by Ana Salotti
This is the second installment of AVD technology column. You will notice a different format, a review instead of an interview. We think this makes for an easier, more thorough read. For this issue, I’ll review Ooona Toolkit, by Ooona Tools (https://ooona.ooonatools.tv).
Ooona Toolkit is an easy-to-use, web-based software for the creation, translation, editing, conversion and burning of closed captions and subtitles. It also offers a license option to create dubbing scripts and dialogue lists. Ooona Toolkit is a web application, so you don’t install any software or download any files into your computer—or care about the software’s compatibility with Windows or Mac. You need to log into your account on your preferred web browser, and start working anywhere as long as you have an internet connection. This is an interesting feature that differentiates Ooona from other subtitle software that requires installation. It may also be more appealing to mobile or nomad workers and for teams of translators who need to be connected and share their work. It supports all languages.
This web app offers different monthly subscription tiers, with the option to pay annually or semi-annually at a discount. At first glance, it was difficult for me to understand how each of its subscription plans compare to one other. There are a lot of them, and there’s not very detailed information in their pricing page. For example, subscription plans start at $15.00/month ($12 if you pay for a full year) for what Ooona calls a TRANSLATE license.
This allows you—and your team—to translate timed templates into another language, but you can’t create the time template itself with this plan. To do the latter, you need another subscription plan, the CREATE one, with which you can only create and time captions in any language from both locally stored and online videos. Similarly, you have other plan options, like the SUBTITLE CONVERTER, which allows you to convert all subtitle formats, and the REVIEW, which allows you to do quality controls, share, edit and review subtitle files—a great option for a team of translators. Additionally, you have PRO versions of these basic plans with more professional subtitling features, such as shot change indicators, waveform graphing and quality checks. Lastly, you can also choose among a BASIC PACKAGE, a PRO PACKAGE and a FULL PACKAGE plan, which combine the previously mentioned individual plans. In my opinion, while this great flexibility may be useful to those professionals who know exactly what they need and don’t want to pay for extra features they don’t need, Ooona’s long list of customizable license options adds a layer of complexity when one is shopping around and doesn’t know or can’t predict exactly what one needs. Having said that, Ooona seems to take user-friendliness seriously: it is extremely easy to purchase or cancel additional subscription plans, and their checkout form is straightforward and uncluttered. Having monthly subscriptions that can be cancelled at any time allows new users to
purchase the license they need when they need it.
The same user-friendliness on their website is also reflected in their closed-caption and subtitle online software. Most of Ooona features can be operated with the keyboard, with the option to customize keyboard shortcuts, avoiding the need to use your mouse. In subtitle creation, keyboard operation and shortcut customization add up to your productivity and time-efficiency.
To note some of Ooona Toolkit’s main features, it includes a spellchecker in all supported languages, indicates subtitle reading speed in numbers and colors, can position subtitles horizontally or vertically on the screen, and can modify the color of subtitles. If your subscription is a PRO license, it can detect shot changes and automatically adjust subtitles, and offers a waveform where subtitles can be edited. It supports the import and export of almost all subtitle and caption file formats currently used in the industry.
Being a web-based app, Ooona Toolkit offers many advantages, with some drawbacks. Security can be one of them. While Ooona Tools does not store your video files on their end, it does store your subtitle files. So users with strict non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements may need to make sure they don’t violate terms when using this tool. All accounts are password protected with an optional two-factor authentication. Ooona Tools is ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certified and complies with the latest security techniques and information security management systems requirements.
Stability can be another drawback in web-based apps, especially for those whose internet connection is patchy. The software does crash when there’s an internet time-out. To try to counteract this, Ooona offers a built-in auto-save feature that may prevent major losses of your progress.
Ooona Toolkit’s caption CREATION plan is indeed one of the most affordable caption creation software in the market. Regardless of your license plan, Ooona Tools seems to provide a robust customer service with a chat built into the web app for technical issues and sales inquiries. Another advantage of being a web app is that it doesn’t consume a large amount of CPU resources. The only CPU-intensive task may be Ooona’s shot-change detection feature, which can take a few minutes to complete.
Ooona Toolkit also has a BURN & ENCODE license plan that is easy to use and allows you to create a new video with burnt-in subtitles, a useful option for translators working on corporate videos.
All in all, Ooona Toolkit offers robust, professional closed-caption and subtitling software features, but has some disadvantages that are intrinsic to its web-based nature. Albeit confusing at first, all its monthly and annual subscription options give great flexibility to new users. It also has a four-week free trial if you want to give it a try, but it has a limited number of subtitles for export.
DISCLAIMER: This piece is based on the author’s personal review of Ooona’s software and the information provided by Mr. Alex Yoffe, Ooona Tools Product Manager. The author received no payment or other compensation for it, nor does she have any affiliation or relationship with the supplier of the product under review. This review does not represent the opinions of AVD or ATA.