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Amateur Subtitling and Professional Closed Captioning – Web vs Broadcast

Amateur Subtitling and Professional Closed Captioning Web vs Broadcast

With so many social media sites and video sharing opportunities around today, video and film making is no longer a practice reserved only for professionals. For professional filmmakers, subtitling or closed captioning can be considered as a pre-requisite to both comply with regulations in terms of accessibility, and to appeal to foreign audiences. Similarly, for amateur filmmakers, subtitles are important because they ensure accessibility and help videos to be indexed and searched online.

Whilst subtitling can be defined as adding audio synchronised text to video, there is a stark difference between the quality, cost and intricacy involved in working with broadcast closed captioning against subtitling for YouTube or other social media videos. In this blog we’ll look at the difference between amateur subtitling and professional closed captioning services.

There can be a vast difference in the universal pricing of .srt web subtitles against .stl, .ebu-tt, .ttml and other broadcast formats. The driving factor for the variance in cost is complexity. Broadcast subtitles are required to be more exact, more well considered, and work to more strict guidelines. Here’s what is included and how…

What’s Included in Subtitle and Closed Caption Transcriptions? 

Standard web subtitling includes spoken dialogue and possibly transcription of onscreen text, but nothing else. Professional closed captioning involves transcribing dialogue, forced narrative and on-screen text. The transcription also includes speaker identifications and where necessary, indication of tone.

How are Subtitle Lines Split? 

For standard online subtitles, lines are often split to allow as much text as possible per subtitle. Subtitlers will avoid starting new sentences mid subtitle and aim to end lines with commas, semicolons or other punctuation marks which indicate a pause or change in tone.

In professional closed captioning, rules around line splits can be highly specific. Closed captions should aim to include entire sentences where possible and similar to online subtitles, new sentences should typically be started mid subtitle. When actioning line splits in closed captioning, subtitlers will also take into consideration pauses or natural breaks in speech. Broadcast subtitling guidelines will often state to where possible, split lines after punctuation marks and before prepositions and conjunctions. Splits should not separate nouns from adjectives, nouns from articles, verbs from pronouns or split names or places between lines. Depending on service providers, the list can seem to go on forever!

How Do Subtitlers Consider Reading Speeds? 

Subtitling online videos is fairly straightforward. Text is added and synced to video, but typically, reading speeds aren’t closely monitored anything beyond spot-checks to ensure no subtitles are excessively short.

Reading speeds are highly monitored for broadcast closed captions. Guidelines tend to state standard reading speeds which include a maximum figure. Most providers set a target of 180-200wpm with a maximum of up to 250wpm. Alongside reading speed specifications, there will usually be set minimum and maximum duration’s for subtitles, usually 1-2 seconds minimum and 7-8 seconds maximum. Keeping to reading speeds can require decision making and well considered editing of the original transcription.

How do captions portray off-screen dialogue and/or multiple speakers? 

For subtitles online, off-screen speakers can sometimes be portrayed using italics or different colours. There aren’t usually set guidelines around which should apply.

The requirements of deaf and hard of hearing audiences are at the forefront of the use of closed captioning. Off-screen speech is usually italicized and out-of-scene speakers are typically also identified by name. Where multiple speakers are speaking at once in conversation, left and right placements can be used to portray physical positioning of speakers which is great for accessibility. In addition, different colours can be thoughtfully allocated according to speaker and kept consistent throughout.

How are Subtitles formatted in terms of colour, position and style?

When it comes to working with .srt and online video, the platform usually determines the format and style. The format is usually a standard Arial font or similar, with white writing and a transparent background.

For broadcast and VoD, closed captioning formats are set and styles need to be strictly adhered to. Font size will be specified, and defined as either ‘pt’ or as a percentage of the screen size. A specific font will need to be used and usually there will be a colour guide with a list of preferences of which default font colours should be used and prioritised when making changers.

So, there you have it, if you require more information on our subtitling formats or our closed captioning and subtitling rates, please feel free to take a look. If you require any other information do feel free to contact us today. 

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About us

At Capital Captions, we take pride in our flexible, tailor-made approach to subtitling, closed captioning, video translation and video transcription services. We offer professional, reliable, cost effective services to clients across the globe.

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