A Brief History of Subtitles
If you’ve ever binged watched Netflix or subscribed to any other service allowing you to watch all of your favourite television shows, you’re probably already aware of how popular subtitles have become. Today, subtitles are not only used by learners of a new language, but also by other people who cannot comprehend different accents or tongues with ease. Regardless of the reason why subtitles are used, they do a great job of conveying the precise dialogues of actors and giving more depth and detail to the videos, films and televisions programmes that we’ve all grown to love so much.
Interested in learning more about subtitles and how they’ve expanded over the years? Read on to find out everything you need to know about inter-titles, subtitles and captions and how they continue to add value to cinema and video marketing materials.
The History of Subtitles
Inter-titles were the very first means of captioning that were used to add value to film and cinema by conveying dialogues and providing more details on the setting or scene in question. Also known as a title card, it was a still image of text inserted in to the videography to provide context to silent movies. The very first inter-titles are known to have been used in 1903 for the short drama produced for Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Edwin S. Porter.
The transitions from inter-titles to dubbing to subtitles is a very interesting story. Since inter-titles were used at the time of silent films, catering to audiences that spoke different languages, too, was relatively easy. The inter-titles were simply removed, translated, and reinserted into the film for it to make perfect sense and be intelligible to a completely different audience. Dubbing and subtitles, on the other hand, are not independently inserted clips. Dubbing attempts to replace new audio into the existing videography. Subtitles are transposed text below the continuously playing video. Thus, inserting newly translated text was not as simple as the former inter-titling method.
With the introduction of films with sound, catering to audiences that spoke different languages became more challenging. Dubbing was proposed as a solution and came in handy. However, the option wasn’t proving to be cost effective and had a number of problems associated with it. The timing of the audio to the video portrayal was a constant challenge. It was, at this time, that subtitles were introduced and started becoming popular, especially for regions where dubbing really didn’t make much sense. Costing between one tenth and one twentieth as much as dubbing, subtitling was not only an affordable solution but also helped reach more diverse audiences than ever before.
Subtitling has come a long way since its introduction in the 1920s. Mechanical and chemical processes were tested and experimented with before they were integrated and leveraged to ensure that the process was as convenient and effective as possible. Today, laser subtitling remains the most popular technique for the purpose in which lasers are used to vaporise or diminish the emulsion of the finished film copy.
Even though there are several different ways in which subtitles and captions can be incorporated, all efforts will be in vain if the transcription itself is inaccurate or inconsistent. It is, therefore, recommended that you always utilise a professional service such as Renaissance Translations for your video subtitling and captioning needs.