Want great subtitles for your projects?

Subtitle Primer: A Guide For Producers, Filmmakers, Directors And Editors

If you’re a producer, filmmaker, director or editor, then this guide is for you! It will teach you the basics of subtitle design and how to make your subtitles come to life. If you are a video producer today, the chances are that sooner or later, you’ll be required to deliver subtitled content.

Whether you’re a filmmaker submitting to international film festivals or a branded-content producer with clients who do business globally, it is important to understand the basics of the subtitling process.

Why? In 2023, subtitles are everywhere – on each and every platform, from the winner of the Best Picture Oscar to viral YouTube clips. And, of course, all the content on OTT platforms, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes, etc.

In this series of posts, our experts will tell you what you need to know to make sure that your subtitles are out on the point and that you don’t waste money and time on shabby work or inefficient practices.

Let's begin with the basics.

Subtitle and Closed Caption Services

How subtitles are created in the professional world

  1. We take your transcript and video and load them into the subtitling software.

  2. The subtitler breaks up the transcript into brief segments precisely timed to the dialogue, considering the content and rhythm. This can become a template for translation and localization into any language.

  3. The subtitler then translates the script segment by segment, adjusting the template as needed to match the new language and editing the text. However, subtitles are almost never a word-for-word translation of the spoken dialogue; they’re a concise version because they have to fit the space and time available. Otherwise, the audience will be struggling to keep pace with the text and miss the action on the viewer’s screen.

  4. The subtitler takes care not to go beyond the limit of the maximum number of characters per line. (The limit can vary from as few as 24 characters for clips made for mobile and as many as 43 characters for corporate video. The Netflix limit is 42.) They also watch the reading speed to ensure that the viewer has enough time to read the text. (The reading speed is calculated in characters per second (CPS) – the total number of characters in a subtitle is divided by the number of seconds on-screen.)

  5. A QC person goes through the subtitles, checking against the original language, proofing for typos, and ensuring that the translations are correct.

  6. Once the subtitles are created, proofed, quality checked and approved by the client, we export them in the required format – from a simple SRT for online usage; to TTML for OTT platforms like Netflix, iTunes and other VOD platforms; to a QuickTime with an alpha channel that can be imported into the editing system and laid over the video.
And there you go. The worldwide audience can see your content as you intended it.

NEXT: What NOT to do when you’re creating subtitles for your videos.

Deliver your message effectively using multilingual subtitles

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