Why Subtitles Are Key – And What To Consider

why are subtitles key

Video subtitles are more relevant than ever. Now it is going beyond only films and documentaries as video content is booming on the web. Video today generates over 75% of total Internet traffic. For businesses, video creation has therefore become an absolute must.

With the internationalization of businesses, video content is hitting language barriers. Organizations must therefore find solutions to make their content accessible in all relevant markets. Multilingual subtitling helps meet this need.

The Disciplines of Audiovisual Translation?

We can define Film subtitling as making the meaning and content of a film accessible to an audience that does not master the language of the video. Subtitling is a discipline of audio visual translation. The other areas are dubbing, layered voice, and transcription.

  • Subtitling: the linguist translates the original script while respecting the subtitling standards. Film subtitles allow the translation of the lyrics to be displayed as text on the screen.
  • Dubbing: the translator adapts the dialogues of the foreign film for the targeted audience, considering lip synchronization.
  • Layered voice: this technique is often used in documentary films. The translation is superimposed on the original voice.
  • Transcription: A translation agency writes the script for your audio or video content. In the absence of a script, transcription of the source text is necessary before captioning.

Why choose Subtitling for your corporate communication?

Captioning corporate videos is essential if you have international reach. For example, you want try to reach new customers abroad. Or maybe you want to share training content with your non-English speaking employees. In addition, captioning a video has many benefits for you.

  • You optimize your SEO in search engines. With subtitles, your video content is better indexed in the search results of Google and other engines. Your corporate videos therefore gain visibility. Side effect: you potentially increase your sales. The more people you reach, the more potential buyers you gain.
  • You promote the international expansion of your corporate videos. Subtitles are a very cost efficient way to offer your videos in the languages of the markets you are targeting. This increases your visibility and your audience. Your return on investment is likely to improve. If multilingual subtitling exceeds your budget, give priority to the preferred language for international exchanges: English.
  • You offer audiovisual content accessible to deaf and hard of hearing people. Did you know that 6 to 8% of the French population are hard of hearing? Give these 4 million people access to the same information as everyone else. Not only to avoid discriminating against a segment of the population, but you also grow your audience.
  • You allow your audience to view your content in all circumstances. There are many situations that prevent us from viewing videos at our leisure. Public transport, open spaces and the presence of other people are just a few examples. Closed captioning then helps protect your own privacy and avoid disturbing others.
  • You get the public’s attention on sites that have an auto play feature. Like Facebook, some websites use AutoPlay. The time internet users spend on each piece of content is extremely short. Subtitles then make it easier to capture users’ attention.

How do you approach subtitles for a video?

The translator with subtitles is first and foremost faced with questions of size and timing. There are general principles that must be observed to provide the public with an optimal experience. They are based on the viewer’s ability to read a letter in a given time and on the speed of a film (24 frames per second). 

The captioner must take into account:

  • The number of characters per line. For French film subtitles for example, the maximum number of characters per line depends on the video format. It is typically 32 to 42 characters per line. The Franco-German television channel Arte sets the maximum number of characters at 30 per line. Spaces are included in this maximum number.
  • The rules of exposure sequences. The translator must take into account the time it takes for the subtitles to appear on the screen. Fortunately, captioning software is configured to comply with the rules related to exposure sequences. There are three basic principles. First, the subtitles should not exceed a certain length. Second, they must respect the standard ratio: number of characters / time. Third, a gap of at least 140 milliseconds must be left between the display of two subtitles.

Should you trust automatic captioning solutions?

Machine translation is booming. This phenomenon is explained by the internationalization of companies. Indeed, international expansion confronts organizations with a need for multilingual content. Often, the volume of text to be translated in a noticeably short timeframe encourages them to choose automatic solutions. One of the features of the YouTube video hosting site is a free captioning service with a nice interface.

But are automatic captioning solutions reliable? The answer is no. Automatically generated captions should not be used as is. Human intervention is required to correct the machine translation. Ideally, the linguist also compares the translation to the source text. Subtitling a foreign film for audiences presents several difficulties. The linguist must consider the entire film. Beyond the dialogues, he relies on the general context to write his subtitles. Indeed, the image gives meaning to the subtitle.

In the end, you risk wasting the time and money you saved. We therefore recommend that you turn to professional captioning services.