videos. So far, the system only supported English videos.

The move enables users to get a caption for the videos they're watching, even if one is not provided by the publisher, to have a rough idea of what the video is about.

The system is far from perfect, so the tool can't really be relied upon for perfect captions.

It does however make for a great starting point if you want to manually create captions for your videos, it saves you the trouble of timing them and writing some of the easier parts of the conversation.

"Now on any video with a clear Japanese speech track, a red 'CC' button will appear at the bottom of the player, where you can click it to generate automatic captions from the speech. We’re also working closely with the the Japan Federation for the Deaf to improve this technology and make it more useful," Brad Ellis, product manager, YouTube Japan announced.

YouTube introduced automatic captions for videos on its site in late 2009. These enabled users to get a rough version which could later be improved and re-uploaded to the site.

Later, YouTube made the feature available to all of its users for all English-language videos. Automatic captions use Google's speech recognition technology, which is in use in other places like Android voice commands or in Google Translate.

Last year, YouTube also introduced translations for captions, making it possible determine what a video is about even if you don't speak the language.

The translation feature is available for Japanese videos as well, so these videos, provided they have quality captions, could reach a large audience since 50 languages are supported.

"Auto-captions have been generated on nearly 40 million videos, and the number of manually-created caption tracks has more than tripled. We’re eager to see more videos captioned in more languages," YouTube explained.

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