Video Subtitling Services

video subtitling service

The business and entertainment sectors are not only about document translations and interpreting.  The global economy and the variety of media outlets are the reasons for other types of translation services – this time, involving audio-visual content.

People watch YouTube videos, movies, TV series, corporate videos, and other video formats every day. Some often study with the help of educational videos in their non-native language. We’re surrounded by audio-visual content, and it’s a translator’s job to make it accessible and understandable. Very often, the videos we watch are not in our native language. Even though English and Spanish are extremely widespread languages, you can’t just assume that people are fluent enough to watch videos in these languages and fully understand them. Additionally, if you own a business and you want to go global with it, you should remember how important it is to cater to your audience. You want to gain new, foreign-speaking clients, so you need to make sure they know what you can offer them.

That’s where subtitling services are needed the most. Keep on reading to find out everything there is to know about video subtitling, including different types of services, challenges, and benefits.

What Are Video Subtitling and Closed Captioning Services?

There’s a chance that you’ve heard these two terms used interchangeably and you may think that subtitles and captions are the same thing. That’s not true because video subtitling differs from closed captioning – but why is this so confusing?

Both of these services are in high demand on the global market because they are useful tools in bringing people from different countries closer. In the United States alone, captions are mandatory for the majority of video content. Adding to the confusion, many countries refer to subtitles as captions, and they provide the same way of switching them on. If you were to turn on captions, you would have to click on the CC icon. When it comes to video subtitles you would select the same icon.

So, how does video subtitling differ from caption services? You’ll see below:

Video Subtitling

Video subtitles cater to viewers who can’t understand the language being spoken in the video. They involve a translated text of the audio, that’s why they’re often referred to as translations. However, video subtitling services differ from standard document translation services. After all, texts are the end products in both cases, but the former involves translating the audio content, and the latter deals with written texts from beginning to end.

Moreover, video subtitles deal with the dialogue or the spoken part of a particular video. They don’t include non-speech elements, such as sound effects or speaker identification. They are synchronized with the media and can be turned on and off, according to your preferences. As mentioned before, you can do it by selecting the CC icon.


Captions, on the other hand, are intended for people who can’t hear the audio. They capture non-speech elements, all audio sounds (including sound effects), speaker IDs, and so on. Simply put, captions include the dialogue and any other relevant audio. That’s because, unlike subtitles, captions are intended for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, who may have trouble identifying speakers, distinguishing crucial audio elements in the background, and so on. As for the technical details, captions move automatically when they obscure important visual elements on the screen.

Additionally, captions can be divided into open and closed. The difference is simple: closed captions can be turned off, while open captions cannot. However, the process of creating both types of captions is identical, and they are both synchronized with the media.

Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

There’s also another type of video subtitling service that’s worth mentioning. Subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing (SDH) are intended for people with varying degrees of hearing disabilities and are used on devices where closed captions are not supported. These subtitles are displayed in the same format as video subtitles, but they are in the language that’s being spoken in the video. They include speaker identification, as well as the non-dialogue audio sound effects.

Subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing are often required by the law. This includes situations when public information is released in audio-visual form. You can get fined if you fail to comply with these regulations. Fortunately, there are many subtitling and legal experts who can help you solve this problem.

Transcription Services

Some say there’s no audio or video subtitling without transcriptions. It’s clear to see why! Sometimes, transcriptions are the first step in the creation of subtitles and captions, but they can also be a stand-alone service. They involve transforming all the words spoken in a video into text. This can be done by human transcriptionists, automatic speech recognition software, or a combination of the two.

If you don’t feel the need to create subtitles for your videos, it’s still good to look for transcription services and let the experts create transcripts for your audio-visual content. You won’t regret this, especially if you upload your videos on YouTube. After all, one of the best strategies to get more views on your YouTube videos is to add transcriptions. Even if you don’t want to target foreign-speaking viewers, you will still cater to the needs of people from your native country who might be deaf, hard of hearing, or have trouble understanding what’s being said for other reasons. YouTube provides creators with a free captioning tool but we recommend looking for professional transcription services to ensure your transcript is accurate.

Types of Subtitling Services

We can create subtitles for a wide range of video files and media outlets with the guarantee that our file formats will meet your needs. We’ll provide you with subtitles for:

  • General, educational, corporate, and miscellaneous videos
  • Commercials
  • TV programs
  • Video games
  • Movies and TV series

Why Use Video Subtitling Services?

You may be wondering what’s the purpose of video subtitling services. Are they even necessary? You should consider adding subtitles to your video content for a number of reasons:

  • Making your video content accessible to a wider, foreign-speaking audience. This one seems like a no-brainer – not everyone knows your native language, so it’s always best to cater to the needs of other people, especially if your viewers come from many different countries. It’s a frequent strategy for movies released in foreign countries, and it’s becoming increasingly popular on YouTube, where big and small channels want to increase the number of views on their videos.
  • Providing your viewers with alternatives that can improve their user experience. This is important especially in the case of educational videos. Some people know the language quite well but having a text underneath, either with a translation or in the original language can help them understand your content better and learn more efficiently.
  • Ensuring that people who are deaf and hard of hearing can understand what’s being said. It’s important for commercially released videos, but it’s even more crucial in the case of public information. It must be conveyed in such a way that people, regardless of their health condition, should be able to access and understand it. Failing to comply with official regulations may, in turn, result in fines.

Improving the quality of learning materials. Many companies or educational facilities often use e-learning platforms. Aside from traditional text that can be read, they often include videos on different subjects. However, students or employees may speak different languages, and they need subtitles to better understand their learning materials.

Benefits of Adding Foreign Language Subtitles to Your Videos

Now you know why video subtitling services may come in handy. There are also other benefits if you decide to add subtitles to your videos:

  • The possibility to get more views on your videos
  • A potential to improve user experience
  • Your business may become more recognizable internationally
  • You have the potential to increase your search engine ranking
  • A chance to improve the quality of your audio-visual content
  • Equal service to people in all health conditions, regardless of their native language and country of origin

Challenges In Video Subtitling Services

As you can see, video subtitling is both necessary and beneficial. However, adding captions to a video file is not that easy! It’s a complex process that requires a great deal of accuracy, and there are many technical reasons why you should let a professional caption files and create subtitles. These include:

  • Text length and screen width. When it comes to written texts, their length differs, depending on the language (with English phrases being usually shorter). However, the available screen space is usually fixed, and it’s only resolution that changes. As such, a translator must fit their subtitles into that fixed space, adjusting them to the screen width. Having to work with limited space is the biggest challenge because you can’t allow a longer phrase to be cut off by the edge of the screen. Also, you need to make sure the subtitles are readable to people using different devices to watch videos, no matter what platform they have been shared to.
  • Dialogue speed. Here’s another problematic issue: dialogue speed. Some people tend to talk really fast, and some are slow readers. Still, the subtitles must be perfectly synced with what’s going on the screen – speeding up or slowing down is not allowed! Experts in subtitling make sure the viewers can read all the lines and follow what’s going on screen. In this case, timing, accuracy, and attention to detail are key elements of the subtitling process.
  • Multiple speakers. It’s necessary to come up with a clear solution for subtitles when there are multiple speakers involved. The sound may sometimes overlap, making it difficult to distinguish individual lines. It’s not an easy task because people tend to speak faster than they read. Now, it’s the translator’s job to synchronize the subtitling, adjust to the screen space, keep the people speaking visible, and make sure that the viewers can finish reading the subtitles in time.
  • Style. This one is tricky because everyone has a distinctive way of speaking, including the manner, tempo, and vocabulary choices. The situation is even more complicated if the audio is fast, and, once again, when there are multiple speakers involved. In any case, an expert must ensure that the audio is translated with accuracy and that each speaker (or speakers) retains their personality in the written form.
  • Linguistic nuances. Providing an accurate translation of a spoken text is not easy, especially if the language used is complex and full of culturally specific references. These may be known to the native viewers, while the target audience might be completely unfamiliar with them. It’s a translator’s job to convey the meaning as accurately as possible, with attention to detail.
  • Video subtitle formats. A professional knows which format they should use for video subtitling. There are popular formats like SRT and TXT, but others may actually be more suitable, depending on the situation. For example, if you want to add subtitles to a YouTube video, you should use SBF, which is a YouTube format. Other subtitling formats include SSA (SubStation Alpha), VTT (Web Video Text Track), TTML (Timed Text Markup Language), and DFXP (Distribution Format Exchange Profile).

Size and font choice. Ultimately, an expert has to deal with all the technical details like the size and font choice for their subtitles. The font can’t overpower the visuals and cover the screen excessively, the text on screen must also be fitted correctly, in a way that’s matching to the original footage. Even though it’s often the last step in the subtitling process, it requires time and effort to be done correctly.

Contact Us Today!

If you need video subtitling services, don’t hesitate to contact us directly and check our offer! We’ll answer your questions and help you get started. You can also follow this link to get a free price quote. We’ll handle a wide range of assignments, even if your requirements are unique. Additionally, you can expect a short turnaround time. Thank you for choosing Lighthouse Translations!