With video content creation booming in recent years, every content creator needs to make sure their videos are up to scratch with the biggest and best competitors. That includes making sure the content is accessible to a global audience.
Adding subtitles to your video content is an important step in the video localization process. Can your viewers understand the dialogue? Can they follow along with the message and true purpose of the video? Subtitles make sure of that.
However, the vast majority of video content requires top-quality, human-written subtitles. Sometimes machine-generated subtitles simply won’t cut it.
So what are the top three subtitling services and solutions available? Let’s find out.
What is subtitling?
We’ll start with the basics.
Subtitling is the process of attaching written text to any type of audio-visual media to help communicate what is being said verbally.
The purpose of subtitling is to help the viewer understand the message of the media. Written text is essentially a helping hand for whoever is watching.
Subtitles were primarily used to assist with accessibility for deaf or hard-of-hearing viewers. However, subtitles are also commonly used to translate media to a different language. For example, a French-speaking viewer may need assistance understanding an English-speaking video – hence why French subtitles are made available to help them understand the context of the video in their own written language.
Usually, subtitles will appear as text displayed across one to two lines (at the bottom or the top of the screen depending on the picture is shown). The text usually follows the dialogue being spoken, but sometimes they are condensed and summarized.
The very best subtitles simply streamline the viewing process, rather distract the viewer from consuming the visuals.
Who are subtitles for?
Believe it or not, 80% of users who like using subtitles aren’t actually deaf or hard of hearing. So what are some other reasons why your viewers might want the option of adding subtitles to the video?
- They want to follow a complex narrative more easily
- There’s a loud noise in the background (they can’t hear the dialogue)
- The sound needs muting to avoid distracting others around them
- To save battery on their portable device
Subtitling has to be top quality
Now we know why subtitles are so popular, let’s discuss why adding top-quality subtitles is important. You can’t just add a few roughly written sentences onto the video and be done with it. Nowadays, your viewers expect perfectly written, error-free subtitles.
Here are five reasons for having stand-out subtitles:
1. They offer a better viewing experience
Reading subtitles is super convenient for some viewers. What if it’s sensitive content you don’t want the rest of the bus hearing? What if the soundtrack of the film is overly loud and you can’t understand some of the dialogue? Just having the option there is key.
2. They help improve reading comprehension
There’s also a range of educational benefits to subtitles. A lot of scientific research shows that subtitles enhance focus and attention – especially among foreign language learners. Reading subtitles also helps expand your vocabulary too. Not only do you hear words, but you get to see how they’re spelled too.
3. They improve your site’s SEO
Embedding the subtitle script of your video into the post itself can improve its accessibility and discoverability. Search engines look for keywords and phrases when people search for things organically, and there’ll likely be plenty of keywords in your subtitle script.
4. They boost viewer engagement
Research also shows that subtitles boost viewer engagement. They draw in more viewers and give more reason to stick around for longer.
5. They might be required by law
Depending on the type of organization, you might be required by law to include subtitles in your content. Sometimes they’re not just an add-on, but a must! This is true for public, legal, and governmental institutions.
The Top 3 Subtitling Solutions
So what subtitle solutions are available? What’s the best way to produce, edit, and publish subtitles on your video content? Let’s discuss…
1. YouTube automatic subtitles
- Pros: Free, easy to use
- Cons: Full of errors that you need to manually correct.
YouTube’s automatic subtitling system is perhaps your best solution if you upload all of your video content to YouTube. It’s a simple and easy way to generate quick subtitles, and best of all – you don’t have to pay.
However, the subtitles are automated and machine-generated, meaning they’re usually packed with errors and inconsistencies. However, once YouTube has worked its magic, you can always go back and amend any inaccurate misreadings.
This is a great option for saving time on short videos with minimal dialogue.
2. Subtitle software
- Pros: Affordable, more accurate than YouTube
- Cons: Doesn’t understand the context of your video.
There are plenty of different subtitle software out there for you to choose from. Whether it’s a plug-in or a downloadable app, you can save time and money by using software that generates the subtitles for you.
Depending on what software you go for and how much you pay, usually subtitle software is much more reliable than YouTube. However, the algorithms aren’t perfect – you’ll probably still spot a few errors that need editing.
3. Human-made subtitles (Professional services)
- Pros: Guaranteed accuracy and quality, they take the time to understand your content
- Cons: Expensive and time-consuming.
If you want top-quality subtitles that are 99.9% free from errors, chances are you need to outsource from professional services.
Companies like TransPerfect have the expertise, technology, and tools to deliver custom-built subtitles that meet your quality requirements.
These types of services deliver human-made subtitles too, meaning the linguists who write them are subject matter experts and take the time to understand the context of your content from a human perspective.
However, this option isn’t for everyone. There’s no need to waste money if your content only has a sentence or two. Automated subtitles will do.