Playing TEDTalks with subtitles offline

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TEDTalks at TED.com can be watched with subtitles in the online player. However, sometimes you may wish to play a TEDTalk offline, saved for later viewing in a location with no Internet access. TEDTalks are also played at TEDx events. There are a few ways of getting these downloaded videos to play with translated or original-language subtitles offline.

Contents

Downloading a talk with subtitles embedded

Almost all talks hosted at TED.com (with the exception of some TEDx talks) can be downloaded as mp4 video files that can be played offline. The video can also be downloaded with subtitles embedded or "hardcoded". This means that the subtitles will be integrated as part of the video - there is no way to switch them off while watching. Follow these steps to download a talk from TED.com with hardcoded subtitles:

  1. Go to the talk's page at TED.com
  2. Click "Download" below the video
  3. In the window that has popped up, select the subtitle language from the drop-down list under "Subtitles:"
  4. Select the video resolution ("High-res" is recommended if you want the subtitles to be clearer)
  5. Right-click the "Download" link at the bottom and select the download option (wording may differ by browser)

Disadvantages of watching a talk with embedded subtitles

Downloading the talk with the subtitles embedded is by far the most convenient way of obtaining a TEDTalk that can be played offline with subtitles. However, there are some disadvantages:

Obtaining non-embedded subtitles to play offline

In order to play the a video downloaded from TED.com with non-embedded subtitles, you need to obtain a file containing the subtitles. The subtitle file contains the text of the subtitles and the time codes that tell the player when to display the subtitles. The most commonly used subtitle format is SubRip. SubRip subtitle files have the extension .srt. Some software video players may require subtitles in a different format. You can obtain subtitles for TED talks in a number of formats directly, or use a subtitle conversion tool to change the format into one not included in the subtitle repository.

In order to download the subtitle file for a talk, follow these steps:

  1. Go to http://www.amara.org/en/teams/ted/
  2. Search for a talk (you can find the talk's title at TED.com)
  3. Click the talk's thumbnail to go to the video page
  4. Choose a language from the left sidebar (note that this includes original-language subtitles for the Deaf and hard of hearing)
  5. Use the "Download" drop-down menu (click the "Download" button) to select the format you would like to download (in most cases, your player will use SRT, the first one in the list)

How to adjust the timing to play subtitles downloaded from Amara

Subtitle files for TEDTalks can be downloaded from a third-party website called Amara, which provides the system used to translate and review subtitles in TED's Open Translation Project. Any available translated subtitles can be downloaded from Amara, not only subtitles in the languages available for embedding at TED.com for a given talk. However, the subtitles downloaded from that website cannot be used with a video downloaded from TED.com immediately. The TEDTalks videos hosted in Amara do not contain the intro that precedes the talks you can download from TED.com. In other words, the subtitles you download from Amara begin displaying immediately when the video starts, while the TEDTalk downloaded from TED.com starts with an intro, so when you play the talk, the subtitles should start to show up only after the intro.

There are 2 ways to solve this issue:

Download the video from Amara without the intro

To solve this issue, if you intend to play the TEDTalk offline with subtitles downloaded from Amara, right-click on the video in the player on Amara.com and select "Save Video As..." The video you will receive will not include the intro, but you can play it with the subtitles right away (assuming that you have set up your offline player to use subtitles; usually, it should be enough to rename the subtitle file so that the name is the same as the video file).

Download the video from TED.com with the intro and adjust the subtitles

To adjust the timing of the subtitles quickly by yourself, follow these steps:

  1. Watch the talk to see how long the intro and sponsor message are displayed for before the talk begins. This is very often 16 seconds, but some talks vary. Make sure to note down the exact number - this is the value by which you will "push" the subtitles forward, to have them start displaying at the beginning of the talk.
  2. The .srt file that you downloaded from Amara is actually a plain text file. Open it in a plain text editor like Notepad, select all the text (Cmd/Ctrl-A) and copy it.
  3. Go to http://www.subsedit.com/simple. Click in the "Paste here the srt subtitles" box, select all the sample text (Cmd/Ctrl-A) and paste the subtitles you just copied from your .srt file.
  4. Using the interface on the right, enter the number of seconds to delay the subtitles by. This is the value you learned by watching the talk and noting down when the intro and sponsor message stopped. Afterwards, click "Simple Delay."
  5. Click in the box on the left, select all text (Cmd/Ctrl-A) and copy it.
  6. Go back to the .srt file you opened in Notepad (or equivalent). Select all text and paste in the new, delayed subtitles. Save the file.

The interface featured at Subs Edit is one of many online and offline tools that can be used to adjust the timing of the subtitles. This feature is even part of some video players, like the cross-platform VideoLAN media player. Subtitling applications, used to create and translate transcripts, also offer this functionality. A list of these tools for various platforms can be found in the article on subtitling offline.

Playing a TEDTalk with non-embedded subtitles offline

Begin by downloading the talk from TED.com, this time without subtitles ("Subtitles: Off"). Any resolution can be used. You can play a TEDTalk with the subtitles downloaded from Amara in any video/media player application on your system that supports subtitles. There are many players to choose from, including a great number of completely free solutions. Any player will offer a way to open the video file downloaded from TED.com and then open the subtitle file downloaded from Amara (adjusted for timing) or obtained from TED, if you are a TEDx licensee. Depending on the player, changing the name of the subtitle file to be exactly like the name of the video file (without changing the file extension) may make the process more convenient - some players will open the subtitles automatically if the subtitle file name is the same as the video file name. Otherwise, the subtitle file may need to be opened every time a new TEDTalk video is opened in the player. To change the subtitle name easily, click the video file, choose the "Rename" option in your system (e.g. by right-clicking the file), select the text of the video file's name, copy it, and then paste it as the name of the subtitle file, while being careful not to change the file extension. Additional display options (e.g. resizing the subtitle text of changing the font) may be available in some players, and will probably be described in the Manual/Help file for the given application.

Choosing the software player

The choice of the software video player depends on the platform (operating system). Find out beforehand whether the player supports videos with subtitles in one of the formats available at Amara and whether it provides any additional functionality that you need (e.g. using video playlists). In most cases, in order to activate subtitle playback, it's enough to rename the subtitle file so that its name is exactly the same as the name of the video, then run the video in your player. In some players, you will additionally need to access viewing/display options and switch on the subtitles, or go into the application's preferences and enable automatic subtitle display.

There are many other free software video player choices for all operating systems, including apps for mobile devices. Some suggestions:

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