Amara: Adding Captions Using Amara Moodle ISU


Using Amara to add captions to a video helps reduce communication barriers and makes the video more accessible.  

Amara does not host video or audio files. It uses HTML, CSS, and Javascript to overlay subtitles/captions on existing videos that are hosted on an external website (i.e., YouTube, ISU Media server, etc.). Acceptable formats and websites include: Vimeo, Youtube, mp4, WebM, flv, and mp3. The subtitles you create with the use of Amara will be visible to the general public and exposed to search engines.

Utilizing Amara requires you to have an account - it is completely free and takes seconds to set up.

This guide will help you to:

Access Amara

  1. In the address bar of your browser, Type 

Create an Amara Account

  1. On Amara’s homepage, Click Sign in / Sign up (located on the right side of the page).

  1. Scroll down to the Create an Account section.
  2. In the Username text box, Type a username you will be able to remember for easier access to Amara.
  3. In the E-mail address text box, Type in an email you would like associated with Amara.
  1. It is recommended that you use an email account that you have regular access to.
  1. In the Password text box, Type a password that you will be able to remember for easier access to Amara.
  2. In the Password confirmation text box, Retype the password you have chosen for your Amara account.
  3. At the bottom of the page, Click Create Account.

Note: You will be taken to your account homepage.

Link an Existing ISU Gmail Account with Amara

Instead of creating a new account with Amara, you can use an existing Google, Facebook, Twitter, or OpenID, TED, or Udacity account to access Amara.

  1. Log into your ISU Gmail account.
  2. Open a new tab in your browser.
  3. In the address bar of your browser, Type 
  4. Click Sign in/Sign Up.
  5. In the Sign In - Use an existing identity section, Click the Google button.


  1. Once you have logged in using your existing Gmail account, you will be taken to your account homepage and you will see your Gmail address at the top right-hand corner of Amara.

Upload a Video to Caption

Using Amara to caption a video requires uploading the video to the site.

  1. On Amara’s homepage, Click Subtitle Video.


  1. Paste the video’s URL in the text box provided.
  2. Click Begin.

Note: You will be taken to the Subtitle Workspace for the video.  You can share the video or get an embed code for a website.

Caption a Video

  1. In the Contribute section on the left hand side of the screen, Click Add a new language!

  1. In the pop-up, from the This video is in: dropdown menu, Select the language of the original video.
  1. Double check this step - it cannot be undone.
  1.  From the Subtitle into: dropdown menu, Select the language the subtitles will be in the video.
  2. Click Continue.

  1. On the left hand side of the screen, there are Keyboard controls to help guide you through your subtitling experience.
  1. You can Click more commands for more ways to control the video/subtitle.
  2. You can Click Subtitling Guidelines for more tips on how to expertly subtitle your video.


  1. In the middle of the screen is the video and below that, the section to type the subtitles.
  2. Follow along with the video, using the Keyboard controls to manipulate the video/subtitles as you go.
  1. When typing out subtitles, remember that each line should not exceed 42 characters.
  2. An exclamation point will appear on the right hand side of the text box if it contains too many characters or other errors.


  1. To insert a line break, Press the Shift key and Enter key at the same time.
  2. If you miss a word, Press the Shift key and the Tab key to skip back two seconds.
  3. Make sure to include important sounds such as:
  1. “jazz music”

Note: To add music notes: Press ALT + 13 for a quarter note (♪) or ALT +
14 for an eighth note (♫).

  1. “applause”
  2. “water dripping”
  1. Use parentheses to indicate when someone off-screen is speaking.
  2. Avoid including “ahs” and “uhms” and the like.
  3. If you cannot hear the audio well in a certain place, make sure to mark it as [inaudible] in the subtitle.


  1. After you have typed all of the subtitles for the video, on the left hand side of the screen, Click Yes, start syncing.


  1. A timeline will appear directly below the video player with second marks.
  2. The Keyboard controls (on the right side of the screen) tell you which keys will help you place the subtitles you’ve typed.
  1. Tap the Tab key to start playing the video.
  2. Tap the Down arrow key in the directional pad to start the subtitle for that section.
  3. Tap the Up arrow key in the directional pad to stop the subtitle for that section.
  4. If there is a long break in the audio before the next caption should start, press the up arrow to stop that particular sentence; when the audio resumes, press the down arrow to resume the captions.
  5. Continue this process through the whole video.

Note: You can stop at any point during the syncing or captioning and save your work by Clicking Save Draft in the left side of the screen.

capture 1.jpg

  1. Once you have placed the timing for all subtitles, Click Start review on the left hand side of the screen.


  1. Listen to the video and watch as the subtitles pop in and out.
  2. You can adjust the timing of the subtitles by expanding and contracting the subtitle text box on the timeline. To adjust the timing, hover over the caption until you see the two-sided arrow. Grab the two-sided arrow and drag or expand the caption to the correct location.


  1. Once you are satisfied with the subtitle placement, Click Publish on the left hand side of the screen.


  1. You will be taken back to the Subtitle Workspace and you will see on the left hand side of the screen, in the Language section, one new language has been added.


Add Existing Subtitles, Captions, or Transcripts to Videos:

  1. In the Contribute section of the Subtitle Workspace, Click Upload them directly.


  1. In the Upload Subtitles pop-up, from the Language dropdown menu, Select the language of the subtitles.
  2. From the Translated from dropdown menu, if you are captioning a video into a different language other than the one it was created in, Select the language the subtitles were originally created in or let it default to None (Direct from Video).
  3. Click Browse to upload the file containing the already typed subtitles.


Note: Amara only accepts documents that are in SRT, SSA, SBV, DFXP, TXT and VTT format. An untimed text transcript (.txt) must be broken into chunks, with blank lines between the subtitles, for example:

Hello, this is my first line of the subtitle transcript

And here is my second line of the transcript, but it's exceptionally long,

so I actually chunked it up into the second and third lines.

Note: The files must be saved with UTF-8 encoding. Files saved with different encoding may be rejected, or the text may be uploaded and displayed incorrectly.

  1. Check the box for This subtitle file is 100% complete if you are ready to sync it. Otherwise, uncheck the box.
  2. Click Upload in the bottom right of the pop-up screen.


  1. The pop-up box will give you a message: “Thank you for uploading. It may take a minute or so for you subtitles to appear.
  2. Click the X in the top right corner of the pop-up to exit.


  1. In the Subtitle Workspace, in the Language section, Click on the language of your uploaded subtitles.


  1. You will be taken to a page that shows your subtitles. If there is anything that is not synced, Amara will have it listed in the Description section.
  2. If you would like to edit your subtitles, Click Edit Subtitles in the right corner of the Subtitles tab screen.


  1. You will be taken to Amara’s subtitle editor.
  2. To add captions to the video, refer to the Caption a Video section above.

Add a Published Video with Amara Subtitles to Your Course

Once you have published the subtitles for the video, Amara creates an embed code. The embed code allows the Amara tab to appear on the bottom of almost any web-based video player. The embedder enables viewers to access subtitles in any language that is available, improve the subtitles, download them, or view them as a transcript.

To obtain the embed code:

  1. After logging into Amara, Click on your username.
  2. Choose Videos.
  3. Select the video you wish to embed.
  4. On the left-hand side of the video, under Language, Select the language the embedded captions will represent.


  1. Click Get Embed Code.


  1. An embed video window will open.
  2. In the second box, Copy the URL for the video by highlighting it and using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + C.


  1. In the right hand corner of the pop-up, Click the X to close the window.
  2. Open Notepad.
  3. Paste the text below into a new document.

<!DOCTYPE html>



<meta charset="utf-8" />




<p>View video below. Please contact your instructor if you have trouble viewing the video.</p>

<script type="text/javascript" src="">


  {"video_url": "",

  video_config: {

               width: 1024,

               height: 600}}





  1. Replace the video URL used in the sample html code above (highlighted in yellow) with the URL you just copied from Amara.
  2. In the top left hand corner, Click File.
  3. Click Save As.


  1. Choose the location for your file to be stored.
  2. Type a name for the file and end it with .html.
  1. For example: InstructionalVideo.html
  1. From the Save as File type dropdown menu, Select All Files.
  2. In your Moodle course, with editing turned on, Add a file to the section of your course that you wish to place the video (you can always move it later if you need to).
  1. For more information, see Adding a File to Your Course.
  1. Type the name of the video as you wish it to appear in your course.
  2. Type a description for the video.
  3. In Select files, Click Add…
  1. You can also drag and drop the file from your computer to the Content box.
  1. Browse to locate the file.
  2. In the Appearance section, from the Display dropdown menu, Select New window.

To save:

  1. Click Save and return to course to be taken to the course homepage.
  2. Click Save and display to preview the video and make sure it plays correctly.
  3. Click Cancel to delete the video from the course page.

For additional assistance, contact the ITRC - (208) 282-5880 or email

This work was done by Instructional Technology Resource Center at Idaho State University and is licensed under the Creative Commons Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit Attribution Noncommercial 3.0 United States or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.