Subtitling services are everywhere these days. With a marketplace that’s clamoring for more authenticity, gone are the times of dubbing as the default solution. In today’s world, borders continue to be eroded due to digital communication and mass immigration. This, in turn, helps make foreign languages start sounding more familiar.
In turn, Netflix and similar streaming services have brought an influx of European and Latin American TV shows and films. The company has even admitted that it has a plan to make people watch more foreign-language content. That includes Americans in the equation, famously resistant to non-English audio.
The breakout success of shows like “Dark” has shown worldwide audiences that great content is not language-dependent. Still, Netflix admits that most people in the US watch shows dubbed as it clamors to improve their quality. The tide, as we know, is quickly turning, though. It’s no surprise that subtitling and localization services are proliferating in this environment.
What is also becoming clearer by the day is audiences’ needs for hard-hitting, immediate, authentic content, whatever its origin. Maybe you’re sitting on the next breakout TV show, YouTube channel, or podcast; perhaps you’ve got branded content you’d like to make available for international audiences; maybe you’re a talented multilingual writer/translator who would like to try their hand at subbing. All of these possibilities require a working knowledge of subtitling services.
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This post was updated in June 2021
Subtitling, Translation, and Localization: What are they?
If these terms seem like strange bedfellows to you, don’t be confused! You might be slightly quizzical about what subtitles are and what they aren’t. People tend to get them mixed up with other sister techniques like Closed Captioning, which we’ll get to below.
They’re a type of audiovisual translation. Letters are displayed over video and synchronized to the original audio. At the same time the characters, presenter or narrator speaks, the subtitles appear below with a translation in text form.
This is a form of translation is also constrained by time and space. With a maximum limit of 70 characters, subtitles are known as a subordinate translation. That means that achieving a perfect translation may sometimes come second to displaying readable amounts of text. Subtitles can appear from one to six seconds on screen, depending on the total word count. The average reading speed is 3 words per second; that means that 2 lines and 70 characters allow for a maximum of 12 words.
Also, subtitles aim to be as unobtrusive as possible. That means they’re usually centered at the bottom of the screen. Typography is also important, as it has to be readable, but not interfere with the action on the screen.
Shot and scenes changes present another important factor to consider. When camera shots are switched up, the viewer may have to lower their view and re-read the subtitle. Making the subtitle appear a little later avoids this possible problem.
The subtitling process consists of the following parts:
- Spotting. Identifying how to synchronize the subtitles to the original audio and entrance/exit times. Camera shots must also be considered for timing issues.
- Translation (localization and adaptation). This requires translating the original and localizing it to conform to the standards of the target culture/language. It also requires adapting subtitle content to the time limits and constraints of the format.
- Correction. A process that entails proofreading and fixing any possible errors.
- Simulation. It requires running tests to see if the subtitles match up well to the video and audio and read naturally.
Captions are often confused with subtitles. That’s because they are very similar techniques, and are often combined. What usually makes a difference is context.
Captions are a service that is commonly used as a way to aid those with hearing impairments. That means that usually entail differences in presentation and content than subtitles. Captions may contain a transcription of the entirety of the spoken dialogue on screen. They can also be displayed differently, usually concerning where the character or person is. This allows the viewer to discern who is talking.
Captions can have even more differences in content to subtitles. What we know as closed captions can include additional visual information other than transcribing speech. They normally can describe sounds, mention music with the appropriate song name or style when it comes on. This aids people with hearing issues, who may need to rely on written cues instead of audio.
Captions and subtitles can be mixed as well. Subtitles with the [CC] sign may be present across most streaming services. Netflix mostly has captions in English, but in the cases of popular movies, they may include them for other languages. These are also normally known as SDH, or subtitles for the hard-of-hearing.
Captions may also be used by someone trying to learn a language. This is because having all the written information onscreen helps a learner confirm what they’re hearing. This also has the added benefit of doubling the learning input. Multisense processing entails that we learn better by combining stimuli.
What are subtitling services good for anyway?
They allow you to quickly and cheaply expand your audience. This means a bigger scope, more revenue, and more interest. It seems like a lot for a few letters on a screen, right? And this doesn’t even refer specifically to foreign markets! One in five Americans speaks English as a second language. This means that subtitles can become a significant factor in their integrating better and destroying the language barrier.
Subtitles also increase the engagement and understanding of people with ADHD and autism. Thus, subtitles and captions make for more diverse audiences.
That’s not even the half of it. Cisco predicts that 82% of internet traffic will be video content by 2022. That means that reaching new audiences will be easier than ever with a well-subbed video.
In short, this means that having a higher amount of written content improves keyword density and keyword variety. In plain English? This means that clients are likelier to find your site if you appear in relevant results on their preferred search engine. Having subtitles or captions also improves how people will stay engaged all the way by 80%. That’s a huge difference!
So, what if you want to get your videos subtitled or transcribed? What if you want to get started in this world?
Some things to look out for when hiring subtitling services
You may want to go with a freelancing platform to get your subtitling on. There’s nothing wrong with that, but always check the freelancer’s qualifications thoroughly. Know that they’re native or native-level and know their way around the language that they’re translating into. Familiarity with subtitling software and conventions are also a must. Mistranslated or inappropriate content will hurt a brand even faster than having a bad product or presentation.
Of course, if you need the short answer, just go with Bunny Studio. We’re the best, and we ain’t afraid to say it.
If you want to go with our recommendations, though, what about some other popular subtitling services that are OK?
Rev is a really well-known subtitling, translation, and captioning service. Clients can attain content with acceptable quality with fast turnaround time and minimal investment. Prices are as low as $1 per minute of transcribed or captioned audio. Translated subtitles have a price between $3-7 per minute, depending on language and complexity.
As far as subtitling services go, they’re reliable and fast. They are also a great entry point for anyone willing to get started in the world of subbing or transcription. They have basic entry test that anyone can take — they’re also always looking for applicants, which is a plus.
This revolving-door business model has its downsides, though. As they pay very little to workers per minute of transcribed audio, job permanence is not very high. This means that it’s hard to maintain a curated, stable base of professionals such as ours — this has the net effect of making quality suffer.
This applies across all services but is especially true for transcriptions.
GoTranscript is another specialized subtitling service that also does transcription and captioning. Their standard prices are a little higher than Rev, starting at $7.50 per minute. They generally offer really good-quality services. They have support for a wide spectrum of languages. Their vast array of employees (over 20000) also allows them to cover most translation specialties.
They offer detailed quotes based on:
- Text Format
- Turnaround Time
- Number of Speakers
- Audio/Accent Quality
- Whether captions are needed
They have some of the same issues as Rev as well, though. The swinging-door effect rears its head again; professionals don’t usually make much and change often, which may not make for 100% stable results. In general, though, they are very reliable and preferred by popular companies.
A Netflix-preferred partner, Zoo is a big outsourcing agency. That means that they don’t just work with subtitles. They offer transcriptions, dubbing, audio narration, and even translation.
They’re not as forthcoming about pricing as the other services, though. To get an idea of prices, one has to get in touch through a web form. Still, judging from reviews and popularity, they seem to have the goods. They work with over 80 languages and offer a more curated, vetted network of internationally-based professionals.
That means, in general, better quality for projects. It also means that if you want to get your start with them, there’s a more thorough interviewing and vetting process. Professionals have to pass more stringent checks to assess their abilities.
We finally come to our own creative outsourcing project. BunnyStudio encompasses an umbrella of service outsourcing opportunities; we offer comprehensive markets for several industries. Voice-overs, translation, podcasts, video, audio ads, and copywriting make up our hassle-free creative solutions.
That means not only choosing from a comprehensive list. You also have the ability to find total creative solutions for your projects by combining different services.
When it comes to subtitling, our platform offers turn-key translation services. That means that you enter your project type and whether it should be synced with a video, and you’re good!
We also have a deep pool of committed talent to choose from. Every Pro is vetted by our team and adheres to quality strictures. That way, we avoid oversights when delivering translation. Pricing also depends on factors such as project speed, language, whether the subtitles have to be synced, etc. You can also get custom, scalable quotes made for more complex projects.
Subtitling Services: Wrapping up
Here’s hoping we’ve given you a comprehensive idea of what subtitling services are for. As always, you can fall deep within this rabbit hole on the internet; just a cursory Google search can bring you to this ever-growing market, where you’ll be spoiled for choice.
It’s always helpful to know what you’re looking for and where to get high-quality results. Don’t thank us, that’s what we’re here for!
We wish you good luck on your quest to find or produce great subtitles to reach new audiences!