Film Subtitling Facts You Didn’t Know


The DubbingKing Software - A Comprehensive Audio-Visual Translation (AVT) Software For Windows

The Dubbing King software caters for various Audio-Visual Translation (AVT) modes. It is used for subtitling, translation and the dubbing processes.


I am very aware that not everyone in the world always feels the need to research further about some different things they come across in life whereas I’m the people who are always hands-on google trying to get different information about everything and anything. This is such a weird way to start off an article but the reason I start the article this way is that I’m a firm believer that a person who is always inquisitive and curious about different things is a person who is truly and widely knowledgeable.  

We all know what subtitling is and why it’s a film process that is used widely and greatly. We also know how beneficial it is in a lot of different ways that I will mention as we go on in this article. Some people like me don’t really appreciate subtitles in films, but most people prefer watching films with subtitles rather than without.

The process that is subtitling usually seems like a complex process, but you would be surprised to know that it is an easy process that has its normal difficulties just like any other film process. It only entails having a translator who is well versed in the rules and regulations of the process that are subtitling and a video editor who usually does the mounting of the subtitles on the screens.

Many people would wonder, is subtitling an art or just a mere film process? Creating films is considered an art and any process that involves putting together different entities that are related to the film is also considered as an art. This maintains that the subtitling process is also considered as an art. Since it’s because of a collaborative effort of different artists to make it a reality, it is most definitely an art. If we can refer to the dubbing process and it falls under the same category as subtitling, then by all means so should subtitling.

You may think, how can subtitling or translating a movie be considered as an art? To further expound on this aspect, it is very important to know that there are many challenges faced while doing it. It is an art that helps the movie reach all over the globe. If it wouldn’t have existed, then filmmakers would have no source of inspiration from movies of the other countries and other parts of the world. Translating is not the only goal of making subtitles, there are many other factors. Anything that ends up being an inspiration for something else is always referred to as an art because its impact is not felt through the mouth but by what it entails as a wholesome entity.

Just like any other film process, subtitles have their own benefits and I will do the process a disservice if I don’t outline some of its benefits.

Benefits Of The Subtitling Process

  1. One can easily learn a foreign language when watching a film with subtitles. If you are an individual who wants to learn a foreign language, then I would advise you to start out by watching films that have subtitles, it will make things easy for you when you finally enroll in a class to learn. It will make your transition so easy and smooth.
  2. When in a silent place like a library and you don’t have earphones but feel the need to watch a movie, it is always advisable to go for a film which has subtitles? This will allow you to mute the film and watch the movie while following through the subtitles. Try it sometimes, you will not regret it.
  3. Same as point two, if you are in a place where there is a lot of background noise or the audio is distorted and you would love to watch a film then it would be advisable to get a movie that has subtitles. You will not need the sound of the movie to watch it because you can just use the subtitles.
  4. If you are trying to watch content that has offensive content and in public, using or enabling the subtitles on your film would be the best thing in such a situation. You will be the only one who will read the content and consume it yourself without offending others in public.

Now that the benefits are out of the way, we can look at the different facts and limitations of the process that is subtitling. Film being an expressive form of art, it is very important to make sure that every viewer can understand it in the simplest way possible and when doing it through subtitles it becomes hard. Making sure that viewers from different countries in the world get the target message really the most important thing.

Facts and limitations of creating subtitles.

1. Expressing the emotion:   

There are people who always say that they can only express themselves well through speaking and others through writing. As someone who finds it easy to express my emotions through writing them out, it is good to note that expressing the emotions of an already recorded film into words and still have to follow a specific set of rules and maintain the context is tough and it’s one fact that subtitles have had to make peace with and just try their best to do what they can to make sure it makes sense and remains on context. Being able to handpick specific words from a different language, put them together and have them make sense is not something that anyone can do so easily. So the next time you realize a subtitle is off, then give the subtitler breathing space because they really are doing their level best.

2. Language barrier:

With over 25000 spoken languages in the world today, language barrier is as real as it might get. Different words have specific meanings and have meant a specific thing and to pass a particular message and emotion. When you have to translate these words into other languages and have them mean the same thing, it really becomes super complicated. The worst part is when you are dealing with language pairs are not within the same linguistical relations. Translation for subtitling is usually complicated and if you end up working with a translator who is not a native speaker of the target language and has a deep understanding of the original language, you will end up with a lot of translation mistakes. Translation mistakes only mean that the context of your original film will not be upheld. It also gets tougher when you have to consider the cultural beliefs.  

3. It has its own screenplay:

When script writing it is known that a lot of film directors usually have a copy of drafts of a film written in the English language or any language that they would want to have the original films subtitled into. This is a very good thing to do because it ends up saving you a lot of money and time, either getting translators who must be well versed in both the original language and the target language. If you have a script in English, it’s easy to get a translator who understands English and the target language. In an instance where you do not really need a translator because of the fear of them possibly ruining the artistic aspect, then the drafts also come in handy.

4. Time and Space:

When I say time and space be sure I’m not referring to the time that subtitlers used to create the subtitles but the timing and spacing are in lines with the rules of subtitling. The subtitle should be shown for exactly the same time as the character is talking, or else the audience will get confused about who is talking and who isn’t. This only means that the translated words should be the exact number to those being spoken by a character in a scene. Being able to hack this and still have the subtitles remain in the original film is hard, and it has to be done because it’s very easy for viewers to notice mistakes in subtitling.  

5. Swearing and songs:

These are the hardest words to translate to a different language. Each language has a specific set of curse words specific to them. It is super hard to translate a curse word to another language because it will not have the same meaning as the original curse word. The same thing applies to when translating songs, a word to word translation will end up making the song lose its original context.

It is very important to note all these facts, limitations and benefits of the process that are subtitling. It provides you with a clear understanding of what the process really entails and why it is good or bad for you.

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