the difference between subtitles and captions

The Difference Between Subtitles and Captions: 8 Important Terms to Know

Video marketing has become a hugely popular method for companies to engage with their customers and with that, the need for marketers to clearly understand the meaning of the various terms used in the video industry. Add to that, the drive to target global markets with multilingual videos because consumers feel more connected to a brand when videos are in their own language, and the need to understand video localization terminology becomes equally important.

 

If you’re planning to create or localize your videos into other languages, understanding the relevant vocabulary will help you best articulate your needs, especially when working with a multimedia localization services provider. With that in mind, we’ve outlined some essential terminology used for subtitling videos below to explain their nuances and differences. In our next blog post, we will share terms used when localizing videos with voice, so stay tuned!

 

Here are 8 essential terms to differentiate when subtitling a video:

 

What’s the difference between captions & subtitles?

Captions is a general term used to describe text that’s displayed on a video screen, typically at the bottom. This text conveys all the audio in a video and includes the dialogue spoken as well as unspoken elements such as sound effects, background noises, and music descriptions. They principally aim to accommodate those who cannot hear any audio at all but are also helpful when people need to keep the sound off when watching a video.

 

Subtitles are translations of the spoken audio in a video, also typically shown at the bottom of the screen, and are typically used when the viewer doesn’t speak or understand the language in the video. For this reason, subtitles presume that the viewer can hear the audio.

 

What’s the difference between closed & open captions?

Captions come in two forms: open or closed. Closed captions (CC) can be turned off by the viewer with the click of a button, like in Youtube videos and TV programs.  Although they can be turned on or off by the viewer, they can only be displayed when the media player or video sharing site being used supports it.

 

Open captions, on the other hand, are embedded or burned into the video permanently. Their size, background color, and font colors cannot be changed. A key benefit to open captions is that they will always appear on the screen, regardless of the media player the video is played on.

 

What’s the difference between burned-in subtitles & open captions?

Burned-in subtitles are essentially open captions of a video translation. They have the same attributes of open captions, including:

• You can customize them to your liking (font type and size, color, highlighting, position, etc.).
• You can place the subtitles on the screen to ensure they are seen clearly and avoid obscuring important visuals (this is especially crucial in training or eLearning videos).
• Your clients won’t have to manually activate the captions or subtitles when they receive your video.
• You can reach a wider audience by making your video easily available in foreign languages.
• You improve the impact and readability of your video with your audience and on social media channels.

 

What’s the difference between transcription & captioning?

A transcription is the process of converting all the speech and audio into text while captioning divides the transcription text into time-coded chunks, known as “caption frames”, to synchronize with the audio of a video.

 

When transcribing, there are two approaches:

1. Full Verbatim transcribes the audio word-for-word (including all utterances and sound effects), and is usually most beneficial for scripted speech like training, marketing, and eLearning videos as well as films and TV shows.

2. Clean Verbatim edits the text to read more fluidly, and is better for unscripted content like interviews & recorded speaking events like webinars and virtual conferences.

 

Knowing the different meaning between these common terms could help you facilitate your communication with your video localization services partner for a more streamlined process. Be on the lookout for Part 2 in our next blog post, focusing on essential terms like voiceover and dubbing in video translation.

 

For any questions, please reach out to our team. We’re always ready and happy to help!

 

 

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