Types of subtitles
Subtitles are usually delivered in 2 ways: as closed or open captions.
Open captions are subtitles that are burned into the video, and are not available separately without the video. They are always in view and can’t be turned off from the video.
Closed captions are subtitles delivered separately from the video in text format. It’s possible to turn them on or turn them off when they are not required for people to understand the content of a video.
So What Are the Main Features of Subtitling and Where Is Its Magic?
- Cost-saving method of localizing your video/audio materials;
- Efficient and fast;
- Original voice features are heard;
- Good tools to learn languages;
- The only way for the deaf and hard-of-hearing to understand the dialogue.
What Are the Typical Subtitle File Formats?
The different formats include: .srt, .sbv or .sub, .lrc, .ass, etc., but the most popular nowadays is .srt which can be opened on your computer with the help of the built-in Notepad text reader. You can check your .srt file by playing the video and enabling subtitles in your video player. Name your .srt file using the same name of your video, and most players will play the video automatically with the subtitles on the screen.
What Is the SRT File?
It is a simple text document whose main content basically includes: a number that identifies which subtitle is in the sequence, timing (time the subtitle should appear and disappear on the screen in hours: minutes: seconds: milliseconds), the synchronized subtitle lines (they can be one line or two lines long), and a blank line after which the next subtitle will start. There are also certain character and style considerations to bear in mind, i.e.: there are restrictions as to the quantity of characters and the fonts that should be used. However, the SRT file doesn't contain information about font size and style, or color, but we can change it all while embedding them into the video.
Here you can find an example of two subtitle lines with timecode:
00:00:14,720 --> 00:00:16,640
Me gusta mucho
el trabajo que hago;
Burning Subtitles into Videos (SRT Embedding)
Embedding subtitles into videos, designing its shape, color, and position on the screen is a popular option. It’s a great feature because of the kind of effects available: fade-in/fade out, or effects to make them appear on the screen, black backgrounds to make them more readable, etc. When embedding subtitles onto the screen, there is a safe area that should be considered, too.
Picture 3: Safe area
Picture 4: Black rectangle as background.
A Little Bit More about Subtitles
Subtitles are usually placed in the bottom-center of the screen. However, depending on the video itself (for example, if there are titles on the screen with names, jobs, or any other information) subtitles could be placed in different ways: bottom-left or bottom-right part of the screen.
Picture 5: One-line subtitle in the middle of the screen: standard position.
Picture 6: Two-line subtitle: standard position on the screen.
Picture 7: Non-standard subtitle position on the screen.
Subtitle Lines and Number of Characters
Subtitles are usually composed of 1 or 2 lines, but 2-line subtitles are more widespread, because it’s more comfortable for viewers to read them. Concerning the number of lines, it must be always be limited to two. The first line should preferably be a little bit shorter than the second. Each subtitle line should contain no more than 42 characters for European languages, and 15 characters for some Asian languages (with hieroglyphs).
If the speaking pace is too fast, it will be difficult for viewers to read subtitles. So, professionals recommend making small changes to the text (reducing it, but keeping the same sense).
Example of reduction:
I wonder if you can really find the car. => Can you find the car?
If you use reduction, remember to keep the original sense.
Use the most widespread fonts for your subtitles, for example, Times New Roman or Arial. White color for subtitles is the standard. If you think subtitles are hardly seen on the screen because of a lack of contrast between the subtitles and the video itself, you can add shadows or outlines.
Picture 8: Shadows
What is Onscreen Text and Titles?
‘Onscreen text’ refers to the brief explanation or notes on the screen (it doesn’t show what the speaker says, for example, but who this speaker is and where he is from). Titles can also include onscreen additional information, and these two concepts shouldn’t be confused with actual subtitles.
Picture 9: Onscreen text
Who Can Create Timing and How?
Timing can be created by a SL professional and subtitling specialist. In order to create subtitles, you also need a transcription – all spoken text written in the document.
It’s very easy to insert your SRT file to your YouTube videos.
To start with, you should be the owner of the video on YouTube.
Go to your Video Manager by clicking your account in the top right > Creator Studio > Video Manager > Videos. Next to the video you want to add captions or subtitles to, click the drop-down menu next to the Edit button. Click the Add new subtitles or CC button. Choose how you want to add/edit subtitles to your video.
To upload a new subtitles file, you need to choose language, select the Actions menu, select Upload the file (and choose the type of the file) and then Choose file > Upload and Publish.
Subtitles are an effective solution for many companies that target foreign markets. Subtitles are used in explanation videos, promotional videos, presentations, etc. Subtitles are the fastest and most profitable way to localize any video.
Remember, one line can change everything.
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