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I have been experimenting a bit with making Latin sub-titles for very short little videos called Simon's Cat.  Simon's Cat has been around for years and are distributed via Facebook, YouTube, etc.  Perhaps you are familiar with them.

I had seen a demonstration last fall of using a Simon's Cat video with what at first I thought were Latin subtitles.  Actually, the individual had two programs open at the same time and had the text in one and the video playing in the other. Once I saw that, I thought that there had to be a relatively easy way to actually add subtitles. Enter Windows Movie Maker.

Windows Movie Maker was a program already on my school laptop. It's pretty straight forward and intuitive to use and I highly recommend everyone take a little time over winter break to play around with it. There are lots of short videos on the internet these days that would be easy enough to use in a Latin classroom (or any foreign language classroom).

So, first find the video you want on YouTube. Copy the URL and then paste it into (a handy website):


You will see a thumbnail of your video above your choices of video quality. Choose the highest format (first option).

Next you need to open Windows Movie Maker (WMM). You wil see a button on the toolbar for importing the video. Click, import, and save.

Because I'm a total nerd regarding using macrons with Latin, I like to open a Word document next to WMM so I can type my Latin subtitles with macrons (I have key combinations scripted so I can easily include them). I then begin to watch the video, pausing every few seconds to think up and type a new caption:


As you can see from this image, WMM is open on the left and Word on the right. In the WMM window, you have a split screen with the video on the left and what are, I guess, movie segments or chunks on the right. There is a black bar that shows you where you are in the film. This right part of the screen will be important later.

Once you have your text typed up, you are ready to begin adding it in as subtitles or captions.


In the picture above in the menu bar you can see where "Captions" is highlighted. When you click that button, a textbox appears on the screen where you can paste in your Latin text.


The default for the text is white.  I immediately change it to blue and bold. I then add a couple of other effects. Of the four large bluish buttons in the menu bar, I just the second, which sets the text to fade in. On the right end of the menu bar I choose an outline size (narrow) and outline color (white). This helps to set off the text from any black lines in the animation that the text might sit upon.

You can move the text block around on the picture; I like to center mine at the bottom though I have put text at the top before too. In the middle of the menu bar you can see a "Text Duration" setting. Its default is 7.00 (seconds). I usually reset it to 3 or 4 seconds and adjust it as needed once replay the section I'm trying to add subtitles. On the right side of the screen you can now see little pink boxes under the video "chunks". These are showing where the text is lining up. You can move these around in order to start a subtitle sooner or later in the video.

You can NOT have multiple text windows or captions on the screen. I'm sure you'd need more sophisticated software for that. But for what this software does, it does simply and efficiently.

It does take some time to do a video.  Start with something short--no more than 2 minutes.  Type up your Latin with macrons in a Word doc and paste it in. You do have to play and replay and replay to make sure you are getting the timing just right for the appearance of your subtitles. And, admittedly, there often truly isn't enough time to even read the subtitles, so keep them simple. Your "Movie Talk" discussions in the Latin in class can utilize more sophisticated Latin. For instance, you can change tenses, turn things into ablative absolutes, or create indirect statements. Just because the subtitles are simple doesn't mean your discussion has to be. But let it start simply and comfortably and work up.

When you have finished, you have to use the "Save Movie" button in the main menu (see Illustration 2 or 3) and then save in a high definition format. From here you can upload it to YouTube (you'll have to make a channel) and share with others.

I am VERY careful not to edit the video in any way. I am respectful of the copyright and do not intend to infringe upon it.  I have tried to contact the Simon's Cat people via email through their website to get their blessing for adding Latin subtitles but have received no reply.

This was my third Simon's Cat video. I know I am not personally using these to their full potential yet, though I did do a "Movie Talk" using "Snow Cat."  (This one was "Snow Business.")

This is the final result... but it may be blocked???

Enjoy, if you can.

Copyright infringement?

Date: 2015-12-21 01:17 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Apparently I got my reply regarding use. Instead of a blessing for educators to use the videos have instead been flagged and blocked. I am very sorry that I cannot share this resource openly with other teachers. I felt I was promoting their videos in another language, not infringing on copyright. But I respect this even if I do not like it.