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Would Amara be interested in adding support for YouTube subtitle styling?

Subtitles on YouTube videos can use a YouTube-specific format called "SRV3". This format offers a wide range of styling features such as text color, background color, fonts, positioning, shadows, outlines and even ruby text. Using these features has a number of advantages:

- In videos where multiple people talk over each other, color-coded subtitles make it easier to tell who is saying what.

- In videos containing foreign-language signs, subtitles that translate those signs can be positioned right beside them, which is more intuitive for viewers than a bunch of "Sign in top left: ..." subtitles at the bottom.

- Song videos can have karaoke subtitles, allowing viewers to sing along.

- Styled subtitles are generally just prettier and more fun to watch (and create!)

SRV3-based subtitles are currently mostly seen in the Virtual YouTuber sphere. Here are some examples from two popular groups (English subtitles for Japanese videos):

Uploading such subtitles to other channels used to be easy with YouTube's community captioning system. As you know, however, this system was discontinued last year.

For plain subtitles, we thankfully have Amara with its YouTube integration, making it possible for creators to easily accept community contributions even now. For styled subtitles, however, captionists now have to ask the channel owner to upload the subtitles on their behalf. And channel owners may be slow to respond, may forget your request, or may simply not feel like manually uploading subtitles for 50 past videos one by one.

So here's my question: would Amara be interested at all in adding partial or full support for SRV3's styling capabilities?

The dream would of course be to have a full WYSIWYG experience. However, even a basic implementation such as that of YouTube's caption editor would already be useful. In this case, users would upload an SRV3 file and see its content (without any formatting) in the Amara editor and video preview. If they publish without making any changes, the SRV3 file would get passed on to YouTube as-is. If they do make changes, all formatting gets deleted.

Full disclosure about this SRV3 format: it's currently not officially documented or supported by YouTube. However, the formats they do support don't come anywhere near it in terms of (implemented) functionality. With any luck, they might be willing to support it, be it for the world or just for Amara.

Technical details about the format can be found here (again disclosure: I'm the author, and I have no affiliation to YouTube).

This sounds very interesting, Matthew Hinson, thank you.

Some formatting can be done with Amara, and it will transfer to YouTube if the Amara subtitles are downloaded as DFXP: see Subtitle Options on Amara. Moreover, once you have the DFXP file, I suppose you can edit it offline to add other specifications, like coloring.

But it would be very nice indeed if these specifications could be done in the Amara editor.

Would you please create a ticket with the same proposal? The ticket will go to Amara tech staff, who will be able to answer you on its feasibility.



Thank you for your reply. Downloading a DFXP file from Amara would sadly pose the same problem as not using Amara's editor at all: in both cases, you're left with a file that you need to send to the channel owner for manual publishing in YouTube Studio. For plain subtitles, you can go through Amara's excellent YouTube integration (that is, publish the subtitles without the channel owner's intervention), but for styled subtitles, you can't, because most formatting is lost when Uploading them to Amara.

Either way, I'm glad to hear you like the proposal and will create a support ticket as you suggested.

Thank you for your further explanation.

Best wishes


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