Remote Teaching & Learning

Computing & Information Services

Using Amara to caption in Ensemble

Amara is the captioning service that is used in conjunction with Ensemble. Before creating captions in Amara, review the captioning guidelines.

Amara shortcuts

Three main shortcut keys are at the top left of the screen. Below are those three plus two more useful shortcuts. 

  • Tab: pause/play
  • Shift+Tab: move backward 2 seconds
  • Ctrl+Shift: move forward 4 seconds
  • Enter: move to the next caption
  • Shift+Enter: insert a line break within the caption

To see more shortcut keys, click the “more commands” link to the right of the Keyboard controls title:

Note that formatting in Amara is limited:

  • Cannot change the font (typeface or size)
  • Cannot italicize text
  • Cannot move the location of a caption
  • Cannot display more than one caption at a time

Three steps of captioning with Amara

There are three steps to captioning media with Amara:

  1. Type what you hear
  2. Sync timing
  3. Review and complete

The following video provides a quick overview of the steps, and the text below provides additional in-depth explanation.


Step 1: type what you hear

  1. Click on the yellow box that reads “Type a subtitle and press Enter”.
  2. Each line cannot exceed 42 characters, including spacing and punctuation. Amara will warn you if you are exceeding the limit by turning the character count red.
  3. Use Shift+Enter to create a new line within one caption (Note: Each caption can only have two lines.)
  4. To move forward or backward in the video more 2 seconds:
    1. click and drag on the black timeline, or
    2. click around the video's progress bar
  5. Click the “Yes, Start Syncing button” on the top right of the page when you have finished.

Step 2: sync timing

  1. Play the video to begin syncing.
  2. Press the down arrow key on your keyboard to mark the beginning of a caption; press the up arrow key to mark the end of a caption.
  3. If the timeline/syncing is not behaving as you expect ("glitchy"), click Save Draft in the top right corner of the screen and then refresh the page.
  4. Once you've finished syncing, click the Start Review button.

Step 3: review and complete

  1. Play the video to begin reviewing
  2. Move the captions as needed so that the caption matches with the start and end of the audio
  3. If the text is too long for the length of time appropriate, Amara will give you a warning. If necessary, edit out unnecessary information while keeping the entire meaning of the caption (follow these rules from the Captioning Key).
  4. Once you've gone through the whole video, scroll through all of your captions to make sure Amara hasn't found any errors, notified by a small red exclamation point (!) at the bottom right of a caption.
  5. Once you've completed the review, rewatch it to make sure everything matches up perfectly.
  6. Click the Publish button and your video is captioned; captioning is indicated by the “CC” icon overlaid on the video icon in the ensemble library.