In today’s world, many viewers are watching video content with the sound turned off. This means closed captions and subtitling are more important than ever. The process of converting audio into onscreen text is relatively simple in essence. However, a professional subtitling company will want to clarify a lot of details before starting on subtitling your videos. Here’s some things to consider before starting on your closed captioning or subtitle translation projects. Read on to understand why it’s also a great idea to consider using a subtitling company.
Do You Have a Final Cut Ready?
Before starting work your videos, your subtitling company will first confirm you’re ready to start the transcription and timing process. In the video production world, time is of the essence. Surely it’s best to get your video transcribed and subtitled ASAP, right? Well, not exactly.
Ideally you should only subtitle a final cut. This is because any cuts and edits to your video can affect both timings and text. This means captioning too early can potentially leave your subtitles out of sync and therefore, redundant. Even for a video that’s been sound locked with only images to be edited, there are things to consider. Quality subtitles take shot changes into consideration so will likely also need tweaking after any visual edits. In addition, for frame based subtitle formats such as SCC and STL, changes to frame rate can cause syncing issues or caption drifting.
For this reason, only ever send your videos to a subtitling company once you have a final cut confirmed. Also be sure to send that version with the correct resolution and frame rates.
Do You Know Your Distributors?
Trying to send your videos simultaneously in one batch to a transcription company can keep costs down. You may only be looking to publish your film on YouTube and Vimeo. But if you have big ambitions for the future, consider taking a chance and ask for your subtitle file to be provided in other formats. Adding formats that can be used for Netflix, iTunes or Amazon subtitles from the get-go can save you time and money.
Also, by talking to your caption provider about your distribution channels, you may gain insight into the best options in terms of formats, guidelines and styles.
Have You Considered Accessibility Obligations and Requirements?
Closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing (also known as SDH) can be a legal requirement. For broadcast distribution, closed captions are a must, and this is also soon to be the case for video-on-demand services. Closed captioning is typically more expensive than subtitling, so it’s important to understand which you require before going ahead with any work.
Subtitles and closed captions are not one and the same. Closed captioning includes sound effect descriptions, speaker identifications and strict rules around reading speeds and verbatim writing styles. These aspects of closed captions ensure that they are fit-for-purpose in making your video more accessible.
In contrast, subtitles are usually aimed towards international audiences, video translation is often used as a marketing tool. Subtitles can be open (burned in) or closed (turned on and off) and the writing style of subtitles can be altered to suit a video style.
Do You need Video Translation?
Subtitle translation is often the most expensive aspect of working with captions. Whilst video transcription, standard subtitling and closed captions are charged on a per video minute rate, often translation services are not. Subtitle translation is often charged on a per word basis, therefore it can be hard to budget for translations before the transcription process has been completed.
There is often an idea to limit your foreign subtitles in order to save on a budget, but remember, the bigger the audience, the bigger your potential. Some subtitling companies may offer discounts for multiple languages so it’s worthwhile asking about caption packages.
Have You Chosen a Design or Style?
The look of your video subtitles can have a huge impact on the overall visual impact of your video. Whilst broadcasters such as the BBC or Sky may have specific ideas on the way closed captions or subtitles should look, when working with online video subtitles, there are many options available around styling.
For YouTube or Vimeo subtitles, SRT file options can be chosen to change subtitle colours and backgrounds. For other sites such as Twitter, subtitles can be burned in and your chosen subtitling company should be helpful in collaborating with you to get the best subtitling results.
How Do You Want To Receive Your Subtitles? Sidecar vs Embedded…
Subtitles are important for a number of reasons. Whilst accessibility is the most obvious reason for subtitling, marketing, SEO, branding and increase in global awareness are also key reasons to have your videos subtitled. However, before going ahead with outsourcing your project to a captioning company, it’s best to understand what is the best output for your video subtitles. i.e. How do you want to receive your captions and how do you want your audience to experience them?
Subtitle Burning or Open Subtitles
Subtitle Burning is a great option for subtitle translations for distribution on an international website with different domains. This is especially true for international e-learning course subtitles. Videos will automatically display with your chosen subtitles without viewers needing to toggle them on or off. They are also great for multilingual videos. Just imagine listening to Star Trek Klingons without them! Subtitle burning does require that you re-upload different versions of your video, potentially taking up more online server space.
Closed Captions and Embedding
Closed captions or closed subtitles come as sidecar files, as opposed to video files. They are brilliant for allowing users to turn subtitles on or off as they choose. Search engines can pick up the text within sidecar subtitle files. This makes the use of sidecar subtitle files very effective as a marketing tool. For small sites which aim for international business but don’t have a significant amount of server space, closed subtitles are also a good option. It’s important to remember, however, that styling and availability can sometimes be limited to your host video platform.
If you are considering using a subtitling company or if you’d like more information on the services that we offer, you can take a look at our main services page and decide what you would like to look at further in depth. If you are looking to get a quote for our subtitling services, closed captioning services or video translation services, contact us today for your free quote.
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