Should I Choose Captioning or Subtitling Services for my Video?
The difference between captioning and subtitling services may not be immediately obvious, as the terms are often used interchangeably. However, they serve different purposes, and are intended for use by different audiences. Choosing between captioning or subtitling services can make a significant difference to your end user. Subtitling companies may offer a choice of both services, but what is the difference between subtitling services and captioning? Movie subtitling is the addition of text in a different language to that spoken in the original video. Meanwhile, captioning is a text in the same language as the video, with the addition of descriptions of non-verbal noises and cues. Captioning, when done well, means that a deaf person (or someone watching on mute) would be as equally informed about the video as a hearing person.
Captions are a word-for-word transcription of the audio portion of a video, displayed in the spoken language. One of the most important elements of captioning is non-speech captions. Captioning these sounds in the video is vital for providing context for the deaf viewers. Examples of non-speech captions include ‘music playing’, ‘startling thunder’, or ‘weeping woman in another room’. Captions are provided by subtitling companies for hard of hearing or deaf viewers. However, language learners and visual processors also benefit from watching shows and movies with captions. One recent survey (2021) found that captions are incredibly popular, with 80% of 18-25 years olds surveyed stating that they used subtitles or captions some or all of the time.
Captions can be “closed” or “open”. Closed captioning (CC) offers the option to turn the captions on or off. Open captioning means the captions are embedded in the video and so cannot be switched off by the viewer. Several countries have passed legislation to prevent discrimination against those with disabilities. Therefore, providing captions is becoming more prevalent, so that the hard of hearing can access and enjoy more video and audio content. This demand has resulted in more translation companies offering captioning or subtitling services. Moreover, movie subtitling and captioning are also convenient for those watching videos in noisy environments (i.e. gym, train station etc.) or where having the sound turned on would be inappropriate (i.e. work, hospital, etc).
Subtitles are captioned text that has been translated into a different language than that in the video. Unlike captions, subtitles do not provide descriptions of non-verbal sounds, something to be aware of when using subtitling services. Subtitles enable global audiences to enjoy content in different languages. Because of international demand for subtitling services, there are lots of subtitling companies to choose from. Language learners may choose to watch content with subtitles to improve their understanding of the audio portion of the video content. Movie subtitling is a key part of the international distribution of movies and is an alternative to dubbing. You can read a Brief History of Subtitles to learn more.
How common are captions and subtitles?
Both captions and subtitles have become common practice, and in some places are added to videos as standard. In the past few years, it has become commonplace for short videos posted on social media to have captions or subtitles. Approximately 85% of videos are watched without sound on a personal device, e.g. a mobile phone. Therefore, the use of captions can increase social media engagement. Global film festivals and social media have expanded the reach of movies and TV shows to new audiences, increasing the need for movie subtitling in a variety of languages. For example, entertainment is not the only industry that benefits from using subtitling services. Businesses in all industries are also using video content to engage potential customers, and so could benefit from working with subtitling companies.
Furthermore, marketing departments are constantly working to remain competitive globally. They can basically achieve this by captioning their content, but also by translating it into their target audiences’ preferred languages. Localising the content to ensure appropriate understanding is also something worth discussing with your language service provider. We recommend hiring specialist captioning or subtitling services, as necessary. Poorly executed captioning can detract from the viewing experience and can make it difficult to follow the video’s plot. Similarly, poorly executed movie subtitling can disrupt the viewing experience, especially if the translation is of low quality. Therefore, working with experienced and well-regarded subtitling companies should be a part of your company’s long-term marketing plan.
Do I need to caption or subtitle my video?
Possibly both! Your organisation will need to review the relevant legal requirements in your country and industry. Numerous countries have anti-discrimination laws that require captions to be available for certain materials. Then, you will want to consider your target audience’s needs and marketing goals when hiring subtitling services. In essence, every situation is unique; subtitling companies will have experienced staff who can discuss with you what is best for your project. This answer will also depend upon where you intend to distribute your video, and who your intended viewers are. Remember also, that it is possible to use a combination of subtitling and captioning. For example, French movie subtitling with additional non-verbal captioning, on an English language film.
In which languages should I subtitle my video?
Again, this will depend on the intended target audience of your content. Is there more than one official language in the country where your customers reside? Is there a requirement for a legal mandate to provide bilingual videos? Or are there large populations of immigrants in your target geography that would appreciate your information in their native language? For example, Spanish subtitles may be a good second language choice for distribution in the USA, but would not be a great choice for distribution in China. In summary, both captions and subtitles can expand your video’s accessibility, as long as you choose your languages carefully. In a world where movie subtitling on online platforms is becoming the norm, working with subtitling companies who provide captioning or subtitling services is increasingly necessary.
Renaissance Translations’ Professional Subtitling Services
Renaissance Translations is a full-service language service provider, ready to assist you in transcribing, translating, captioning and subtitling your audio and video content. Whether you need movie subtitling for international distribution or want to improve accessibility with captioning, we can help. Your partnership with Renaissance Translations comes with professional memberships such as ATC and a guarantee to meet any tight deadline placed on us. Let’s discuss your project requirements.