Everything about subtitles. Explore some subtitle software and facts of this powerful tool

October 4, 2021
Marketing

Do you underestimate and think that subtitle videos are not important?


Then ask yourself this question: "Are you sure you can watch a non - subtitle foreign drama and 100% understand it?"


Probably up to 80% of those reading this article are not really confident. And this is when the subtitle software proves its power, because it helps you understand all foreign dramas you love.


Some people might think that subtitles are less important than other elements like content or motion graphics. However, subtitles are the core factor that make any video successful.


Besides its helpfulness, subtitles are divided into types, categories. There are even some elements that you may not know.


Don’t miss a chance to explore them now in this article.


How many subtitles are available?


Hard (hard or open) Subtitles


Hard subtitles are permanently added to the original video frames; therefore, you don't need additional equipment or software to play back the content.


Hard - subtitles. Photo on Google Image


The most typical example for hard subtitles is karaoke lyrics. They often have different colors, fonts, sizes, graphics, and you cannot turn subtitles off.


Pre - rendered subtitles


With pre-rendered subtitles, separate video frames will be placed on the original video file when it’s playing back. You can see pre - rendered subtitles on DVD and Blu - ray disc.


Pre - rendered subtitles. Photo on Google Image


Pre - rendered subtitles allows you to turn off subtitles and add more subtitles, or flexibly change the subtitles. In this case, subtitles are usually encoded in the form of the image, the bit rate, and the edge color.


However, they don’t have anti-aliased font sterilization. And when using specialized software such as OCR or SubRip, you can modify these subtitles to soft format.


Soft (soft or closed) Subtitles


This subtitle type is usually separate commands, such as the content marked with the timestamp displayed during playback, and it needs support for playback.


Closed - subtitle. Photo on Google Image


Soft subtitle software is easy to create and edit. That’s why it’s often used for fansubs.


Sub text quality may vary from player to player, but soft subtitles are usually better than pre-rendered subtitles.


Another prominent feature of the soft subtitles, is that some formats can have problems encoding text, especially when you sub multiple languages ​​at the same time.


In addition, you can also classify subtitles into two more categories, including internal and external:


Internal subtitles: Subtitles originate from a video file container, when video and audio are played back.


External subtitles: Subtitles are played as separate files. It allows you to edit subtitles more easily.


Subtitle format classifications 


Sub Rip: The simplest type of subtitles, with the srt extension. This format contains lines of text configured in batches and separated by a blank line. These lines are usually numbered in a row.


SubStation Alpha: Or you can call it SSA for short, SubStation Alpha allows more creative subtitles compared to the traditional srt format. They use SubStation Alpha in animated fansubs.


Subtitle format classifications. Photo on Google Image


Sub Viewer: Sub Viewer uses the .sub extension to specify time and add labeled information. This format allows you to include alternate languages ​​or targets by creating a separate .sub file matching each situation.


Timed text: This format is often used in the real time captioning of foreign language-speaking movies on the Internet; or used as subtitles for the hearing impaired, lack of audio support equipment such as headphones, lyrics, etc.


Micro DVD: Micro DVD is compatible with most digital videos. It’s named with the extension .sub.


How many different purposes of subtitles?


Once you've identified subtitle types and subtitle formats, you should know a little more about how subtitles are used in each situation.


Subtitles aid SEO development: Subtitles for SEO purposes includes captioned ads. These ads are often viewed more often, and are better understood than ones without subtitles.


Subtitles for the hearing impaired or hearing problems: Subtitles videos will help these audiences best understand the videos content.


Subtitles support entertainment purposes: Foreign movies, music.


Subtitles support marketing campaigns: Subtitlers use them in promoting product/service videos, in promoting brand image videos when people use them to target to foreign market share.


Subtitles for educational support: Education videos providing academic information, useful knowledge, etc. These videos not only help foreign students learn effectively, but they are also vital tools for those having hearing problems.


Many people confuse captions and subtitles. Do you feel the same?


Although many people often use subtitles and captions interchangeably, they have different definitions. 


Understand the difference between subtitles and captions, you'll know how to choose the one that best fits your video making purpose.


Captions


Captions are used to increase access to videos for the deaf or people having hearing problems.


Captions are often presented in phonetic form, they are usually word by word, and they may not match the conversation tempo, or the actions of the actor.


Captions can also include ambient noises, speaker differences, and important audio information that helps viewers understand the video content even though they can’t hear it.


Captions usually appear as white text on a black bar, and appear mainly in the bottom corner of the screen. 


Videos using open captions are permanently embedded in the videos. However, subtitlers commonly use closed captions, allowing viewers to turn them on or off.


Subtitles


Subtitles are translations of a video transcription, which help viewers understand what is happening on screen, what the actor is saying in the video.


Subtitles usually appear as text at the bottom of the screen. Subtitles support viewers who are non-native speakers, but can normally listen to other sounds such as music in videos, voices of actors talking, etc.


Subtitles used for the deaf or people having hearing problems include non-dialogue information such as speech recognition, or sound effects recognition.


If viewers can’t hear the video sound, subtitles additional information will assist them in understanding video content.


Create different subtitles for different audiences


Both captions and subtitles provide valuable information that enhances the viewing experience.

To create optimal experience, subtitles need a certain quality.


One basic rule is subtitles should be responsive, provide all important information without distracting viewers, or causing inaccuracy.


Subtitles used for different purposes. Photo on Google Image


A good subtitler needs to know how to control subtitles optimal speed to adjust subtitles matching the video speed and tone.


This person can choose a suitable video frame to start and end the subtitles. 

What if the subtitler doesn’t pay attention to these details, how terrible those mistakes will degrade video quality.


Slow or too fast subtitles can ruin the video as well. Imagine you are watching a movie having subtitles slower or faster than the actors’ speech. It’s very annoying, right?


In addition, subtitlers also need to calculate the number of on-screen speakers. So they can change the subtitle type, or subtitle tempo based on how fast and slow the scenes or speakers appear (one, two or many speakers).


The slow or quiet scenes also require changing subtitle timing, allowing subtitles to appear longer on screen.


With fast-paced videos, or videos having multiple speakers at the same time, it’s a challenge for subtitlers to ensure each character’s subtitles appear on the screen in time.


However, an experienced subtitler will have skills to remember these elements, and know how to optimize video quality by speeding up subtitles.


Refer to some experiences below to create high-quality videos:


  • Every video second contains about 24 frames, a good subtitler will know what is the best frame to insert subtitles.
  • The subtitles timing tells us when the text appears and disappears on the screen. So, subtitles need a right pace to keep up with actors' actions.
  • Sometimes, the subtitle maker needs to shorten the subtitles down without losing the meaning of speeches spoken in the video. 
  • That means the subtitler needs to choose the exact replacement so as not to make the dialogue deviated from its true meaning.
  • Each second in a video should contain between 12 and 15 characters.


Besides time, subtitle text and format are also important, some features to keep in mind include:


  • Use an easy-to-read sans-serif font with a consistent width and a thick border.
  • Use additional symbols for information (for example, a musical note).
  • Subtitles must match the spoken words style; for example, when the actor uses slangs or specialized words, the subtitler must find another alternative, or a shortened word conveying equivalent meaning.
  • The subtitles should be 2 lines long, containing about 35 characters.


Subtitles work differently for different audiences


When creating subtitles, in addition to the content, you also need to pay attention to the video's audience.


Subtitles may have changes to suit each audience. For example, the subtitles used in films for children will differ from those used in adult films.


Moreover, the subtitles used in films, dramas, movies aiming to expertize audiences might be quite different from those used in movies, films, dramas for ordinary people.


Before creating subtitles, subtitlers should define which audience the films or movies he is doing sub will serve. 


The better a subtitler understands the video purpose, the more accurate, clearer, and better quality the subtitles will be.


Several popular subtitle software


Aegisub Advanced Subtitle Editor


Aegisub is a popular sub-making tool you've probably heard of many times. This is a great aid in creating movie subtitles using audio or video.


Photo on Google Image


Aegisub also has three compatible versions exclusively for Windows, Mac and Linux. It supports up to 30 different languages.


Aegisub also ensures fast and swift video while timing subtitles to audio.


Subtitle Editor


This subtitle software is capable of arranging subtitles, allowing you to preview it with an external video player, and many other helpful functions.


Photo on Google Image


You can use this GTk + 2 tool on GNU, Linux and * BSD by editing, splitting, joining and translating subtitles in BITC, TTAF and Spruce STL formats.


SubtitleCreator


This tool is pretty familiar for non-copyrighted DVDs. SubtitleCreator has a built-in wizard for DVD Authoring, letting you overlay old subtitles with new ones onto DVD.


You can add captions once without losing the DVDs originality.


Photo on Google Image


SubtitleCreator allows DVD preview, color shift/change, sync, WYSIWYG editing, tagging, etc.


Subtitle Edit


Subtitle Edit is considered a quite effective tool in creating, adjusting, synchronizing and translating subtitles. This free tool allows you to re-adjust subtitles, create new subtitles from the timeline, from waveform, or spectral form.


Photo on Google Image


Subtitle Edit supports nearly 30 languages ​​and can work well in over 170 formats.


Subtitle Workshop


This is one of the all-powerful captioning tools that you should not ignore. It can check spelling, reading & writing, performing text, timing operations, and many other customization functions.


Photo on Google Image


Subtitle Workshop allows you to take full advantage of its features; therefore, it’s considered to be a very user-friendly software.


SubEdit Player


People use SubEdit Player to add subtitles to music tracks. You can write subtitles directly in SubEdit Player, or import subtitles from external sources or any program to this smart tool.


Photo on Google Image


SubEdit Player supports formats WMA, WMV, WAV, MID, AC3, etc.


AHD Subtitles Maker


It’s a solution for subtitles-related problems. AHD Subtitles Maker is considered the best caption generator, if you use it for text-based subtitle formats that can be transferred as a single file.


Photo on Google Image


Using AHD Subtitles Maker, you can create accurate and efficient subtitles automatically without script.


It integrates AHD id3 tag editor to edit and save ID3 tags version 1 and 2.


WinSubMux


This utility tool can support converting subtitles to SVCD or CVD type. WinSubMux is equipped with many features such as user interface, multiplex all streams in one step, storing SUB files, scanning SVCD files, time-shifting, modifying subtitle bitmap palette, etc.


Photo on Google Image


This tool is suitable for large subtitle images


DivXLand Media Subtitler


DivXLand Media Subtitler is good at creating, editing and fixing external subtitle files for all videos.


You should use DivXLand Media Subtitler to create subtitles from plain text files.


Photo on Google Image


This software is designed to support preview mode, basic text format, supports multiple subtitle modes. 


It can check spelling in multiple languages, import and export subtitle identifiers, support keyboard shortcuts, etc.


You can freely use DivXLand Media Subtitler on formats including Adobe Encore, SubViewer 2.0, ZeroG, SAMI, DKS, JACOSub 2.7, OVR Script, etc.


It’s such a long journey to get to know everything about subtitles. 

A simple tool we’ve been considering turns out to have a lot of complex elements inside.

Making good subtitles is tricky, but if you invest your time and effort, it will definitely give you what you expect.

Let's start taking a serious look at the need for subtitles for future breakthroughs.


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