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Hard Coded Subtitles and Video Translation

Hard coded subtitles and video translation

Video content can be a great way to reach global audiences with your message. Taking the decision to translate subtitles for your foreign videos is a clever first step towards a wider audience. However, when working with foreign captions, it can be hard to know where to start. Check out our brief guide to hard coded subtitles and video translation services.

Hard Coded and Soft Coded Subtitles – What’s the Difference?

The terms ‘soft coded’ and ‘hard coded’ are used in reference to how subtitles are played. In short, whether or not subtitles are displayed permanently on a video, can be turned on and off, or different languages selected. Clients who work with soft coding in their subtitle translations will receive a sidecar subtitle file which needs to be uploaded to their media player in order to function with their video. Formats for soft coded subtitles include .srt, .vtt, .ebu-tt, .stl, .dfxp, .ttml and more.

Hard coded foreign subtitles are permanent. The on-screen text is burned into the video as a sequence of images which cannot be turned on and off. Formats for hard coded subtitle translations include .mp4, .mov, .avi, .wmv and more.

Soft Coding and Subtitle Translation

There are numerous areas where soft coded subtitle translation is the best option for video makers.

Video on Demand services such as Amazon or Netflix or Amazon Prime have closed subtitles available for multinational audiences. Closed subtitling means that the on-screen text can be turned on or off as needed, and different languages can be selected according to the viewer’s requirements. Multilingual closed subtitles as well as closed captions are also typically used on DVD and Blu-ray disks.

Social media and video sharing sites such as Vimeo and YouTube have functionality to include multilingual subtitles. However, surprisingly, most video makers do not take full advantage of this option.

Hard Coding and Subtitle Translation for Multilingual Films

Subtitle burning services can be underestimated by filmmakers, and it’s not usually until publishing a foreign video that one may realise that hard coding of subtitle translations is required.

Hard coded subtitles can also be described as ‘forced subtitles’. These are often used in foreign films with sporadic foreign dialogue, references or text. For instance, a film in English may have instances of French speech which requires translation. It will be assumed that the target audience is English and will not be using subtitles for the source language, however, French subtitles will be required as and when French is spoken.

Subtitle Burning Services and Website Translation

Subtitle burning for foreign captions is also very useful for websites which use lot’s of video content and international URLs. Whilst a retail website only advertising and selling in the UK may wish to allow foreign viewers to turn on foreign captions for videos as they choose, it may not be worthwhile uploading numerous videos with burned-in subtitles in different language to their web servers.

However, a multinational company with a website which uses professional translation services to offer a better experience for foreign viewers may benefit greatly from foreign subtitle hard coding. The purpose of creating multiple domains for different countries is to provide a seamless experience for international web users. Uploading videos with hard coded German subtitles to a .de site would be a far better option than simply publishing an English speaking video where German speakers were required to toggle captions on and off. 

Subtitle Translation and Caption Formatting

When looking to translate and hard code subtitles to your videos, style and format can be everything. When working with translation services, in terms of caption formatting, the following needs to be considered:

  • Different languages require different fonts in order for characters to display correctly.
  • Encoding of subtitles is important for multilingual text.
  • Character restrictions and reading speeds aren’t necessarily universal.
  • When working with DVD or Blu-ray video, it’s important to keep video formats region specific. Correctly exporting to either PAL or NTSC is also vital.
  • Placement is incredibly important for hard coding. Onscreen text needs to be within a ‘safe area’ and also take into consideration other important visual information.
  • Text and background colours can be changed to create effects that are in-keeping with the style and tone of a foreign film.

Well there you have it. All the information you require to make a better informed decision on what type of hard coded subtitles and video translation would benefit your films and social media videos. We hope you enjoyed reading this blog and also found it informative. If you would like to find out more about our video translation services or would like like a free, no obligation quote for your project, contact us for your free quote today.

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