How Do You Create The Perfect Subtitles For Your Film?


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.


  • Do you know that there are things that you cannot explain without visual representation? Whether you are an expert or just a newbie, subtitles are the last thing you would want to give a go a head-on without sitting down and analyzing them while you listen to the audio. In this article, we could look at different factors to watch out for is ensuring that subtitles are in the best way and what determines whether subtitles end up being perfect or not.
TIPS ON SUBTITLING

26 Guidelines To Creating The Perfect Subtitles.

  1. The person in charge of creating subtitles must always strive to work with a specific file format, for example, videos or DVDs. This ensures that you get the correct file format and software to used to avoid complications while in making the subtitles. 
  2. You should always make sure you have a copy of the production file, dialogue list and a glossary of unusual words, names and special references. This will help you avoid making mistakes, for example, translating words not meant for translation or making translations on certain words.  
  3. Regardless of what anyone says, it is always the job of a subtitler to make sure that he or she has a good grasp of both the languages being used. By this I mean the original language used on a file and the target language translation. No one will do it for you, Production houses pay for these services so they need a person who is all rounded in order for them to cut down on costs. 
  4. Having a good understanding of both the languages in question is not enough, one also needs to provide a high quality of translation services while considering the availability of Idiomatic expression and their true meaning in relation to different cultures. If you have done translations before, you would have noticed that some languages have the same expression that has different meanings. So a well-translated subtitle should take this into consideration.
  5. It is unnecessary to write long stories and 4 line sentences when creating subtitles. It is advisable to have straightforward sentences that are neither too short nor too long. They must be exact.
  6. Certain expressions might be short sentences in a particular language and end up being super long sentences in another. You must be able to provide content results without losing the original meanings if you need to compress a dialogue when creating subtitles.
  7. You must distribute subtitle text from line to line and page to page in sensible blocks and/or grammatical units.
  8. All subtitles must be able to make perfect sense when reading alone, unless it’s a long sentence. It’s impossible for the person making subtitles to introduce a pause in a place where there is no pause so they should know what exactly to do when they come across such a problem.
  9. There are languages hard to translate into or translate from and that is why translators must be keen when translating subtitles they must ensure that the language being used is appropriate and goes hand in hand with the spoken word.
  10. Just because subtitles serve as film entertainment, doesn’t mean that there should be grammatical errors. A subtitler should make sure that all subtitles are grammatically correct and follow the rules and guidelines of the particular language the subtitles are in.
  11. When creating subtitles, it’s good to note all possible written information for translation and translate it. Be it signs or notices one should be able to translate it and incorporate it.
  12. Note that not everyone who watches films, or any subtitled material has perfect hearing senses, some viewers are usually hearing impaired and ensure that you subtitle all information even if you think it is not important. Things like names and interjections.
  13. Do not forget to subtitle songs when it’s needed. The good thing about songs is that most times they won’t need subtitling, but it’s always important to make sure you ask prior to beginning the process.
  14. There are words that must be in subtitles, but there are words that are always repetitive and they are usually common phrases that one can comprehend easily. These kinds of words do not need subtitling.
  15. The in-and out-times of subtitles must follow the speech rhythm of the film dialogue, taking cuts and sound bridges into consideration.
  16.  Language distribution within and over subtitles must consider cuts and sound bridges; the subtitles must underline surprise or suspense and in no way undermine it.
  17. Ever looked at certain films and you realize that you can’t keep up with the subtitles because either they are too fast or too long? There is a specific duration that all subtitles must adhere to in order for this not to happen. This duration allows the subtitles to appear on the screen long enough for the viewer to read it. 
  18. Rhythm is very important during spotting. A subtitler must ensure that the subtitles are going hand in hand against the rhythm of a film. You can’t have subtle coming before or after their specific scene in a film.
  19. No subtitle should appear for less than one second or longer than seven seconds, except for songs.
  20. The maximum number of lines on the screen for any subtitle should always be two and no more. You can have a single line if that’s how short it is.
  21.  Wherever you have two lines of unequal length, the upper line should preferably be shorter to keep as much of the image free as possible and in left-justified to reduce unnecessary eye movement.
  22. Synchronization is very important when creating subtitles. Anything off when putting side by side with the film will make all the subtitles off. There should always be a correlation between film dialogue and subtitle content and also between the source language and target language.
  23. Always make use of exclamation marks correctly, and you can show the emotion on the film using the subtitles. There must always be a certain level of correlation between the two.
  24. After every production process, there should always be an editor to edit and revise the subtitles. It’s normal to want one person to do everything from creating the subtitles to editing them but, truth be told, another person’s eye might see what my eye missed and vice verse. This is to make sure that there are no grammatical and spelling mistakes on the final document. 
  25. A lot of film production companies usually do this and they always take up all the credit because of more chances than not they outsource subtitling services. It is usually advisable to acknowledge the main subtitle at the end of or the beginning of the film.
  26. They should display the year of subtitle production and the copyright for the version at the end of the film.

Technical Aspects To Consider When Creating Subtitles.

We will look at some technical aspects when creating subtitles before we finish.

  1. Subtitles should always be big enough to read with clear lettering with a font easy to see and read. There should be no dramatic fonts like italics or unnecessary calligraphy, and they should be able to have sharp contoured characters stable on the screen.
  2. Always remember to have all your subtitles on a single film in a consistent pattern. We can center them for film applications or left-justify or center for TV and Video Applications. (With the globalization of broadcasting, television, and video they often show programs with subtitles not only on domestic channels.  Many broadcasting stations worldwide still transmit their programmes with a logo in the lower left-hand corner, which inevitably covers the first couple of characters of all left-justified subtitles. At video festivals, they usually project video productions on large screens. It is easier to read subtitles on large screens if we center them rather than left-justify them.)
  3. Two-person dialogue in one subtitle should be left-justified or left-centered; we should show individual speakers by a dash at the beginning of each line.
  4. Normally during video applications, one can enhance the character clarity by using a drop shadow or a semi-transparent or black behind subtitles.
  5.  In laser subtitling, we achieve sharp contours and removal of the residual emulsion, by precise alignment of laser beam focus and accurate change of power output.
  6.  In laser subtitling, we must set the baseline accurately for the projection format of the film.
  7. Always make sure that the total number of characters in each line is compatible with the subtitling system and visible on any screen.

If you can follow all these guidelines, your subtitles will end up being as perfect.

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