Subtitles (also called captions) were originally created for viewers that have hearing loss, however, today, they are often used by the majority of viewers—even those who have no hearing problems.
Subtitles can also aid people who want to watch videos but don’t want audio to play. Furthermore, subtitles can give viewers additional information about the video such as context and characters. There are also subtitles that provide translation of the dialogue in the language chosen.
So, what makes a good subtitle?
First, good subtitles help non-hearing viewers get a full experience of the video even without sound. It’s readable, matched with timing, and doesn’t obscure important parts of the film.
What are the two common types of subtitles?
There are two most common types of subtitles: open and closed subtitles or captions. Open captions are “built-in” subtitles in the video file. They are an inseparable part of the videos and can’t be turned off. Closed captions, on the other hand, are subtitles that you can turn off or on. Many streaming sites today have closed captions and language options in their subtitles.
How To Create Subtitles
How does one create subtitles and add them to videos? Here’s a detailed explanation of how to do it.
- Through the Use of Software
You can create subtitles with the help of various software. Creating them requires you to manually type the dialogues and context of the video to a specific time code. This is usually a difficult and time-consuming process. It can even be more complex if you’re not familiar with the software you will use.
- Outsourcing Subtitle Creation
Don’t have the time and resources to create subtitles manually? You can always hire a freelancer or an agency to do it. This will save you a lot of time, but you have to pay a certain amount to get it done.
- Creating a Subtitle File
If you’re not using automatic software for subtitles, you can also create your own subtitle file (Web VTT, or SRT) which can be done by knowing basic formatting. Anyone who has a google drive can add subtitles to videos for free using an SRT file. SRT files are files that are stored with timing information. Most subtitles you can find today on the internet are stored in this format. Although they’re easy to create, they can be extremely time-consuming for first-timers.
Important Tips When Creating Subtitles
- Use Headphones
When you’re manually transcribing from a video, it’s very important to use quality headphones to focus on the audio. This ensures that you don’t miss out on any dialogue because of audio problems from your source.
- Divide Sentences
When creating a subtitle sequence, divide your sentences into two equal parts. Each line should have around 40 characters on the top and around 20 to 30 characters on the bottom. Also, each sequence should only last between 1 and 8 seconds.
- Use Punctuations Correctly
Pay attention to how the characters speak in the video. Also, don’t get confused about the spelling of words and try to write the word based on the context.
- Use the Right Word Speed
Subtitles should go at a speed of 160-189 words per minute. This is the accepted and average reading speed of an adult person.
- Don’t Make the Subtitles Ruin Viewing Experience
Normally, subtitles can be found at the bottom portion of the screen. They should also not exceed 2 lines so as to not get in the way of the view. Doing this will help viewers read the text and watch the scene simultaneously.
- Include important information
Subtitles should include not only the dialogue but also the sounds that are happening in the scene. You can do this by putting descriptions in brackets to signify important events such as explosions or the ambiance of the scene.
- Ensure good synchronization
The hardest part of creating subtitles is when you have to synchronize the word sequence with the audio and video. Experts have a few tips on how to do this properly. First, divide transcriptions according to sentences. If the speaker speaks fast, you can remove a few words. But don’t remove words at the beginning or end of the sentence. To ensure accurateness, display subtitles when the speaker’s lips are moving.
Where Are Subtitles Used Today?
Aside from entertainment and online videos, where are subtitles usually used?
- Academics – E-learning videos and slideshows often have subtitles that enrich the learning experience of students.
- Social Media – Many social media users often watch videos on mute. Sometimes, people want to watch videos you’re in a public place with no earphones and you just don’t want to ask for attention.
- Business – Promotional videos and even ads for businesses often have subtitles when they are played in social media. This helps the ad get digested by target users easily.
Importance of Subtitles and Captions
Why are subtitles and captions needed today?
- They help important videos with poor audio quality
There are many cases where important dialogue is obstructed by background noise. Subtitles help the footage become clearer and more usable. It assists the viewers in fully understanding the scene.
- Clarifies hard to understand videos
Captions help the audience understand videos better by providing the content. This is useful when the content of the video covers complex themes.
- Reach more audience
Subtitles ensure that your content will be accessible even to people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or non-native speakers who don’t understand certain accents.
- Improves SEO
When you transcribe your video, you produce captions that can help improve your SEO ranking. Search engines can then read, analyze, and index the script that will maximize your exposure, ranking, and views.
- Easy repurpose of content
Subtitles can be used to create a blog post or transcript that you can publish with the video content.
Captioning videos make content more engaging and accessible to everyone. It also improves your content’s comprehensibility and value. This is why it’s truly important to create captions and subtitles for every video content that you make.